Skip to main content

129: Joe Pulizzi: Real Estate & Content Marketing: Why It’s The Only Marketing Left

By |October 21, 2017| 2 Comments

Are you concerned about the growing influence of the major real estate portals, agent review sites and lead generators? What if there was something you could do to rely less on those platforms for new business opportunities?

What if that ‘something’ was a marketing strategy that’s actually been around for hundreds of years, and more recently has become one of the most talked about terms in digital marketing?

On this episode of Real Estate Pros, we’re joined by Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute and the guy who invented the term ‘content marketing’. We discuss why content marketing is so different to traditional advertising and why it could be the only marketing left if you want to rely less on the big online platforms for new business opportunities into the future.

Real Estate Content Marketing

Joe Pulizzi is the founder of  Content Marketing Institute, a UBM company, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World.

When defining content marketing, and why it’s so different to other forms of marketing or advertising, Joe says:

“With content marketing, we’re not talking about our product or service. Instead, we’re focusing on a very specific audience and we’re trying to deliver them some kind of value – usually informative or entertaining or hopefully both – in the form textual (blog), video or audio (podcast) content, consistently over time.”

A real estate example

Place Estate Agents in Brisbane have multiple full-time content producers across their 14 offices covering real estate advice, events, lifestyle topics, celebrity interviews and hyper-local news.

Their media team publish regularly on their content website and they use various channels, such as social media and email, to drive traffic back to their site for brand exposure and awareness of their team. They do an amazing job of creating content that people in their local communities actually want to consume – that mix of informative and entertaining.


With the rising influence of our major real estate portals, agent review and comparison sites, Joe agrees that it’s more important than ever to build and nurture an audience of your own if you want to rely less on other people’s platforms to drive leads and referrals for you into the future.

“If every other real estate agent is getting their leads the same way, what are you going to do?”

By delivering value to your audience and a differentiated message consistently over time, Joe believes this elevates the perception of your brand to a whole new level. Thus people only come to you when they’re ready to buy or sell and are less likely to challenge your fees.

“The good part is, there’s no fight with competitors, they just go to you when they’re ready.”

Listen to the interview by pressing play above or listen via iTunes.


Full Transcript

Josh Cobb: This week we’re changing up our format just a little bit, but it’s certainly for a very good reason. Instead of hearing from just me, I’m joined by a very special guest, someone who you’ve definitely heard about before if you’re keeping your finger on the pulse of all things marketing these days.

I’m very excited to be joined by Mr. Joe [00:00:30] Pulizzi. If you don’t know who Joe is, he’s the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, the leading education and training organisation for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person event for content marketing in the world. Joe has authored five books, including his most recent titled Killing Marketing, which is hot off the press and we’ll talk about in today’s show.

He not only writes one of the most influential content marketing blogs in the world, but Joe also writes a column for He is a Linkedin influencer, an international [00:01:00] speaker, and the co-host of one of my favourite podcasts called This Old Marketing.

I’ve been fortunate to have attended Joe’s conference, Content Marketing World, for the past two years, where I’ve met Joe and his amazing team, so I’m honoured today to have the man himself, Mr. Joe Pulizzi, joining us to talk all things content marketing for the real estate industry. Joe, welcome to the show.

Joe Pulizzi: Josh, first of all thank you for changing the format, and second of all, you’ve got to lower the expectations, my friend. I mean let’s bring it [00:01:30] down. We have no idea what we’re going to give your listeners today, but we’re going to have a good time doing it, so thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.

Josh Cobb: Thank you so much. We’ll try and give it as much orange as we can.

Joe Pulizzi: As you know, I’m wearing orange. I don’t have any other clothes besides orange, so it makes it easy.

Josh Cobb: I love it. I love it. Firstly Joe, congratulations on another successful year at Content Marketing World recently. Wrangling 4,000 marketers from around the world is no easy feat I’m sure.

Joe Pulizzi: If content marketing had a holiday, it would be that week. [00:02:00] We do it the week after Labour Day, a US holiday in the States every year, and I just love the community. This is just a … As you know, I mean you’ve been part of this, these people … There’s no competitive bone in their body when it comes to being around this group of people. They’re just sharing. It’s just … I hope you felt that. I just thought it was incredible, the amount of excitement around hey, we have an opportunity as marketers to really do something special here, [00:02:30] and I just get invigorated every time we have one. It’s blown away. It’s a bigger concept than I ever thought it would grow into, and that’s because of the community.

Josh Cobb: It’s outstanding, and congratulations is also in order for the launch of your new book, Killing Marketing, because as if organising a conference for 4,000 people wasn’t enough each year alongside all of the other things that you do, you decided added writing another book to your schedule this year as well.

Joe Pulizzi: This one’s a fun one. Of course, we had fun with the title, Killing Marketing. [00:03:00] Not that we want to get rid of marketing, but we really do believe we’re at the crossroads of what a lot of people think is marketing and what we really talk about in the book. I think that if you are building any size company, and of course we’ll talk about it specifically for real estate professionals, you have an opportunity to build a loyal audience and sell things that you may not ever thought of before.

