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Content Marketing | Brand Content Studios
Gen Z


  • Gen Z is wide open to Influencer Marketing, if you avoid the pitfalls.
  • Spotify is allowing 3rd parties into its podcasting library.
  • We’re spending a lot on website content. Is it being seen?
  • Content Marketing has something big to learn from local journalism’s struggles.


here’s your Content Marketing Quickie for the week of March 24, 2020.


Influencer Marketing to Gen Z

First I’ll give you all kinds of medical advice on how to deal with the big virus. No I’m not going to do that, because I’m not a health expert so you shouldn’t listen to me or anyone else who’s not a health expert or who at least knows what’s going on. That’s the only advice I can give you. But maybe you can influence someone to wash their hands, and according to Kantar, it’s Gen Z that’s most likely to pay attention to influencers. Robert Williams reports on mobile marketer that 44% of them bought something after it was recommended by a social influencer. Only 26% of the general population did that. 70% follow at least one influencer, and they’re a lot more open-minded about who those influencers can be. They don’t care about race or ethnicity, which bodes well for us eventually reaching a Star Trek future where none of that matters. And in terms of how many social platforms they use, it’s a virtual appapalooza out there. 39% have more than 4, compared to 15% of the general population who load up on that many. The top ones for Gen Z are, believe it or not, still Facebook at 62% (gotta use it so mom and grandma can get a sanitized version of what’s going on with them). Next is Instagram at 55%, YouTube at 54% and Snapchat at 52%, so really they’re all kinda bunched up there close together after Facebook. If you think you’re going to reach Gen Z with TV and print, think again. They’re on their phones, for just about everything. That’s why spending on influencer marketing to reach them on those phones is estimated to hit $15B by 2022 according to Business Insider Intelligence. But while Facebook is king, it’s actually Instagram most brands are using to execute on influencer marketing. Influencer Marketing Hub says almost 80% of brands use Instagram most frequently for that. LinkedIn brings up the rear at 12%. But go into that with eyes wide open. There’s so much sponsored content there now that InfluencerDB reported last year engagement rates for Instagram influencer content were around all-time lows. Plus the FTC is watching much closer for misleading advertising. What? Who would ever make advertising that’s misleading? I’m clutching my pearls in shock.


Spotify Lets Podcast Developers in the Door

Spotify podcast news! You know they’ve got a bunch of podcasts that are exclusive to them, and they’re going to stay exclusive. That’s not the news. That would be pretty lame. What they are doing is rolling out a new version of its Podcast API so 3rd party apps can access its catalog. Those 3rd parties can then manage someone’s podcast library, search the catalog and get info on shows and episodes. Might not sound like much but it’s the first time they’ve allowed anyone to go poking around in their library. The idea is to get more developers familiarizing with Spotify as it grows its podcast user base. You know a podcast used to mean audio available on the web using the open format RSS. Apple still treats it that way. But Spotify defines “podcast” as any audio program presented in an episodic format. That includes podcasts behind paywalls. Remember, it bought some startups that help people create and manage podcasts and podcast networks like The Ringer, Gimlet and Parcast. Well that worked. Podcast listening on Spotify jumped 200% last year. Of the 700,000 podcasts there, many are exclusive. So you can’t stream them on podcast apps like Overcast, Pocket Casts, Breaker, or Castro. This API change doesn’t change that. It’s purely about podcast discovery, search and managing shows. And they’re going to keep improving it over the next 6 months.


How much Website Content Goes Completely Unseen

Every once in a while, you run across a statistic from a study that just makes you go, “Wow, that really sucks.” Blame Uberall’s VP Market Insights Greg Sterling, not me. But here’s the wakeup call. A Contentsquare report shows that on average, 69% of all web content is not seen, at all, by consumers. 400 sites in 9 verticals were studied for this. And it was true across all verticals but especially for financial services, beauty, energy and automotive. That clearly lets us know, like a big bucket of water to the face, we’re spending a lot of money to just make …stuff …something, anything. That’s called not thinking content strategy is important or needed. There’s quite a price to pay. The study teaches us a lot more though. The most site visits are driven by organic or free sources. Translated, content that mattered and provided value. Non-PC devices drive 60% of visits, with 55% of site visits coming from smartphones, 60% if you count tablets. That agrees with Hitwise who determined the desktop-mobile split has settled in at about 60-40. Luxury goods had the highest percentage of mobile traffic at 67%. I know when I’m on my yacht in the Mediterranean, I’m not on a desktop. Financial services had the lowest percentage of mobile traffic because, I don’t know, banking feels more secure on a big monitor? Slow loading sites are a killer, especially on mobile. 20% longer loading time means 20% fewer pages viewed. And the study found the average customer visits a website 3 times before buying. After that, 3 strikes and you’re probably out.


What Content Marketing Can Learn from Dying Local Journalism

Lastly, and quickly, let me preface by saying I majored in journalism, I love journalism, I always thought seeking and reporting the truth, wherever that truth might take us, was vital. And I’m not alone. Victor Pickard is an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication. And he says not only is local journalism failing and dying, that’s a really grim turn of events because without independent, fact-based journalism, good luck holding together any kind of Democracy. Maybe you don’t like Democracy. Maybe you lean toward the way they ran things on Game of Thrones. That’s fine. But if you don’t watch the powerful, educate the public and hold truth to power through local news, people stop caring and voting. Corruption goes up because hey, who’s gonna know? And people just go look for news they agree with. Sound familiar? Well Victor says the death of local journalism happened because the market can’t support it. Commercial media sells eyes and ears to advertisers like us. The problem is, we could care less about responsible journalism. Advertising and journalism was always a shaky, unnatural partnership. When the internet hit, the partnership wasn’t convenient anymore because digital ads are pennies on the dollar and, as we’ve talked about here many times, advertisers don’t even seem to care if digital ads work or if the data they get is legit. To survive, journalism institutions switched to click bait and the public, while amused by said click bait, lost all its respect and trust for journalism. What does that have to do with us content marketers? I’ll tell you. Without trust, there is no sale. Our business is to build trust and relationships with content by being of value to our prospects. When we stop caring about that and lose that trust because of shady practices and just plain lousy content, enormous damage is done. Perhaps permanent.


That’s the Content Marketing Quickie for this week. As we shelter in place, remember podcasts can be with us anyplace. That’s part of what makes it such an effective channel. So please give me a subscribe if you haven’t already and we’ll be back next week.



Don’t Forget to


Content mar

Purpose compass


  • Brands know the importance of having a purpose, but they aren’t activating it.
  • The newest stats on how B2B is making and consuming content can help you shift your content strategy.
  • Why are storytellers so important? Because they deal in the critical arena of evoking emotions.


here’s your Content Marketing Quickie for the week of march 17, 2020.


