Doing Content Marketing The Right Way With Joe Pulizzi

As a small business, how do you compete with free content or exclusive content from big companies? All you need to do is to take a step back and look at your strategy, not the execution. Discover your audience and their pain points. Do it in a way that is unique to you. Then market it, your audience isn’t going to magically find your content. There needs to be a plan for your execution. Learn more about content creation with your host, Dr. Diane Hamilton and her guest Joe Pulizzi. Joe is the founder of The Tilt. His company helps content creators transform their business into content empires. Learn the importance of market research so that you can build the right audience. Once you have that audience, then you can start monetizing. Join Diane and Joe to learn all you need to know about content marketing today!

TTL 860 | Content Marketing


I’m glad you joined us because we have Joe Pulizzi. He’s the best-selling author of Content Inc. He has a site called The Tilt, which is a content marketing site that will give you more information about digital content. It’s going to be a fascinating show because we are going to talk about all things marketing and content-related.

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Doing Content Marketing The Right Way With Joe Pulizzi

I am here with Joe Pulizzi who is one of the world’s top content marketing authorities. He’s founded three companies including Content Marketing Institute and launched dozens of events including Content Marketing World. He’s the recipient of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award for Content Marketing from The Content Council. He is the author of multiple books including Content Inc. I said content quite a few times so we are going to talk about content. It’s nice to have you here, Joe.

Diane, thank you so much for having me. That’s a little bit too much on the content side but I’ve got a feeling we are going to talk more about it.

It’s an important thing to talk about because the content is king. You and I had talked about that. I had written a brand publishing course when I worked with Forbes and everybody was like, “Content is king.” We also were talking about how you reach people in certain ways to make it feel individualized. I want to get into a lot of that. I want to get a backstory on you. You have been super successful. You’ve got all these great books. You have an Amazon bestseller and so much more. I wanted to find out your backstory if you don’t mind.

TTL 860 | Content Marketing
Content Marketing: Content marketing is one of the fastest-growing entrepreneurial areas online right now. So people need to know the business model behind the idea of creating content.


I started in business publishing. I was lucky enough to fall into a department with a B2B publisher called Penton Media called Custom Media and I’m like, “Why the heck is this thing called custom media?” This is back in 2000, 2001 where most of the communications were still advertising and PR driven. I’m starting to create stories for large business-to-business companies like Microsoft and Intel and having them tell their story directly to an audience instead of interrupting an audience. I fell in love with this concept right away.

Google was launched and then you had all these social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. I was like, “You are going to have a lot of businesses that are going to have to learn how to tell compelling stories consistently to get any attention.” At the same time this was going on, I had that entrepreneurial itch. I left Penton and launched what became Content Marketing Institute, which was an education and training company focused on this idea of content marketing.

At the time, nobody used the term content marketing. I was dealing with a lot of CMOs and marketers. I said. “They are not going to resonate with custom publishing. They are not going to resonate with custom media. Maybe if we call it content marketing, that will resonate.” It’s this idea of how you deliver valuable, relevant and compelling information to a targeted audience consistently so you can see some behavior change because that’s what we want to do in marketing. I launched that and that became Content Marketing World, which is the largest in-person event around the practice of content marketing and all kinds of books later.

Here we are talking about My book, Content Inc. I have pivoted quite a bit. I used to focus on working with large enterprises and doing content marketing programs. Now I’m focused on how individuals, how small businesses can create and build an audience, and then from that, drive multiple types of revenue, which is one of the fastest-growing entrepreneurial areas online. Everybody thinks they can create content but there’s no real business model around it. What we are trying to preach is the idea that there is a business model behind the idea of creating content.

[bctt tweet=”Tell your story directly to the audience instead of interrupting them.” via=”no”]

You touched on many great things there. It’s something I try to teach in entrepreneurship, marketing and all the courses that I still teach. One of them I created was for Forbes School of Business, which was a part of the University of Arizona’s Global Campus. In that particular course, I had them create content calendars and all that stuff. It’s challenging for people to see the business model. I see a lot of content. Everybody is great, got a podcast, you and I both have one. There are a lot of information out there. Where is it going? Are we all talking to each other? Are we all selling to other people who aren’t buying?

As you put it well, everyone is a content creator now, whether they know it or not. We are all on social media. We are creating some content. The good news for content entrepreneurs is that most people do it poorly. They are terrible at it. There are two main reasons, one is what we call in the book this idea of the content tilt. The content tilt is you have to find an area of little to no competition on the web where you have a chance to break through all that clutter.