That’s what we talk about in the book, is maybe the products and services you offer, [00:03:30] maybe there’s more to it. Maybe you can offer more value and you can drive more revenues than you have before, but you just have to think a little bit differently about your business model.

I’m just having fun with Robert Rose, going around the country talking about the concept, because you either love it or hate it. People will see it and they’ll say, “Oh, this is fantastic.” Then I’ve talked to some agency professionals and they’ll look at me like this is the stupidest book we’ve ever read. Why would you even come out with this? You’ve wasted paper, those poor trees. I’m [00:04:00] hearing this and I love … That’s when we know we’ve got a good one. You either got … People really love it or really hate it, so I’m feeling good about it.

Josh Cobb: To be right to someone you’ve got to be wrong to someone else, right?

Joe Pulizzi: That’s exactly right. Absolutely. That’s the key.

Josh Cobb: We’re going to really dive into the new book today and talk … I think we’re really going to challenge a lot of real estate professionals who are listening to this show to think a little bit differently about their marketing. Firstly, I gave our listeners a quick snapshot, but can you fill in some gaps from [00:04:30] our intro and tell us a little bit more about you personally for those who may not have heard of yourself or CMI, and maybe give us a little glimpse into what the Content Marketing Institute is all about?

Joe Pulizzi: Sure. We want to get to the questions, so really quick I’ve been in this industry for 20 years now. I started in business in business publishing as part of my role at this large business to business company. I was doing things like creating custom magazines and newsletters, both in print format. Then we went onto digital [00:05:00] and started doing blogs for really large business to business companies, because they said we want to tell a better story. We want to create more engagement. How do we market by delivering value instead of just interrupting people all the time?

That’s how I sort of cut my teeth, and then in 2007 I got the entrepreneurial bug and I wanted to start a business. I kind of had some fits and starts from 2007 to 2010, but really got it right when we said look, we’re going to launch Content Marketing Institute in May of 2010. [00:05:30] That immediately took off and we launched Content Marketing World in 2011 and Chief Content Officer magazine the same year, and of course you talked about the podcast in 2013.

Basically, we’re dedicated to how to information, so we really are about teaching and educating marketing professionals about how they can create valuable, relevant, compelling information on a consistent basis to a targeted group of people in order for them to do some kind of profitable behaviour for the business.

It’s marketing, but instead of interrupting [00:06:00] and saying, hey, here’s how great I am and here’s the service, we’re saying what is the pain points of the audience I’m trying to reach and how can I solve those pain points with information instead of a product or service? So sort of content marketing is probably the fastest growing area of internet marketing in the world right now, and I’m just happy to be around for it, because I’ve got to tell you, Josh, there was a time when I didn’t think it was going to work.

We were all worried, and my kids were worried and my wife was worried because we didn’t know where [00:06:30] the money was coming from, but it really started to take off. Between that, like you said, I wrote five books. I love my wife and two boys. My boys are teenagers right now and I’m just having a ball, just living the life I always wanted to live and spending more time with the kids now. Maybe not travelling as much as I used to, because I used to do crazy trips like you do. Actually went to Singapore, went to Sydney a couple times. [00:07:00] I’m spending more time in the US now, but still evangelising the practice of content marketing.

Josh Cobb: Something interesting that I’ve heard you speak about before is the Google Trends graph of people searching for the term content marketing on the internet. Can you tell our listeners a little bit about that and kind of where that hockey stick uptick really occurred and I guess where it is today?

Joe Pulizzi: Yeah. Google Trends, for those people who don’t know, you can sort of track [00:07:30] search engine behaviour over a group of people in whatever location you want to. I started using this tool in … I don’t know, 2007 I think was probably the first … 2006, 2007, and when I went out on my own, and basically I’ve always done content marketing, but nobody called it content marketing. Historically the term is custom publishing or custom media. In the UK they call it customer media, branded content. There’s all sorts of terms for it. [00:08:00]

When I left the business to business media company to start what became Content Marketing Institute, I started to do some research and I’m like look, this is a thing. This thing that we’re calling today content marketing is a thing, but everyone started to use all kinds of different terms and there was no one term. So the belief was if we put our energy around a winning term, whatever that was, that would help our business.

What I basically did, Josh, is I would just go around talking to chief marketing [00:08:30] officers and I would throw every term at them. I would say branded content and customer media and custom content and custom publishing and content marketing, and the only one that I saw that twinkle in their eyes, it actually resonated, was when I said content marketing. I said I think that’s the one.

Then I would track these things … And by the way, in 2007 when you put this into Google Trends it didn’t even register. I mean it was nothing. What we saw was custom publishing was going down [00:09:00] a little bit and branded content was going down, and I’m like I know people are using content marketing. It’s just a blip, but maybe we can take advantage of this. Basically all we did was we said okay, we’re going to start a blog and we’re going to create how to content, on the practise of content marketing, targeting enterprise marketers, and we’re going to do it on a consistent basis, so basically blog three times a week, and started to talk about these issue.

