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6 Stolen Content Marketing Ideas from the Top Marketers of 2016

stolen-content-marketing-ideasI can’t help but be grateful for the CMI community and all of the tips I’ve learned along the way this year. While I always glean so much from our community, I want to pay a special thanks to our Content Marketer of the Year finalists. While all of these individuals offer a lot for us to learn, I’m definitely stealing these six ideas. (You can also get more stolen ideas in this post from 2015 and this one from 2013.)

Test titles on social – and change them after publication

Stolen from: Amanda Todorovich, Cleveland Clinic

While I learned many ideas from Content Marketer of the Year Amanda Todorovich, who runs Cleveland Clinic’s blog, Health Essentials, one suggestion sticks out: When an article is first published, test different headlines on Facebook and Twitter to see what people respond to. Once you have that info, you can adjust the headline in post-production.

Test your titles on social before deciding on a permanent one suggests @amandatodo. #cmworld Click To Tweet

Ask yourself: What and how can you test your content on social to improve it post-production?

Learn more: How Cleveland Clinic Became One of the Most Visited Health Care Destinations

Create your content pillars

Stolen from: Margaret Magnarelli, Monster

Take a cue from Margaret Magnarelli at Monster, and consider the types of content you want to publish. Monster has three content pillars – with an editor in charge of each:

  • How – Straightforward, utility content that is the cornerstone of what they do
  • Now – Thought-leadership content that is focused on news- and data-driven stories
  • Wow – Fun and entertaining content that is intended for wide social appeal
#Content pillars should be part of your editorial planning says @mmagnarelli. #cmworld Click To Tweet

Ask yourself: Would you benefit from publishing different types of content – and what would those be?

Learn more: How to Build a Content Marketing Practice in a Year: Lessons from Monster

Treat your internal audience as a distinct audience or persona

Stolen from: Dan Briscoe and Skyler Moss, HCSS

Dan Briscoe and Skyler Moss from HCSS attribute part of their content marketing success to keeping the rest of the company informed about their marketing in a fun way. For instance, Dan gives entertaining presentations during lunch, and shares photos and videos of what his team does.

Don’t forget 2 important personas: fellow team members & company leadership says @dfbriscoe @CSkylerMoss. Click To Tweet


Ask yourself: What can you share – in a fun way – to get your team and organization excited about what you are doing?

Learn more: How One Brand Created a Movement by Investing in Purpose

Earn the right to email customers

Stolen from: Dusty DiMercurio, Autodesk

Do you have multiple teams excited about content who want to communicate with your subscribers? Take this idea from Dusty DiMercurio and his team at Autodesk: “Earn the right.” In short, your teams should no longer be able to simply request an email list so they can blast a message. As Dusty explains:

It’s a really interesting time because this initiative reflects the organization’s recognition that we need to engage differently with our customers; we need to earn the right to engage with them. Our email inboxes overflow with ‘offers’ on a daily basis; the only way to cut through that and stand out is to earn your audience’s attention.

Make all marketing teams earn the right to send an email to your subscribers says @dustycd. #cmworld Click To Tweet

Ask yourself: How are you treating your subscribers? Are you protective of what email they receive? If not, how can you change this?

Learn more: How to Create a Culture Where Content Marketing Thrives

Truly be OK with not helping everyone

Stolen from: Thao Le, Hyland’s, Inc.

I really enjoyed learning about Hyland’s niche marketing effort. Led by Thao Le, the company developed web-based Pickleball Channel to engage with technically savvy and active seniors. Of course, pickleball does not have mass appeal, but it’s about having that “one branch on the tree that can’t be split further” (i.e., specializing in a category that can’t be subdivided) that makes the program work so well.

Get super-focused on a niche audience instead of trying to please everyone; tip from @PickleballChan. #cmworld Click To Tweet


Ask yourself: Are you focused on a niche that you can truly satisfy or are your efforts still broad in the hopes of attracting more people, even if they aren’t the right people?

Learn more: How to Connect with a Hard-to-Reach Audience: A Niche Marketing Strategy

Recognize people in a niche profession

Stolen from: Toby Lee, Thomson Reuters

One of the things that stood out from Toby Lee’s experiences at Thomson Reuters is how they created a job title for the industry and developed an award for one of their key personas. Taxologists, as they are now called, are tax professionals who use leading-edge technology to get results. Not only did this put a name to the profession – which has now become an official skill set on LinkedIn – but it has created other opportunities as well.

Find a field that is not recognized & celebrate them in your #marketing suggests @CMOTobias. #cmworld Click To Tweet

Thomson Reuters hosts an annual event for tax professionals called Synergy. At the end of the event, they have a Taxologist awards ceremony. Toby explains: “The emotion and reaction from people who win is amazing. We pick them up in limos, give them a suite in the hotel. One winner lady broke down and cried at the award ceremony saying she’d never been treated this nicely.”


The Taxologist of Tomorrow program, a partnership with Junior Achievement (a nonprofit youth organization), offers workshops to high school students interested in learning more about how technology and business acumen will be a key driver in their future success. Workshops in New York and Dallas touched hundreds of students and more are on the way.

Ask yourself: Do you have a key persona – that may be overlooked – that you can celebrate?

Learn more: How to Create a Marketing Team that Cares About Revenue

Those are just a smattering of my favorite ideas from 2016. What about you? What gems can you share – or what have you stolen from others?

Editor’s note: A special thanks to Ardath Albee who scoured the planet looking for the best-of-the-best content marketers. She was instrumental in helping us find our 2016 Content Marketer of the Year finalists.

If you want to learn more about what the top marketers are doing, sign up for your free subscription to Chief Content Officer magazine.