I will give you an example. Let’s say that you wanted to go into cloud computing, it’s like, “I’m going to talk about cloud computing. I’m going to focus on that for IT enterprise professionals.” You and 72,000 other companies are creating the same content. You have to tilt. You have to look at your content area a little bit differently. What do you do? Maybe you focus on a more niche audience. Maybe you have come at it from a completely separate point of view. Maybe you are a first-mover on a different platform. You’ve got TikTok, Twitch or Discord. Everybody is talking about social audio. You can look at Twitter spaces or Clubhouse. You have to look at it differently. That’s the one key and the second key is just doing the work.

To build an audience, it generally takes between 9 and 18 months to build a minimum viable audience. We looked at all the data and all the case studies. It takes a long time to consistently delivering. If you look at most businesses and content creators, they don’t do it. Whenever the blog post is ready or I will do a podcast on Monday and maybe I don’t get to it for another couple of weeks. Look at somebody’s YouTube channel where they have only uploaded one video and then maybe 2 in 1 week and then nothing.

It’s consistency.

Content is a promise to your customers. If you keep that promise over a long time and you have that particular point of view, you can build an audience that knows, likes and trusts you. When you do that, you can monetize it in many different ways.

TTL 860 | Content Marketing
Content Marketing: The content tilt is where you have to find an area of little to no competition on the web. A place that you actually have a chance to break through all the clutter.


I’ve got forced into that when I created my radio show. Since it’s AM/FM, you would have empty air. It’s not like if you have a podcast when you can decide, “Will I do it or I won’t do it?” Three hours a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 10:00 AM Eastern Time, I better have content out there. I forced myself into a content calendar when I started. A lot of people do exactly what you are saying, they don’t have it mapped out. They don’t have it on their calendar that they have to do it. Sometimes it flows and sometimes it doesn’t. Everyone says, “Give valuable stuff and people will want it. Give away free content.” You get Aweber-ed to death by people sometimes with their free valuable content. What do you think of that whole premise?

First of all, is it truly valuable or is this another eBook or content package that you want people to download so you can sell them something? You have to lead the audience first. I get it. A lot of businesses come in and say, “I want to sell more widgets. How do I sell more widgets? I’m going to try this content thing. I’m going to create this wonderful webinar, eBook package, white paper research, whatever it is and I will get them to sign up, and then pitch them all kinds of stuff.” If you are doing this correctly, 100% of the focus has to go on the audience and their pain points and coming up with something that nobody else is doing the way you can do it.

If there’s a small business or a large enterprise, I look at their concept if they do a content audit. I’m looking at all the content that they create for their particular audience. I’m going to look at it and say, “If you do this consistently over a long time, can you be the leading expert in the world at this particular content niche to this audience?” Most people laugh. They are like, “I couldn’t do that. That’s almost impossible.” That’s what we have to do. Why are we doing this anyway? You can’t create content like everyone else is creating.

To your point before, you get lost in all the clutter. We have to do things a little bit differently. I don’t think enough people are serious about that and saying, “I have a particular take on something. I’m going to deliver something of value that nobody else is delivering quite the way that I am because of your skill, experience, your focus on audience, your focus on a new platform, whatever the case is.” You have to start there and say, “I found my sweet spot. I found my content tilt and then I’m going to focus on one core platform.”

Here’s a key that a lot of people forget, what is that one core platform? Instead of putting content all over the web, everywhere you can think of, you need to be a blogger, a writer, a TikTok specialist, a Twitch streamer, or a YouTuber first. Once you build that minimum viable audience, then you can diversify. Look at the greatest media companies of all time, they all start by doing one thing great, build that audience and then they diversify. A lot of people put content out everywhere because they can. Maybe they shouldn’t do that.

[bctt tweet=”Everyone is a content creator today, whether you know it or not.” via=”no”]

As you are saying that, a lot of people who follow this show are consultants and speakers, and they spend most of their time on LinkedIn, post a lot on LinkedIn, have maybe 20,000, 30,000 people following them, is that what you would consider a viable audience? How do you even know if they connect with anyone maybe? Even if they have made it specific who they connect with and they have started a LinkedIn, where do they go?

LinkedIn can work but it can work as a platform and it can work as a social media sharing platform. Let me give you an example. Let’s say that you want LinkedIn to be your platform. You have to publish consistently on LinkedIn. Use their newsletter capability to create an audience or take their publishing capability and develop an audience there. That’s fine. That can be your platform. You could say, “I’m going to use it to promote my stuff,” as another extension of your distribution strategy. Let’s say you are a blogger, your blog is your key platform, the blogger website, and then LinkedIn becomes that sharing engine for you where you are going to reach those 20,000 or 30,000 connections. Neither one are right or wrong, you just have to decide on a strategy.

I will give you an example with our new business, The Tilt, we had to decide on what our platform would be. We said, “Email is our key platform.” We are going to focus on email and then we are going to focus on Twitter and Instagram as our social media engine to drive people back and subscribe to the email. If somebody is reading this and you are starting on LinkedIn, I’m going to ask you, “For what end and how are you building that audience?”

