To explain how content marketing works, we first have to agree on a definition. Unfortunately, I might've sent myself on a fool's errand -- I went through dozens of different iterations of a content marketing definition (including the somewhat flippant "content marketing is using content for marketing") and found none of them totally satisfactory. But I hate to let perfection get in the way of progress, so let's just get something down on paper so we have a basis for discussion:

You're Director of Marketing for an agency that specializes in design solutions for small businesses. You're having trouble attracting customers, though, because keeping an agency on retainer seems like a luxury for a small business. So you decide to create some DIY design tools to help them, you know, DIY. You do some keyword research and notice about 2,000 people are searching for an "infographic generator" every month, so you decide to build one that people can use for free once -- and if they like it, they can create more infographics for free if they provide a name and email address.
At HubSpot, we use ... well, we use HubSpot at HubSpot. It comes with a Content Management System (CMS), which allows you to create and publish content quickly in a format that's web-friendly. Whether you use HubSpot or another CMS, you need some CMS so your content marketing team can easily set up a blog, add blog posts, and add website pages without having to get help from IT or developers.
I’m guilty of doing all of the above at one point or another. I think a lot of the time it’s the pressure to get up to a certain word count, whether for SEO purposes or because the employer has the idea that more content = better content. I think a lot of this fluff comes about from the quotas that are set. I know I run out of things to say when it comes to pots and pans.
With the pace of social media and the frequency of blogging, not to mention that many of your content assets will be used across multiple campaigns and teams, a lightweight project management tool is critical. I recommend using a free software called Trello, which helps you organize your content, set deadlines, attach files, and collaborate with multiple teammates. Another great tool for keeping content projects organized from planning to publishing is Zerys -- a content marketing tool with a built-in marketplace of professional writers. 
That’s only if you, for whatever reason, don’t have another person to edit your work. Even with a great spell check, there will be things you miss. Make sure there’s somebody in your organization with great writing and editing chops who can give your work a second set of eyes. Remember that behind every good writer — whether it’s a best-selling author, a Washington Post journalist or a copywriter for a viral marketing campaign — is a great editor.
There are a host of metrics to look at when you have a robust analytics solution, but having too many goals to live up to tends to result in prioritization difficulties. I recommend content marketing teams have 2-3 metrics they measure, and perhaps some secondary metrics each sub-team can measure to help understand when there are different levers to pull. Here are my recommendations:

When tax season rolls around and people are Googling answers to their tax preparation questions, they stumble upon your blog posts, and realize you offer tax preparation services. Some of them keep doing their own tax preparation, but perhaps keep you in mind for next year; others throw their hands up in the air, decide to rid themselves of tax preparation headaches for good, and hire you -- because you're clearly way more qualified to do this than they are.


Read Joe Pulizzi's excellent book Epic Content Marketing. I started reading it after I wrote this post and it confirmed and expanded what I already knew about content marketing, with much more detail than I could ever go into here. Something Pulizzi emphasizes which I originally left out was the importance of focusing on producing mobile-friendly content, since smartphones are becoming the dominant way in which most of our customers access content. Also read Michael Hyatt's Platform, mentioned above. Frequent websites like those of Content Marketing Institute, Ragan, Copyblogger, Michael Hyatt, and Gary Vaynerchuk and sign up for their email newsletters. It won't take you long to become not just familiar with content marketing, but an expert.
Add value. That’s the secret. It’s not really a secret at all. We've already talked about it throughout this piece. Although when you look at some of the marketing companies engage in you wonder if they’re purposely avoiding the obvious. We skip advertising when it provides little to no value. If you want to learn about advertising that doesn’t get skipped, find a skateboarder and ask him if you can watch him look through a skateboard magazine. You’ll see that he spends as much time looking at the ads as he does looking at the articles and photos. Or check out The Berrics website. Much of the content is advertisements, but skaters don’t skip these videos, they watch them just like they watch the other videos, because they’re getting the value they want--good skating. As a skater I’d like to say skateboard companies pioneered content marketing decades ago, but I know they were only doing what came naturally, and selling more product was secondary to the fun of creating videos and magazines. If you want to hire someone onto your marketing team who understands content marketing intuitively, hiring a skateboarder might not be a bad step.
Let’s be honest– copywriting can be scary. Even for seasoned writers with nothing to prove, writing advertisements or marketing content can be daunting and terrifying. Copywriting is the literary equivalent of climbing Mount Everest, if you can imagine Mount Everest covered in junk mail and sales papers. You know it can be done, you’ve seen it done well, but you’ve also seen a lot of people die trying and you don’t want to be one of those fatalities.

The process of becoming a writer for ContentWriters.com is relatively easy. You will need to apply through the writer sign up form, supply your most current resume and a few writing samples, and take an English proficiency test. If your application looks to be a good fit for the kinds of assignments that are available, a staff member from ContentWriters will conduct a brief phone interview.
Thanks for sharing this, Henneke. We’ve been making a big push lately to cut out the “fluff” in our copy, and the results have been outstanding. Will have to give some more of these tips a try — especially with our testimonials! I think most folks are hard-wired to give you the glowing testimonial, because they think it’s what will help you the most, and the linked story about asking the right questions is awesome.

There are as many types of content marketing as there are types of content--far too many to cover here. My intent is to give you an introduction to content marketing and get you thinking like a content marketer so you’ll see the opportunities all around you. Soon you’ll be coming up with 50 content marketing ideas every day. You won’t be able to stop seeing opportunities to create content. Here are five examples to help your mind start percolating.
Great article. I love how you always give simple examples. I have learned from another institution that teaches what you teach, but in a different way. What you are repeatedly telling people is to avoid proclamation, and instead give information. You cant beat people over the head with your marketing message. The goal is to present information in a way that they form the conclusion you want to convey in their minds. That way it is their assumption, not your assertion. The difference between the two approaches is everything.
Thanks for sharing this, Henneke. We’ve been making a big push lately to cut out the “fluff” in our copy, and the results have been outstanding. Will have to give some more of these tips a try — especially with our testimonials! I think most folks are hard-wired to give you the glowing testimonial, because they think it’s what will help you the most, and the linked story about asking the right questions is awesome.

At this stage of growth, it's also time to assign dedicated leadership to your content marketing team -- unless you want two dozen people reporting to the CMO. Many organizations hire a Director of Content, VP of Content, Chief Content Officer, or Editor-in-Chief to lead the entire content marketing team. This individual sets the vision for the team, secures budget, hires the right talent, contributes content ideas, solves for growth, and helps coordinate with other leaders across the marketing organization so content marketing doesn't become too siloed.
I’m guilty of doing all of the above at one point or another. I think a lot of the time it’s the pressure to get up to a certain word count, whether for SEO purposes or because the employer has the idea that more content = better content. I think a lot of this fluff comes about from the quotas that are set. I know I run out of things to say when it comes to pots and pans.
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