Back to Basics: Making Content Marketing Work

by Andrew Schulkind

Content marketing is nothing new, and it’s not a new concept to most marketers, but it is still worth looking at some content marketing basics to remind ourselves of how and why content marketing works, and how we can be more effective in our own efforts. Here a brief “Content Marketing 101” refresher.

Back to Basics


Don’t publish crap, but don’t agonize over perfection. Get it out there and understand that you’re almost always going to wish you could do it again. So do exactly that– do it again. The same content from a slightly different perspective can be even more powerful when you create a body of work around a tightly defined area of expertise. (See Embrace the Micro, below.)

This isn’t an excuse for mediocrity. There’s plenty of mediocre content out there (being ignored) already. Don’t add to that unfortunate body of work. But don’t expect every piece to be Pulitzer-worthy.

Admit Your Errors

And don’t be afraid to correct yourself. If you’ve made a mistake or if the market has changed since you published something, retract or correct or apologize as appropriate. Your audience is human. They understand you’re human. So they don’t expect perfection. In fact, a little imperfection may just be a little more appealing.

Don’t Be Sloppy

That said, typos, bad grammar, misspellings … not so appealing. On the contrary, they’re a little disrespectful. As in, you couldn’t be bothered to even proof read the content you’re putting out there for me.

Ask for What You Want

Do you want subscribers? Do you want evangelists? Ask for what you want and just might get it. Don’t ask, and it would be miraculous if you did. Your content is not a public service. It’s there to provide value to your audience in an effort to gain their attention and respect. A hard sell isn’t going to work, but an appropriate call to action is an absolute must.

Stick to Your Strengths

There’s always another great new platform that “all the kids are using …” Ignore it. Unless it feels right and you have the resources to do it well.

Even better than ignoring the next big thing is keeping an eye out for it and tracking your current platforms closely enough that you could easily decide which to drop if a new platform becomes more appealing. Acknowledge that you have limited resources; don’t stretch them too thin.

Go Deep

There’s so much content out there now that its impossible to compete broadly. Find your niche and own it. Easier said than done, especially when it comes to aligning your content with your marketing. Doing that well requires that your firm’s focus be highly targeted, as well. Too many of us aren’t nearly focused enough. (And I’ll admit that’s something we’ve been working on at Andigo over the past few months. Stay tuned!)

Embrace the Micro

As in micro-fame. You don’t have to be a household name. You just have to be “the guy” (or “the gal”) in the one small part of your target audience’s industry that you’ve fixed your sights on.

Get Off the Page

Success in content marketing won’t come if you’re approach is limited to words on (virtual) paper. Video, animation, infographics, and public speaking all can and should be a part of your mix. Even better is interactive content relevant to your audience. Worksheets, quizzes, evaluation tools.

Don’t Publish and Perish

Hitting the publish button is not the end of your efforts, it’s the start. Once you’ve published your great content, you have to promote it. That’s where social media, email marketing, influencer outreach, public speaking and other amplification come in.