Then it probably wasn’t until 2009 … 2008 or 2009, [00:09:30] we saw oh my gosh, you could see it in Google Trends. It started to move up. Then in 2010 it became the most popular term when you look at everything, and you could almost say that inbound marketing, because a lot of small businesses use that term as well, and content marketing were almost neck-and-neck. There was almost like we were headed to the finish line and it was really close, and it still is today, although content marketing has a little bit of a lead, depending on how you look at it.

It doesn’t matter, but the point was … Is [00:10:00] we said look, there’s no dominant term here. Let’s focus on that term, grow that, educate people, and if we do that and we do it right we can become the leading providers of that information, and that’s exactly what happened. Not that this was like any kind of master plan, Josh, but at least we knew enough to know that talking to customers and also using a tool like Google Trends we could see that there was an opportunity there, and then all we did was execute on that opportunity.

Josh Cobb: [00:10:30] It’s not really a new term to those inside marketing circles or inside baseball, as you guys put it, Joe, but content marketing is still somewhat of a buzz phrase within the real estate industry at least. Can you break it down for us at a very basic level? What is content marketing and why is it different to other forms of marketing being done by … Let’s focus on the real estate industry today.

Joe Pulizzi: Sure. Okay. We’re talking to real estate agents now, professionals, and you [00:11:00] have many different ways that you could get your message out there. Maybe you get leads through referrals. Maybe you do it through television advertising. Maybe you send out pamphlets, postcards, direct mail. Maybe you do radio spots. Maybe you buy Facebook advertising, whatever the case is. That’s all fine, and not saying that you shouldn’t continue to do those things. I’m a believer in advertising at the right place and the right time. Go ahead and do that.

But the difference between advertising and content marketing is [00:11:30] we’re not talking about our product and service. What we’re doing is we’re focusing on a very specific audience and we’re trying to deliver them some kind of value. It’s usually either informative or entertaining, and hopefully both. If we’re thinking about it and I’m a real estate agent, I’m like okay, I’m targeting this specific group of people. These people are in this location and they like to buy this kind of house. What’s something that I could create on a consistent basis? [00:12:00] Content.

That could be audio, like this podcast. It could be video. It could be textual. It could be some kind of imagery, textual, like a blog, imagery, like an Instagram account or something like that. You’re going to deliver something that truly differentiates, so something a lot of people aren’t doing or talking about, let’s say, and we’re going to deliver it specifically to this group of people.

I’ll give you an example because I just saw this real estate example and I thought it was great. There’s a woman in the United States [00:12:30] and she was a real estate agent in a city in Tennessee, in the United States. There are more real estate agents … I didn’t even know this. There are more real estate agents in Tennessee per capita than any other state in the United States. I had no idea that this was the thing.

So okay, you’re a real estate agent. How the heck are you going to differentiate yourself when everybody in the entire … A good percentage of the entire state are real estate professionals. This is a really difficult challenge that you have. [00:13:00] I’m going to give a hat tip here to Mark Schaefer, a good friend of mine, he did a speech on this and he was talking about this case study. He showed the Instagram accounts of all the other real estate professionals.

All the other real estate professionals, they were just putting up pictures of houses. Here’s a house. Here’s this house. Here’s that house. What she was doing is she had just created something … She did this on a regular basis, so every day what she would do is the houses that she would sell for, she would go into these houses [00:13:30] and she would take pictures of strange things that they left behind before they left. I just thought it was the weirdest thing.

They would leave a plant. There was one person that left their cat. They’re just really weird things that they would … Dishtowels that they were leaving, whatever it was. She didn’t say what the house was and where it was. She just was saying I’m a real estate agent and this is a very weird life and here’s weird things that you might be interested in that people left behind. That’s all she did, Josh. She just [00:14:00] kept promoting this on Instagram. She built a huge following on Instagram and she became the most successful real estate agent in her city just by doing this, just by building an audience and getting those people interested in her.

She wasn’t saying you should go check out this house, this is amazing. All she was is she was interesting for that group of people that thought … And by the way, she really loves cats, so she would have cats in a lot of these pictures that she would find wherever. Now [00:14:30] I guess she’s built a really strong relationship with buyers that like cats.

Josh Cobb: She’s the cat lady.

Joe Pulizzi: Yeah, she’s the cat lady, so a lot of people … So if you are a buyer … Like if you’re selling your house and you’re looking for a real estate agent in Tennessee, you’re probably going to find her because you have this affinity for cats, which I think is strange, but whatever, it’s a thing.

The point is what did she do? She delivered valuable, interesting information for this group of people she was trying to target and now she’s got [00:15:00] an agency of like 10 people, and like it’s the fastest growing agency that she’s got in this city in Tennessee. So the whole point about back to content marketing and why this is important is something … I see a lot of real estate agents, they send like postcards with food recipes on it or a calendar, which is fine, but what could you do that’s truly differentiated and somewhat relevant to what you’re doing, to your location, to the type [00:15:30] of houses you want to sell, to the needs of your particular audience?

