By Michele Linn published December 28, 2015

7 Stolen Content Marketing Ideas You Can Use Today


In 2013, Joe Pulizzi published a popular post called 8 Remarkable (and Stolen) Content Marketing Ideas. In it, he shared his favorite ideas from others in the content marketing space.

While those original “stolen” ideas are definitely worth revisiting, here are seven more from 2015 that came from blog posts and Content Marketing World speakers. Each of these things has changed my thinking, directly attributed to better content, or is expected to be implemented in 2016. (Not only am I stealing people’s ideas, but I’m also stealing Joe’s post format.)

Try one new thing in every piece of content

Stolen from: Jay Acunzo | @Jay_zo

When to try this: You are in a content rut and/or want to continually challenge yourself to create better content.

In August, Jay threw down the gauntlet with this challenge:

The next time you’re creating anything, be it for work or for fun, here’s what I’d challenge you to try: At the top of your notes or your draft, write out a placeholder that simply reads, “One Different Thing.” Then, by the end of your work, before you hit publish, make sure something is written next to it.

I pass this challenge along to you. How can you try something new every single time you publish something? Some things may work – and some things won’t – but I guarantee you’ll start thinking more creatively.

Figure out which keywords you almost rank for

Stolen from: Andy Crestodina | @crestodina

When to try this: You want to get more visibility for some key terms.

One of my goals for 2016 is to be systematic and diligent with the data we are collecting – and make certain how we are using the data we take time to collect. While I have been compiling a lot of tips and have been working with the CMI team on creating internal dashboards, I love this tip from Andy that truly is easy:

Search engine optimization is the slowest form of marketing I know. It really is. But there’s one big shortcut … It’s the only fast SEO tactic that I know of.

Andy’s post, How to Rank Higher in Google in 5 Minutes Using Analytics, outlines how to do this, but, in essence, you can view which keywords you rank for and then optimize those pages.

Focus on referral traffic

Stolen from: Rand Fishkin | @randfish

When to try this: You want your content to truly help your biggest influencers.

Rand shared this tip in a roundup post about how to get the most from Google Analytics:

Look at the list of websites (not social media or search engines) that have sent you the most traffic. See what the top 20 to 50 are writing about, to whom they link, and what their writers or founders are sharing on social. Use that intelligence to create content that you can feel confident is up your referral viewers’ alley. Chances are that you’ll be much more informed about the types of stuff that will earn you amplification, links, traffic, and mentions from influencers.

I remember reading this tip in particular and immediately copying it into Trello (where I store the ideas I want to try out). This is a great exercise from Rand — and one that is certain to help you uncover some ideas of your own.

Consider pop-ups

Stolen from: Aaron Orendorf | @iconiContent

When to try this: You are struggling to convert people once they get on your website.

Pop-ups as an idea to steal? Really?

Yes, pop-ups are a decisive tactic in the marketing world. As users, many of us hate them, but as marketers, we love them because they work. But, as Aaron pointed out in his wildly popular post on 11 email sign-up strategies, there are many types of pop-ups to consider.

Create a core content strategy statement

Stolen from: Meghan Casey | @meghscase

When to try this: You want a sure-fire, efficient tool that keeps your whole team’s content ideas on target – for customers and for the business.

Meghan wrote a brilliant yet simple article about one construct that content strategists use – the core content strategy statement. This brief statement is generated with a four-step process that helps get stakeholders on the same page. It also helps content creators focus on topic ideas that hit the sweet spot – that elusive intersection of customer interests and business goals – every time.

Set priorities

Stolen from: Neil Patel |@neilpatel

When to try this: You are overwhelmed with your list of things to do.

I think we can all relate to having too many things to do and too many ideas. Where do you focus? I love this simple yet true sentiment from Neil:

A list is useless. Why? There is no priority. A priority is a thing that is regarded as more important than another. If you had to pick a single goal of your content efforts, what would it be? Focus on that until you achieve it in a measurable way. What about side effects like growing your social media presence? Forget it.

Gary Keller, author of The One Thing, wrote “You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects.”

You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects by @garykeller Click To Tweet

Focus on your one thing.

As you move into the new year, ask yourself what your one thing should be. If there is something getting in the way of that, why?

