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23 Quotes to Inspire Your Content Marketing and the Difference You Can Make


Are you feeling in a rut with your marketing? Or are you looking to be energized? I turn to these quotes – from inside and outside our industry – when I need an injection of inspiration. I share this compilation to help you think differently about your content, focus on doing less, prioritize the important, and give yourself space to create.

Think differently about the content you publish 

Do you ever have one of those days where you wonder why you are even in this business? Why are you spending time creating / writing / publishing? This quote from Jolie Miller, who was interviewed by Cameron Conaway in the April 2017 issue of CCO (page 39), revives me:

What I love about content is it has the power to change people’s lives for a second or for a day or forever. Great content creates space for people to pause and reflect, and that space is where transformation happens. – Jolie Miller

Andrea Fryrear shared a similar thought during her Agile marketing workshop at ICC:

Our job is not to create content. Our job is to change the world of the people who consume it. – Andrea Fryrear

Our job is not to create content. It is to change the world of the people who consume it, says @AndreaFryrear. Click To Tweet

This well-known quote from Maya Angelou is another one that often dances in my head. How can we impact how someone feels by what we publish? (Are you seeing a theme? None of this is about “likes,” shares and traffic.)

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou

I picked up this quote from Rachael Ray over the holidays in 2015 when my daughter was a bit obsessed with Food Network. While I can’t recall the original source, I do remember sharing it with our editorial team when we were doing annual planning. While we always talk about putting the reader first, I like the lens Rachael shares on that concept:

We want our viewers to be 100% successful. We want them to feel good about themselves. I don’t really care that they are impressed by me. I want them to be impressed with the dinner they made, the adventure they went on … that’s the main goal. – Racheal Ray

Replace laughing with traffic, “likes,” and shares in comedian Michael Jr.’s quote, and this is so applicable to us marketers:

If we sat there for two hours, and I didn’t deposit anything that could help you get any further, what is the point of that? If I make 7 million people laugh next year, and nobody was better as a result of it, then I need to go fill out an application somewhere. – Michael Jr.

Here’s another way to look at it from John Jantsch:

Your impact is measured not by what you do, but by what happens to other people when you do it. – John Jantsch

Impact is measured not by what you do, but by what happens to other people when you do it. @DuctTape Click To Tweet

So how do we get to this place where we can make people feel? This observation is one I come to time and time again. It’s from Clare McDermott’s interview with Andy Weir, author of The Martian, published in the February 2016 CCO issue:

I think marketers are very message-focused. They know what they want people to hear. They have to work backwards from there to figure out how to make that happen. What they should do is to find the thing that’s unique or interesting that captures people’s attention. Figure out what that thing is; don’t worry about the message right now. Just find the interesting part, and then figure out how to link that to the message. – Andy Weir

On the fence about whether your work is good enough? Think about this idea from Ann Handley:

When we create something, we think, ‘Will our customers thank us for this?’ I think it’s important for all of us to be thinking about whatever marketing we’re creating; is it really useful to our customers? Will they thank us for it? I think if you think of things through that lens, it just clarifies what you’re doing in such a simple, elegant way. – Ann Handley

Focus on less

Not only do you need to have goals, but you need to have the right goals. And not too many. I revisit this sentiment from  John Jantsch all the time:

As the founder of this very important life of yours, you must decide to do less, to do your most important things. – John Jantsch

I often refer to — and quote — this idea from Robert Rose:

When taking a content-first approach, our job as marketers is not to create more content … it’s to create the minimum amount of content with the maximum amount of results. — Robert Rose

Our job as marketers is to create the minimum amount of #content w/ the maximum amount of results. @robert_rose Click To Tweet

Joe Pulizzi often references this quote from Michael Porter that I can’t help but appreciate. If you want to do less, you need to have a strategy:

The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. – Michael Porter

The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do, says @MichaelEPorter. Click To Tweet

I recently finished the memoir, It Was Me All Along, by Andie Mitchell. While the book focused on the author’s struggle with food, I think the same thing is true with much of the content we are producing:

Another plate wouldn’t have brought me any greater satisfaction, because contentment doesn’t double by the serving. – Andie Mitchell

Getting to this place of less – and more focus – requires that you put some of your ideas and projects to the side, which can be incredibly difficult. Jessica Abel coined the phrase idea debt, which is something I personally struggle with – and I know so many others who do as well:

Idea debt is when you spend too much time picturing what a project is going to be like, too much time thinking about how awesome it will be to have this thing done and in the world, too much time imagining how cool you will look, how in demand you’ll be, how much money you’ll make. And way too little time actually making the thing. – Jessica Abel

Idea debt is when you spend too much time picturing a project and too little time making it, says @jccabel. Click To Tweet

While this quote from Shonda Rhimes in her book Year of Yes is not about marketing, it certainly applies. In this age of constant publishing, if you feel apologetic for something you are sending out to the world … stop.