Does that mean that you create a podcast on something that’s truly valuable to the audience that is trying to look for something? What we’re trying to do is keep that audience’s attention before, during and after they’re ready to buy, or sell for that matter in this case. That’s the beautiful thing about content marketing, is you want to build an audience and you want to keep that audience’s attention over a long period of time, because you never know when they’re going to buy.

I think that’s the challenge [00:16:00] when you’re not thinking about content marketing, because you’re like I have to get buyers at this particular time, just the ones that are ready to buy. That’s so hard to sell that way. What I’d rather do is I’d rather just build a relationship with all the people that I’m targeting and when they’re ready to buy they’re going to of course reach out to me because I’m delivering this amazing, valuable, interesting information on a consistent basis and it makes my job easier, and they don’t have to go out and find a real estate professional.

They just come back and they come to me and they [00:16:30] say, “Well, Joe, I’ve been following your podcast,” or, “I’ve been checking out you blog or your Instagram account, and of course I would use you.” That’s what we want. We want it to be a no-brainer. Of course they would use you, because you’ve been delivering amazing information to them.

Josh Cobb: Something that came to mind just as you were telling that story, Joe, is that not every agent is our friend from Tennessee. We’re talking an extrovert, someone that’s willing to open themselves up on Instagram or Facebook or wherever it might be. [00:17:00] For those people that are thinking that’s not me, what do you say to those people that are maybe a little more introverted in how much they want to give of themselves online? What are some thoughts that … What are some things that they can think about in that regard?

Joe Pulizzi: What’s interesting, Josh, is that most of the content creators I know are introverts, so you pick your spots, right? If you’re like I’m never going to do this social media thing and I don’t want to do Instagram, maybe you don’t want to do a podcast [00:17:30] like you’ve done so well. Maybe you don’t want to be on videos, but maybe you do something like a blog, a very simple, helpful blog for very specific people in your community that you’re trying to reach.

Maybe it is through pictures, but it’s not pictures of you and you’re not in it. By the way, this woman … Most of the pictures she wasn’t in, because she was taking pictures of something else, which is really easy then, because you’re just taking pictures of stuff, which just about anybody [00:18:00] could do with a smartphone.

I don’t think the challenge is necessarily the medium. It’s not like okay, well it’s tough for me to get in front of a camera or do a podcast, because all these things pretty much cost you nothing. It’s just time to do that. The challenge is building the strategy around it, like what can I talk about that’s truly, truly differentiated and will break through all the clutter out there and they’ll pay attention to me? That’s what this woman in Tennessee did. We call this the content tilt.

[00:18:30] What is your content tilt? How do you tell a different story? How do you break through all that clutter? That’s what … If you’re listening to this, that’s what you’re going to have to figure out, and the only way to do that is to really figure out who you’re targeting.

If you said I’ll sell a house for anybody in the Sydney area or whatever suburb of Sydney, you might have to be more specific than that, like you’re really talking to people that want this type of house, they really enjoy [00:19:00] this type of freedom, they feel this about certain things, and really build a profile of your audience that you’re trying to reach and figure out what’s their pain point?

What’s really keeping them up at night? What would be something that they would actually spend the time to engage in when there’s another Game of Thrones episode out and they want to watch that? Those are the things that I think we have to think about. The hardest part is the strategic part. Executing [00:19:30] it is just … It’s a lot easier when you have a good strategy behind it, so I would spend some time on the strategic part of it.

Josh Cobb: Something that gets talked about a lot at real estate conferences and training sessions, I think it’s all over the world, Joe, is … The talk at the moment I get the feeling is you’ve just got to get out there and just start creating content. It doesn’t matter what it is, just talk about anything, get out there, turn a camera on, start creating content. What you said there about the importance of strategy and [00:20:00] just mapping this stuff out first, how important is it to get that right first before you press record or start writing?

Joe Pulizzi: First of all, great point. There are some people out there, you and I both know them, that will say exactly what you said, go out, get there, just get out there. Just start. Just create content, I don’t care what it’s about. I don’t agree with that. If you’re doing it for practice, that’s a different story. You’re experimenting and you’re trying to figure things out. That’s fine if you want [00:20:30] to do that.

But if you’re really going to do this as part of your business, I want you to commit to it. I want you to … There’s only two gears here. It’s either all in or nothing. If you’re just going to say … Because you can do … Like you were talking to me before the show, a lot of lead generating things out there, a lot of referral things. I mean there’s a lot of competition and I wouldn’t necessarily want to take that route, but you could go a very traditional route and get leads like everybody else does, or you could be [00:21:00] very thoughtful about who you’re trying to target and do something truly amazing.

If you’re just going to say I’m just going to go talk about whatever I see out there, I wouldn’t waste your time. I wouldn’t even do anything then. I would just go 100% traditional then instead of just dabbling in … We call it dabbling in content marketing. It’s not going to be a good use of your time or anybody else’s time, because you’re not going to build an audience. It takes creating content on a consist [00:21:30] basis and delivering to that audience over and over and over again for a long period of time, and a lot of people don’t have the patience for that.