You have to remember, if you build an audience on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, those are not your audiences. Those belong to the platforms. They can change the rules and algorithm at any time. You have to figure out where you can have the most control over those connections. What we see the smart content entrepreneurs doing, they are building platforms on other social media, and then they are making sure that they push those people back to something that they can control. Believe it or not, that’s email. Email seems to be king when it comes to content creation. A lot of people put all their eggs into the social media basket. Of course, these entities always change the rules and then you are stuck.

I am glad you brought this up because many of us get hundreds if not thousands of emails sometimes a day. How do you get them to even focus on what you are doing when you go, “I’m going to select all and mark it red because if don’t see something that stands out super big in my mind, I don’t have time?”

I will put this back on you. You are probably like me, you’ve got a couple of hundred emails a day or maybe more. Are there 1 or 2 emails that you always open?

There’s always one from my students.

For me, I read Morning Brew, The New York Times Daily, The Information. Those are ones that I always read no matter what. Why? It’s because they are super valuable to me in what I’m doing every day.

I don’t sign up for that. I need to think about that.

If you get somebody to sign up for something, they believe, “I’m going to subscribe to this email.” You have to be the best thing in their inbox. You have to be the most valuable thing. Look at most email newsletters, do you know what they are? They are a regurgitation of content that you can find anywhere else. Why are Morning Brew, New York Times and The Information different? It’s because everything they put in that email, for the most part, is unique or said in a uniquely helpful way and that’s why I’m opening it up.

If you are having problems with your email strategy, it’s probably not delivering enough value to a targeted audience for them to want to open it so do a content audit. Look at your email strategy. Open up your emails. I have done this with big enterprise content departments. We go through and we will print out an email and we will all review it. Most of the time, they will look at it and they will say, “This isn’t good.” I said, “You are right.” Do you think your customers want to open this? No, they don’t. It’s not helpful or it’s pitching your product all the time. Let’s think about it from the audience’s perspective. How are you going to cut through all that clutter? You’ve got to be better.

It’s tough to come up with all that creation. How often are you emailing? How do you come up with something that wonderful if you are a small business person?

You have to create the minimum amount of content with the maximum amount of results. That’s easy to say but let’s say that you can only be exceptional one time a month. Maybe you only have the resources for one time a month. Create the best darn newsletter you can one time a month. If you can do it once a week, that’s great. Do a weekly. At The Tilt, we do it twice a week. With the resources we have, we can be great twice a week. Those are the decisions you are going to have to make from a strategy standpoint.

By the way, it doesn’t just go for email, it goes for everything. Do you have a blog? Do you have a YouTube channel? Are you involved in a Facebook group? You can say, “I’m going to distribute this content consistently but it’s got to be great every time. Consistently, how do I do this so that it is great with the resources I have?” You can find the right people and you have the right time because we all know we are running a business and selling other things at the same time.

This is helpful for a lot of people. I have a lot of consultants and speakers who are reading who have found they can’t travel and can’t do certain things that they used to do. They are trying to find new ways to connect to people because they are in a unique situation. A lot of them are using social media but how are they able to convert those people on social media into their long-term subscribers?

TTL 860 | Content Marketing
Content Marketing: You have to lead your audience first. A hundred percent of your focus has to go to the audience and their pain points. You have to come up with something that nobody else has done the way you did it.


What I would do is you have to take a different look at it, especially if you are a consultant or speaker. You and I are in the same boat. We had a lot of friends that their income had completely dried up. They were professional speakers and there were no more in-person events. What are they going to do?

That’s tough for a lot of people.

Consulting has changed quite a bit as well. Think about it this way and this is what we talked about in the Content Inc. book. We are on IT. We are targeting a specific group of IT professionals. Let’s say you build that audience to an email list of 5,000 people. Your first inclination would be, “I can solve more of my consulting services for this group of IT people that will buy my stuff.” That’s one revenue possibility. What else can you do when you have a loyal audience? You can sell advertising and sponsorship. You can create your conference or event. You could sell premium content like a book or an audiobook, do an affiliate program, sell paid subscriptions, your products and services.

This is what the Disneys and Red Bulls of the world are doing. They build an audience, and then they can sell whatever they want to because they have the loyalty of this audience and they know about the audience better than anyone else. That’s where you are seeing the shift in the business model happen. A lot of people think we are still in the product and service business when we are all media companies. This opens up a whole slew of new revenue opportunities that we are not thinking about.

