To get better at content marketing, you’ll need to learn from others. To do so, look for the right boss, the right blogs, the right books and the right tribe.
Find new ideas, then do your own experiments!
Find the right boss
In a time when there are more job openings than people to fill them, right now you have the luxury to search for the right job and find the right boss.
Who’s the right boss? A boss who helps you get better at content marketing. A boss you can learn from. A boss who has your back.
I speak from experience. I survived 52 bosses during my decades in corporate marketing and communications. (Now I’m my own boss: #53.)
I learned the most from my best bosses. They taught me what to do, why it was important, and how to do it better and better.
I also learned a lot from bad bosses. Bad bosses:
- Don’t understand or defend your work
- Show up as critics rather than coaches
- Throw you under the bus if anyone questions or complains
- Teach you how not to treat people
- Do not invest in your training, professional development or career path.
Worst of all, my bad bosses didn’t understand my specific function well enough to guide, coach or teach me.
If your boss can’t help you get better at content marketing, unfortunately, you’re on your own (YOYO).
The truth is, many marketers work for bosses who don’t “get” content marketing. Yet even in this situation, you can succeed – as long as your boss gives you enough attention, enough support and enough room to work.
If your boss doesn’t understand content marketing, yet tells you prescriptively how to do it, find a different boss.
Why? You can do better. There are plenty of job opportunities out there, plenty of people who can help you get better at content marketing.
To create the conditions for content marketing success, bosses need to take the time to learn and understand the discipline of content marketing. Many grew up in the era of advertising and may lack direct experience with content marketing.
My best bosses let me guide them as we learned new things together. How?
We attended professional meetings, workshops and conferences side by side.
Some of the most successful outcomes I see after workshops stem from the boss and employee learning at the same time. It’s bound to spark a new conversation.
My best bosses tried on new ideas with me, so we learned together. Taking the time to do that made my boss smarter, and our work even more successful!
Read the right stuff
To get better at content marketing, follow the best blogs on content marketing.
I highly recommend these 7 blogs:
- Content Marketing Institute blog
- LinkedIn Marketing blog
- Ann Handley blog
- Andy Crestodina blog
- Mark Schaefer blog
- Jay Baer blog
- Michael Brenner blog.
For answers to the Top 100 Questions in content marketing, sign up for this blog.
Read the top books on content marketing. My favorites include:
- Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi – summary
- They Ask You Answer by Marcus Sheridan – summary
- Buyer Personas by Adele Revella – summary
- Everybody Writes by Ann Handley – summary
- Content Chemistry (5thedition) by Andy Crestodina
- Youtility by Jay Baer
- Mastering the New Media Landscape by Barbara Cave Henricks and Rusty Shelton
- Subscription Marketing by Anne Janzer – summary.
Find your content marketing tribe
You’ll find your tribe at the best content marketing conferences. Plugging into the community will definitely help you get better at content marketing.
I always get a boost from conferences such as Content Marketing World (CMW), which convenes 4,000 marketers from around the world.
To bring all the industry’s thought leaders and practitioners all under one roof for 4 days is simply awesome. If you go, participate whole-heartedly.
Perhaps you find it easier to get to know people at a smaller conference. If so, here are a couple to try out.
What’s the amazing content marketing event that too few people know about? Content Jam, put on by Andy Crestodina and Orbit Media October 9-10 in Chicago.
It sells out every year, and there are only 18 seats left! 17 … 16 …. 15 ….
For B2B marketers, Ann Handley’s B2B Marketing Forum conference on November 13-16 in San Francisco is superb.
You’ll find lots to learn, with a heavy emphasis on how to get better at content marketing. Ann always makes the conference fun.
Beyond conferences, consider workshops.
More than 1,000 marketers have participated in my Fast-Forward Your Content Marketing workshops. You learn about how to create your content marketing mission, strategy, message, buyer personas, content audit, map content to the buyers’ journey and improve performance as you measure with all-in analytics.
Association of National Advertisers (ANA) members can bring my workshops on site at their company.
ANA also offers open-enrollment workshops on content marketing, like one in Houston on September 20. Open-enrollment workshops give you a chance to meet with peers at other companies in your town and region.
To get the most out of conferences and workshops:
- Plan side meetings and meals in advance, to meet people you want to know.
- Choose from concurrent tracks of speakers in advance, to save time.
- Make lots of notes. Don’t depend on remembering by downloading the slides days later.
- Request free e-books, guides and checklists that the presenters offer.
- Stay connected with the people you meet on social media.
Here’s what happens as you get better and better at content marketing. You grow your market, position your company as a thought leader, gain permission to continuously market to subscribers, and win new customers.
As you design next year’s budget and plan, my recommendation is:
- Grant yourself a license to experiment.
- Carve out 10% to 20% of your budget for innovation.
- Perform pilot projects and experiments.
Become your company’s mad scientist of content marketing. Steal ideas from blogs, books, workshops or conferences and apply them to your business.
Looking for particular opportunities to experiment with next year?
Ask yourself these questions to get better at content marketing:
- How to build a content base – one unique content asset no one else offers?
- How to gather, analyze and answer all your customers’ questions?
- Is your content competitive, as seen by buyers in a Google search on page one?
- Is your content differentiated – does it have a unique hook or tilt?
- How can you measure and improve content quality?
- How can you apply what you learn from analyticsto juice performance?
To get better at content marketing, it’s all about learning from others. Find the right boss, the right blogs, the right books, and the right tribe to learn from.
Then, take all you’ve learned to experiment and get better and better at content marketing!
How do I get better at content marketing? is one of marketers’ Top 100 Questions on #contentmarketing. Here are answers to marketers’ Top 100 questions.
As a marketing change agent, I consult with clients, lead content marketing workshops for the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and write the weekly Simplify Marketing blog.
With experience from Fortune 500 companies such as AT&T, RR Donnelley and Tellabs, I've been named:
- Content Marketer of the Year by the Content Marketing Institute.
- Best Marketer by BtoB magazine.
- A B-to-B CMO to watch by Fierce CMO.