The Critical Nature of Having a Brand Purpose

Why are you here? Now I know you didn’t come to the Content Marketing Quickie to get hit with an existential crisis but let me put the question to you another way, what’s the purpose of your business? Does it have one? Or is the only purpose to make money? That would be a very honest answer and I bet for most businesses, that is the real and true answer. But if serving and helping your customers in some way can be your purpose, there’s a lot to be gained from that. You know, if you’re able to successfully communicate it and be sincere about it. You see purpose drives customer loyalty, which businesses often ask for and expect, but do nothing to earn. It forms a real connection between brand and user. And now we’re learning it’s no different for B2B. The ANA reports 86% of B2B professionals think purpose is important to their business. Marketingcharts reports the ANA defines purpose as “a company’s reason for being, beyond profits, that guides its business growth and impact on society.” Got anything like that? 57% of B2Bs say well, we’re more focused on purpose than we were 3 years ago. 42% say they’re in the early stages, which means they’re at least talking about purpose internally. Beyond sales, 75% say having a purpose really helps with recruiting and retention, and it’s motivating for sales teams. Research shows consumers have a more positive image of – and are more likely to trust and recommend – companies that have a believable purpose. But only 24% of B2B companies say they’ve activated a purpose that’s embedded across the business. And there’s a reason that’s so hard to do. Most B2B orgs say when they start talking about purpose, it feels like a calculated PR exercise. They aren’t wrong. Research shows a lot of consumers think when brands suddenly take a stand, it’s probably a slick marketing move. That’s where authentic storytelling comes in. Instead of just latching onto the hot cause of the moment, if your purpose is driven by something that personally happened to or affects one of the founders, then that becomes a believable purpose. And going back to the employees, if they know there’s a purpose behind what they’re doing and that it’s real, 67% of them will gladly rave about where they work on social media. So many articles about how to “get” employees to be social media advocates for their companies, and the answer is really simple. Give them an actual reason to admire the company they work for and promote its purpose.


B2B Content Consumption and Production Stats (New)

So let’s just say, making a wild assumption here, that you’re a B2B business that wants to know the latest content consumption and production trends. Lucky you, because you stumbled across this! Chief Marketer put out their 2020 B2B Marketing Outlook and since it takes, from what we hear, an average of 18 touches to convert a customer, knowing what you’re doing content-wise out there is probably going to make a big difference for you. For instance, do you know what content is most effective for moving people through the sales funnel? Okay, since we’re friends, I’ll tell you. It’s articles and blog posts. That’s followed by reviews and customer testimonials, then whitepapers coming in third. Who should you send your content to? C-suiters? VP’s? Managers? Who will pay attention to you? Well a report from Centerline Digital says c-level execs spend 21% more time consuming content than managers do. But managers and VPs consume content sooner—usually within 24 hours of being exposed to it. So if you want a quick response, it’s managers and VPs. If you want someone really going deep into what you’ve put together, that would be the c-suite people IF your content makes its way into their que. Do you know what kind of content work best early in the funnel? It’s infographics. But past that, 59% of senior execs prefer to watch video over read text. Speaking of the stages of the funnel, the later stages are getting neglected. Half the content made by B2B marketers is early stage stuff. Only 14% is made for late stage and a meager 11% is made for customers after the sale. Can anyone say renewal problem in the making? Now let’s look at what tech matters and what doesn’t. The top 3 technologies people think really helps content marketing are analytic tools, email marketing software and social media publishing. The least used were content performance and recommendation analytics, digital asset management systems and integrated content marketing platforms, all of which I was kinda surprised to find living there on the bottom. Half of B2B marketers outsource at least one content marketing activity; mostly its content creation. The top content performance metrics used are email engagements, website traffic, website engagement, social media analytics and conversions, while the top 3 goals for content marketing are brand awareness, educating audiences and building trust. And as your friendly host often says in this podcast, there is no sale without trust.


The Role of Emotion in Content Marketing

emotional balls


Lastly, and quickly, your friendly host also talks a lot in this podcast about emotion and the role it plays in content and winning trust. I’m not alone. Manveer Singh Malhi at HiveMinds says emotion plays a critical role in making an indelible impression on the customer’s mind. They have mega short attention spans and tsunamis of content coming at them constantly, so emotion is the only way you can hope to cut through. And it cuts through because our brains were built to connect with really interesting stories that make us feel something. Malhi says consumers make decisions about a brand using emotional intelligence, not data and logic. Emotions are also almost a requirement for any kind of brand loyalty. In your personal relationships, do you trust and are fiercely loyal to people you don’t particularly feel one way or the other about? Doubtful. Now, does all this touchy feely stuff about humans being driven by emotion negate the importance of technology? Hardly. It’s the tech that makes it possible to reach customers and prospects with those stories in the place, time and manner in which they’ll be most effective. Social and mobile facilitates an always-on brand/customer connection that you can use brilliantly or abuse by just shoving emotionless facts and details at them all day and night. Your choice. And here’s where the tech is really becoming an emotion tool. You know consumers can reach brands directly these days, and they do. Some brands now not only know who these customers are, they’re using emotion recognition technology to determine how they feel. When you know that, you know best how to talk to and respond to them. You’re taking how they feel into consideration so you can make them feel better. Have you ever tried feeling better? I highly recommend it. That emotion recognition tech is predicted to become a $65B industry by 2023 by the way. So eventually, someday, somebody will care how you feel.


That’s the Content Marketing Quickie for this week. I hate the whole idea of social distancing. I’m like Olaf, I like warm hugs. But since we’re currently burrowing into our holes, subscribe to a new podcast or two. Back next week.



Don’t Forget to




  • Think it doesn’t matter if your B2B content is lousy? It’s smacking you right on the bottom line.
  • It’s hard to create content that helps the CX strategy if there is no CX strategy.
  • Instagram is still red hot, so make sure you’ve got the marketing basics there covered.
  • SMBs are using video in their marketing…in a way.


here’s your Content Marketing Quickie for the week of March 10, 2020


The Cost of Getting B2B Content Marketing Wrong

They don’t come right and say it, but I encounter the unspoken attitude again and again and again. Our content is fine. We’re making stuff, we’re pushing it out. No, it’s not necessarily good, or effective, and no we don’t really think we need a content strategy, we actually just call whatever it is we’re doing a content strategy. But in the end, we don’t really think that quality or having rhyme and reason to our content matters that much. Yeah? Well Forrester just said B2B firms risk losing 19% of their annual revenue if Millennials find their content useless. So it like, bottom line matters. Janice Tan walks us through the report which shows 57% of Millennials saying a lot of the content they get from B2B firms is in fact useless. And while you’re so proud of the volume of lameness you’re putting out, 65% say vendors provide too much material. Who cares what Millennials think? Well they’re 33% of global technology buying decision makers and 73% of them have a say in those decisions. And because Millennials like what they like, Forrester suggests short-form content, videos, and content contributed by their peers. Reggie Lau, Forrester’s director of content marketing consulting in Asia Pacific said Millennials are bringing their consumer nature to B2B buying. What does that mean? They want credible content backed by data and research, but they also want to be emotionally inspired and motivated. Brands are out there trying to win with cold, impersonal, inhuman, logical selling, when buyers are wanting to feel something. Lau says brand need to be humanized to evoke an emotion about them. That’s where icky human storyteller types like me come in handy. I love slashing through corporate BS and jargon. What else did we learn from Forrester? Well, that Millennials and B2B buyers in general prefer substance over style, and 64% say the content they get is design-driven yet weak on messaging. The good news, they do want content from you. 53% like hearing directly from vendors but it’s most important those vendors understand their business, give them a custom ROI analysis, and know what’s most important to the buyers’ own jobs. And they want vendors to show them some kind of vision for what success looks like and have a point of view that’s different from every damn body else’s. But to be most effective, 83% want you to give them a solid story about how you helped someone like them. And if the people you helped will vouch for you, you’re golden. So in summary, I guess stop making content your audience can’t use and couldn’t care less about so you’ll stop losing money.