That’s important. I’m always taught, “Don’t have all your eggs in one basket, have multiple revenue streams and have different things that you can offer.” A lot of people are seeing a lot of Zoom fatigue. They are seeing a lot of people selling a lot of webinars and even giving a lot of stuff away for free like the webinars and training programs because they want to keep their face out there and be relevant. How do you compete when a lot of people are giving away good content for free?

You can’t talk about the same thing. That’s the issue. This is an older example. Let me go back to how we did it. When we launched our company, I had no money and no resources. We were up against Ad Age, Marketing Week and B2B Publishing. How do I compete with multimillion-dollar organizations? We are targeting a particular customer, marketers in large companies. We are talking about something that no one else is focusing on like we are, the idea of content marketing. We called it something different. We created a whole different publishing schedule around it. We delivered value around that topic that we knew was a need and nobody else caught on to it at the time.

In three years, we had 100,000 email subscribers and then we created a large event. Ultimately, we had a good exit in 2016. It worked well starting from nothing and focusing on this idea of consistently delivering. Whoever is reading this, you have to look and say, “Who is the audience?” First of all, a lot of people don’t do. A lot of businesses and people that are friends of yours and mine come at it and say, “This is what I need to sell. This is what I want to say.” If you do that, you are already starting on the wrong foot.

The first thing you want to figure out is, “Who is my audience? What are their pain points? What’s keeping them up at night?” You then go to, “What do I have to say in a unique way that can meet and exceed those pain points in some way?” Instead of getting out there, “I’m going to do a blog here. I’m going to be a YouTuber. I’m going to figure out what platform.” You are not getting any strategy. You are focusing on execution right away. What you want to do is take a step back and say, “How can I tell a different story and then do that consistently over time?”

Nobody takes the time to spend 2 or 3 weeks on the strategy upfront before we get so antsy and say, “We’ve got to be on Twitter. I’ve got to do this Facebook, LinkedIn thing.” Take a step back and figure out, “How can I create this one thing consistently that is going to help my customer and audience that nobody else is doing in quite the same way?” It does take strategic thought. This is not easy to do. Once you find that, then you execute on it, and then it’s a matter of time in doing the work.

I know a lot of people who have done a lot of work and created podcasts. I know that you have your series, This Old Marketing, with Robert Rose. You get millions of downloads in over 150 countries. That is unusual for people to be that successful. You had to start somewhere. I have a lot of people who are starting somewhere. I have interviewed maybe over 1,500 people on this show. It takes time to develop those downloads. When you want to monetize something like that, what advice would you give to somebody at the beginning who doesn’t have those downloads that you have?

[bctt tweet=”Content is a promise to your customers.” via=”no”]

It takes time. The reason why this whole marketing took off right away is that we already built an audience. We had an audience on the blog and then once you diversify, it’s much easier. You don’t have to put it all into marketing but a lot of people are forgetting content creation. Look at 100% of your budget, resources, staff, whatever the case is, most content creators get in there and they will say, “I’ve got to put all this into content creation.” You shouldn’t do that.

About 25% or 30% goes into content creation. About 70% to 75% goes into marketing, distribution and promotion of that content. That’s why you want to start small and say, “Every week, I’m going to do this email newsletter, this one YouTube post.” All the other time is spent on marketing then and getting people to subscribe to it. A lot of people forget that just because you put the content out there and you talk about getting through the clutter, it’s hard to do that.

You have to market it like a product. Most people don’t do that. They put it out there, they get their podcast, and then they will say, “Joe, I have been podcasting for 3 or 4 months. I’m not getting any downloads.” I’m like, “Are you working with any influencers on it? Are you using social promotion on it? Are you advertising around it?” The answer is usually no. I’m like, “How are people going to find it? They are not going to naturally find it through Apple’s horrible podcast algorithm.” That’s not going to happen. You have to be smart and put the plan together and say, “Here’s the thing we are going to create and then what are we going to do every week so people can find this?” That’s what a lot of newcomers don’t do.

Even when you do it, there are a lot of times that you are working for nothing on some of that stuff, don’t you think? Your income is going to take a while.

It absolutely does. When I first started the business in 2007, which became Content Marketing Institute, my wife called it the bologna and ramen noodle years because we had to scale way back to survive. It’s generally a three-year cycle. The first year you are building the audience, between year 1 and year 2, you’ve got 1 or maybe 2 revenue sources. In year three, you are starting to diversify and then you see hockey stick growth. If I look at 2008, 2009, we didn’t even do $100,000 in revenue either of those years. In 2010, we hit $500,000. Three years later, we were a $10 million company.