Now if you do, you probably went out, because it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Usually the people that last the longest are the ones that win, because everybody else just says, “I did it three months. I tried it. I’m done. I’m going to do something else,” while you’re still going. Just take Content Marketing Institute for example. We did a blog for over 24 months before I was able to generate any revenue [00:22:00] from it.

I know people on this podcast probably don’t want to hear that, but it took some time. We had to build an audience. I didn’t have any credibility out there. I was over and over again creating these blog posts and then getting people to subscribe to an email until we built up the audience to over 10,000 and I said okay, now we can start monetizing that, and we built it into a multi-million dollar company, but it takes time to get there.

But once you get there, once you build even a sliver of an audience that really starts to be loyal, [00:22:30] then you can expand that into all kinds of directions. I didn’t realise … I had no idea we were going to have 15 or 16 different revenue streams in Content Marketing Institute. Initially there was only one, and you know what? We don’t even offer that one anymore because the customers didn’t want that, so it’s interesting how things change once you build a loyal audience.

Josh Cobb: One of the biggest challenges we face in the real estate industry … I’m talking specifically about Australia here, Joe, is the perception of our industry [00:23:00] professionals. In Australia at least, where we’re constantly rated in the bottom three trusted professions year in, year out, making it pretty hard to get cut through in any medium with just about any message, and I think that’s given rise to some of these lead generating platforms and ratings and review sites that we spoke about before we hit record. So my big question to you around this is can content marketing help us overcome this issue, and if so how in your opinion?

Joe Pulizzi: It might be … I mean from what [00:23:30] you’ve told me … I mean I’m not a real estate expert, so you’re not going to want to buy your house from me, that’s for sure. But if you have all this competition around you, which is happening in every industry by the way here in the States. Globally every industry is being disrupted, so it’s not just the real estate industry.

What are you going to do against these larger platforms like the domains of the world, like all these lead generating systems that could eat your lunch because they have the resources to do so? [00:24:00] Well, you have to build your own platform. You have to build a direct relationship with a group of people that it doesn’t matter whatever else comes down the way, you’re going to have an opportunity.

One of my mentors who started to study marketing was Don Schultz. He’s a professor emeritus at Northwestern University in the United States. The thing that … I’ve always taken this with me. He said basically anything that you offer, [00:24:30] anything that any company does, the products, the services, all that can be duplicated. The price, everything can be duplicated, so let’s take this down to the person listening.

You’re a real estate professional. Anything that you do can be duplicated except, as Don says, except for how you communicate. That’s the hardest thing to duplicate. Your brand, what you create, the relationships that you create because of how you communicate with them, that’s what [00:25:00] people cannot duplicate. So let’s come back to content marketing. Every other real estate professional is getting their leads the same way. Well what are you going to do? What if you had a group of people that every let’s say once a week they got up and you delivered some amazing podcast or some really valuable video series or whatever it is, it doesn’t matter.

Let’s just say it’s a podcast since we’re on a podcast. What if you did something like curb appeal secrets that nobody will tell you? [00:25:30] You just get up there and you say, “You know what? Everybody knows the regular curb appeal stuff and everyone knows that you’ve got to bake cookies before people come in and go through the house and all that stuff, but here’s the things they don’t tell you,” and every week you cover one thing that they don’t tell you. Maybe it’s an interview or maybe it’s something very thoughtful or whatever.

Then people that are interested in selling or buying a house, they say this is interesting stuff, specifically selling, right? Because that’s something they want to know. They want to know how they can get more money for [00:26:00] their house. There’s another one, how you can get more money for your house before you sell it. Really simple, right? Well, there’s probably 10,000 blogs out there, but is there a really good podcast out there? I don’t know. Maybe there’s not. Maybe that’s the advantage that you have if you’re a real estate professional.

If you build that audience, and let’s say you send it out every Monday and they pay attention and you’ve got 500 and then you’ve got 1,000, and let’s say you got 5,000 people. Honestly, that’s probably all you’re going to need to have [00:26:30] a bigger year than anyone else out there, because those 5.000 are going to tell their friends, because if anybody is looking for a real estate agent you’re going to be the one, because you’re the one delivering that value.

That’s something that those referral machines can’t do, because all they’re doing is they’re trying to make an inefficient system more efficient. That’s Amazon, right? Amazon is making inefficient systems more efficient. You can’t compete with Amazon. All you can do is you can build a better relationship with the customers you’re trying to target, because you’re focusing [00:27:00] on issues that nobody else would focus on and you do it consistently over time, and that is the best kind of marketing in the world.

Josh Cobb: Something I’ve always said, Joe, is there’s a big difference between an audience, and I love that you use that word, and I’ve always said there’s a big difference between having an audience and a database. A database is something people … Or a CRM. A lot of real estate agents are taught from the day they start that they have to … The database is the lifeblood of their business.

I’ve always said that the difference between [00:27:30] the two is that an audience are people that actually look forward to getting stuff from you, as opposed to a database, that is kind of like … It tells you what you spoke about last time you spoke to them, maybe their birthdays or a record of the emails that you’ve sent, but an audience is something different. Would you agree?

