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Joe Pulizzi On The Orange Effect Foundation, CMI Goals, and Telling Stories That Matter

Date published: December 08, 2017
Last updated: December 8, 2017


Joe Pulizzi is truly a content marketing tour de force. He is the founder of The Content Marketing Institute, the world’s most popular content marketing educational resource, a best-selling author, a keynote speaker, podcaster, entrepreneur, and well that just barely scratches the surface. His company, the Content Marketing Institute is responsible for producing Content Marketing World, the largest content marketing event in the world, and the leading content marketing magazine, ‘Chief Content Officer.’ Joe has penned five books including his most recent entitled, ‘Killing Marketing’ which came out in September 2017, and Content Inc. a top direct marketing best seller since September 2015. His third book, ‘Epic Content Marketing’ was named one of the “Five Must Read Business Books of the Year” by Fortune Magazine.

Joe has spoken at more than 400 locations in 60 countries and shared his insights at organizations and events including, Content Marketing World, SXSW, NAMM, Fortune Leadership Summit, Nestle, General Motors, HP and Dell. Joe is the co-founder and board member of The Orange Effect Foundation, an organization dedicated to finding speech therapy and technology resources for children and families who need it the most. He is also the co-host of the wildly entertaining and informative podcast ‘This Old Marketing,’ and is a famous proponent of the color orange.

We were fortunate enough to chat with Joe about his insights, his thoughts on the future of CMI and CMWorld, The Orange Effect Foundation, and much more. Get to know the godfather of content marketing a little more and continue the dialogue with us below and on social media


When did you know you wanted to get into marketing?

I originally started in B2B publishing. I was drawn specifically to content marketing because I believed what Don Schultz talks about in his book IMC - Anyone can copy anything we do...our products, our pricing...the only way to differentiate ourselves is in how we communicate. With a content marketing approach, we deliver value to an audience before we try to sell anything. It just seemed like a better way to go to market.

You're easily one of the biggest names in content marketing right now and a lot of experts consider you to be a top influencer. We'd like to know what influencers have influenced you? (content marketing or otherwise)

The aforementioned Don Schultz was a huge influence. IMC, the book, is a must read. Jim McDermott was my boss at Penton Media...he taught me the essence of content marketing back 20 years ago. Seth Godin, Napoleon Hill and today, people like Ann Handley, Robert Rose and Jay Baer.

Your company, The Content Marketing Institute, has grown exponentially over the years and it's currently the leading content marketing educational resource. It's also produced Content Marketing World which is the biggest content marketing event in the world. That's gotta be a pretty good feeling. What are your goals for CMI and Content Marketing World going forward into 2018?

Content marketing continues to grow, but still so many more fail than succeed. At CMI, we teach, what I believe, is the best approach to content marketing, around building audience groups that can be monetized. My hope for CMI and CMW is to continue to be indispensable resources for our audience of enterprise marketers.

You co-founded this amazing foundation called The Orange Effect Foundation that helps find speech therapy and technology resources for children and families. What was the inspiration behind this organization?

Our oldest son, Joshua, was two years old when we found out he was on the autism spectrum. Even at three he only spoke a handful of words. Through aggressive speech and play therapy, Joshua showed amazing progress and is now a sophomore at a regular school. This was possible because of the speech therapy we were able to afford. Unfortunately, many families cannot afford this and go without. This is a tragedy. Orange Effect is a last resort to make sure that children with speech disorders get the speech therapy and technology they need. We've funded over 100 families in 17 states to this point...but there is so much more need we need to fill.

Even the best of us need advice sometimes. Can you think of a piece of advice that you've gotten from someone that's stuck with you?

Write down specific and measurable life, career and financial goals and review them on a daily basis.

Technology is always changing and one of the latest trends that content marketers are just starting to explore is virtual reality, augmented reality and voice controlled AI. How can content marketers use this tech and other new tech to tell stories in 2018?

To be honest, marketers only need to worry about this if they have everything else covered. I'd rather them focus on building amazing audiences and becoming the best resources in the world to that audience, and not getting stuck on the tech changes.

We're living in a pretty hectic world and sometimes we find ourselves 'skimming' content instead of reading it in full. (I know I'm guilty of this.) How do you keep people engaged in a world that just won't stop?

Yes, people skim content...but they are also binging on long-form content like never before. If what you create and deliver is truly valuable, differentiated and consistent, you'll find success. People will make room for you.

These days, having active social media channels is necessary for marketing success. Aside from Twitter and LinkedIn, what social media channels do you think will have an effect amongst marketers in 2018?

Social media channels like LinkedIn, FB and Twitter are the NBC, ABC and CBS of our time...they are mostly pay to play. I would leverage whatever social channels make sense to build your own proprietary channels, knowing that social media companies continue to change the rules. We currently rent that space from an organic standpoint...move those followers and fans to email subscribers.

What brands do you think are utilizing video the best in terms of content strategy? What was your overall favorite piece of content you saw in 2017?

I love what YETI has done building video channels to underserved audiences (hunters, fisherman, etc.). My favorite piece of content marketing in 2017? The LEGO Batman movie.

I've noticed that a lot of brands are so focused on pushing out endless streams of content that authenticity is lost and writing quality slips. What tips can you give to content marketers who are struggling to tell stories that matter?

Less might be more. If the content you are producing is not truly best of breed, you may need to lower your frequency to make sure that it is.

You co-host a podcast with Robert Rose called 'This Old Marketing' and it's wildly entertaining. Where is the podcast going to go from here? Also, what advice would you give to new podcasters?

Well, we are sunsetting the podcast...our last podcast episode is December 11th. I've decided to take a sabbatical in 2018, so we are going on hiatus...I'm not sure of what Robert and I will do in the future, but it will be something. I guess my advice is...deliver consistently, and know when it's time to stop and do something else 😉

When measuring content marketing, what is the most important metric you pay attention to?

How subscribers (people who engage in your content) behave differently than those who don't engage in your content. That's why email subs are so important.

What piece of advice would you give to young professionals who want to break into the world of content marketing?

Build your own audience, in whatever topic it might be. If you can do this for yourself, just about any company will hire you.

Connect with Joe on Twitter and LinkedIn
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