Lee Odden

5 Ways to Give Your Content Marketing New Life

Content Marketing New Life[Note from Lee: Our Wednesday Guest Post Series from digital marketing experts has been very well received and today’s post from my friend Heidi Cohen will not disappoint. Heidi is a long time and very popular Columnist at ClickZ and Content Marketing Institute, Adjunct Professor at NYU, an active marketing blogger as well as President of  Riverside Marketing Strategies. When it comes to internet marketing Heidi’s  perspective resonates well with me and I appreciate her insight into the intersection of direct marketing, digital, content and social media a great deal.]

Heidi CohenDoes your content jump off the page and grab readers by the collar to get their attention? While no one sets out to create content marketing that’s a snooze, sometimes it misses its intended objective. If this is the case, you have to pump life into your content marketing to make it useful for your target audience.

5 Reasons your content marketing seems lifeless

How can you tell if your content marketing’s missing the mark? Here are five signs your content marketing needs help.

  1. Your content isn’t targeted at your intended audience. If your content’s written without a specific audience in mind, chances are it won’t appeal to your customers because it won’t necessarily hit their hot buttons. In addition, it may not use their language or show an understanding of their problems. Don’t get me wrong, you may present the information your audience needs but the way it’s presented keeps your target market from reading it. As a result, it’s a waste of your marketing budget and your target market’s time.
  2. Your content doesn’t sound like it has any association with a real person, living or dead. This is the problem of using sanitized marketing-speak, a problem particularly prevalent among B2B marketers. By removing any personality from your content marketing, it misses its intended readership since it’s a yawn. To work, your content marketing must be alive and lively. Underestimate the human aspect of your content at your own peril because your readers won’t be able to relate to it.
  3. Your content is a rehash of information found elsewhere. To break through your content needs to be specific. Think about great literature. It’s always written from the point of view of specific characters whose specific actions represent larger human issues. The same is true of your content marketing. If you can substitute the name of another company in your content, there’s a problem.
  4. 4.    Your content is boring. You can have the most useful information in the world but if it’s packaged in endless text with no photographs or engaging graphics, your prospective audience isn’t giving it a second look. Sorry to be the one to inform you but humans are visual creatures.
  5. Your content is an endless flow of promotions. Nothing will kill your content faster than the buy, buy, buy approach to content trash file.

5 Ways to give your content marketing new life

To help your content reach out and engage your target market, here are five suggestions.

  1. Respect your audience. Appreciate that readers are spending their precious time with your content. They’re giving you their attention. Use it wisely and assume they’re intelligent. To this end, facilitate their ability to consume your content. This requires a combination of editorial in terms of bulleted, easy-to-scan information and graphics in terms of useful charts and photographs to support your text. Exact Target’s ebooks (pdf) do a great job of distributing information that’s fun to read and useful.
  2. Instill your content marketing with passion. Show the love behind your words and picture. To accomplish this, find the energy in your story. Does it come from employees, customers or products? What gets your target audience excited about your content? Is it the photographs, the language used, or the information provided? For example, many bakers use photographs to entice viewers to order from them.
  3. Get employees, customers and fans to help create it. There’s no better way to make your content marketing sound like a real person than to get the real people involved with your products to develop it. You need to provide support in terms of making the input sound professional. This means transcribing or editing it. Additionally, for your employees, make it part of their jobs, not something they do when they have time.
  4. Create content customers and the public need and keep returning to. The bottom line is your content needs to be useful, both for your audience and your business. To this end, consider what your target audience needs to help them at every step of the purchase process. Ask what type of resources are your prospects looking for? It can be recipes such as Kraft Foods or patterns such as Berrocco that get readers enticed to buy your product and supports them later when they use your product to make their own creation.
  5. Be relevant with what’s happening in the world. Bear in mind readers consume your information in the context of what’s happening in the environment around them. This is attributable to concurrent device usage (think televisions, computers, tablets and smartphones) and the speed of information dissemination, especially across social media. As a result, your readers know about tsunamis in Japan and the ninety-nine percenters on Wall Street. Therefore show you understand these trends and the impact they have on your audience.

Don’t lose heart if your content marketing appears lifeless! Understand strong content, whether it’s text, photographs, presentations or videos, often has to go through multiple iterations before it strikes a cord with your target audience.

Do you have any other suggestions for making your content marketing come to life?

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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. Great post Heidi!  I especially like your points on respecting your audience and encouraging others to participate.

    • Avatar Heidi Cohen says

      Many writers underestimate the importance of respecting your audience, especially the part where they may know as much if not more than you do! 

      If you get others to help you create content, it’s critical to support them with strong copyediting and technology help. 

      Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  2. Great post Heidi!  I especially like your points on respecting your audience and encouraging others to participate.

  3. One thing that I struggle with is staying current.  Using an editorial calendar has really helped me stay organized and relieved some stress from my blogging but it has also stifled my Current Event posting…

    Any advice?


    Ryan H.

    • Avatar Heidi Cohen says

      Ryan–That’s a good question. Since you’ve found an editorial calendar helpful, why not program some time into your calendar for current events. Alternatively, you can add additional posts where it’s appropriate. Happy Marketing, Heidi Cohen

  4. Insightful post Heidi, I think getting the balance between relevant stuff and “long-shelf life” stuff is important. If you just talk about current events your articles only have a short life but how-to guides and top ten lists can be refereed to for weeks/month. But you have to stay relevant to your audience, that I agree with very much.

  5. Avatar Amberd34111 says

    I really liked the “be relevant with what’s happening in the world” section of ways to give your content marketing new life. I think that is a really important aspect that a lot of people don’t think about. Keeping up on current events and relaying them in your content gives consumers the sense of understanding and shows that you are interested in more than just your personal product promotion. It also helps incorporate your promotion with new innovative technologies and social trends, sparking the interest of consumers.

  6. I find the first two points so true, however sometimes when writing blogs etc, they can be so easily swept over by point 5 – the flow of promotion. I think this is because at the end of the day you are trying to promote something and that is the easy road. I think the 5 counteracting points are very well put though, especially the 3rd point of having fans and customers involvement, this should also help you write your content the passion previously mentioned.

  7. Avatar Wenhuo Ouyang says

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  8. I am loving this, 5 reason why your content is so lifeless, but you did not leave us hanging, you also give us 5 ways to get your content marketing new life. Thanks I will take away alot from this article. I will continue to visit this blog for more, thanks again, loving it

  9. I am loving this, 5 reason why your content is so lifeless, but you did not leave us hanging, you also give us 5 ways to get your content marketing new life. Thanks I will take away alot from this article. I will continue to visit this blog for more, thanks again, loving it

  10. Totally love this. We started making “movies” for our students and posted them on YouTube. Students love their movies and so we just posted our articles with the same format.

    Check them out here: http://www.columbiagolfschools.com/lost-golf-balls-before-swing/