Five secret steps of successful content marketing

Content marketing can be the secret sauce of a company’s success. It can promote your brand to stratospheric levels, creating communities that reinforce and build that brand and its values, and generate a fierce loyalty

Five secret steps of successful content marketing

Yet too often, content marketing is a no more than a passing thought at senior level, a job that can be palmed off to a keen intern who likes the idea of a marketing position. In both minds, this is then accompanied by a vague belief that posting something on a regular basis, usually something mind-numbingly generic, will then have the whole content marketing thing covered. What a wasted opportunity.   

Here are my five S.T.E.P.S. to successful content marketing, which when achieved, can skyrocket your entire marketing and customer relations.


Whatever content you produce has to be original, creative, and imaginative.   If it isn’t, don’t post it.  

Start by reading articles on a particular subject. Take sport or politics for example. Both are written about numerous times every hour. Most of it goes unread or at best, promptly forgotten.  Yet a few journalists stay in our heads.  

Read some articles from those greats in a field that interests you and look at what makes them different. Their writing may well almost certainly be better.   But above all, they will be standing out from the crowd with a different approach, something original that makes over-fed readers stop and not just want but “have” to read that article.

Generic content is doomed to failure. Learn how to do Special from the people that are, and practice taking the same information that everyone else has but doing something entirely different with it.  Satirize the serious; change the setting or the era; have the least likely person on the planet as a feature.   Cultivate your unique voice.


Touch the hearts of your audience with your content. Generate emotional reactions. It may inspire them, make them smile and laugh, make them cry, make them feel good about themselves, frighten them occasionally. But if they don’t engage emotionally, your content will mean nothing at all.

This is why it is so crucial to know your audience.  It isn’t just stats. You need to think like them, understand what makes them tick, and what will resonate with their emotions.   

For content to succeed, there has to be that emotional connection, and that often comes from stories. All of us love a good story at the receiving end, because they make us care.  And when we care, we remember the emotion. Not only does your content stick, but it gives common emotional ground with all your readers, talking points they can share with each other.


If you include industry-related content, the ideal is always to be the first company on earth to release it. That is the gold standard, the equivalent of the journalistic scoop. We all want to read breaking news in subjects we are interested in, so you immediately have a captive audience.  But, in content marketing, only one person gets to share first. Make that person you.

Live on Google Alerts and BuzzSumo.  Any content marketer should be addicted to news and it shouldn’t feel like work, because the marketer needs to be as addicted to their market as their audience is.  They need to be networking ferociously, building contacts within their industry, influencers, bloggers, and people within relevant companies who might hear the latest news first.  

To achieve it, try swopping ongoing exposure and in some cases financial incentives in return for getting news first.  Marketers should befriend their contacts and ensure they are the people that those in the know want to get the insider information ahead of everyone else.

Pick of the bunch: 

Be the best.   Aim high.   This may include being first, it will often include being original, but it doesn’t have to be any of those things.  Being the pick of the bunch is all about being excellent.

Be excellent in the quality of writing.  In quality of content.  In the degree of resonating with your audience.   Stand out from a crowd of mediocrity.

If the content is good enough and relevant enough, Google will pick it up and maximise its exposure.  Then you get the golden goose of organic spread.

Serve:  serve your customers and your community, and solve their problems.  Entertain them.  Care about them and your subject.  If you are not obsessed about what you are writing about, don’t write.  Live it, breathe it.

Keep everything on point. Give the audience value; information, insights, and entertainment.   Whatever way you chose the content to serve your community it should also always shows what your brand is all about.   In particular, the why and the values of your brand.  Those shared values are what turn followers into fans, glancers, into community members.

So, there you have it: My five steps to excel in content marketing:  be special and stand out, touch your audience’s hearts, bring them the latest information, and be the best in every way.  And never for one moment produce anything that doesn’t serve your customers and their community.

Jan Cavelle
Jan Cavelle

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