Once you build an audience that knows, likes and trusts you, you get that hockey stick type growth but you’ve got three years of hard work ahead of you. I don’t think a lot of people realize how much patience, time and energy it takes. The great news is it’s not very capital intensive. It’s not like you are doing a lot of product development. You are spending, hopefully, money on promotion, distribution, and things like that but you are not building anything necessary like it. You and I are doing a radio show or a podcast, it doesn’t cost a lot of money. It’s time and energy. You have to keep spending that time. I love it because you get your own hours. I still can spend time with my kids and watch them growing up and I didn’t have to travel all the time if I didn’t want to. It’s a great model from that standpoint.

Even if you have a product and you are a small business, at the end of it, it’s not an expense. This marketing doesn’t turn it into an asset. If you build an audience, you can monetize that audience in many different ways. In a lot of cases like ours, we weren’t going to launch an in-person event. It wasn’t even on our strategic radar. I’ve got many emails and social media messages from people saying, “Joe, are you going to launch an event?” I’m like, “Maybe I should.” We did and it worked out to be our biggest product. I had no idea.

I’m seeing a lot of masterminds talking about events and different things that are coming out. If something works, everybody jumps on the bandwagon. You are going to answer with, “You’ve got to be delivering something different.” Do you think that there’s a next big wave of things after the mastermind that people are saying, “I have done enough of that?” What’s next?

There are a lot of different types of events other than a mastermind. You’ve got small group workshop roadshows, big events and conferences like we did. You’ve got trade shows only with a little education. You’ve got a lot of education with a little trade show. There are lots of different ways to do it if you are looking at events. If you are going to do a competitive analysis, look and see what’s going on. I would challenge people to think a little bit bigger.

TTL 860 | Content Marketing
Content Marketing: If you get somebody to sign up for something such as an email. You have to be the best thing in their inbox.


When I talk to people that are building an audience, it’s easy to say, “I can do a small event for 20 or 30 people. Let’s do a webinar and start there.” Why not say, “Let’s create the event for our industry. Why not? Let’s do that.” You might say, “I don’t have the money to do that.” Pre-sell it. Go out to the partners that you have that want to invest in that and put a consortium together. That’s how we did it with Content Marketing World. I had no money. I went out to five different companies that had money and I said, “Here’s the vision. Here’s what I want to do. I need support to get this off the ground.” It was a little bit tougher to do that in 2009, 2010 than now because corporations have so much money. They don’t even know what to do with it.

Even with the COVID?

Yes. They’ve got with the stimulus thing. That’s why another trend that we are seeing off the topic is a lot of these big companies are buying smaller content creators like HubSpot, a marketing automation company. A $30 billion company bought The Hustle, which is a newsletter that goes out to about a million people. My buddy sold his podcast for a good amount of money. It’s happening all over the place because enterprises are not patient. They don’t like to do this whole content creation and build an audience thing because it takes too long. They are going out and buying smaller content entrepreneurs.

Get on to the different things. Do you know what nobody is doing now? A good and amazing print magazine. Everybody is on digital, doing these events. All the printers dried up. As far as I know, everyone still gets the post 6 times a week, at least 5 times a week. What are they not getting? Good quality information. If you look at who’s spending money on print now, Amazon, Walmart, Lego, all double down on their print strategy because they are smart. They’ve got all the attention in the world. If you create something that is even a little bit valuable, people are going to pay attention to it. You have to see what’s going on in the environment. There are plenty of opportunities now.

I talked to Steve Forbes about how they went digital when he was on the show. Sometimes what’s old is new again and it’s how you change it and how you deliver it the next time. I had the most important question for you, why are you a lover of orange? What’s that about?

I don’t want to bore your readers. I will give you a quick interpretation. I went and did this entrepreneurial thing and the colors of the company were orange and gray. As a new entrepreneur, I’m like, “I better buy a whole bunch of orange shirts. Isn’t that what you do as a business?” I bought a couple of orange shirts and I took some pictures. When you saw my avatar on Twitter or whatever, you saw me with an orange shirt on.

Finally, I was getting asked to do some paid speaking events and this was in 2008, 2009. I’ve got asked to go to Brussels, Belgium. I said, “Okay, great.” They said, “Joe, the only problem is you have to wear a black tuxedo.” I said, “I will wear whatever you want. You are paying me to come over to Brussels. I’m happy to go. I will do the speech.” I go and I do this speech on content marketing. I wear a black tux. I get off the stage. I have never been there before. I didn’t know anybody there. Three people came up to me and said, “Joe, why aren’t you wearing orange?” I’m like, “What?” Everything they saw with me was orange. From that moment on, I said, “Here’s another little way for me to differentiate myself.”

Like Steve Jobs always wears the black turtleneck or Zuckerberg wears the gray shirt, I always wear orange. That’s my thing. Anything that you can do to stand out with all this clutter going on, is including what you wear. Plus, I don’t have to think about it. That’s why I prescribe to what Steve Jobs always said, he’s like, “I have to think about a lot of things in growing Apple. I don’t want to think about what I have to wear and expend that energy.” I only wear orange and it makes it easy every day.

