Expertise-based Content Marketing

Building the “content marketing bridge” for your customers to find you: not comfortable, not easy, but safe (in the long term… if you do it right)

A scientific study demonstrated that your “Big 5” personality traits (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism) can be altered within hours by … content. [1]

No wonder content marketing is so effective. 

On that note, I wanted to continue a little on yesterday’s theme of building bridges between yourself and the people who need your solutions.

I made the point that you need to choose several marketing channels. And that they should satisfy both short and long-term lead generation goals.

And crucially, that long-term, content marketing is the most reliable form of lead generation for almost every kind of business that you’d describe as niche, technical, creative, and expertise and/or software-driven.

Possible exception: you are partially owned by Alphabet and have 2 billion in venture capital funding (Verily, née Google Life Sciences). Then maybe leveraging personal relationships is a more reliable form of lead generation. Or just letting Google do your dirty work and silence your competitors. 

But I doubt it.

Content marketing is the most reliable, least risky form of lead generation. 

Not comfortable, maybe. Not pain-free. But safe. Just like having a job is not safe, compared to being self-employed – it’s just more comfortable.

Content marketing is probably the safest thing you can do with your business.

But only if you do it right. Which brings me to the other points I wanted to make today.

1. You need assistants and conspirators to build a bridge

I don’t care if you are a business of 1 to 10 people or even just a solopreneur. You need help to do content marketing properly.

This is one of those cases where two people are a magical number and much greater than the sum of its parts.

Every solopreneur I know of uses multiple people, contractors or consultants, to polish their content marketing. I do this too, but not well. #goals.

Nor did I do well at engaging co-conspirators when I had 20 employees.

2.  The owner (or her expert employees) needs to create the content

There’s an entire industry, called “content mills”, that exists to let you try to get around this rule. It’s futile.

What do Qwil (lean SaaS startup with 35 employees) and Salesforce (SaaS-behemoth with 35,000 employees) have in common?

Their CEOs do their own content marketing.

Qwil’s CEO Johnny Reinsch writes amusing LinkedIn updates; I’d call him a master of the form.

Salesforce’s CEO Marc Benioff has written on the corporate blog for many years and has published a book. Why doesn’t Benioff spend those precious hours on corporate governance? Partly, because it’s also a way of leading his workforce . Also true for Reinsch. [2]

But also because writing about corporate governance makes him better at it.

That’s the thing about content marketing – it doesn’t just help you get customers, it improves the value of your offer and how much you can charge for it.

A psychotherapist who creates content about her work provides better results than one who doesn’t. (And therefore earns more – more value created, more value earned). And why better results? 

Because when you put something into writing (or video, or audio) in front of people you don’t know, you think it through. To avoid others correcting you in public. To avoid misleading people with bad information.

But also because it makes you think more carefully about what you build/do/sell/teach. Don’t think it’s important to think about what you do? Then you’re just a laborer.

I want to further explore the relationship between ideation and content marketing, but not this time. 

Content marketing is safe in the long term, but it’s not comfortable. It’s not easy – if you’ve had any trouble with it (as I often have), reply to this email and let me know.

My best,



[1] Digression on the word content: someone remarked that content is what you put in a box. It just sounds like cardboard. Okay, but it’s useful. I must note though, that the scientific study referenced used writings by accomplished authors such as Henri Bergsen.

By the way, the name of the study is misleading – the study did not use literature per se. It used non-fiction essays, albeit of literary quality, such as you might find published in The New Yorker.

[2] In a sense, it’s also true for businesses of one, which, properly configured, aren’t really so isolationist, per the first point above. The book to read here is Paul Jarvis’s Company of One

Programming note: I wrote this yesterday but once again, ran into a logistical snafu with MailChimp, so apologies for not getting this out to you yesterday.