Here’s Why CX is Still a Complete Mess

CX! Customer Experience! It’s the thing that really proves there’s seriousness about customer centricity, putting the needs of the customer first and super-serving them. So this guy Rob Allman, who’s SVP Customer Experience at NTT, recently talked about the results of their CX Benchmarking Report. And the verdict is it’s pretty much broken. At least how things stand now. He said, “The results indicate most companies still see CX as a competitive edge and primary differentiator. Yet, we’re finding the aspiration is greater than the execution.” Sounds like all my dates in high school. Stan Phelps covered the story for Forbes and in the Americas, only 14.4% say CX is a crucial part of their strategy. Only 26% say CX’s value is defined and tracked. Which make you want to ask, “How come?” Well let’s see, we’ve got lack of harmony. We love our silos and will defend them right up to bankruptcy, so the customer is the one who gets screwed for that. They aren’t going to get on-demand, intuitive and personalized experiences because less than a third of businesses can, or will, connect data relationships between channels. We have the people who are good at CX raising expectations. Maybe that’s why only 12% of customers rate customer experience at ‘advocacy’ level. Businesses refuse to care or listen. 56% have no formal process for considering voice of the customer data and 18% don’t gather any of it period. We’ve got businesses frozen like deer in the headlights, waiting for the miracle of AI to come rescue them. But if CX isn’t the core of the business strategy, you won’t even know what to do with AI if you had it. And check this statistic from the report out; 74% of companies are operating without CX analytics. So, never mind AI, they aren’t getting the intelligence that’s already available. Why do I even talk about this? Because content is such a powerful part and driver of customer experiences, and if the CX is a wreck, it’s hard to make effective content for it. I’m sure the content will get blamed though.


Essential Instagram Marketing Tips

You can never get enough Instagram marketing tips right? At least that’s what Michael Gorman at thinks, and I tend to agree since that’s the reddest of the red-hot social marketing platforms at present. First, why don’t we all gather around in our N95 masks and think about Instagram’s algorithm? There are 3 things it looks at to decide where to put what. 1, interest. It looks at your search history to figure out what you like. 2, time. The latest posts go first so if your posts don’t get seen pretty quickly after posting, they’ll slide into the land of the forgotten, like Carly Rae Jepsen. And 3, interaction. If you interact with someone even a little, Instagram will just assume you adore them and put their posts first in your feed. And by the way “interact” means you liked a post, you DM’d them, commented on their post, used the same kind of hashtags, or tagged them in one of your posts. Remember what Instagram users want, to spend .03 seconds looking at a picture. You gotta grab ‘em and grab ‘em fast. They like portrait more than landscape. And even if your text is genius, it needs a great picture to get people to scroll stop. You want captions but keep them short and don’t go hashtag bananas. Since posts do go stale nearly immediately, posting infrequently will pretty much make you invisible. But if you over-post, you become annoying. Now get out there and thread that needle! Hopefully you know who your audience is and Instagram analytics will help you figure out when they’re mostly on Instagram. That’ll help with your timing. And don’t underestimate how much your profile pic matters. Mine is me in a bikini on the deck of a yacht.


How SMBs are Using Video Marketing

Lastly, and quickly, Sarah Evans at Social Media Explorer gives us the results of a study of how small businesses are using video marketing. Here’s something that will make you experienced, professional, high-dollar video production companies’ blood boil. 76% of SMBs spend less than 20 minutes making a video. Just think of the planning, messaging work, artistry and craftsmanship that’s going into those less than 20-minutes-to-make videos! But hey, at least they’re making videos, and rumor has it the kids want fast, sloppy and amateur these days anyway. To make these instant grits versions of video, 58% use a little bit of their own footage filled out with stock video. Most of them use Unsplash. Now while SMB’s aren’t willing to pay more than $5 to produce a video, they are happy to give up the credit card info to promote them. 38% spend up to $500/month getting them seen, mostly on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. The good news for SMBs is video production is becoming commoditized, cheap and easy to do on all-in-one video marketing platforms. The bad news for SMBs is that allows businesses who believe it takes no specialized talent to make videos audiences will value to crank out videos that prove, yes it does.


That’s the Content Marketing Quickie for this week. I got some subscribers and it’s like a drug, the ones I have only make me want more. Come on man, give me a hit. Back next week.



Don’t Forget to





  • If TikTok is going to rule short form social media video, learn the marketing trends for it.
  • WordPress plugins that might be of particular interest to Content Marketers.
  • Brands should get serious about audio, and that doesn’t always mean podcasting.
  • B2B sales and marketing – still amazingly out of alignment.


here’s your Content Marketing Quickie for the week of March 3, 2020.


TikTok Marketing Trends

TikTok you don’t stop, to the heart TikTok you don’t stop, to the heart. Sure that’s the beginning to the classic Color Me Badd masterpiece I Wanna Sex You Up. But TikTok is also the social media app that is increasingly becoming all-consuming for consumers, which makes sense, influencers, marketers and advertisers. Now I’ve talked about this on the show before, laid out what this app is, who made it, and why its use is banned or restricted by the US military and TSA agents. But let’s just say nobody cares, because they don’t. It’s exploding anyway. Gen Z is especially hopelessly hooked. And where Gen Z is, there the marketers and advertisers will be also. TikTok and its Chinese version have 800M monthly active users. That doesn’t beat Instagram’s 1B but it’s only a matter of time. I won’t talk about the dangers here, I’ll just talk about the trend, and Andrew Meola at Business Insider gives us 3 of them that will give us a clue as to what TikTok marketing and advertising will look like throughout this year. Video advertisers will be all over it. eMarketer says overall, US marketers will have spent about $34.5B on digital video advertising in 2019, up 27.1% from 2018, with social properties gobbling up bigger and bigger shares. And as the new generation develops the focus and attention abilities of a housefly, TikTok has mastered short-form video. Massive engagement, view counts often in the millions. Another trend, a pullback on YouTube. TikTok is brilliant at encouraging not just consumption, but creation, which means the longtime brand fantasy of masses of people making content for and about them is a little more possible. And now that the TikTok cat is out of the bag, look for competitors. Remember Vine? No? Well that was a big deal too, until it wasn’t. TikTok must be sticky even after it isn’t the hot new thing anymore. But going back to what makes it so spooky, it’s resources to do so are vast. I mean super vast. Oh and I fully realize I lost Gen Z listeners after the first 10 seconds of this story because it went on way too long.


Content Marketing Plugins for WordPress

Glade has told us for years, plug it in plug it in. Juliet Childers is a writer who also wants us to plug it in. But she’s not talking about air fresheners, although she might appreciate that too. She’s talking about WordPress plugins. They are what make WordPress so freaking cool and usable and powerful. Many of you use WordPress for your content management and creation, I know I do. Well Juliet reminds us of some plugins that might be particularly useful to us content marketers. Now she’s not necessarily endorsing these and neither am I, we’re just trying to let you know the tools that are available to you, some of which you might have overlooked. And I think there’s even a plugin for helping you not overlook plugins. For formatting, there are plugins that give you on-site features like “Read More” buttons if you want to make better use of your real estate. That’s especially cool for mobile consumption. Want to get loaded fast? Hey we can all related to that. ShortPixel Image Optimizer speeds site load by optimizing images. AdSanity will help you manager your ads. Inline Related Posts will help you offer up more content without diverting them from the page they’re on. A/B testing is important. I tend to prefer B over A and proved that all throughout school. Nelio A/B Testing for WordPress will have you testing landing pages to see what works best. There’s a plugin called INK for making posts that’s intuitive and many think is better than the standard WP interface. I use BoldGrid myself. Proofread Bot is a plugin that does what Grammerly does. You’ve got all kinds of SEO plugin options. Yoast SEO is really popular for reviewing posts for SEO performance. Jetpack does a lot, including SEO for different search engines.  You know those Google snippets? The All In One Schema Rich Snippets plugin helps get your content ready to show up in those. You’ve got OptInMonster for conversion optimization. Plenty of Social Media plugins like Custom Twitter Feeds to put your tweet stream on your site. The Social Media Share Buttons & Social Sharing Icons plugin gets you set up with those buttons for easy one touch following. The Revive Old Post plugin lets you auto post to different platforms and integrates with Google Analytics. And many of the well-known social platforms like Buffer have their own WordPress plugins. Now, you might be thinking stupid Stiles, how am I supposed to remember all these in one listen? Well ya don’t have to. The transcript is always in the blog part of, so go get what you need.


Scaling with Audio: Narrated Articles


Gonna talk to you a minute about audio. But not necessarily about podcasting. There’s another kind of audio content you brands might better start thinking seriously about, because it takes the content you’re already making, scales it, and puts it into a format that, as we all know, is absolutely kicking ass. And oh by the way, it gets you ready for voice assistants. Gabe Bullard writes about it in Nieman Reports and I read it three times it was so important. He talks about this Danish digital magazine called Zetland that asked its reader back in 2016 what they wanted. The answer kept coming back: audio. Co-founder Hakon Mosbech just started having reporters read their articles. It was clunky and kinda low quality but users gobbled it up. Why? Because it was convenient. And in today’s uber-competitive and crowded content space, convenience just might win the day for you. You know why Zetland lost subscribers? Because the magazine cost money and people didn’t think they were reading enough content to justify the cost. But when audio was available, they listened to more stories and more of each story. Harvard Business Review, The Economist, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, they’re all in on narrated articles. HBR’s Jim Bodor says, “Audio has emerged as kind of the preferred way for people to consume content.” Economist deputy editor Tom Standage says, “Our evidence suggests the audio edition is a very effective retention tool; once you come to rely on it, you won’t unsubscribe.” Now, there are two issues with all this. Articles are usually written to be read, and sound, well, “weird” when read aloud. And, some approaches to this use text to speech robot voices. Those will get better but at the moment, they are far, far away from prime time. And who knows if they’ll ever get as good at tonal inflection, emotion, and story interpretation as human narrators? Evidence so far shows robot voices cause listeners to drop out about a fourth of the way through. Just, email me. It’s starting to get crazy and reckless for brands to not be using audio, whether that be audio version of their current content or podcasting.


B2B Sales and Marketing: STILL Out of Alignment

Lastly, and quickly, we’ve heard so much, and I mean for years, about the importance of sales and marketing alignment. So B2B companies are getting this down by now, right? Oh hell no. Ray Schultz at Mediapost tell us a study by Leandata and Sales Hacker, and it’s a new study, shows 78% of B2B leaders say revenue growth is a challenge and it’s a challenge mostly because departments aren’t integrated. Sales, Marketing, Customer Success, Customer Experience, IT, Operations…put on your farming britches cause it’s silo town, a strategic and organizational failure. 84% say sales and marketing share responsibility for revenue but 37% say they aren’t really set up in their own companies to tap the potential. The top 3 obstacles are low understanding of revenue ops, disconnected systems and inconsistent data, and the support of leadership. Always awesome when your leaders are your obstacle.


That’s the Content Marketing Quickie for this week. Subscribe to it if you haven’t. It’s easy to do and that way you won’t forget about it. And share it around if you learned something because that means others would probably get value out of it too and it’ll make you look good. Back next week.



Don’t Forget to



content marketing technology stack


  • Knowing what’s in your martech stack will help you determine what content is worth making.
  • B2B buyers reveal where they find the content that helps them buy and what kind it is.
  • Reasons you might stay disappointed in your digital marketing results.
  • Google might start doing something it said it would never do.


here’s your Content Marketing Quickie for the week of February 25, 2020.


Key Components of a Martech Stack

No way around it. You may just want to be a writer or a designer or a strategist and do what you do best and specialize in those things. But if you want to stay relevant in and participate in the content marketing conversations going on around you, there has to be at least some understanding of the marketing technology stack. Wait, don’t tune out yet. I’m not going to go all tech wonk on you. I’m just going to give you the rundown Lisa Smith did at business2community of the main components you might encounter in that martech stack. Knowing the tools and capabilities you do or don’t have will play a large role in what content you make or don’t make. It also helps manage expectations. If your bosses skip a tech capability, don’t let them expect the results the capability that they skipped would have brought, right? Here are the main marketing tech stack components. Analytics like Google Analytics. It’s the tool that justifies all other tools. Behavioral analytics like HotJar and Smartlook. Team Communication, you’re probably familiar with Slack. Content which encompasses a lot of functions. Google Docs and Drive for writing and storing, content intelligence tools like Buzzsumo. Plagiarism checkers and Grammarly if gooder writing easily comes not to you. You’ve got your Content management systems like WordPress. There’s the Customer data platform that finds data on your consumer spread out across many touchpoints for an aggregated profile. Everything’s gonna be tough if you don’t have the Customer relationship management part of the martech stack like HubSpot or ye olde Salesforce. You’ve got Email marketing platforms Like Mailchimp. Maybe even bulk email validators like to makes sure your stuff goes to real inboxes. Want to do graphic design like a beast, you’ll need something like Canva. Project Management tools like Trello help you, you know, manage projects. Marketing automation could be in your stack like Marketo. Need tech help for your SEO? Tools like Ahrefs do keyword research, backlink analysis, competitor analysis, site audits, and a lot more to make you findable. For Social media marketing there are highly recognizable names like Hootsuite, Sprout, or the social component in big marketing suites like Oracle Marketing Cloud. Okay, FAR from a complete list, and a lot of platforms do more than one of these things…but that should give you an idea of the functionalities and info available to you, depending on what checks your company was willing to write.


The Content that Leads to B2B Sales

You know how B2B marketing works right? You send a prospect an email, they reply later that day saying, “This looks great. I’ll take the annual plan. Here’s my company credit card info.” If you believe that you’re licking exotic frogs and trippin. Uberall’s VP Marketing Insights Greg Sterling tells us the average, the average, B2B buyer’s journey involves soaking in 13 pieces of content. Yeah, that’s what a FocusVision poll found. It’s as if they don’t take spending their money lightly or something. Of the 13, maybe 8 of those content pieces will be from and made by vendors like you. The rest will be 3rd parties who are theoretically writing objectively about you. You’re not gonna get any one-night stands with B2B buyers, the process takes around 2-6 weeks and involves 3-4 different internal decision makers. When they were asked how they found the content that led them to a purchase, 70% of B2B buyers said it was the vendor’s website, followed closely by Internet search, with social media, email and word of mouth rolling in next. They’re looking for content in all four of the buying stages, which are understanding the problem, looking for vendors, short-listing and final decision. If you want to know what kind of content was most useful in helping them make a decision, and if you don’t you’re flirting with professional malpractice, it’s content about product specs and functionality at 67%, then comes product comparisons at 65%, product success stories with 60%, content that shows value to internal stakeholders at 54%, product tutorials at 49% and guidance on the problem and how to solve it with 48%. The bigger the company, the more likely they are to rely on that objective 3rd party content like analyst reports. So you want your company to be chillin’ in the good quadrant.


Why Your Digital Marketing Isn’t Working

sad baby

I hear your cries in the darkness, I really do. All this digital marketing madness and the Hogswart’s style magic of SEO should be sending a consistent flow of relevant traffic to your website that results in quality leads, sales, revenue and an all-inclusive luxury vacation at Sandals because your company is doing so well. But it’s just…not. Is it you? Are you cursed? Is everyone successful but you? Superb Digital’s Paul Morris gives us the top 5 reasons you might be living in a constant latent state of heartbreak and disappointment. 1. You’ve got traffic but what’s up? No conversions! You might be attracting the wrong audience because you don’t really know your market or most likely buyer persona. When you know that, your content will draw the right flies to the right poop. Wow that’s a terrible analogy. Let’s go with bears to the right honey. Avoid cheap writers. If the story and messaging is bad and inconsistent, you’ll just confuse everyone. 2. You’re looking at the wrong metrics. Vanity metrics are just that, vanity. Stick with conversion metrics like calls, email link clicks, form completions, and downloads. The channels and content that gets those things is where you should shift your money. 3. Speaking of that, you’re doing the wrong things on the wrong channels. This goes back to knowing who your target is, where do they go for the kind of info you have to give them? Personas will reveal the platform. Hey that’s catchy. Somebody tweet that. 4. You’re expecting too much, you utopian dreamer you. Ambitious goals pursued with limited or no resources is professionally immature. If you have a nickel, have nickel expectations. Oh my God I’m really spittin’ out tweetable things now. Oh and be patient — especially SEO and content marketing results take time. And 5, your competitors are kicking your ass in SEO. Put your Indiana Jones hat on and find a gap that’s not covered then attack that to differentiate yourself. You might want to do an SEO site audit too and spackle what’s cracked.


Ca-Ching, Will Google Start Paying for Content?

Lastly, and quickly…interesting things are happening between Google and publishers. You’re familiar with Google, right? You’ve heard of it? It accounts for about half of all the Internet traffic that exists, then it sells ads against all the content it indexes and make a gabillion dollars and rules the world. Publishers were cool with that, sorta. They like Google driving readers to their websites, but the deal with the devil is that publishers allow a killer ad platform to exist that’s also literally a gatekeeper that says who does and doesn’t get readers. Enter this new news that Jason Aten tells us about in Inc. That’s short for Incorporated but that would clutter up their logo. Google might start paying publishers for content. The WSJ says that’d be a mighty huge change since Google wants to NOT pay publishers so badly, it literally changed how it previews news articles in France to get around their copyright laws that would have required publishers get paid. See brands only have so much money for advertising and over the last decade, it’s shifted out of publishers’ direct pockets and over to the Googles and Facebooks of the world. Just those two represent 61% of all digital ad revenue. Who wants to play Monopoly? Well last year, Facebook said okay we’ve got this curated News Tab now, so we’ll pay a little something to those publications. Apple’s News-Plus subscription for Apple News costs $9.99/month, so they give a taste of that to premium content publishers like The New Yorker and LA Times. It’s thought this may be why Google is starting to soften on the idea.


That’s the Content Marketing Quickie for this week. If you don’t need it, that means you know everything and if that’s the case, I want to subscribe to your podcast! Back next week.



Don’t Forget to


Podcasting studio


  • How can you make sure your podcast gets found and discovered?
  • Latest video marketing statistics from Vidyard.
  • Marketers are worried that AI might hurt their branding.
  • Common ways that SMBs waste marketing dollars.


here’s your Content Marketing Quickie for the week of February 18, 2020.


How to Promote Your Podcast

Question for you, how did you discover this podcast? Maybe you never did and you’re not even listening right now to this message that’s being directed right at you. How can I make sure you at least know the Content Marketing Quickie exists, and get you to listen one time to see if you like it enough to keep listening? Well I’m not alone. That’s the dilemma of everyone who isn’t already famous who has a podcast. Thanks to the podcast boom and ease of entry, there are now a ton of them out there. But Joshua Nite writes in toprankblog the market is still not what you would consider oversaturated. Still, you’ve got to figure out how to get your podcast noticed. Well you can spend money, like doing paid promotion, influencer marketing, and paid social media marketing. And if you don’t want to spend money it’s going to be word of mouth and our old organic friend SEO. There are, however, a few quick win tactics Joshua gives us that might get you going. The title of your podcast should be hyper-relevant and grab people shopping for podcasts quickly. It should be clear what the show’s about. That should result in more clicks which then tells the podcast directory’s search engine you’re worth a damn. Make sure you’ve submitted to Google Podcasts because Google is indexing and transcribing podcasts for you for searchability. Be sure to add a couple of phrase tags to your RSS feed and be deliberate with your episode titles to help the listener. See, I don’t do this. I need to fix that. I just give the date of that week’s Quickie and nobody knows what they’ll learn in that show. Use keywords in episode descriptions, treat it like the meta description on a blog post. Ask for reviews and subscribers. I do that and can’t really tell if it works or not, but I don’t think it hurts. Here’s a great tip, when you’re planning the questions you’re going to ask your guest, think of them in terms of an H3 tag on a blog post. Ask questions that web surfers might be asking and use the terms they’re using. Make sure you publish a blog or episode page with the full transcript complete with links and other bloggy stuff. It’s all about helping Google figure out what your podcast episodes are about. Or just get Gary Vaynerchuk as a guest and you’ll be huge overnight.