[bctt tweet=”Build an audience that knows, likes, and trusts you before you monetize it.” via=”no”]

I know Marshall Goldsmith wears green. I never thought about it until I ran into him at a black-tie. We were at Thinkers50 in London. He had a green tie on with the rest of his outfit. I don’t think I have ever seen him outside of green. It’s a good way to differentiate who you are, how you come across and what people remember about you. We have covered so much that is important. I want to make sure I have covered everything that you wanted to touch on from your book. Content Inc. is doing well. I wanted to see if there was one thing that you wanted to get across from that book that we didn’t cover.

We talked about a lot of different portions of the model and ways to drive revenue. For everyone reading this that may be dabbling in content, the most important thing I can probably tell you is you might want to kill 2 or 3 things that you are doing from a social media standpoint so you can focus on being great at 1 or 2. That’s the advice that I give to everyone that’s starting. When you look at somebody that’s trying to make it right, you don’t have a lot of time or energy, you are testing all these different platforms, you don’t know what’s working. They end up dabbling in a little bit of everything. Everything is mediocre or what my friend, Doug Kessler, calls a mountain of meh. We don’t want to do that.

What you might want to do is do a basic content audit and say, “Maybe Facebook isn’t working for me. I don’t need that Facebook business page. Maybe I shouldn’t be spending time on Twitter. Maybe I should be spending more time on LinkedIn or more with my email.” I would say take some time, be strategic, start saying, no to more things, and say no to some of these things that aren’t adding to the business and aren’t helping your customers or audience in any way. Look at some things where you can add some value.

That’s good advice. I know you do a lot of things to add value. I wanted to ask you about your foundation, The Orange Effect. How did you come about doing that? You are delivering speech therapy and technology service to children in more than 35 states. That’s a different value. I wanted to touch on that since you are doing such amazing work.

It’s near and dear to my heart. My oldest child was born on the autism spectrum. He had no verbal skills at age three. We were trying to figure out how do we do this. Luckily, we had the means and we’ve got him on aggressive speech and play therapy. By eight years old, he got rid of the tutor and then he was able to communicate on his own. Now, he’s a sophomore in college. He’s doing great. It’s fantastic. That’s where I learned that there are a lot of great organizations focusing on research about autism and speech disorders but not a lot of people dealing with, “What if there’s a child or a family that can’t afford speech therapy?”

By being in the industry, I found out a lot of these families were going without it. A lot of hard times out there, they are going to decide to put food on the table versus paying out of pocket for speech therapy for their kid because insurance doesn’t cover it, they don’t have the funds or whatever the case is. That’s why we created The Orange Effect Foundation. We have a great board that goes through the process. We look at needy families and cases where kids need speech therapy or they need some technology to help them communicate better.

Let’s say they are nonverbal, we make sure that we get that to them if they don’t have the insurance to cover it in some way. Since 2007, we have been working on the cause. We became a 501(c)(3) in 2014. Here we are now. If you have somebody in your life who’s affected by autism or speech disorders in some way and you are looking to give to that cause, we are always taking donations at We take those donations and every little bit that we get goes back out to the kids.

Since we can list that site, I would like to know if there’s any other site you want to share so that people can find out more about your book or follow you. Is there anything else you would like to share?

TTL 860 | Content Marketing
Content Marketing: You might want to kill two or three things that you’re doing from a social media standpoint. So you can focus on being great at one or two.


The business model for content creation that we talked about, that’s the Content Inc. book. You can find that on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and anywhere else. It’s Content Inc. version two. It has an orange cover. You want to look at that one. The new business is called That’s an email newsletter and you get all about how you can drive business through content creation. It’s the same stuff we are talking about, Diane. If you want to find me on social media and hit me up with a direct message, I’m @JoePulizzi on every social media platform.

You also wrote a novel, The Will to Die. What haven’t you done? That’s a suspense book in 2020. It’s pretty impressive.

The novel was fun because the short story behind that is we sold Content Marketing Institute in 2016. I took 2018 off entirely. I had always wanted to write something that my wife would read. My other six books before are all business marketing books. My wife would only read the acknowledgments. She never read it because she’s not a marketer. She’s like, “Whatever, write something more interesting.” She likes mysteries and thrillers. I said, “I’m going to write you a thriller.” It’s one of the most difficult things I have ever done but I finished and published it in March of 2020. We won a couple of awards and a couple of bestseller lists. It was fun to write it. It stars a marketing agency guy.

You are like Robin Cook. Since he was a doctor, he writes doctor stories. You are going to have to write all marketing guys’ stories.

You write what you know about. I know plenty about marketing so I might as well say, “Let’s go that direction.”