When you feel the need to apologize or explain who you are, it means the voice in your head is telling you the wrong story. Wipe the slate clean. And rewrite it. No fairy tales. – Shonda Rhimes

Do you want one last reason to think about doing less? This quote from James Altucher has me pause when I decide to look up random facts or do anything that distracts my attention:

I used to think that when I added stuff to my brain I’d get smarter. But this is not true. For instance, if I look up when Charlemagne was born I’d just add a fact to my head that I will forget tomorrow but will clutter my subconscious mind. This won’t make me smarter. Subtraction, and not addition, is what makes the window to the brain more clear, wipes away the smudges, and opens the drapes. – James Altucher

Subtraction of stuff, not addition, is what makes the window to the brain more clear, says @Jaltucher. Click To Tweet

Prioritize what’s most important

Related to doing less is prioritizing what’s most important.  One of my recent podcast discoveries is Ellevate Podcast: Conversations with Women Changing the Face of Business. While there are a ton of good insights in these conversations focused on the power of women helping women and networking, I recently scribbled this down from guest Sally Hubbard (episode 49).

I feel myself and so many people I know spend our days running, running, and rushing on the hamster wheel, but where you are going is not where you are meant to be going. It’s all a waste of time. We all tell ourselves we don’t have time, but what is more of a waste of time than killing yourself to get somewhere you don’t want to go? –Sally Hubbard

Killing yourself to get somewhere you don’t want to go is a waste of time, says @Sally_Hubbard. Click To Tweet

When I think I want to know more — or I am tempted by distraction — I try to remember this perspective from James Altucher: You know what we need more of? Less. Less information. Less noise. Less distraction. Fewer goals.

One idea that is constantly rolling around in my head is that the way many of us are working is flawed. We come from a place of “not enough” and “need to do more.” Rather, I truly believe that we need less, but need to “be more focused. This excerpt from Brené Brown in her book, Daring Greatly, resonates with me:

“One of my very favorite writers on scarcity is global activist and fund-raiser Lynne Twist. In her book The Soul of Money, she refers to scarcity as ‘the great lie.’ She writes: ‘For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is ‘I didn’t get enough sleep.’ The next one is ‘I don’t have enough time.’

“Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of …

“Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds are racing with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to that reverie of lack …

“This internal condition of scarcity, this mind-set of scarcity, lives at the very heart of our jealousies, our greed, our prejudice, and our arguments with life.” – Brené Brown

Give yourself space to be able to create

I really enjoyed Arianna Huffington’s book, Thrive, which focuses on how we can redefine success. This quote is one I think we can all relate to.

Linda Stone worked on emerging technologies at both Apple and Microsoft in the 1980s and ’90s. In 1997, she coined the term ‘continuous partial attention’ to describe the state of always being partly tuned into everything while never being completely tuned in to anything. Now it feels like a good three-word description of modern life. – Arianna Huffington

Is this how we want to work? (I don’t.)

I also learned so much from Deep Work by Cal Newport. This is just one of my favorite quotes that summarizes what so many of us experience – but let’s not be these people, OK?

“If you send and answer e-mails at all hours, if you schedule and attend meetings constantly, if you weigh in on instant message systems … within seconds when someone poses a new question, or if you roam your open office bouncing ideas off all whom you encounter – all of these behaviors make you seem busy in a public manner.

“If you’re using busyness as a proxy for productivity, then these behaviors can seem crucial for convincing yourself and others that you’re doing your job well.” – Cal Newport

How do we get to a better place – a place of space? Vishal Khanna recently shared some of his favorite quotes in his presentation at Intelligent Content Conference. One of the quotes he shared is from Gustave Flaubert. I adore the reminder that we need order so we can be creative:

Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” – Gustave Flaubert

I also think the ability to be quiet is one of the most under-valued skills there is (and, yes, I say skill as I think it’s something that takes practice for most of us in this day and age). This quote from a recent article from Justin Talbot-Zorn and Leigh Marz is one I think about:

When we’re constantly fixated on the verbal agenda – what to say next, what to write next, what to tweet next – it’s tough to make room for truly different perspectives or radically new ideas. It’s hard to drop into deeper modes of listening and attention. And it’s in those deeper modes of attention that truly novel ideas are found. – Justin Talbot-Zorn and Leigh Marz

It’s in the deeper modes of attention that truly novel ideas are found, says @JustinZorn & @LeighMarz. Click To Tweet

And back to James Altucher:

Often, the successful mediocre entrepreneur should strive for excellence in ZERO-tasking. Do nothing. We always feel like we have to be ‘doing something’ or we (or, I should say “I”) feel ashamed. Sometimes it’s better to just be quiet, to not think of anything at all. A very successful, self-made businessman once told me, ‘Never underestimate the power of a long, protracted silence.’ Out of silence comes the greatest creativity. Not when we are rushing and panicking. – James Altucher

I’ll leave you with this reminder: When life gets to be too hectic, take a deep breath, exhale, and repeat. Or, as my 5-year-old daughter would say, “Smell the flowers, blow out the birthday candles.”

Are you a quote junkie like I am? Share your favorite quotes below.

And here’s a tip – one of my favorite ways to track my favorite ideas from books is to highlight them while reading on my Kindle. Your highlights then can easily be reviewed and copied. You also can easily add notes to help you search for ideas when you need inspiration.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute