6 Content Marketing Answers For The Sophisticated Marketer

My friends over at LinkedIn asked me to help them put together this amazing The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide To Content Marketing. I’m joined by so many amazing content marketing experts like Ann Handley, Doug Kessler, Andy Crestodina, Ardath Albee, Lee Odden, Pawan Deshpande, Craig Rosenberg, and Rand Fishkin. You really should check it out.

In his preview post, Jason Miller explains how  they studied content marketing theories and put them into practice to help us all:

“Create content that gets seen. Content people want to read. Content that makes you the best answer for your audience. When truly helpful, extraordinary content meets thoughtful strategy, everyone wins.”

~ Jason Miller, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions

My contribution to the guide is below in the form of 6 Content Marketing Answers to some of the top questions being asked by even the most sophisticated marketers. I hope this perspective helps you. And if you’re interested in more, download The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Content Marketing from LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

You Ask. We answer!

I love doing Q&A posts because they get straight to point. Here’s 17 content marketing questions to build your content marketing strategy. Here’s 21 content marketing questions to get started. Here’s 8 content marketing questions  to build your content marketing plan. Here I answer the most basic questions like what is content marketing. I also answer how to do content marketing with little or no budget, how to show content marketing ROI, and so much more.

If you’re a sophisticated marketer still struggling with some aspect of content marketing, let me know by asking your question in the comments box below. I’m here to help!

In the meantime, here are…

6 Content Marketing Answers For The Sophisticated Marketer

If you were starting a content marketing program from scratch, where would you begin?

I’ve started a few content marketing programs from scratch. And started at the same place every time: Keyword research. Start by thinking like the target audience, quantifying the questions they ask Google, checking out the sources that show up in the top position in Google, understanding the categories and structure of the content that gets ranked and shared. Anyone can do this research. Then you have to build a content marketing destination that is best structured to answer those questions.

What is the biggest difference between content marketing five years ago and content marketing today?

Content marketing 5 years ago was the realm of rebels. We stood and saw the waste going into advertising and promotion and said “enough.” There was a small and passionate group of early evangelists like Joe Pulizzi, Ann Handley, Jay Baer, Lee Odden and Andrew Davis. And there was a small group of early adopters like Marcus Sheridan, Todd Wheatland, Joe Chernov, Amanda Maksymiw, Julie Fleischer, Tim Washer and others that led the way.

Now, you have titled positions inside large corporate brands. People with Chief Content Officer and VPs of Content Marketing are driving real maturity in the content marketing landscape.

If you are tasked with hiring a content marketer, what is the #1 attribute you are looking for?

The one thing I look for is anyone with the ability and track record of creating content at scale (volume) that gets people to read and share without breaking the bank. It starts with great content (publisher mindset) but you also have to understand budgets and political constraints (management and operational expertise) and how to measure what works (analytics).

Ok, that was more than 1 attribute so I’ll try to combine it into one trait required for effective content marketing: know how to create great content at scale that doesn’t break the bank and performs well in a measurable way.

Tell us about a brand that has impressed you with its content strategy and execution.

I love this question. I have so many content brands that I follow and admire. Let’s start with the best and oldest modern content marketing example, American Express and their OPEN Forum. VanWinkles.com by Casper is my new favorite. The team at Intel is doing great things with Intel IQ. Adobe’s CMO.com is awesome. L’Oreal’s Makeup.com is great in the consumer space. Cleveland Clinic’s Health Hub for the healthcare folks out there. Zillow is doing a great job targeting home buyers. CapGemini’s Content-Loop.com is one of the best examples in converting readers into leads. These are a few of my (content marketing) favorite things.

Why does so much content suck?

My most tweetable tweet is “Behind every piece of bad content is an executive who asked for it.” And we all know this is true. Most people want to do meaningful work. But for some people, “meaningful” means “what my boss asked me to do.”

Businesses struggle with being ego-centric by nature. Add the mass of good people blindly following bad leaders and you get the mass of crap we see today.

We are all responsible for solving this problem. Behind every piece of great content is a marketer, publisher, author who passionately and empathetically sought to help his or her audience.

But how do you teach empathy to an executive who has none? The answer is fear. You have to show them that if you don’t create the best answer to your customers’ questions, someone else will.

How important is it for marketers to use an editorial calendar, especially as it relates to syncing across functions?

Editorial strategy requires a commitment to publishing content an audience actually wants, within a small group of topics, and then committing to publishing on a regular and consistent cadence.

The best content marketing brands publish every day or more on each topic they commit to covering. I think the strategy, the commitment and the cadence are more important than the calendar. My one rule of content marketing is to make sure there is an appropriate balance of helpful vs. promotional content.

One final point: managers shouldn’t make editorial decisions. Editors should. Brand content editors should advocate for quality and customer focus. And manage the calendar and those contributing to it.

Are you interested in engaging and converting new customers for your business? Contact me here and let’s talk about how we can help. Or follow me on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and if you like what you see, Subscribe here for regular updates.

Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.

5 thoughts on “6 Content Marketing Answers For The Sophisticated Marketer

  1. Hi Michael, when I look at your answers, the one thing that stands out is that the most successful companies work product related content but also have a community-related program running as well.

    When a brand finds a commonality within it’s community, there always seems to be a win. I have also noticed the trend to fix something that is normally considered a negative. People want positive, they want positive change, they want to be part of the change.

    Content that is telling a story the portrays togetherness seems to do well, when told in a real way. When you said “My one rule of content marketing is to make sure there is an appropriate balance of helpful vs. promotional content.” you are right.

    CADENCE is the hardest part to nail down. As more and more stats come in, brands will have a better idea where to start.


  2. great article about content marketing , do appreciated your effort and sharing and do agree that Editorial strategy needs patience and consistency for better result and im still supporting that “Content isn’t King, it’s the Kingdom.”

  3. Hi Michael,
    Gr8 write-up, but I would like to add one more query. You said, “Behind every piece of bad content is an executive who asked for it.” And we all know this is true. Most people want to do meaningful work. But for some people, “meaningful” means “what my boss asked me to do.” Now, if the boss who had already earned years of experience in his or her respective industry asked a writer to prepare the content for emailer and seems unsatisfied with the content, then what would you say on that issue?

    1. Hi Sidhant, I understand your question and have actually had this conversation with many executives. I also understand that for many people, meaningful work means doing what your told. These executives almost unanimously agree that they want their employees to speak up when they are asked to do something that they KNOW won’t work. So what do you do as an employee if what your told goes against your knowledge and experience as an employee of what will actually achieve the overall objectives the manager is looking to achieve. This is why it’s important to always understand what the business objectives are. Executives don’t want to waste company money on content no one wants. So it is up to us as employees to help the manager to achieve the overall objective. This aligns the employee’s motivation to do meaningful work with the executives.

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