You Need One (Of Two) Thing(s) To Be Successful In Content Marketing

by Josh Barney

I get a lot of emails and messages from people asking how they can improve their content marketing results and social media following (and engagement).

Unfortunately, there are not enough hours in the day to go through these specific requests and help absolutely everyone.

However, there is something that I say to anyone who asks a question about content:

You need one of two things to be successful in content marketing.

When it comes to results on digital, people are quick to complicate and overthink every little thing, without ever considering their strategies from a simplified stand-point.

Keeping things simple has worked for me. When you’ve got the basics correct, you earn the right to test, tweak and complicate your content (within reason).

facebook audiences ebook

What is Content Marketing?

People often consider ‘content’ as long-form posts like blogs, videos, podcasts, case-studies, ebooks…

…this is a mistake.

You must view everything that you publish online as an element of your content marketing strategy.Click To Tweet

^^^That includes posts that many businesses rush over and think of as insignificant (or unimportant) e.g. short tweets, Instagram stories or a LinkedIn comment (on somebody else’s post).

This tiny shift in focus will make a huge difference to your content marketing performance and allow you to implement the strategic advice from this article correctly.

reactive content marketing

When you group everything (you publish online) together under one collective, you give yourself the opportunity to implement a forward-thinking strategy that encompasses everything you do (and everyone who works on it).

Pull every element of your content marketing together, so it compliments each other, instead of conflicting, harming or not making much sense to your audience.

How to Succeed with Content Marketing

The first thing you must do, is group together everything you publish online (no matter how small or insignificant) and make sure it contributes one of the following two things to the digital world. If it doesn’t, don’t publish it because it simply will not help your cause.

I know a lot of content marketers who work on volume. Their aim is to publish as much content as possible. This is hard work, results in poor performance per individual post (in terms of views and engagement), can lose or annoy your followers and results in content burn-out (or heavy content repetition).

make content work for you

If you are one of those content marketers who rely on sheer volume, the rest of this article is going to completely contradict your style. I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just advising a strategy that I know works.

This means value over volume. And in my experience, there are two types of value that visitors absolutely love.

When one of the following two elements are included in your content, it will always gain positive results…

Include One of These Two Things in Everything You Publish

Do not publish a comment, blog, video, story, tweet, sentence on your website, podcast, audio file, image, photograph…anything online unless it includes one of these two things:


The most searched for word on the internet’s search engines is ‘How’. People want to know how to do things, how things work, how they can overcome problems, how they can find out more, how they can get results…

…and all this leads back to one massive point of value in your content: education.

advertising formulas

People go to search engines to find quick answers to problems that they can’t solve. 

Educational content positions you as an expert on your subject, builds trust with people online, and repeatedly aligns you with your niche.Click To Tweet

For instance, let’s pretend that you have a bad back and want to see a local chiropractor to ail your problem.

You go online and there are two local options available, one has a normal website and a sporadic social media presence, with a few posts (here and there) from their Christmas party.

The other website has a section that is dedicated to content and this is also shared on their social channels which has helped them gain a lot of followers and post engagements (AKA high levels of social proof).

Their content explains a range of back problems and advises people how they can heal it at home (themselves) or what a chiropractor would do to fix the problem. This includes the back problem that you’re suffering from.

Given that their prospects are aware of their solutions and expertise (via their education content), 99% of people would go to the Chiropractor who is sharing the educational content.

content marketing ideas

In circumstances like this, educational content will set you apart from your competitors and help you generate more business.

But, that isn’t its only function. When you create educational content, you must do so with the aim of actually helping people. This might mean that you actually lose sales (in certain scenarios) when your content helps your audience fix their problem themselves.

To most business owners this might sound awful. They’re wrong. Business isn’t all about what happens today. It’s about the future. When you help somebody like this, they will instantly think of you when they have another problem in your area…

…and you couldn’t find a better example of this than the Einstein Marketer Blog.

social proof social media share

Everything that is published on our website is done so with the aim of educating and helping our readers implement marketing tactics. This means giving away valuable knowledge for FREE. You’d think that this costs us business, right?


We receive more business enquiries than ever before, and this number increases month-on-month. Our educational content positions us as an expert in our industry and builds trust, as well as giving away tons of stuff for free.


If you aren’t able to create educational content, or simply don’t want to, make sure your content includes the entertainment factor.

This is much harder to insert into content, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

buying motivation

For most brands online, the best way to create entertaining content is to highlight the people behind the business. This creates a clear connection with your audience and makes you feel more real,  just make sure it’s relevant to you target audience and your content aims.

Entertaining content is tough and most brands completely fail when it comes to implementing it into their marketing strategies. This is because when they hear the word ‘entertaining’, they instantly think that this must mean ‘funny’.

When businesses try to come across as funny or humorous on social media (or in their content) 95% of the time, it comes across as cliché, annoying and actually distances them from their target audience.Click To Tweet

Humour is the single hardest thing to insert into your content. If you need evidence, look at how many stand-up comedians fail!

There is, however, a much easier and direct way for brands to crack the entertaining content factor. This involves placing stories in their content.

content marketing

There is no need to complicate stories in your content. A great story includes three simple elements, structured with a beginning, middle and end, these are:

  1. A character
  2. An aim (or target) for your character
  3. An obstacle (something blocking your character achieving their aim)

And if your character is relatable, it will have a much greater pull and effect on your audience.

Creating entertaining content is much harder than educational, and will require you being more creative, but when there is a story sitting right in front of you, seize it. This is particularly evident when a customer or audience member tells you about their experience- ask these people if you can use it in your content!


facebook audiences ebook

Everything you publish online must tick one of these two E’s. This includes comments, photos, images and videos.

The difficulty that faces marketers is ticking both of these elements in one piece of content. If you are able to do this consistently, you will achieve much more from your content.

But for now, double-check everything you publish on your brand or business’s social profiles and websites. If it doesn’t fit entertainment or education, don’t hit the publish button.

Want more content marketing tips, tricks and tactics? Check out:

Josh is the Founder of We Imagine Media, an award-winning content marketer, best selling author and creator of the He creates and strategises content, sharing the most successful tactics with his lovely audience. He hates writing in the third person, follow him on the social links so he can get back to writing as himself.

3 Responses

  1. Agree! People search for the content to either learn some staff or entertain themselves. I used to create posts with quizzes and I was surprised with the results – people liked it! And they shared those pieces more frequently in comparison to the other ordinary articles.

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