Content marketing is just two words.

But it has evolved to become a complex intersection and eco-system of art and science.

For many of us it is a confusing mess of different opinions and disciplines fighting for our attention.

We need to distill the clutter and noise of shiny new ideas and distractions into the essential elements you need to foster and develop for content marketing mastery.

These are the mindsets, habits and skill-sets you will need to develop to succeed as a content marketer in an age of machines.

And you need to hug the geeks, build the robots and nurture the creatives.

Here are my 10 laws for content marketing mastery.

#1. Be paranoid

Andy Grove in his book “Only the Paranoid Survive” fosters the idea of healthy paranoia in a world that keeps changing.

The internet used to be just a universe of websites. Today the smartphones rule the world.

It is a web of apps and platforms.

We order an Uber with an app.

We get our food delivered using our smartphone

But the reality is that the digital world will keep changing.

So you can never relax and and settle.

We can no longer rely on one platform.

Facebook doesn’t care about you.

Neither does LinkedIn.

Or Snapchat.

The battle of the algorithms

Algorithm changes effect everything.

Search, Facebook news feeds, the Twitter stream and even email has been disturbed.

The Gmail tabs of primary, social and promotions changed the email marketing game.

Even LinkedIn is not immune.

Long form articles were given priority but now it is the 1,300 character posts that are given prominence.

The only path is one of vigilance and monitoring the channels and results and adapting your tactics.

You can’t beat them so you have to work with the platforms.

The battle of the algorithms is your ongoing challenge.

Being slightly paranoid is required.

#2. Build your authority

It was meeting of PR professionals. The big end of town and the boutiques.

How do you become and influencer. An authority. A thought leader?

Their advice?

Get an article in big media, that prominent newspaper and you have arrived.

But in world of clutter and noise you have just started.

Authority is earned.

One piece of content at a time.

A tribe of loyal followers on Twitter built day at a time.

One email subscriber after the other.

Despite the flaky SEO companies promising the page one ranking next week or next month there is a bigger game. Search engine authority is a work of technical website design backed up by persistent content creation.

Earned authority is spread across multiple channels, search engines, email lists and your tribes on social media.

Thought leadership and influence in any discipline is not a one hit wonder but a journey of earned authority.

#3. Measure what matters

Jean-Claude Van Damme was the star of a TV advertisement that currently has over 88 million views on YouTube. It was all about a new breed of Volvo Trucks.

That is a lot of traffic. It won a Cannes Award. Created a ton of brand awareness.

But if that is all it achieves then it is just noise.

Vanity metrics are about ego not results. It makes the CEO feel good. The CMO feel warm and fuzzy.

But if brand awareness is where you start and stop then you have a problem.

3 key metrics that matter in a digital world?

Traffic, leads and sales.

The combinatorial optimising between these three are the secret to digital world success.

Is you content just getting traffic?

#4. Embrace continuous learning

He was bullied so much at school that he was once thrown down a flight of stairs, then beaten until he was unconscious and hospitalized.

But despite the outsider tag he had a passion.

Born in a small town in South Africa and to the son of a dietitian he had a love of reading.

His brother revealed that he read up to two books a day on a wide range of topics. That means he read 60 times the number books that most of us read in a month.

He completed 2 bachelor degrees and was selected to start a PhD at Stanford University. After two days he quit to start his entrepreneurial career.

By his mid 40’s he had started and built four multi-billion dollar companies. These are in four diverse fields of software, energy, transportation and aerospace.

His name? Elon Musk.

College is just the start

University degrees are a discipline and a framework for learning that can be a ticket to that dream job.

The tragedy? That is where most people stop.

They have been seen as the ticket to corporate or academic nirvana. But in a world that is always evolving and changing that is not an option as you need to keep learning and never stop. The other choice is to calcify and become irrelevant. But some of us do have a dinosaur gene or a success death wish.

You need to embrace a content marketing success habit that today is the difference between average and awesome.

Continuous learning.

