Skip to content

8 Remarkable (and Stolen) Content Marketing Ideas

Your idea isn’t new. Pick an idea; at least 50 other people have thought of it. Get over your stunning brilliance and realize that execution matters more.” —Mark Fletcher, Founder of

One of the benefits of my work is that I get to travel around the world to meet with fascinating people who have amazing ideas. Much of my speeches and my writings on content marketing are filled with the thoughts of others. Here are eight of my favorite content ideas that I’ve stolen. I’m sharing them with you in the hopes that they will help you as much as they’ve helped me.

1. Social media 4-1-1

Stolen from Andrew Davis, author of “Brandscaping“:

Social Media 4-1-1 is a sharing system that enables a company to get greater visibility with social influencers. Here’s how it works:

For every six pieces of content shared via social media (think Twitter for example):

  • Four should be pieces of content from your influencer target that are also relevant to your audience. This means that 67 percent of the time you are sharing content that is not yours, and calling attention to content from your influencer group.
  • One piece should be original, educational content that you have created.
  • One piece should be sales-related — like a coupon, product notice, press release, or some other piece of content that no one will likely pay attention to.

While the numbers don’t have to be exact, it’s the philosophy that makes this work. When you share thought leadership content, they notice. And you share this content without asking for anything in return (so that when you do need something someday, those influencers are more likely to say yes).

Click to tweet: Content Idea #1: 4-1-1 for social sharing to improve visibility w influencers via @TPLDrew @CMIContent 

2. Reimagining content

Stolen from Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs:

Years ago when everyone jumped on the content repackaging bandwagon, there was Ann Handley talking (rightfully) about reimagining content. This means that every story you tell needs to be shaped to a specific persona for that particular channel. At a time when everyone was spraying social media updates through services like, Ann was telling us to be more thoughtful with our content. She was right. Don’t just repackage… reimagine.

Click to tweet: Content Idea #2: Don’t just repackage, reimagine your content! Via @marketingprofs @JoePulizzi 

3. Storytelling 20-1

Stolen from Todd Wheatland, VP of Thought Leadership at Kelly Services:

Not all of our content strategies will be conducive to blogging multiple times per day. That was the case for Kelly Services, the billion-dollar human resources outsourcing firm. Kelly, in monitoring over a hundred keyword variations, opted to take each of its story ideas and produce at least 20 pieces of content from it.

In the past, Kelly created a nice white paper as a PDF, put a form in front of it, sent out a nice email, and called it a day. Today, Kelly produces story outputs that include eBooks, SlideShare presentations, white papers for individual personas, infographics for Pinterest, research reports, and more… all simultaneously, and all derived from the same story concept.

So many companies are already creating content and then repurposing successful efforts into multiple new pieces. The key to Kelly’s success is that it developed a detailed channel plan up front, and can now deploy these resources inline, on an ongoing basis.

Click to tweet: Content Idea #3: Take every story idea and produce 20+ pieces of content via @toddwheatland @JoePulizzi 

4. Monday morning content meetings

Stolen from the content marketing team at SAS:

In the majority of enterprises, content marketing happens in silos. There are content creators in email marketing, in social media, in marketing, in corporate communications, in public relations, in human resources, etc., all working in a vacuum. This generally means that there will be mass duplication of content efforts across the enterprise, and much of the content that gets created doesn’t align with the business’s brand story or content marketing mission statement.

SAS, the largest private-owned technology company, solved this problem by meeting every Monday with the content owners for each of its “silos.” These content ambassadors now work together, sharing resources and removing barriers to epic content creation.

And you read that right: They meet every week. It works. Try it.

Click to tweet: Content Idea #4: Mon a.m. content meetings remove barriers to epic content creation via @SASSoftware @CMIContent 

5. Content is fire, social media is gasoline

Stolen from Jay Baer, Author of “Youtility“:

According to Jay, “If you’re creating content that’s interesting, useful, and helpful, your customers and prospects will do more of your marketing for you, helping your company work less arduously and expensively on interruption marketing in its various guises.”

Most organizations start with social media, only later to find that social media, in the content sharing sense, will only work if we develop amazing stories that solve our customers’ pain points.

Click to tweet: Stolen Content #5: Content is fire, social media is gasoline via @jaybaer #youtility

6. On making mistakes

Stolen from Coleman Hawkins, jazz musician:

If you don’t make mistakes, you aren’t really trying.”

This is true in jazz, as well as content marketing. I also love this quote from Mario Andretti: “If you don’t feel a little uncomfortable, you’re just not going fast enough.

If you feel great about your current content marketing program, you are probably not taking enough risks in your strategy. Today’s content creators should always be pushing the barriers to truly develop epic content marketing.

Click to tweet: Stolen Content #6: “If you don’t make mistakes, you aren’t really trying” via Coleman Hawkins, jazz musician

7. Useless processes

Stolen from Peter Drucker, author and change agent:

The original quote from Mr. Drucker is, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.

Michael Brenner, VP of Marketing and Content Strategy at SAP, often says the same thing in his speeches. The easy part, according to Michael, is seeing and believing in the idea of content marketing. The hard part, at most enterprises, is stopping the processes that don’t work anymore.

I see this again and again: Very large companies expend so much time, effort, resources, and management on things that simply won’t work anymore.

Click to tweet: Stolen Content #7: Stop useless processes that don’t work anymore via P. Drucker & @brennermichael 

8. The perfect content product

Stolen from Jason Calacanis, serial entrepreneur:

According to Jason, the perfect content product can be described by these five characteristics: real-time, fact-driven, visual, efficient, and curated. If you look at the most popular sites in the world right now, like, Huffington Post, or Upworthy, they abide by these five tenets. So should you.

Click to tweet: Stolen Content #8: Perfect content = real-time, fact-driven, visual, efficient, curated. Via @RealCalacanis 

Looking to take your content marketing to the next level? Download our e-book to get ideas from dozens of creative masters: Get Inspired: 75 (More) Content Marketing Examples.

Cover image via Bigstock