Lee Odden

Content Marketing Tips from 5 People Who Know

content marketingContent Marketing is a hot, hot topic right now as are social media, mobile and local.  Along with being a popular focus for marketers, there’s really a deluge of information being published and it’s not always clear what the best advice is.

The recent kudos for TopRank’s Online Marketing blog in the areas of Content Marketing (#1 on Junta42 list) and Social Media Marketing (#2 on Social Media Examiner list), made me remember what a great network of smart, accomplished, “walk the talk” content marketers I get to connect with.  So, I reached out to a few of the people I respect most in these areas to share a single tip on Content Marketing for the benefit of readers trying to make sense of where it might fit in their mix:

ann handley
Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs and co-author of Content Rules

Even when you are marketing to your entire audience or customer base, you are still simply speaking to a single human at any given time. Worry less about sounding professional and worry more about creating remarkable content that other humans can relate to.

What does that mean? It means losing the jargon and Franken-speak (“end-to-end,” “win-win,” “synergy,” and other cruddy phrases). It means being conversational (writing a blog post as if you are writing a letter to a friend). It means showing more than telling how your products and services live in the world.

The inherent tension in marketing is that businesses always want to talk about their products, when your customers want to hear what your products can do for them. Use your content as a way to show the human side of the your business. Which is the side, by the way, that will resonate best with your customers.

david meerman scott
David Meerman Scott, Marketing Strategist, Speaker and author of Real-Time Marketing & PR
Nobody cares about your products and services except you. This knowledge is essential to great marketing because it gets your organization away from just yakking incessantly about your products and services. What your buyers do care about are themselves and they care a great deal about solving their problems (and are always on the lookout for a company that can help them do so).

brian solis
Brian Solis, Principal of FutureWorks and author of Engage!

There is no market for your messages. Become a resource for your communities in your communities. They’re looking for insight, answers, direction, keys to unlock solutions that they did not know existed before you. The key is empathy. And to find this key takes research and understanding. Develop content based on what inspires interaction today and then build bridges between those conversations, communities and you.

Jay Baer
Jay Baer, Social Media Strategy Consultant and co-author of The Now Revolution

Content marketing can be scary. Staring at the little blinking cursor can paralyze even experienced content creators. To make it easier, focus first on “atomizing” your existing content. (Thanks to Todd Defren for that term).

Be a digital dandelion. Take one of your existing white papers (or other form of comprehensive content) and deconstruct it. Make it into five blog posts. And a Webinar. And a podcast. And a Slideshare presentation.

Each of those content modalities will have different audiences, so you’re building reach. Plus, each of those content modalities will be found and indexed by your most important customer – some guy named Google.

Repurposing and repackaging your content makes your content marketing task easier, AND more effective.

Joe Pulizzi
Joe Pulizzi, Founder of Content Marketing Institute and co-author of Get Content, Get Customers

Stop Writing about Everything. So many brands create content and try to cover everything, instead of focusing on the core niche that they can position themselves as an expert around. No one cares about your special recipe. No one cares about your iPad review, that has nothing to do with marketing automation.

Find your niche, and then go even more niche. For example, let’s say you sell travel gear for pets. If that is the case, don’t create a blog on “pets” or “pet supplies”. Create consistent and valuable content to solve your customers’ problems around traveling with pets. Seems simple, but many companies make this mistake.  For more, this one may help: Content Marketing Stinks: Fix It

Each of these great people writes online in numerous channels, offline and has published a book, or many books, on the intersection of content, social and PR.  They have experienced hard-won insights and I’m guessing so have you. If you were giving advice to budding marketers or even experienced marketers looking for direction on Content Marketing, what would your tip be? What one piece of advice would you give them?

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. You go David Meerman Scott. I love “Nobody cares about your products and services except you.” Thanks. No more incessant yakking. Am reading his book, Real Time Marketing and PR right now, BTW. Good stuff.

  2. Great article. My biggest tip as a fairly new online marketing firm who just started to get involved with content marketing is this: Don’t try to do everything in house. There are tons of writers out there who’d love to write for you and that specialize in vertain fields. Get acquinted and build relationships with writers and you’ll have your own team in no time. I did a pretty good job of it in less than a year, and if I can do it anyone can. Just be persistent and patient when looking.

  3. My tip would be to get it right – grammatically! Nothing shoots down your credibility faster than lazy content riddled with grammatical or spelling errors. Check it once, and then check it again.

  4. These are all great points, but I agree most with the “work smarter, not harder” advice offered by Jay Baer. If you can come up with a solid article on “X Ways to do this, that, or the other,” you can expand on each of those things and solidify your hold on that topic. Great reading, thanks for the post.

  5. Great tips from Ann and David – very useful! I love how they can put these ideas into ‘regular’ words, that real people can relate to.

    Contrast that with phrases like ‘Be a digital dandelion’, ‘content modalities’, ‘repurposing and repackaging’, which fall into the slick marketing BS that all of us should be avoiding.

  6. Avatar Stef Gonzaga says

    What an excellent post! I love how almost everybody centers on creating content that answers the readers’ questions, not just to promote how wonderful and fantastic a company’s products and services are. It’s advice I constantly stick to whenever I write content for my blog and it works.

    • Thanks Stef – the asking and answering is part of a larger conversation both with the end target audience as well as with those who can share/spread/promote to the community at large.

  7. It seems like so often we marketers go to great lengths to make things more complicated than necessary. Most of the businesses I frequent (and often evangelize) use this same simple, straight-forward methodology, and the same holds true for good content marketing. Nice comparison post….I’ll be spreading some link love on your behalf.

  8. Avatar Paul Flanigan says

    Seems often overlooked here, but one key to great content is to generate a response beyond “yes” or “no.” If you can get the audience to react, you can generate a conversation.

    • Indeed. That’s why we end most of our posts with a question 🙂 But of course, it goes beyond that in an overal content and social strategy.

  9. Thanks for the post. I especially liked Jay’s suggestion about being a Digital Dandelion. The thing is, we’re all so busy doing work for clients, that sometimes finding the time to also be a valuable content resource can be a challenge. But we must find it if we want to market ourselves online. Spreading the knowledge that we DO have as far and wide as possible is a great suggestion and the solution for attracting new audience groups.

  10. And … here’s me thinking about all those articles I’ve read saying that “Blogging is Dead..” I think not! Your post here just enlightened me on the subject of content marketing and I think, people are still into these things – if you offer something fresh, new, original…and most important -of value. Cheers!

  11. Great post. I especially liked Anne’s sections about showing the human side of the business. I agree that this is really important and definately what people connect with the most.

    • Ann is a brilliant content marketer that “walks the talk” as much or more than anyone on this post. That’s why she’s listed first 🙂 Thanks for your comment James.

  12. I just put this one in my “Hall of Fame” Bookmarks folder.

    Ben’s point about “no market for your messages” is a hard truth for marketers at large companies to swallow. Yet I still see thousands of “Check Out Our New WhirlyJigg” tweets and blogs.

    Rusty Bishop, Fatstax