Joe Pulizzi: I love that you just said that, because you and I … of course from Killing Marketing and every other book I’ve written about the value of an audience and looking at it that way, or whether you want to call it subscribers. [00:28:00] It’s the same thing. It’s a publishing mentality. You’re a media company and you’re trying to build a relationship with a group of people that becomes your audience.

Look at it this way. Let’s go back to these lead generating companies that will give you email addresses of people that are … I guess are interested. What’s that?That’s an email address and you’re going to try to interrupt their day or whatever and you’re going to try to be the agent for them.

Everyone is running to … Pardon [00:28:30] my French. Everyone is running to the same scraps over and over again. Everyone is going after the same ones, when you could be on the outside just laughing at that, sitting back, because you don’t have to worry about that because they actually want to get an email from you.
Think about it that way, right? Usually when you get solicited and you get an email in your inbox, you’re like oh, man, again. Delete. Spam. Whatever. How did that get through? Who got my name? I can’t believe it. There’s my email out again. Was it Equifax? [00:29:00] What happened? You know what? We don’t know.

Then the other one is oh, my God, there’s that show that I really like. I’m going to open that email, or there’s that notification in iTunes on the podcast. I’m definitely going to pay attention to that. It’s marketing worth paying … It’s marketing that’s not marketing. It’s marketing so good they’ll pay for it, whatever you want to say.

Josh Cobb: Shout out to Jay Baer [00:29:25]. I know that’s his famous line. We’ll have to give him credit for that one. Having followed [00:29:30] you for many years now, Joe, I’m familiar with the case studies you talk about so often. What I really love about the case studies that you’ve shared and garnered over the years is that they’re from so many different industries. This notion that content marketing is new is … Those case studies that you share from 130, 140 years ago kind of blow that out of the water.

For our listeners that kind of think content marketing is new, can you maybe unpack that a little [00:30:00] and maybe give us a couple of varying case studies from different industries that kind of show that it’s actually been around for quite some time and why so many brands are going back to that today?

Joe Pulizzi: Happy to. Yeah. It’s the oldest new marketing practice on the planet. Of course This Old Marketing, our podcast, we try to share an example at the end of every programme that’s sort of from back in the years.

One of my favourite ones, if you’re familiar with Ben [00:30:30] Franklin, one of the founders of the United States, he actually created a print book called Poor Richard’s Almanack. It was the state of what’s going on in the United States at that time, and then also had a printing press at the same time. He created Poor Richard’s Almanack just so people could get something of value of print in their hand and other people would want to print things, and that actually drove business for his printing press.

This [00:31:00] is back in the late 1700s, so we’re talking hundreds of years old now. Let’s get a little more recent. Let’s look at the largest manufacturer of farming equipment, John Deere, started a magazine called The Furrow Magazine in 1895, targeted to farmers. They delivered a print magazine to the household on the farm. Instead of talking about how great John Deere equipment was, they didn’t talk about their equipment at all. All they talked about were issues that farmers cared about. When do I plant? What [00:31:30] kind of technology should I use? What are the considerations? How do I hire the right people? Things that farmers care about.

They delivered this magazine starting in 1895 and they still deliver it today. If, Josh, you asked me who’s the largest media company in the world in the farming agricultural industry, I’d say it’s not a media company. It’s John Deere. They deliver The Furrow Magazine to 1.5 million subscribers in 40 countries in 14 languages. Why do they do that? Because what they found in all their data is that people that read The Furrow Magazine are [00:32:00] way, way more likely to buy a John Deere because you’re just delivering such great value. That’s why they’ve been doing it for 120 years. They wouldn’t be delivering this magazine for over a hundred years if it wasn’t making an impact with their audience.

Those are two long … Then we could talk about some new ones like Brian Clark, my good friend, created a blog about online copywriting called Copyblogger. By the way, it’s a very useful site if you’re into search engine optimization [00:32:30] and those types of things. He started a blog targeting marketing professionals in 2006 and for 19 straight months he blogged every day about these issues that would go on with how to get file and search engines and how to create proper landing pages and all that stuff.

Over the 19 months, he actually was able to get 100,000 people to want to subscribe to his emails. Now put that into perspective for a second. All he’s doing is just blogging. He doesn’t even have a product yet. He’s just [00:33:00] giving out free information and the people are like great, I want to sign up and give you the right email address Brian and Copy Blogger so that you can send me every day whatever your new blog post is. He was able to create over 100,000 email subscribers.

Today it’s over 200,000. He created a product called Rainmaker, which is one of the fastest growing software service companies in the world now. I mean it’s a huge growing company, from nothing, from zero.

So if you’re a real estate agent and you’re thinking I don’t [00:33:30] have any resources, how do I do this, well Brian didn’t have anything either. He was broke. He just started creating content that he thought that his customers would really, really … Or his audience that he was targeting would really pay attention to, and he said if I do this really well and I can build an audience, they will ultimately tell me what they would buy from me, and that’s what he did. He has like 10 or 11 different ways that he drives revenue. Most of it is from selling a software as a service product, which is like a content marketing tool.

