A Content Marketing Manifesto: 10 Principles to Drive Creative Content

No two content marketers are like. For example, Dan Zarella of Hubspot likes to focus on the data-driven reasons for why marketers do what they do. On the flip side, Leo Widrich of Buffer focuses on the psychological reasons for what concepts define our thought processes. Jay Baer believes in youtility, Lee Odden wants to optimize, Seth Godin uses pithy pitches, and Chris Brogan's forte is to build trust.

Every marketer has unique and distinct ideas on how to approach content marketing. And no doubt each person brings their own personality and moral values into the business of marketing.

The following is the content marketing manifesto I like to adhere to. It is a declaration of the policies and aims that I work with and those that define the context under which I make all marketing decisions.

Here are its basic tenets:

1. Love What You Create

Love Yourself

Image Credit: Yu-Cheng Hsiao/Flickr

If you don't start with what appeals to you personally, and what you would love to read and re-read (or watch or listen to), how could you possibly convince someone else to give your creation a shot?

2. Don't Reinvent the Wheel

Repurpose

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A lot has been done by smart people the world over. Use what they've done and build upon it.

Existing content within your own company can be re-used, it can be upcycled, it can be integrated, and it can be weaved into different formats. Milk your existing content for all it's worth because you've put great effort into it and it would be a shame for more people not to see it.

Also, curate other peoples' content but add value to it by offering up an additional opinion or an insight or perspective. Doing so will keep the pressure off you from joining the content creation rat race. And you'll have more time to focus on creating stuff that you love.

3. Make Incremental Changes

helm

Image Credit: Maciej Lewandowski/Flickr

Sailors do this all time. When a ship starts to veer off course, they never make one drastic course-correct. Doing so could tip the ship over.

Airline pilots do this too. When the plane starts to swerve, they make small adjustments to get it back on track.

The brilliance of this is that it allows the vessel to stabilize and it allows the captain to gauge the effect of those changes in time to react to them.

You are the captain of your content ship. Believe that small changes in the right direction can have a much bigger impact than a few huge overhauls.

4. Always Apply the 80/20 Rule

Social Media Puzzle

Image Credit: greyweed/Flickr

There's no reason to scramble for everything shiny. Not every social network is going to help your business or your customers.

Not every new tool is going to increase your productivity. Try new things and give them a reasonable time frame of success. Doing so will help you find what works (the 20 percent) and use it consistently to maximize returns (the 80 percent).

5. Celebrate the Wins, Don't Rue the Losses.

Long Road

Image Credit: Paul Oka/Flickr

It's important to recognize how far your work has come without losing sight of where you want it to go. Live in the moment but always be looking ahead.

Since content marketing is a long-term game, it's easy to sometimes lose focus, get disheartened and give up when instant results don't roll in. But if your strategy is solid, you'll be able to stay the course and gain momentum with the small wins. Someone wise said, "It's always the little things."

6. Your Strategy Will Save You

Plan

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Spend inordinate amounts of time creating, recreating, and refining your content strategy. Drill down and define your goals and the customers you love to work with.

Find out what makes them so lovable. Doing so will help you identify other people with the same traits. When you're out of ideas, feeling demotivated or when things aren't turning out the way you wanted, your strategy will guide and reinvigorate you.

7. Transparency Wins Every Time

Tightrope

Image Credit: Alan/Flickr

No matter the situation you encounter, whether it's a harsh comment on a blog or a crisis over on social media, strive to be honest, explain the facts, define your position and take responsibility.

When you put yourself out there openly, the right people will be likely to reward you with their respect and trust. Learn to ignore the trolls and develop a thick skin.

8. Strive to Test, Experiment, and Test Again

Test Tubes

Image Credit: Proggie/Flickr

Because you won't magically know what works and what doesn't for your business model. Sometimes testing might mean taking one step forward and two steps back. So be it.

9. Have Fun, Dammit!

Quilt

Image Credit: Jennie Ivins/Flickr

Don't create boring content. The world does not need another "why my product is so great" blog.

What the world needs is something made with love and conviction. What the world needs is somebody who comes alive while creating stories.

Create; and have fun creating. Because you having fun will translate into a better product than you not having fun creating it.

10. Don't Obsess Over Your Niche

Personality

Image Credit: Dustin Diaz/Flickr

Yes it's good to be focused and attract a niche following. Yes SEO is great and being relevant is obviously important. All of that matters. But it is secondary.

The primary focus is to be interesting. People need to actually want to read your content.

Your words need to show your personality. Your stories need to be informative, helpful, funny, etc. or stand out in other meaningful ways. Without that primary interest, there's no long-term sustainability.

Conclusion

This content marketing manifesto is born of my beliefs, my straight-shooter nature, and my experience with what moves the needle.

I would love to hear in the comments below what you wouldn't compromise on and what primarily drives you as you create content for your business or your clients.