The Latest Video Marketing Stats

Super tired of still finding myself educating businesses that video is important if you want to effectively get your message across to any number of audiences that are vital to the business but find myself there I do. There are still orgs that are doing either few and haphazard non-strategic videos, or no video at all. That might be fine if they’re at least doing podcasts, but they aren’t doing that either. They’re doing marketing copy on pdfs. Rock on! For those who are rolling cameras, Convince & Convert’s Kayla Matthews gives us some interesting current video marketing stats, most of which come from my pals at Vidyard. For instance, which is French for for instance, B2B video gets watched on desktop 87% of the time. Mobile views are going up but are dwarfed by desktop. Most business videos get watched on Thursdays, followed by Wednesdays. They must need Monday and Tuesday to make sure the place isn’t falling apart before they get to chill and watch something. By the way they also watch videos mostly in the morning. The kind of video businesses are mostly using are webinars. God, B2B loves them some webinars and think that’s the golden path to qualified leads. After that, they’re used for demos and social media. When you think video, you think YouTube. But actually businesses distribute their videos through their own website, as in 85% of the time. That’s also way more than they distribute using social media or email. 73% of videos are 2 minutes or less. If you can be clear and impactful and short, you’re nailing it. In a closely related story, if a video is one minute long or less, 68% of people will watch the whole thing. You will be rewarded for respecting people’s time. Last week we talked about what’s best, trying to do your video production 100% in house or using outside creative resources. Well 52% of small and medium businesses do both. Some stuff is done internal, but when it’s time for the brand to look professional and reliable, external resources like me are tapped. I love getting tapped. Speaking of small and medium businesses, they’re actually keeping up with the alleged big boys and girls. Companies with 31-200 employees make almost as much video as those with over 5,000 people. In fact, great video content can be an enormous equalizer.


Marketers Worried about AI

Robot illustrating AI in content marketing

Do you get drunk with your friends and talk about how AI is going to ruin your life? I bet not. Well, I bet you get drunk with your friends, but I seriously doubt AI ever comes up. But in more sober moments, it turns out that marketers are thinking, maybe even worrying, about AI quite a bit. Dianna Christie tells us about a Bynder study that shows 77% of marketers are concerned about how automation and AI are going to affect their branding. Now why would anyone worry about little ol’ AI? Doesn’t it deserve all our trust? Isn’t it flawless in its execution? Doesn’t it solve every problem everyone ever had? Guess not yet. 56% say it could hurt their brands by diminishing creativity, reducing jobs and reducing differentiation. Apparently being machine-driven, boring and the same as everybody else isn’t regarded as being a “cool” brand that appeals to humans. AI does get some love, 24% think it will actually help their branding. 23% said one thing has nothing to do with the other. It kinda comes down to just how much importance is placed on creativity, and whether or not automation and AI can successfully appeal to and move us emotionally. Companies that don’t care about creativity or don’t know good content from bad, probably totally fine with the machines taking over. Those who know human ideas that strike a chord with other humans is the key to the relationships and trust that result in sales, they might be in the worry category. Regardless, huge investments are being made in the martech stack, and it’s causing problems. 21% says there’s a skills gap, 20% say it’s data overload and 18% are overwhelmed by the options. And this may come as a shock, but everyone on a marketing team isn’t always in agreement. The Advertising Research Foundation says only 65% of creatives and strategists think research & data are that important to the creative process. Obviously, researchers disagree. It all shows technology, while impressive, seems to present an ongoing change management challenge.


Top Marketing Money wasters

Lastly, and quickly, consultant Estie Rand showed up on worried that you marketers might be flushing tens of thousands of dollars down the toilet. Here’s what she says are the biggest marketing money wasters. Paying for branding too early. You learn a lot in the first weeks of operation. Learn what’s unique about you before you commit to a name and logo or you’ll be paying for a re-do quite soon. 2, paying for a website with all the bells and whistles right away. Start with a strategic site that helps people buy stuff then learn what’s needed and what’s just filler. 3, paying for social media help that doesn’t even get your voice and isn’t a specialist in any of the platforms, meaning they post the same thing on everything. 4, going Pay-Per-Click Ad crazy. Just because Adwords and Facebook Ads are easy doesn’t mean they sell stuff. It takes lots of testing and tweaking. You won’t get lucky just flying blind. And, there’s really no point in these ads if your site can’t convert. 5: Doubling down on what’s not working. When you spend something, like for marketing, the cost of that is actually supposed to be recouped and then some by additional sales. Otherwise, you’re doing what’s called losing money. And I’ve done that, it makes you feel bad.


That’s the Content Marketing Quickie for this week. So if none of you review my podcast does that mean it’s perfect? Cause none of you have. I know, you’re busy and it’s a lot to ask, but it would be cool and helpful. Back next week.


content marketing writer working on laptop and notebook


  • If you treat storytelling as just another content marketing buzzword, you’re going to miss out.
  • Do you know in your heart your content is adding to the noise? That it needs…something?
  • There are huge differences between storytelling writers from the entertainment and journalism worlds, and the marketing writers we keep to entry-level because gee, anybody can write, right?


Why You Should Care: Because writing is more than making some words happen. It’s how you communicate and thus, how you’ll be perceived and whether you’ll be understood. To get writers that will really matter, you’ll need to know what makes a great one.


“Storytelling.” Blah blah blah. Sadly, it’s become the latest in a long line of content marketing buzzwords that seemingly gets loaded into every blog post and convention speech. As happens with most buzzword flavors of the month, it’s inserted casually, a fully expected and accepted cliché, with little hint as to the real power behind it.


Why did we start saying that term so much? What is it that we’re trying to convey when we whip it out of our verbal holster? It arose from the notion that using content marketing to aggressively sell wasn’t as smart as building trust using content that deepens the understanding of and connection to the brand. “Storytelling” became shorthand for “something other than salesy copy.”


Fair enough. But there’s a whole lot more to it than that. There’s evolutionary science that shows why humans organize and process information in narrative form. There’s brain chemistry science that shows the impact of emotional triggers…IF you can trigger them through story.


What are your thoughts as a communications leader about such things as story, narrative, message, emotion, entertainment and journalism? For many, that’s all just fluff that doesn’t warrant serious consideration because there’s no appreciation for the difference it can make. You’re writing the same stuff the same way, you’ve just started calling it storytelling because well…that’s what you say now. For others, you look at the copy your organization keeps cranking out across your many channels, and you know in your heart it’s mostly just pablum that adds to the noise and will goose egg with the desired audience. You know something’s missing.


