Content Marketing

Content vs. Advertising – Is There Really A Debate?

content marketing advertising

Recording last night’s BeanCast, Altruism or Consumerism, hosted by the talented Bob Knorpp brought up the topic of Content Marketing and whether paid placement of content is just advertising – among many other topics from Dove to Amazon Dash.

This content vs. ad question was inspired by commentary from Mitch Joel in his post, Your Content Is Kidding No One where he states, “if you have to pay to have it placed, it’s not content. It’s an ad.”

While I agree with what Mitch says in the post in terms of brands failing to create engaging, share-worthy and conversation-starting content, I’m not on board with the pay to play statement.

Social Media Marketing World 2015 – What We’re Looking Forward to Most


by Debbie Friez & Brooke Furry of TopRank Online Marketing

One of the best ways to succeed in social media marketing is to not be afraid to test and fail. The landscape is ever changing, and as marketers, we need to adapt quickly and learn from others. Social Media Marketing World (#SMMW15) this week in San Diego is just the type of conference that can provide marketers this opportunity.

If you’re not able to attend, don’t worry. Brooke Furry and I will be attending #SMMW15 in order to learn, network and create content (live blog) many of the most important presentations. We’re committed to providing you with social media marketing insights and highlights to inspire you to succeed.

How to Make Free Stock Images Work for Content Marketing

stock images, success, content marketing

Visual content is king, but what happens if you don’t have a massive library of brand images to use for your online content? Do you try a simple Google image search and grab something that might be approved for commercial use? Or, do you simply go image-less and rely on your copy to carry the weight?

If you’re pillaging images from Google’s regular search, stop right now. Google might tell you that it’s approved for commercial use, but there are other resources that provide greater assurances (and more relief for your legal team).

In this post I’ll show you where to find (truly) free stock images, and how to use those images for the best visual impact on your content marketing.

Video Content Marketing: Pros, Cons, Examples and Best Practices

Video for Content Marketing (1)

For many B2B marketers video content is the biggest step in a content marketing plan, the one thing that is tackled last because it takes more resources to produce. That mode of thinking is changing, however, as more marketers lean on video content as an effective way to cut through the crowded content marketing landscape. In a recent CMI / Marketing Profs study, 76% of B2B marketers said that they plan to use video as a content marketing tactic in 2015.

Creating video and hosting it on your company site or sending it out on social media is a way to show that your brand is video and technologically savvy but don’t just produce video for the sake of saying you’ve done it. Video has to be done right to be effective. This post will explore the pros and cons of video as a content marketing tactic and will offer examples and best practices that digital marketers can look to for support in their own video content marketing.

Content and SEO Beyond Marketing – Optimized Digital Communications

optimized digital communications

Content is the reason search began in the first place.

In the days before Google, directories, lists and forums were the way to discover new content on the fast-growing world wide web.

During those early days, the web was as much about the experience of discovery, aka “surfing”, as it was about finding specific answers.

Answers to what? Many marketers would have you believe the only content that exists is the information created in support of buyers to discover, consume and transact.

But there’s far more to the web than demand generation and advertising. Content is created by companies to serve a variety of business functions from customer service to corporate social responsibility to talent acquisition.

4 Ways Marketers Can Learn From a Journalist’s Approach to Content Planning


“Be the media” isn’t just a buzz phrase. It’s a live process and philosophy that brings in leads and moves products and services. It’s the concept of content as sales staff. It’s “write it and they will come.” OK, so I got ahead of myself with that last one. It’s not quite that simple.

As marketers have moved to content to help tell their stories that draw in customers, they have brought journalists in to help with the storytelling.  Now that many marketers and journalists are working side by side, they have developed similar processes and have begun to merge cultures. They are finding common ground, overlapping and crossing career paths.

Here are a few areas in which I think that content marketers can learn from journalists:

How to Be Creative AND Brand Compliant in Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing

Ask social media managers about “brand standards” and you might elicit some uncomfortable expressions. Brand standards, created to ensure uniformity with brand messaging and imagery, can sometimes feel like restrictions for creative social development.

“Do I really need to include all these brand logos and elements in every social message?”

The answer (most often) is yes, but don’t let this dampen your spirits. Maintaining a consistent brand identity is vital for long-term business growth, and you can still flex your creative social muscle within brand guidelines. Here are some tips that can help you stretch your brand’s identity to its creative peaks:

White Papers: Pros, Cons, Examples and Best Practices

White  Papers.jpg

Not every piece of content we produce resides at the top of the sales funnel spinning up awareness. If that were the case, our jobs as marketers would be much easier.

When digital marketers roll up their sleeves and generate leads, many have found that white papers provide a utility for which potential customers are willing to give up a name and email address. White papers are more substantial pieces of content that allow customers to solve an information problem that represents the solutions your company can offer.

Do marketers still use white papers?

Falling Behind on Content? Catch Up With These Content Repurposing Tips

content marketing repurposing

Remember all that content you were going to have completed before you left for holiday break? Remember the editorial calendar that was going to include all of Q1 2015 that you scaled back to be only January, 2015, that you scaled back to be … well … nothing?

The holidays were great, and you were able to only half occupy your mind with pending work deliverables scheduled for early January. If you are like me, you even planned to use some of your off time to work ahead on a few work tasks, then the holiday events and the family fun got in the way (in a good way, of course).

Content is not just a platform: Why I left journalism and joined TopRank Marketing


[Note from Lee: TopRank has made many advancements in the content marketing space over the past 5-6 years and that leadership has resulted in growth – including the addition of 15 new people to our team in the past 7 months.  Among those new faces is content marketing smartie, James Anderson, our new agency Director of Content Marketing.  

James spent over 9 years as a journalist and editor before moving into the brand publisher space. And now he’s made the full move over to the marketing realm.  You’ll be seeing a lot of James here in the coming days and weeks as he helps me advance the TopRank content marketing machine even further – please make him feel welcome!]

Where Brand Journalism and Native Advertising Can Fit Within Content Marketing

integrated content marketing

Over the past year the discussions about what content marketing is and isn’t as well as the role of content within marketing and PR functions of a business have been interesting to watch. Especially the discussions around whether brand journalism and native advertising fit in the content marketing mix. Here’s my take:

Content Marketing is all about customers and providing them the information they need to inspire action. The themes that align buyer interests and brand goals as part of a content marketing strategy can inspire the focus of any content or media whether it’s part of a brand journalism effort, native advertising or content marketing program –  just in different ways.

How a Shift from All SEO to Social & Influencer Content Boosted Page Views by 500%

social influencer content

A small business technology company was focusing their online marketing efforts on SEO and this approach proved to be effective for several years.

Research revealed relevant keywords in demand from searchers actively looking for solutions in this software category. Existing content was optimized, cross linked and new content was created where needed. Content was promoted to attract links and social shares to ensure a presence on crawlable social media platforms.

But then organic traffic began to slow down in growth and eventually decline, despite following SEO best practices capable of the most specific Google scrutiny.

A decision needed to be made: Will more aggressive SEO tactics be used or was it time to shift perspective?