So the same [00:34:00] thing, go back into the 1700s and Ben Franklin delivering something of value so people then would say I’m interested in that service, you go to John Deere, you go to Copyblogger … There’s a thousand other examples we could talk about, but it’s the same thing and the same industry, it doesn’t matter. You’re just delivering value on a consistent basis over time to a very specific group of people, and if you do that well they’ll pretty much buy anything you put in front of them.

Josh Cobb: I think with some of the case studies that you’ve shared aside from those three, Joe, [00:34:30] is that they’re all arguably the most expensive suppliers in their markets, in their respective industries. One of the examples I think you’ve shared many times is Red Bull and their content platform. One thing, I’ve always kind of looked at those brands thinking they’re not the cheapest in their industries. They probably sell the most expensive products in their industry.
Would you say that content marketing provides you that ability to, as you said, rather than, pardon my French, [00:35:00] chasing the scraps? It kind of elevates you to a different perception in your industry?

Joe Pulizzi: The good part is is that there’s no like fight with competitors over the business because they just go to you. I’ll give you a really good example of this. I can’t say the name of the publisher, but just think of one of the most famous newspaper publishers in the world. I go in there to give a talk and I put … [00:35:30] It was to their group of custom content salespeople. They were trying to sell content marketing services, so big prestigious brand, had 50 sales people in the room, and I’m in there giving a presentation on content marketing.

I put a slide up, which is the logo slide of all the companies we’ve worked with. Basically it’s a Fortune 500 list of the greatest brands in the world that we’ve had the pleasure to work with and do a [inaudible 00:35:58] in training for. I put [00:36:00] that slide up and then the national sales manager for this company raises his hand and he says, “Joe, that’s basically our prospect list. That’s who we’re targeting, so do you mind-” He said, “No offence, but you guys are a small, little Content Marketing Institute. How do you get all that business from these people that we’re trying to target and we’re big us?”

I said, “All of the people, all of the marketer and CMOs that we got the business from these companies, [00:36:30] they just filled out a form on our site that they wanted more information. They said they would like to work with us. We sent them the price, and it took a couple days and we basically locked in the business for all this. They never went to anybody else,” and his jaw just drops.

The point is is that … I mean I’m not bragging or anything. It’s just the fact that we were delivering really good information out there and people were just filling out a horrible form, contact us form that we had [00:37:00] on our page, because we already proved that we were leading experts in the industry because we were delivering them value, and by the way, some of the people that signed up were subscribers of us for over a year. We don’t get into when are they ready to buy and the funnel and the whole thing, and that’s fine.

Those things are important, but we don’t care about that, because if we just deliver value to them on a consistent basis and they know what we sell, whenever they’re ready they’ll let us know, and that’s what happened. [00:37:30] So that’s where … The only issue is I’m making it sound so simple. It’s not. It’s hard work. It just takes time to do that.

So go back to the beginning story that I told you about starting in 2007; I could have gave up, and I almost did in 2009 a couple times because we didn’t have the audience quite yet ready to monetize. It wasn’t there yet, but in 2010 it was there and we took off super fast and became a multi-million dollar company in the next 18 months, but it [00:38:00] didn’t happen right off the bat, because building an audience takes time. Building a loyal audience takes time to do that.

Josh Cobb: As we spoke about before we hit record, Joe, of the challenges that our beloved real estate industry face here in Australia, we’ve got lead generation platforms that have got bags and bags of cash flowing at TV advertising and really going after the consumer very much so. We’ve got our manager portals who real estate agents … It’s a love/hate relationship. They know that they [00:38:30] need them, but their prices go up and up and up and up.

So with all of those challenges, and we talk about content marketing being an option, and I know you’ve spoken about this before. You’re very clear about content marketing being a choice. You don’t have to do it, so what are some basic steps that an individual real estate agent or an office, an agency, can take if they think hey, this content marketing thing, we’d like to give it a shot? What are some basic steps?

Joe Pulizzi: We [00:39:00] talked about the one. There’s a formula that I’m going to share in a second, but we talked about the one, is you actually have to communicate information that’s valuable and differentiated, so spend the time on that, like really spend the time on who’s the prime audience we’re trying to target, what are their pain points, what’s keeping them up at night, and let’s create whatever the … Just like whatever the TV show is about, whatever the blog is about, whatever the video series is about, underlying make sure that it’s truly differentiated and something interesting.

It [00:39:30] takes a couple weeks with your team to figure this thing out, but it’s not impossible. Once you do that, there’s a really simple formula, and I see real estate professionals, they mess this up all the time because when they get the social media bug or they get on the internet and they’re like oh, we’re a believer in the content marketing or digital or social or whatever it is, and then they go all in and they start the Facebook page, they start the Linkedin thing, they start the Instagram thing, and then they’re on discussion forums and they’re doing everything. They do the blog and they got a [00:40:00] podcast, and they do everything, and they don’t do anything great and it’s a big waste of time.