Where exactly is effective communication NOT necessary? How many times do we have to watch non-existent or poor communication drive teams and projects off the rails?

What’s missing is real, experienced, professional writing talent. The ones who know there are essential elements of story that must be present for content to matter. The ones who know there are goals for storytelling and expected outcomes for the successful kind. The ones who have studied the tactics developed through eons of writing for the page and screen. Such writers are needed not just in marketing, but across every aspect of the org. Because where exactly is effective communication NOT necessary? How many times do we have to watch non-existent or poor communication drive teams and projects off the rails?


But for now, let’s focus on marketing, specifically content marketing. What is the difference between the kind of marketing writers we tend to hire now and the storytellers that give you a decent shot at attention in our uber-crowded content world?


  1. Pull vs. Push

Marketing writers primarily concern themselves with such things as selling and branding. After all, they answer to a marketing director that is probably increasingly tasked with driving revenue. Their job is to talk about the brand and convince.

Storytelling writers understand that if they do their job right, branding will be stronger than ever. The prospects will have a firmer grasp on who the brand really is, as if it were a human character. It will be clear to the prospect how having a relationship with that character can make their life richer. It’s pull vs. push. They will have been moved to act on the CTA driven by their own motivations, not the brand’s needs.


  1. The Things That Can’t Be Taught

Marketing writers are often commoditized as low paid, entry level role-fillers. That is a mighty peculiar way for a company to view the role of writing considering the entirety of what prospects learn about you, see in you, and hear from you is in their hands. Go ahead. Have the greatest product, value proposition, staff and technology you want. Nothing can tank it all faster than your public gateway being someone who’s just cutting their teeth. That’s crazy.  

Storytelling writers are professionals whose intrinsic value is in the experiences of past work and experimentation, plus the soft skills of audience empathy and maintaining the audience POV. It’s almost hard to even put a price on that, as empathy is a natural trait that’s quite hard to teach.


Storytelling writers are obsessed with the audience. All of the reward is in being able to attract them, move them and matter to them.

  1. Let’s Be Clear Who We Work For

Marketing writers go through their average day mostly trying to please bosses and internal stakeholders. That works if all you care about as the boss is loving your own content regardless of what the audience thinks.

Storytelling writers are obsessed with the audience. That’s who they’re looking out for. That’s who they’re working to please. They are the stakeholders. All of the reward is in being able to attract them, move them and matter to them. Beyond that, they also care about earning and building audience trust as a content publisher.


  1. Seeing You Through the Audience’s Eyes

Marketing writers are highly susceptible to echo chambers, internal verbiage, and high-minded industry jargon that tries to win with complexity and logic. They’re insiders…which isn’t a good thing.

Storytelling writers maintain an outsider’s perspective. They see the brand and the message through the audience’s eyes. They win with clarity, brevity and emotion – which is after all what motivates human beings to take an action. 


  1. There are No Captive Creatives

Despite technology and modern ways of working, marketing writers are largely still expected and willing to suffer spirit-consuming commutes, sit in their assigned area for designated creative hours, serve as warm bodies in unproductive meetings, and generally participate in corporate culture theater. The signal is quite clear they are not trusted, nor is what they do understood.

Storytelling writers are pragmatic free spirits. Their professionalism and need for full understanding will have them gladly attend any meeting or collaboration session. But they also need to live real lives and be wherever inspiration might strike. They know that to deliver their very best work and be of maximum value, they need to work where/when they’re most productive.


  1. Writing is Not a Nice-to-Have Bonus Skill

Marketing writers typically have to also be something else. Writing is PART of their job. You’ll often even see UX designers who are expected to provide all their own copy to populate the boxes and pages they’ve designed. It’s another symptom of the dismissive disrespect the craft of writing and communication often encounters in our organizations. Writing is easy, anybody can do it and it just kinda happens by magic, right?

Storytelling writers see nothing else as being more important than the message, the narrative, the characters and the words. Yes, they work very well with other practitioners with an eye toward final product. And yes, many storytelling writers will have additional skills to offer. But they’ll always see the ideas and the writing as the foundation of the house.


Storytelling writers know some ideas are worth fighting for and that encouraging creative chances is how you bring real value as opposed to taking orders that pursue “fine” over “fantastic.”

  1. Tom Petty Was Wrong: I WILL Back Down

Marketing writers will normally acquiesce when challenged. They pretty much have to. They serve at the pleasure (mercy) of stakeholders even if those stakeholders do not have the entertainment and journalism experience to render qualified judgment on what will and won’t please audiences. Internal stakeholders know what they want, make the assumptive leap that external audiences will feel the same way…and authority over the creative is thus asserted.

Storytelling writers will always fight for the impactful, the different, the creative, the interesting and the compelling. They know what their content will be out there competing against for time and attention (Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, etc.) They know some ideas are worth fighting for and that encouraging creative chances is how you bring real value as opposed to taking orders that pursue “fine” over “fantastic.”


The Challenge: You’re counting on telepathy and it’s not working. The value of your company and product is in your head, but it has to be communicated to others. You have to get them as aware and impressed as you are. Of course you love your own company. Maybe you’re proud of any content your company makes, like a parent putting a child’s artwork on the fridge because hey, their kid made it. But just making something isn’t the job is it? You want to make something that matters. Which is why who you get to craft the narrative MATTERS. Is it possible your audience has been shrugging its shoulders because you’ve been settling for marketing copy? Do you know what it means to make “storytelling” something more than a buzzword?


And oh yeah, when was the last time you read something about your brand that gave you an emotional rush?



  • Changing minds. That’s what we do and it’s a lot to ask.
  • When you show up, you’re triggering the “fight or flight” response.
  • The public, and their brains, have mastered filtering out what you’re trying to force on them.

Computer graphic representation of the brain

You know that in content marketing, you’re in the business of changing minds, right? Or at least steering minds in a direction they weren’t necessarily going until you came along.


Take a minute to appreciate how difficult it is to achieve such a thing. Now, more than ever, we as human beings seem to be gorilla glued to our existing beliefs tighter than ever. To such an extent that we flare up, go on the defensive, and adopt a fully antagonistic posture toward anyone who dares try to make us contemplate an alternative point of view.


That’s you. You’re the threat to existing beliefs, practices and habits. When you show up with your content marketing, you trigger the fight or flight instinct that causes prospects to run away/hide from you/avoid you at all costs, or to aggressively resist everything you’re trying to tell them.


The verdict of content in 2019 was the creation of a firestorm of noise and clutter. Just to say we did.

To make matters worse, into this environment come the many marketers who have crafted their content without appreciating the real task at hand. It is largely self-serving, pleasing mostly to internal stakeholders, packed with marketing-speak and jargon, unnecessarily complex in its messaging, non-captivating, unhelpful, and selling hard via feature details.