It’s never been easier

Many people sign up for degree and then progress to an MBA or even another qualification. Some never leave college. And that is what the typical pathway to business and corporate success has always been. Often it costs big bucks and you need to pre-qualify.

But the game is changing.

Education is now online and everywhere. The formal path is no longer your only option. Today there are no excuses to not be always learning.

What’s continuous learning look like?

Books are the distillation of the lessons of decades of life by the smartest people on the planet. And it is all packed into just a few pages. Between the covers you will discover what has worked and the key elements to their inspiration and success. But they are not the only means for insights and lessons.

We all have different learning modalities and preferences. Some like listening, others prefer watching and many of us love reading. So we all need to select our learning weapon(s) of choice.

Here are a few.

YouTube and video

My son is dyslexic and reading is tough. But when he looks up a video on how to play a guitar or mix music then he can learn. Online video lessons and “how to’s” have been a godsend for those of us who maybe don’t like reading or find it hard.

Online courses

No longer do you need to get permission to be able to start a course, or achieve a certain grade to qualify. You can sign up for free and paid courses whenever you like.


Theses are the learning media of choice for many commuters, gym junkies and travellers. Want to learn faster? Crank up the pace and play at 2 times normal speed and it’s double the learning in the same amount of time.


Online publishing brings you the latest news and information without waiting for editors and the print copy to be distributed to your bookshop or store. So…….subscribe, read, curate, create and share.

Curation apps

We are transforming from a web world that is transitioning from an Internet of websites to an internet of apps. Some of these include Flipboard and Anders Pink. Technology and education have intersected.


Sometimes we need an information drip fed to our devices to facilitate education. Maybe we need a little inspiration reminder. Subscriptions to educational blog posts and websites can help.


Hanging with the smartest people in your industry for a couple of days can accelerate learning and transformation. These can cost but can tip you from ideas into action.

Some of us are using all of these.

This is where the magic happens

Absorbing the insights, lessons and the learning is one thing but making sense and structure is another. You need to take the fogginess of information and complexity and give it structure and clarity.

This means absorbing the avalanche of information.

So…..writing it down and sharing it with the world is the next step. Powerful supercharged learning (and success) comes from creating and acting.

Elon Musk decided that a PhD was a luxury that was stopping him doing and implementing what he had learned.

A university degree is just a ticket for entry.

Then you start learning as you “do”.

Content marketing mastery needs you to keep learning.

#5. Use AI to be more human

The robots are taking our jobs.

They are…..but is that a good thing or a bad thing?

The fear that surrounds the rise of “AI” is like the rioting Luddites that went and smashed machines during the rise of the industrial age.

Machines are meant to be our servants and not our masters.

Extensions of who we are.

Artificial intelligence offers the same promise.

How can “AI” make our marketing more human?

Using AI in marketing can be applied to but not limited to the following:

  • Improve customer satisfaction
  • Increase engagement
  • Build smart and personalised experiences

Artificial Intelligence can make your messages more human and personalised. Gain human insights that are lost in a million data points of noise and bits and bytes.

But there is a problem.

The noise and data challenge

It is estimated that in just the last five years we have created as much data as the entire history of mankind. The scale of the data, its management and complexity requires an enhancement to our human limitations.

We need to use the power of AI to gain insights and create modelling that enables us to make better decisions.

Additionally, customers are starting to expect it as part of service. Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon all have AI powered assistants that are evolving quickly. Consumers will increasingly use digital personal assistants to interact with consumer services in the connected home.

A case study

In one example, the US Bank (the 5th largest bank in the USA) used “AI” to perform lead scoring of 4.5 million leads, which were analysed in just two hours.

The insights from applying artificial intelligence also revealed that a mortgage owner is more likely to increase assets under management if they had a credit card. Human intelligence on its own would not have seen or even have discovered this link.

This insight provided a 230% lift in lead conversion with the financial advisers at US bank.

AI is here and it can make us more human.

This journey is just starting.

#6. Create content of consequence

The battle for attention is never ending. And creating content sometimes seems a fruitless round of activities like a mouse on a wheel.

So we all…