Identify your content tilt

Stolen from: Joe Pulizzi | @joepulizzi

When to try this: You think your content sounds like everyone else’s.

I know I’m biased, but I adore Joe’s newest book, Content Inc. It sets up such a clear model for how to use content to build a successful business. These tips are useful for both entrepreneurs as well as those in larger organizations. While I had a lot of aha moments while reading it, my favorite concept – by far – is that of the content tilt.

In short, the content tilt is how your content is different than what anyone else is publishing. How can you become the leading informational provider in a certain niche?

He shares the story of Ann Reardon to help you understand this concept. Ann is the founder of the website, How to Cook That. You may be thinking, Baking? There are thousands of sites on baking. And you’d be right. That is where the content tilt comes in.

Ann specializes in how to make impossible dessert creations, such as a cake that looks like the Instagram logo or a giant Twix bar.


Honestly, if you are ever stuck on how to be different than your competitors, try tilting your content. I have used this exercise extensively over the past year.

A huge thanks to everyone in our community for all of the wonderful ideas they have shared. It’s tough to choose just a few. Please share your favorite ideas from the year in the comments.

To steal content marketing ideas throughout the year, subscribe to CMI’s blog posts.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Michele Linn

Michele Linn is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Mantis Research, a consultancy focused on helping brands create and amplify original research they can use in their marketing. Before starting Mantis, Michele was head of editorial at Content Marketing Institute, where she led the company's strategic editorial direction, co-developed its annual research studies, wrote hundreds of articles, spoke at industry events and was instrumental in building the platform to 200,000 subscribers. In 2015, she was named one of Folio's Top Women in Media (Corporate Visionary). You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn.

Other posts by Michele Linn

Join Over 200,000 of your Peers!

Get daily articles and news delivered to your email inbox and get CMI’s exclusive e-book Get Inspired: 75 (More) Content Marketing Examples FREE!

  • Grannelle

    Thanks for clarifying; it’s bad when people steal your content, and even worse when they don’t. Edifying article.


    Good stuff. That last idea, identifying your content tilt should be core to your content creation process. Your unique value proposition may be the one and only differentiator.

    Should be not just different, but objectively better.

    • Michele Linn

      Great point. Thanks for reading!

  • darrylmanco

    What none of these “stolen” ideas do is address how a business’s solution intersects with a buyer’s needs all while deciding how to select from dozens of options. In today’s web world, why buyers remains absent in the total marketing content strategies equation is sheer laziness. Until the buyers decision journeys are understood and applied, businesses will remain guessing how to position solutions.

    • Michele Linn

      While the tips above focus on creating better content and getting your best content found, you’re right that all of these should be set on the same foundation: giving your audience what they truly want and need. While we have written about that on CMI, do you have any favorite ideas to share — from you or others? Thanks for the comment.

      • darrylmanco

        Buyer insights on decision journeys are unique as I’m sure your CMI notes. Marketers need to become consumer advocates not regergated content producers.

  • Hansoftech

    Thank you for sharing . Good collections about content marketing

  • EvaDSmith

    earning residual money every week… This is a great part time work opportunity
    for anyone… Best thing about it ,work from comfort of your home and get paid
    from 100 to 2000 bucks at the end of every week … Apply now and receive your
    first paycheck at the end of this week…please goto LINK to site in my
    `Prrofile` for more `info` if you interested


  • Dave MacKay

    Super Great Title……! I had to read this article because of one word, ‘Stolen’, LOL

    • Michele Linn

      As I mentioned, I stole the title from Joe Pulizzi 🙂

  • Sherman Smith

    Hey Michele,

    Great content here and yes the word ‘stolen’ hooked me in. One tip that got my attention was to set priorities. I have so many ideas but yet I get to the point of feeling frozen lol…but one thing Ill focus more on is what results are more important.

    Thanks for sharing Michele! Happy Belated New Years!

    • Michele Linn

      Thanks, Sherman. Happy New Year’s to you as well!

  • Igor

    Great read. I might steal it 🙂

  • copywriter1

    Good ideas–the music industry has been stealing from other artists for years. Although, it’s always refreshing when someone figures out a newer combination of ideas that sets the bar higher.