I have not read that. I’m going to have to read it. Can you give me a little of the hook? What is it?

It’s called The Will to Die. Will Pollitt is the main character. He runs a marketing agency. He’s down on his luck. His father dies. His father owned funeral home. He had to go back and take care of the funeral home. He uncovers this horrible conspiracy in a small town about people ending up missing and then gets involved in that. He ends up fighting for his life and figuring things out with a couple of his partners. If you like chases, conspiracy theories, if you are interested at all in marketing or funeral homes, you will love it.

When is that coming out on screenplay?

I wish. We had a couple of people come to us and ask us about the rights for Hulu, Netflix and things like that but those things are hard to get done. We are still working on those things. I would love to see it happen. Like what we were talking about, if I was serious about becoming a novelist, I have to write another book. I have to do it with a lot of consistency.

Maybe you should read the episode with Sheila Barry Driscoll because she’s all about funding things like that. You might find that show interesting. Anybody who’s reading this too, if you are looking for somebody to back your entertainment idea, she was an amazing show. She’s specific on how to do it.

[bctt tweet=”Do anything to stand out in all the clutter.” via=”no”]

I will check that out. Thank you.

It’s a great one. She’s wonderful. She used to run that billionaire institute and all this other stuff. It’s a fascinating show if anyone is reading and wants to know more about that. This was so much fun, Joe. I’m excited about your book. It’s important. All the advice you gave is great. I’m going to include a lot of these clips in my courses. I still teach so much marketing. Cutting back sometimes, people don’t even think about that, to focus more. Much more that we talked about was important. Thank you so much for being on the show.

Diane, thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it.

You are welcome.

I found the conversation with Joe to be helpful for many reasons because I have a lot of courses I teach in marketing, sales, management leadership that deal with some of this content creation. I started a small company that a friend of mine, Dr. Gilda Carle and I both have decided to help people to present their content either video media, audio media or that type of thing. If you have difficulty speaking in front of a group or if you have Zoom fatigue or whatever it is, we work with a lot of people in different areas to help with getting the message out in the best way possible.

You can find us on YouTube or you can search Your Media Docs. We post our videos there all the time. We have conversations about the things that we talked about here or somewhat related to that. A lot of it is presentation skills, how do we be prepared to speak in front of a camera. If you’re going to be creating content like Joe was saying, if you are going to be a YouTube person or you want to have TikTok videos, Clubhouse, you find a media where you want to own your space, you have to be able to present effectively. Those are the things that Dr. Gilda Carle and I discussed because she was popular in different forms of media. She has always been in television and different realms. She was on Sally Jessy Raphael, it’s how Dr. Phil spun off from Oprah

She was popular from the Sally Jessy days and has gone on to do many other types of film and media. I can’t even tell you how many shows that she has been on, from Howard Stern to Joy Behar. You see her everywhere. She had that video component as well. I do a little bit different more of the show, radio and audio versions. I also have the video component as well. We have had a lot of fun. There are a lot of dynamic interactions in our conversations. We touch on some of the things that may be a lot of people haven’t explored yet with Zoom or Clubhouse. If you have to give a presentation, how to be prepared, all those things are on our Your Media Docs videos. I wanted to let you know about that.

Also, on some of the shows, you can find on I have a lot of content about how to give proper introductions in media to get to know people, how to build your database, your following and how to create a podcast. It’s fascinating for a lot of people who haven’t done this. This is both a radio show and a blog. If you are looking for anything knowledge-wise of how to do things, if you go to, the blog has all the shows. The shows have so much content. If you want to learn about something let’s say, you want to learn about emotional intelligence, leadership or whatever it is, if you search at the top, you can find out. If you want to find a certain guest that you found interesting that you knew was on the show, there are all kinds of ways to search on this site.

If you are looking to find more information about curiosity and perception, that’s also there. There are a lot of drop-down menus. You may not see it at the top because there’s only so much room. If you have a lot of content on your site, you have to be able to access it on mobile devices. You can’t have a million things at the top. I have even more drop-down menus at the bottom for testimonials and more as far as assessments, contact information and all that. Make sure you scroll down to the bottom of the page when you go to the website. I would like to share so much of the content that we have. It’s helpful to many people in many ways.

If you have any questions, you can also email me through my site and contact me. I will respond to you. What is interesting about this show is because Joe is such an expert. When you teach many courses the way I do, it’s important to get different perspectives on how to connect with your customers. As we were talking about it, a lot of people think that it’s going to happen overnight. They are going to write 3 or 4 blogs a week for a few weeks. By a few months, you are starting to see these huge numbers following you. It doesn’t work that way. There’s too much competition out there. There’s so much content and everybody is buying for the same space.

