Meet Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute
, which teaches marketers how to own their media channels instead of having to rent them through advertising. CMI does this through educational events, media properties and strategic consulting and research. CMI has 14 full-time and 12 part-time employees.
How did you come to be an entrepreneur?
I come from a long line of entrepreneur's and always had the bug to start my own business. In 2007, after seven years with Penton Media
, I hung out my shingle for the first time. With the changing nature of how marketers were starting to publish more content, I thought there was an opportunity that some people didn't see.
That year, I started Junta42, an online matching service for marketers looking for content providers. We matched up over 1,000 projects in two years, including some Fortune 500 brands. The problem was, the business model wasn't working financially. In 2009 we transitioned Junta42 into what is now the Content Marketing Institute and things took off.
We now run the largest online resource for content marketing with the magazine, Chief Content Officer
, and Content Marketing World
, the largest in-person content marketing event in the world for marketers, which will bring well over 1,000 marketers into Cleveland in September.
Why was it important for you to start this organization?
To get attention, businesses need to develop consistently valuable and compelling stories, like a publisher does. The problem is that most businesses are used to talking about themselves, not creating ongoing, compelling information through multiple channels.
So the mission for the Content Marketing Institute is to advance the practice of content marketing. Most businesses go straight to the channels (email, Facebook, Twitter) without creating a strategy of what should go into those channels. That's our mission -- to help rid the world of horrible, needless content coming from brands.
How do you plan to make Cleveland the Content Marketing Capital of the World?
Even though CMI is a virtual company with contributors all over the world, we are headquartered in Cleveland. We will continue to stay in Cleveland.
When I worked at Penton I started to play with the term "content marketing." You could make the case that the phrase was first used seriously here in Cleveland. We are seeing a renaissance in content marketing here in Cleveland. There is amazing talent here. My job is to tell the world about it.
How many people attend the Content Marketing World?
Last year, over 1,000 marketers from 23 countries attended Content Marketing World. The attendees consisted of corporate marketers and marketing services companies and agencies. Last year, 11 of the Fortune 50 attended our show.
How were you able to grow your business by more than 1,000 in four years?
By employing a content marketing strategy, of course. For over 1,000 straight days our team at CMI has developed cutting edge content through our blog to help move the industry forward. That content has attracted over 40,000 subscribers and over 130,000 visitors a month to our website. The average piece of content on our site is shared 1,000 times.
What is the biggest struggle or hurdle you had to overcome and how did you overcome it?
I fell in love with our first product, Junta42. Although it worked, it wasn't what our audience needed. They needed consulting, education and training. I had to make the decision to shift the business to a training and education model, and that has made all the difference. Also, patience is key. We just celebrated our sixth year anniversary. If you'd have looked at our financials after year three, you'd have told us to quit. Just two years later we made the Inc 500 as one of the fastest growing private companies in the US.
What motivates you to go into work each day?
I'm doing what I love. I get to speak in front of people all over the world about content marketing. I get to write articles that hundreds of thousands of people read, share and spread. I don't think I've ever looked at what I do now as a job.
What advice would you give to someone starting a company in Cleveland?
Cleveland has an amazing network of resources to help entrepreneurs. I always tell startups that launching a company in Cleveland is like cutting your expense line in half -- everything is on sale compared to New York and Silicon Valley, and yet we have access to everything they do.