Ashley Zeckman

What You Need to Know About Playing High Stakes Content Marketing

Ashley Zeckman     Online Marketing


The game of poker is filled with many complexities, opportunities and luck of the draw. Content marketing follows a similar theme and can lead to big winnings or high losses.

If you want to be a key player in the content marketing game, it’s time to up the ante. In 2015, only 30% of B2B marketers believe that their content marketing initiatives are successful. With the overwhelming amount of content created these days, the stakes are high and competition is fierce.

What can you do to walk away from the table better off than what you started? It’s all about playing the game the right way.

Plan for the Buy-In


The buy-in is considered the minimum that is required to play a game of poker. Content marketing is only one element of your digital marketing program and should at a minimum align with the following initiatives:

  • SEO
  • Paid Search
  • Social Media
  • Influencer Marketing

Skipping any one of the elements above leaves room for your competition to be servicing your customers in ways that you cannot. The rule is, you’ve got to pay to play.

Understand Your Hand


Based on your current investment, staff and skill-level of team members, you need to determine what you have to work with. While your competitors may be creating interactive digital marketing assets that are awe inspiring, you may not be able to dive that deep at this point in time.

No matter how much you have available to invest, always ask yourself:

  • Do I have a firm grasp on who my customers are and what they care about?
  • How can I use content marketing to better service my customers?
  • What types of marketing assets will have the biggest impact on customer needs?
  • Are my digital marketing strategies optimized to create a good user experience?

Sometimes you get dealt a hand that may not be be the best, but it’s all about how you play with what you have.

Blinds & Betting Basics


To stay competitive in the digital marketing game, there are some investments that have to be made. An investment of course can be a monetary amount, resources or time.

“The best investment you can make in marketing is the quality and experience of your “product”. – Lee Odden

Invest your time and resources into:

  1. Making content buyer centric
  2. Connecting with influencers to co-create & promote brand content
  3. Creating modular content & repurposing
  4. Keeping content accountable

Avoid betting all of your “chips” in one hand and instead focus on consistently creating content that is visually stimulating, creative and filled with helpful information for your customers.

Don’t Ever Bluff


Content marketing is one game where bluffing never pays off. In fact, one of the worst things you can do as part of a content marketing program is bluff. An example of a bluff might be promising your customers a certain experience and then failing to deliver.

The user experience should always be one of the major objectives leading your strategy. User experience accounts for many things including:

  • Is your content (email or web-based) optimized for different devices?
  • Are your content assets delivering on promises made in search of social ad copy?
  • Do social messages promoting your content accurately describe what the reader will find?
  • Are marketing, sales and operations aligned to clearly describe and deliver on products/services?

Folding Some Hands is Ok


In tandem with knowing when to bet is understanding when to fold. What may start out as a great content marketing concept, can sometimes not quite meet expectations in delivery.

However, if you’re considering giving up on content marketing completely, I’d strongly urge you to reconsider. Perhaps you just can’t seem to find the right talent in-house or are struggling to determine exactly how much to invest in content marketing.

Agencies like TopRank Marketing can work with you to determine how to get the most return out of your content marketing budget. Sometimes a phased approach is needed, while other times the opportunity is ripe to move forward.

How to Get a Content Marketing Royal Flush


A royal flush is the best hand that anyone can get in a poker game. But like content marketing, it all depends on how you play the hand that you are dealt. One way to set yourself up to have the best possible outcome is to start with a comprehensive content marketing audit. Contact TopRank Marketing today to see if you have the right cards, and what you can do to ensure that you are the content marketing pot winner.

Images via ShutterStock: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4, Image 5, Image 6, Image 7

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Ashley Zeckman About Ashley Zeckman

Ashley Zeckman is the Senior Director of Digital Strategy for TopRank Marketing. In addition to finding innovative ways to showcase the exceptional work of her team, she is also responsible for creating digital marketing programs that drive customer acquisition and growth for the agency. Her background includes expertise in everything from content marketing strategy to branding, account management and social media.

Outside of her role at TopRank Online Marketing, Ashley prides herself on being a great home chef, painter, prankster and dog mom.


  1. Avatar paulnetke says

    Hey Ashley, thanks for sharing these great content writing ideas with us. These ideas will really help to boost any content on the web. I live in Sweden and so I always take help of a good content marketing agency in when it comes to content marketing strategy. This blog has helped me a lot and is very interesting. Looking for similar stuff from your side in future as well….

  2. Relating content marketing into a poker game is a good idea. Be clever when you are doing both of them. It’s not just an ordinary game. It’s the real stuff.

  3. Hey Ashley,

    I really enjoyed the poker analogy a lot as a Hold’ Em player and content marketer.

    One way to know when to fold on campaigns is measuring your cost of customer acquisition, if it costs too much to get a customer than it’s time to fold em.

    I’m going to share this on twitter.