The Top 10 Content Marketing Strategy Lessons from the Last 15 Years


From Content Marketing:

Here are some of the things we (at CMI) have learned along the way. I hope you find one or two helpful nuggets of wisdom in here.

1. There is no silver bullet

Regardless of what anyone says, there is no silver bullet when it comes to content marketing strategy. So many marketers are looking for the perfect dashboard, system, process, and distribution plan for their content marketing. It simply doesn’t exist. We’ve worked with hundreds of small and large brands around the world, and only one thing has been consistent: Every plan we developed was different. Why? It’s simple: The mixture of communicating what your business offers, delivering on your customers’ informational needs, and sharing your own corporate story is impossible to duplicate — the output from your particular blend of attributes and goals should always be different and unique.

As Don Schultz, the father of integrated marketing, has always professed, competitors can copy everything about what you do… your pricing, your product, where you promote it… but they can’t copy exactly how you will communicate.

2. You can play offense or defense

One of my favorite basketball players of all time is Julius “Dr. J” Erving. I’ve heard many interviews in which Dr. J talks about two ways to look at basketball offense: You can impose your will on the defense, or you can take what the defense gives you. Dr. J always chose to exert his own will, and that worked for him (quite well, in fact). LeBron James, on the other hand, usually takes what the defense gives him, which is why he racks up so many assists.

Both strategies can be effective. At CMI, we decided to exert our will with the term “content marketing.” In 2007, we popped onto the scene and started using the term like it had been around for years. Through lots of planning, strategy, and luck, it worked, and now content marketing is the defacto term for our industry. (Incidentally, HubSpot did the same thing with “inbound marketing.”)

But imposing your will is just one way to do it. You could also choose to ride the waves of others and pick your sweet spot. A great example of this is Social Media Examiner. When it launched in 2009, many thought it was late to the party… but it rode the social media wave and executed a content marketing strategy second to none, growing into one of the most-trafficked B2B marketing sites on the planet.

3. Content marketing is the great equalizer

“David vs. Goliath” is alive and well in content marketing. Large budgets don’t always win; actually, the smaller players usually come out on top because they are equipped to move more agilely and quickly than their larger competition. For instance, CMI had a smaller budget than almost every marketing media company on the planet, yet we came out on top through focus and hard work. I’ve never seen a bigger company move faster than a smaller organization. OpenView Venture Partners is, relatively speaking, a small VC company compared to its peers. On the web, though, it dominates.

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