Five ways to upgrade your content marketing for the 2020s

 Eric Fulwiler photo
Eric Fulwiler CCO
4min read

Content marketing. Feels like ages we’ve been throwing this term around, doesn’t it? The term was first coined in 1996 (25 years ago!), and sometimes it feels like many brands are still using the same content marketing playbook from five if not ten years back.

Marketing effectiveness comes from having a playbook that fits the market you’re trying to reach. The market as it exists today, not the way it existed 5 years ago. The needs of your customers, the purpose of your brand, the culture around it all, the channels it plays out in, as well as the technology available.

Most businesses need an upgrade to their content marketing playbook. Here are five things to do differently to drive better results.

You need to build up value with your audience before you can extract it

1. Think like a publisher, not a marketer.

This is our fundamental philosophy for building brand and driving business results at 11:FS. (You can read our full marketing playbook here, btw). Thinking like a publisher means focusing on adding value to the audience you’re trying to reach. Publishers deal in attention - unique visitors, page views, dwell time, etc. They are focused on building and engaging an audience. Most marketers think about how to extract value from an audience. But in today’s competitive attention landscape, you need to build up value with your audience before you can extract it.

2. Prioritise distribution as much as production.

You can’t separate the two in today’s modern media landscape. Content needs to be produced with the distribution channel in mind because it needs to be contextual to the platform where it’s being published. Contextual content is more relevant, which means it’s more engaging, which means it will deliver more of the results you want.

Good marketing is humanised marketing

3. Market to humans, not businesses or consumers.

So much of our ‘traditional marketing speak’ dehumanises the jobs we do and the way we do them. Target consumer, reach, awareness, production, distribution, the list goes on. It makes it all sounds like we deal with machines. We deal with people. Good marketing is humanised marketing. Make sure you think about the human behind the label as you’re creating and distributing content.

4. Quantity matters as much as quality.

#hottake, I know. And I’m not saying quantity matters more! But I do think it matters just as much. It’s probably where the biggest opportunity lies for most companies because you’re likely not producing nearly the volume of content that you should. A high quantity of quality content is needed to fill the feeds of today’s distribution landscape and give you more data points on what works, and what doesn’t. Plus, a ton of content is killed because of subjective creative opinions - maybe your best piece of content was never published because you thought it wasn’t good enough? To tick the quality and quantity boxes, think about how you can get to 80% and done with most content, not 100% and perfect. Some things do need to be 100% perfect, but not most. And that 20% difference will allow you to move so much faster and produce so much more.

5. Feedback is your fuel.

Sometimes you have to rely on your intuition to make big creative leaps. Most of the time you can find out more about what people want just by asking them. Feedback can come from data, but it can also come from comments. Make sure you’re really listening to what your audience is saying, and don’t forget to just ask them what they like, don’t like and want to hear more of from time to time. Asking for feedback from your audience is one of the most under-utilised marketing (and life!) tactics out there. And it’s usually free!

There’s a ton of value and opportunity to unlock in just those five things. But, as with anything, it’s the execution in practice, not the idea in theory (or on a blog post) that makes the difference. So, think about whether you agree with any of the above, and consider what parts of that principle you’re doing and where you could do more. Don’t leave this blog post without thinking through actionable changes that you can make! Otherwise it’s just words…and I’d love for it to have an actual impact.

And, as always, I’d love to hear what you think and am always up for continuing the conversation and of course, getting feedback. You can find reach me at