This has sadly become the norm, not the exception. The verdict of content in 2019 has been the creation of a firestorm of noise and clutter. Just to say we did. 2020 will not support that. Just as the public artfully developed the coping skill of ad blindness, they are now well down the road in developing instinctive content filtering. Human brains are making lightning fast assessments. Will reading or watching or listening to this add value to my life, or is it a threat to my time and status quo?


Statue "The Thinker"


We are marketing to human brains. We are communicating with human beings. So if the task of content marketing is to change or steer the thinking of prospects, maybe we should get serious about learning how “thinking” works.


Why limit ourselves to being left brain analytical or right brain creative?

For instance, do you consider yourself left brained or right brained? If so, you’re selling yourself short, because we’re all whole-brained beings. Our brain hemispheres are connected by a corpus collosum and info flies back and forth and gets processed on both sides. Yes, there are differences in how we prefer to think, but both hemispheres are at work. Why limit ourselves to being left brain analytical or right brain creative? The most effective users of the brain are open to tapping into both.


Lesson: In our content marketing, there is no valid excuse for leaving out the creative in deference to the logical argument you’re trying to make. Likewise, there is no valid excuse for leaving out clear and convincing messaging in deference to overly vague and esoteric design. Generate sound arguments delivered in compelling and entertaining ways. You are capable of both.


Next, there’s the belief that emotional people tend to not be as rational as cool or unemotional people. As any Spock fan knows, emotions are seen as a primitive trait in need of overcoming in pursuit of pure logic. As with our brain hemispheres, it’s a mistake to approach this as an either/or proposition. Emotion and reason actually team up frequently and effectively. Think about the last big, important decision you had to make. You had facts, but they weren’t enough to give you total peace, were they? Why not? Because your gut was giving you anxiety about the choice ahead. We have instinct for a reason.


Lesson: It’s a frequent, colossal mistake to think content marketing doesn’t need to move people emotionally. Everything we’ve ever done in our lives was influenced to some degree by emotion. That’s why storytelling was such a buzzword in 2019. Often misunderstood, storytelling isn’t about writing the About tab on your website. It’s about putting people in an emotional state of mind. You can give prospects the facts, but that’s less than half the game. The ability to trigger emotion is what lights the fire.


Children working together on a project.


Lastly, we’ve heard many times that we all have a method of learning that suits us best. Maybe you regard yourself as a “visual learner,” or an “auditory learner,” or a “tactile and kinetic learner.” Do boys learn differently from girls? Do girls learn better when separated from boys? Is a male or female teacher best? Structured vs. unstructured learning? What time should school be? Should there be more than one recess? We’ve been having these debates for decades, mostly in pursuit of the best “one size fits all” approach possible, knowing that “one size fits all” is absurd.


Your job is not to just make “something,” check the box and move on. It’s much more difficult than that.

Along comes Dan Willingham and people like him whose research consistently showed that while we all have preferences for how we like to get info, that doesn’t mean we learn less if info is presented in ways we don’t prefer. In fact, we learn different things from the many ways that info can be presented. Maybe I picked up something in the audio version of a book I didn’t catch when I read it. Maybe I highlighted something in the book that escaped me while listening to it.


Lesson: One content marketing format does not fit all. Scale your material and present it across formats and channels so your audience can choose their preference. Or better yet, they will experience the information several ways for deeper understanding and retention. Help them maximize what they can learn from you. And – as mentioned before – different formats can be used to drive emotions in different ways.


Your job is not to just make “something,” check the box, please the boss and move on. It’s much more difficult than that. Your job is to court human beings, make them feel something, don’t be a threat, make your value to their lives obvious, give them a great show in many different ways, and allow them to willingly want you vs. being talked into you. This is what content marketers who take time to understand how our brains work and how humans really behave pursue.  


  • There’s an odd reluctance to admit there’s no content plan or that content isn’t “working”
  • Powerful content requires vision from an internal leader
  • There are numerous gains to be had from getting clarity around content
  • No one expects you to be staffed with entertainers and journalists, so there’s no shame in reaching out to some


Still haven’t contemplated bringing on a content strategy & production resource? Maybe it’s because you’ve got it totally figured out, you’re firing on all cylinders, everyone knows the plan and messaging, and your content has your audience doing exactly what you want them to do. Or…it could be the fog is so thick around the issue of content you’re just groping around trying to get by another day.


Circle the items below to see if your brand has anything to gain from getting clarity around content.


  • There’s not a company-wide understanding of what is meant by “content”.


  • There’s no knowledge of who in the organization or which department is in charge of content.


  • Content is run simultaneously and in different ways in different departments.


  • There is no C-suite executive who understands the importance of content or is championing it.


  • Content is placed in the hands of multiple ad-hoc agencies who frankly, are most invested in securing larger engagements.


  • No one is sure how to get content made.


  • Nobody seems to know, or care, what kind of content customers and prospects want to get.



  • All content being made is safe, sterile, corporate, and compromised to satisfy a cast of executives instead of the customer.


  • There is no documented content strategy. You’re winging it and hoping to get lucky.


  • There is no serious budget for content. You still think it should be free and magic.


  • There is no acceptance that in 2017, content IS communication. So if you’re not dealing in content, you’re failing to communicate externally and internally, with all the chaos that brings.


  • For some reason, all the truly creative employees you have are deeply frustrated and unhappy.


  • You don’t think video is a modern-day business mandate. You’re waiting for those YouTube and Facebook Video fads to just go away.


  • You don’t believe that content can be made cost effectively at scale .


  • You don’t believe that “less and more effective” is better than “make lots more lame stuff.”


  • You don’t know WHY you should make content; that there should be a specific mission and purpose behind every asset.


  • There’s no understanding of how to tell if a content asset is successful or not.


  • You have a generalized anxiety that your competitors’ content is much better than yours.


  • Nobody knows who your execs are because they have not put themselves out there via content as leaders in their space.


  • Staff does not retain or react to a great deal of the internal comms pushed to their inboxes.


  • The business press isn’t covering you.


  • You’ve actually been pretty happy with your content efforts, but there’s a next level you’re not quite sure how to get to.


  • You throw your customers and prospects into FAQ, Knowledge Base hell instead of quickly responding with a content asset(s) that directly addresses what they’re looking for, and in their preferred format.


  • All you’re doing is listing your features and selling stuff. You’re not crafting or telling your story…which is what humans connect to.


  • You’ve invested big money in marketing technologies and platforms, but it’s just sitting there collecting dust because you don’t have the content strategy or production to power it. You’ve got the veins but no blood.


  • Your social media channels are sharing others’ content, because you don’t have much of your own.


If you’re seeing circles even when you close your eyes, don’t feel bad. Like any other business function, content creation and emotive storytelling is a specialized craft. Unless you’re staffed with entertainers and journalists (and few brands are), it’s not fair to expect a lot of entertaining and informative output. What you can expect is MORE ad hoc marketing material. So whether it’sus or another qualified content strategy and communications planning consultancy, it’s healthy to at least have the conversation about your current content state of affairs . 


In a bad fog, seeing even a little light can be pretty encouraging.