I love that he brought up that you have to say something different. That seems intuitive. It’s often very challenging. What are you going to say that’s different? How can you be different? For me, in the leadership space, a lot of people always ask me why I’ve got into curiosity. It is different from what anybody else is talking about. People are talking about motivation, drive and different things but that’s down the road.

The spark to all the things that I hear people talk about is curiosity. When people ask me what I mean by curiosity, I’m talking about getting out of status quo behaviors, thinking outside the norm of what everybody else is doing. Maybe what they are doing is not the right way to do it anymore. Maybe it worked once but maybe we don’t do it that way anymore. That’s my unique spot that I have picked in the market that nobody else had explored.

Even though there’s research out there to tell you if you have high or low levels of curiosity, there was no way to determine what was holding people back from being curious. That’s what I wanted to know. That’s why my research was recognized by Thinkers50 radar as an innovative idea because it’s unique. What I found is four things inhibit curiosity, fear, assumptions, technology and environment. In the book, Cracking the Curiosity Code, I go over some of that.

The biggest amount of content you can find about how to improve your curiosity is through taking the Curiosity Code Index, which is offered on my site at or you can go directly to it at That takes you to the same place. You can take the assessment. You can buy the book. You can do everything you want on that link. The book that I co-wrote with Dr. Maja Zelihic is also on the site and that is The Power of Perception, which also brings curiosity into the mix.

We saw that perception is a combination of IQ, EQ, CQ for Curiosity Quotient, and CQ for Cultural Quotient combined. To do business, you have to see things from different levels of perception. That might have been an additional thing that Joe and I could have talked about but I didn’t want to keep him all day for the show. When you are dealing with what people want and need, you have to develop your sense of empathy, which is a big part of emotional intelligence.

My research, initially, for my dissertation was about emotional intelligence and its impact on performance. A big part of emotional intelligence is empathy. To develop empathy, you have to be curious. You have to ask questions to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes. Perception is about how can we understand things from other people’s perspectives. Our perception is our reality but it’s not anybody else’s reality sometimes.

How do you do business? How do you market? How do you do anything if you don’t have that sense of being able to connect with other people and understand them? That doesn’t mean you have to agree with how they see things. You just have to be able to put yourself in their position and go, “This is why they see things that way.” That can help in marketing because you can figure out ways to position different ads and things in a way that appeals to them.

Some products don’t do well in other countries because of the perception of the products. For example, Subway is a great moneymaker here in the United States because we love sandwiches. Maybe sandwiches aren’t such a big thing in other countries, it’s not part of their culture. There are a lot that goes into marketing and research that gives us an idea of what other people need or want in your product or your service.

If you don’t recognize that there’s a process that you go through, we call it an epic process in The Power of Perception book as well as in the Perception Power Index where we look at this epic process, which we evaluate, predict, interpret and then we correlate to make our conclusions. If you are having issues in any of those areas, those assessments that are on the site can help give you feedback either for curiosity or perception to find out, “Where can I improve? What’s holding me back? How can I interact better with other people?” If you could work on your perception, you are going to have those interpersonal skills that are key to being successful. Curiosity is the spark to all of it.

If you take the Curiosity Code Index, it will give you so much insight into how fear, assumptions, the voice in your head, the over and underutilization of technology and how every environmental influence, all the people you have ever been around, have impacted how you interact with other people. Taking the Curiosity Code Index and The Perception Power Index are two critical assessments to give you feedback. They are not the kind of thing that puts you into a box. I’m not going to give you a letter or tell you, you are a certain type.

You are going to get more like an emotional intelligence test where it gives you your level. It will say, “These are the things you can do to improve.” It will help you create a personal SWOT analysis and smart, measurable and meaningful goals that you can overcome some of these things. All of those are important assessments and training to get you to be a better marketer, which is what we have been talking about. For you to be able to create a message that hits people at scale but feels personalized, you have to ask a lot of questions and be curious, and develop your perception capabilities so that you can see things from another person’s vantage point.

I thought that was an important thing to add since Joe covered many great areas in the show. I want to thank him for being my guest. We get many great guests on the show. If you have missed any past episodes, you can catch them at Go to the blog to read them. We are also on a lot of AM, FM, and show stations that are listed. You can see those stations listed on the website if you go to the radio section there. I wanted to leave you with that information. This was such a great show. Thank you, Joe. I hope you enjoyed this episode and join us for the next episode of Take The Lead radio.

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About Joe Pulizzi

TTL 860 | Content MarketingJoe Pulizzi is one of the world’s top content marketing authorities. He has founded three companies, including the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), launched dozens of events, including Content Marketing World.

Pulizzi is the recipient of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award for content marketing from the Content Council. He is the author of multiple books including his latest Content Inc.


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