Here is the very simple formula. We’ve done analysis of every type of business in every industry, including the real estate industry, and we have found that there’s one simple model and there’s four steps.

The first step is you actually want to choose what type of content you’re producing. I’m talking about content type, so is it audio, video, textual, image? Don’t do [00:40:30] all four at the same time. Pick one. What is the one that you’re doing? Are you going to do audio, visual, textual, image? Then you pick one platform. Is it YouTube for your video? Is it iTunes for your podcast? Is it your blogger website for your textual content? Is it Instagram for your pictures? Whatever, you pick that, then you consistently deliver.

Let’s say you pick a blog and you say, “I’m doing a blog. It’s [00:41:00] two times a week.” I would say, “No it’s not. You’re going to do a blog on Tuesday at 7:00 am and on Thursday at 7:00 am, and you’re going to do that for the next 12 months until the data tells you differently,” that kind of consistency that we want, and then over a long period of time. This is where you have to get your expectations in order, because if you say, “Joe, I like this content marketing kind of thing. I’m going to give it a try. I’m going to see what we can do in three months or five months or six months,” [00:41:30] I would say, “Don’t expect much,” because as we said before it takes time to build a loyal audience.

Generally, all the case studies we’ve looked at, all the hundreds and hundreds from every industry, every place on the planet, it takes about 12 to 18 months to build an audience that you can actually draw revenue from, so this is why it’s a long-term initiative. You’re building an asset. This is going to be a game changer for your business. This is how you’re going to go to market in the future. This might be all that you need in the future, but right off the bat it’s [00:42:00] going to take time to get there. That’s why you want to ease into it. You’re not going to be going cold turkey off of all the other lead generation things you do. You’re going to say we’re going to keep doing some of those things, but we’re going to go all in on this podcast or this blog or this video series or whatever it is that you choose on whatever topic.

That is the formula and every great media company that’s ever existed on the planet, you can name whatever one you want to … In Australia, they’ve done the same thing. That’s the format. Then [00:42:30] once they build that, build an audience over that, then they diversify and do all kinds of other stuff, but to begin to build that audience you have to start with that simple formula.

Josh Cobb: I think we’ve only really scratched the surface on content marketing Joe. I hope it’s been helpful to you, our listeners, to help you understand what content marketing is and what it isn’t, and its benefits should you choose to adopt it in your business. Joe, before wrap things up, what is [00:43:00] the one thing that you want agents to take away from our chat today?

Joe Pulizzi: I would probably say don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be, and that’s what we all want to do, because once you get a taste of some success in doing this we want to diversify into 18 different platforms right off the bat. You want to really pull back until we get to a point where we call minimum viable audience, to where you get to a point where [00:43:30] you really have a rabid fan base, and then you can get into all the other stuff.

Don’t make it more complicated. Use the simple formula and then make sure that you have patience. You’re trying to build the most amazing business in the world, and to do that is not going to happen overnight if you use content marketing, so make sure that you build, and you know that this is going to take at least 12 months, so keep the faith, be consistent, but then you’ll see success.

Josh Cobb: I love that. I love that. Last but not [00:44:00] least Joe, your new book, Killing Marketing, it’s available. For those who haven’t read it, give us a little taste of what the book is about and where our listeners can get their hands on a copy.

Joe Pulizzi: Yeah. Killing Marketing, basically all the stuff we talked about here. What I love about this is if you’re a real estate professional and you build an audience, yes, you’ll be able to buy and sell more houses and property. That’s great, but what we talk about in the book, there’s actually nine other ways that you could drive revenue [00:44:30] once you build an audience.

You can build an amazing platform and you can do things with your audience that you never thought was possible, but you have to have that audience first. That’s what we talk about in Killing Marketing. There’s a methodology for doing this and a rationale for doing this which you’ll take away from the book.
We have an audiobook, we have eBook, print, all that good stuff. Go to and you’ll get the links. There a free chapter there and there’s a funny trailer of Robert Rose and I doing whatever we’re doing. But yeah, so if you get a [00:45:00] chance check in out on, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Josh Cobb: Awesome. Joe, I’d like to say thank you for your time, knowledge and advice today. This has been a lot of fun for me personally. I hope it has been for you, our listeners, as well. I have to also give a shout out to our mutual friend, Jay Baer, for connecting us. Who doesn’t love that guy, right?

Joe Pulizzi: That’s right. You’re right. We both owe him massive amounts of tequila. That’s what I’ll have to keep in mind now.

Josh Cobb: Yeah. Joe, I look forward to seeing you at Content Marketing World again [00:45:30] next year. We’ll certainly bring … We’re trying to fly the flag here in Australia to get more and more Australians there, or if you make it down under to Australia anytime before that I’m sure we’ll catch up again there.

Joe Pulizzi: Sounds fantastic. Thanks Josh. Appreciate it.

Josh Cobb: Thanks for your time.


Want to take your digital marketing to the next level?

Secure your place at Digital Marketing Essentials –  Australia’s leading digital marketing training event for real estate.

Close Menu