Lee Odden

The Creative Content Marketing Bar is Higher. Can You Reach It?

creative content marketingThe increasing popularity of the visual web as evidenced by the growth of sites like Pinterest and Instagram along with the recent updates to the Facebook News Feed and Google+ cover images has raised the bar on creative content marketing.

Not long ago, it was progressive just to create blog posts and a few social shares every day. Now so many brands have adopted a publisher model for content marketing that the web is flush with content marketing tactics.

Brands are hard pressed to stand out with their content marketing, often taking a “more is better” approach. As David Meerman Scott says, the marketing one hundred is now the marketing ten thousand.

The bar for marketing is definitely higher, not just in terms of the mechanical vs. meaningful brand effort at publishing useful content and engaging on the social web, but for sustaining high levels of content and user experience short and long term. Avinash Kaushik describes that expectation well: “You can no longer be good at just one thing, or two. It is a 10-thing world now (and maybe a 20-thing world soon).”

Sure, you can learn all the content marketing tactics and visual content techniques there are, but sometimes there are fundamental perspective changes that can make a world of difference in terms of how to approach the increasing demand for higher quality content over time. To that end, here are 4 key content marketing takeaways worth considering:

“Great Content Isn’t Great Until it’s Discovered, Consumed and Shared”

What good is an infographic, eBook or video investment unless you maximize reach and engagement? Buying ads to drive traffic is great for companies with massive advertising budgets, but that’s not most companies. Content Marketing that includes promotion in the planning process isn’t just for SEOs promoting infographics to their home-grown amplification networks, it’s a responsibility for any marketer that is to be held accountable for the performance of the content they’re producing.

Understanding how the target audience discovers, consumes and acts on content is a big move in the right direction for creating meaningful visual content over time.

“Facts Tell, Stories Sell”

Storytelling is what connects brands with consumers in a meaningful way. Every company has a story to tell, whether it’s the latest sexy tech or something most people consider boring. Online marketers should understand how each content object they create complements others and how consumer interaction with that content will advance the buyer along the journey.

Customer empathy will reveal a never ending source of rich stories about how the brand solutions solve problems for consumers and how those solutions will help consumers achieve their goals. We’re not selling hammers, we’re selling houses. We’re not selling insurance, we’re selling peace of mind.

Creative Content Marketing is About Results, Not Awards

It’s easy to get distracted with more creative marketing projects and aspire to making the next greatest content object and get recognized for it’s awesomeness. In the end, it’s the ability of that creative content to attract, engage and convert visitors to fans, prospects to buyers that drives business growth – not winning creative awards. Of course, if your creative content boosted marketing performance AND it’s creatively awesome, then why not? First things first.

Brand Leadership & Creativity + Customer Empathy = Content Marketing Results

The litany of content and now creative content marketing advice being published is finally starting to take customer insight and customer targeting into account. But an overemphasis on customer preferences for content can stifle content innovation. It’s a combination of understanding shifting consumer trends and customer preferences for content discovery, consumption and engagement plus brand content innovation that stands out.

Many customers simply don’t know what they want and it’s up to marketers to be creative about telling new and interesting stories with their content. The combination of customer targeting and creative content innovation is what will make some companies stand out amongst the sheer volume of new content being created by brands.

When you execute on daily content and visual marketing tactics, do you have the basic questions of “why” and for “who” answered? Are you planning content according to audience information needs? Are you building promotion into the content creation process? Are you investing in creative for thei right reasons? Who’s driving your content marketing bus?

I’ll be presenting on this topic at SES New York in a few weeks (Thursday March 28th at 9:30am) with examples of winning and failing in the creative content marketing game. I hope to see you there.

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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. Hey Lee,

    “You can no longer be good at just one thing, or two. It is a 10-thing world now (and maybe a 20-thing world soon).” I couldn’t agree with that statement more.

    It kind of falls into what Guy Kawasaki’s book APE has to say about how being an author is no longer about being just an author, its about being the author, publisher as well as the entrepreneur.

    The same applies to SEO, Blogging, Social Media, etc. To just blog i have to learn to be a writer, marketer, SEO guy, Social Media guy, and so much more. I can no longer do just one of those things. Like you later pointed out stories sell. So I even have to become good at the art of story telling.

    Anyway, Awesome post. Definitely spoke to me.

    – Mark T.

  2. I have started to focus on quality with longer, more unique articles instead of always focusing on posting every day.

  3. Avatar Angela Booth says

    Yes, it’s scary. There are so many new ways to engage audiences, especially with visual marketing.

    I’m basically a writer, but I love visual marketing on sites like Pinterest. It’s a completely new experience – and an exciting one.

    As you point out, setting goals and focusing on the why” and “who’s it for” are vital.

    Thanks for this article. It’s inspiring.

  4. It’s true that content is only relevant when it’s seen, consumed and shared by other people. Otherwise, brilliantly-made content can sit in a blog with no followers and not attain its goal.

  5. Avatar Sheetal Sharma says

    Content creation has gained importance and value like never before. Marketers are on a constant struggle to keep their content creation fresh and engaging. With the companies trying their level best to beat their counterparts, creative content writing has become need of the hour, also one content can be used for various marketing efforts.This approach is followed in Global Marketing and Communication team at Synechron – happy to be a part of it.

  6. I think you’re completely right. Standing out is not always an easy thing to accomplish. One of my favorites aspects of this is the storytelling. If you want people to not only listen, but keep listening and coming back, you have to be telling good stories, otherwise they lose interest (because losing interest is so easy to do online these days). They have to be able to relate to you/your product/your service.

    I also really like your point about content not being great until it’s discovered, consumed and shared. No one will know about all of your great ideas if you don’t put them out there and promote them to the right people.

    What’s the best way to find the target audience from the beginning and learn how they best discover content?

  7. Nice article lee, you have create such a great article that i liked it. Some people write articles for just their entertainment but some like you post articles for spreading knowledge to others with the help of this world wide web.. Thanks for this… keep going…

  8. Outstanding

  9. Avatar davidwesson says

    likewise lee iam just preparing a talk on branded content & social sharing & the line “Great Content Isn’t Great Until it’s Discovered, Consumed and Shared” will definitely be included in it.
    Time i dusted off my copy of Optimise & read it again.
    Thanks again & i look forward to seeing a copy of your SES preso on slideshare in due course 🙂