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The One Content Marketing Question You Need to Ask (That May Scare You)


“The latest issue of CCO didn’t arrive. Can you please verify that I am still on your list?”

While this comment may seem problematic, I can’t think of a better compliment. Someone is missing the content we are publishing.

Today’s post is a short but important one.

How would you answer this question?

Would anyone miss your content if you did not publish it?

This is a question Joe Pulizzi has asked – and it’s something he talks about in his upcoming book, Content Inc. As Joe explains:

Let’s say someone rounded up all your content and placed it in a box like it never existed. Would anyone miss it? Would you leave a gap in the marketplace?

If the answer is no, then we’ve got a problem, Houston.

We want customers and prospects needing … no, longing for our content. It becomes part of their lives … their jobs.

I think of this as “content anticipation,” a term I borrow from others. This is not a new concept – in fact, I vividly remember reading a post from Frank Reed on content anticipation years ago, and the concept has stuck with me. Andrew Davis also wrote about this concept and provided a great example of content that people anticipate from Joseph Kalinowski, CMI’s very own creative director. But content anticipation isn’t something on which most marketers are focused.

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Anticipation goes beyond subscription

One of the most important metrics you should track is your number of subscribers. Building subscribers is an essential goal – are you taking this a step further – to where people actually are looking forward to getting your content? Content anticipation means more than subscribers (and certainly more than social shares).

Anticipation is key to loyalty and advocacy

Why do you want people to anticipate your content? These people are loyal readers – and loyal to your brand. While content marketing is useful in helping you build awareness and impact revenue, it’s so powerful because it can help you build a better customer. If you have loyal readers, chances are you have people who are excited about your brand – and want to share it with others.

How to create content your audience will crave

Of course, the question becomes: How do I create content that my audience craves?

Before we look at some things that you could do, here are some reasons why people may not miss your content:

  • It does not truly answer questions.
  • It covers a topic too broadly.
  • It is me-too content that sounds like any other brand.
  • It is dull – and people do not want  to read it (even though they should read it).
  • It’s not in the format someone wants to use.
  • It reads like an advertisement or promotional post.

So what can you do? Think about the content that you love, both in your industry as well as in general.

Study those authors, designers, and videographers and try to figure out why you love them and why you look forward to viewing their content.

  • Is it their tone?
  • The way they make their points?
  • The headlines?
  • The length?
  • The design?
  • The format?
  • The spin on a topic?

Your intent is not to copy what others are doing, but to truly study – and reverse-engineer – what works well. At the very least, you’ll get some ideas on how you can better create and design content for your audience.


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An example of crave-worthy content

In a recent CMI newsletter, Joe shared some stats from The Skimm, a newsletter that presents the day’s news. It has 1.5 million active users per month and a 45% daily open rate. (Its founders just received a $6 million investment to continue growing the company.)


I’m a recent subscriber, and I admit that I find myself reading the vast majority of these emails. What impresses me so much about this is that they cover a common topic – the news – but they do so in such a useful and niche way.

Would people miss The Skimm’s content if it were gone? Chances are, they would.

I’d love to hear from you: What content would you miss if it were gone? Anything is fair game – it does not need to be from a brand. You can use this list to get inspired to create content that your audience will truly love.

Want to learn more about creating content-driven and crave-worthy experiences for your customers? CMI’s step-by-step workbook will show you how.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute