Content marketing: You’re learning my job

content marketing

A common 2016 marketing mantra is “We need to generate content.” Website pages, blog posts white papers, videos, email newsletters, and more, all require copious quantities of well-written (and effectively displayed) materials, that goes beyond the stereotypical sales message and “rah rah, look at the great stuff we’ve done” storylines.

“Content” has been my business all my adult life, from the day I walked into the student newspaper office at the University of British Columbia. The task of any working journalist/writer is to figure out the story, and then write it well. I needed to learn early on how to define the story, research it, and then write it in a manner that would appeal to readers. My peer editors gave me quite a working over but eventually, I learned the craft.

After graduating from university, I decided to go to Africa. I remember the first time I saw a “story” half way around the world from home. Canadians were building a university in (pre-genocide) Rwanda. I sought out the Canadian construction supervisor, and soon had the material for a relevant story for the newspaper chain, stuffing the words into an envelope and mailing them (not the fastest way to deliver the news, but it wasn’t too time-sensitive and so was the cheapest way to get the story home.) Shortly after I arrived at my ultimate destination, Rhodesia (turning to Zimbabwe), I received a telegram from my parents: “Cheque $100 received.” So, yes, I had received my first income as a foreign correspondent.

Of course, you don’t need to go to the end of the world to generate content, but it is helpful to have a news/marketing sense in what you produce. Although I don’t think everything needs to be slick and professional — in fact that can be phony — I would argue that you should use professional writers and editors to do this work. You of course need to have a good idea of your marketing messages and objectives, and you will need to be able to source and reference relevant material and topics.

If you have a good sense for news and relevance, then do this yourself. But more likely you will need to mine your contacts, connections, and associates, and work with them to figure out what works best. If you have a full or part-time marketing/content co-ordinator, you can ask this person to lead the charge.

Content generation need not be expensive, but equally if you want to use reliable competent writers, you will need to budget some funds, perhaps upwards of $100 for a brief story and a few hundred dollars for more extensive materials. These costs are extremely low, however, compared to conventional advertising, trade show staffing and the like.

If you need some guidance in finding and evaluating content, please connect with me by email at

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