Is Content Marketing Dead?

Michael Stelzner and Mark Schaefer participated in a panel discussion with Mitch Joel during Social Media Marketing World focused on the question “Is Content Marketing Dead?” Here are my key takeaways from the content marketing strategy discussion.

So i just sat through a powerhouse session with Mitch Joel, Michael Stelzner and Mark Schaefer “Is Content Marketing Dead?” I think they answered that question decisively.

Key Takeaways:

  1. It’s about really driving content for the “right” audience. Audiences (engagement) is dwindling, yes, but the key take away for me is the audience is shrinking to become the right audience.
  2. Focus on your strengths,  if you’re not good at Snapchat, keep blogging.  Keep building that audience for your blog.  Keep building great content and your audience will find you.
  3. To drive traffic do some re-marketing.  It is paying big dividends for Social Media Examiner.

On the flip side of that last one, Mark Schaefer doesn’t spend a dime on advertising and why should he, he’s got fantastic content, building up his audience over time on the Grow Business Blog. It also took him five years to make the decision to progress on to doing a podcast.  So, expand out yes to reach other audiences, but only after you have honed your core audience.

Michael Stelzner touched upon the fascination marketers have with bright shiny objects at the expense of what works. Schaefer is doubling down on content, his growth is all being fueled by content.


Anchor app a perfect companion for content marketing

This week I made an amazing discovery in a new IOS app called The app allows you to make audio recordings of up to two minutes, post them to a community and receive responses. Anchor offers strong integration with Twitter making it seamless to tweet your anchor post at the same time. The interface is very intuitive with a big red record button. Holding the button starts a two minute countdown while you are recording. After you’ve completed your recording you can add a short description include any hashtags you may want to include to target your message before publishing it to the Internet.

Then the magic happens your mobile device starts to give you notifications that you have received responses to your anchor post. Replies can be up to 60 seconds in length.   In one thread started by Steven LeaneyWhat’s famous thing in your city?“, Steven describes Adelaide, and the Barossa Valley wine region in Australia. A few anchors later Stephen Gordon, a Golf Pro based in Northern Ireland replied to talk about the Belfast shipyards and how Titanic was built there.

Watch my first-impressions video.

Here I combine audio taken from a real anchor interaction to incorporate into a short video.

You can also just embed anchor conversations onto a blog post by using the provided embedding code.

During this interaction with Steven in Australia and and then Stephen in Northern Ireland it became apparent that there could be a good personal connection.  I responded to let Steven know that my great-grandfather was a carpenter who built furniture for Titanic, and his son also worked in the shipyards and I have family ties to Belfast.  Stephen and I exchanged messages on Twitter thereafter and I discovered that he knows my Uncle because they both play golf at the same club in Northern Ireland, 7,000 miles away. In fact, Steven’s number is in my Uncle’s phone.  So within seconds Stephen and I went from being complete strangers separated by thousands of miles to mutual friends of my Uncle with plans to meet for a drink later in the year. That is incredibly powerful when you think of the distance Anchor was able to remove in a matter of seconds.

I think this is awesome because social media can be a very cluttered place. When you log on to Twitter there are millions of tweets and because there’s so much going on it’s easy to miss important connections through inflection. And this is where Anchor gets it right. I see Anchor as a room full of strangers all discussing different topics and you can dip into these conversations with your own perspective or find conversations about topics that interest you. Or crowdsource help from your community.

So how would you use anchor for content marketing?  I see it working in several ways and here’s the workflow that I’m using presently. If there is a conversation I find interesting or pertinent to a topic I’m writing about I will save it to Pocket – tagging it for follow-up.  I may choose a series of tags like “anchor-content gardener” or “anchor-social media”. Whenever I work on my article, I listen back to the anchor post and either type out what they had said or use an audio editing application like Audacity or Adobe Audition to clip parts of the audio into a short soundbite.  If the post stands on its own without any editing I can use Anchor’s embedding feature to drop the entire clip into my blog post as I did above, or just include a link to the post.

If you are creating video, and video is huge these days,  you could create a video and include audio clips which originate in Anchor and place still images on top of the audio to support what you’re showing in your video. So for example if were talking about Titanic and Belfast I might include a few photographs of the shipyards and the recording of Stephen talking about Belfast, and this adds context to the article and makes the content more compelling.

Want to learn more about Anchor and using it for business before diving in? Check out Mike Delgado’s post Anchor Analysis: How to Repackage Waves for Business – lots of great recommendations.

I’m planning on spending a lot of time listening and participating in conversations with an eye on incorporating Anchor into my content marketing efforts.

Podcasts as Business Education


Are you listening to Podcasts? If you are a marketer you should really consider it. Podcast listening increased 25% last year in the United States.  I’ve been listening to Podcasts on a wide variety of topics for years and can personally attest to the benefits, particularly for content marketing work. I listen to several social media Podcasts including Michael Stelzner’s  Social Media Marketing Podcast and Social Pros with Jay Baer, Jeff Rohrs and Nick Cicero. But I also find many of the general business Podcasts extremely useful for my work at Experian, where I write about small business credit trends.

The great thing about Podcasts is you can listen, usually for free, try it out, see if you like it and then subscribe, or simply drop it from your list. Subscriptions are invariably free. After you subscribe, you get a new episode automatically each time they are available. It’s like when the paper boy tossed the news on your lawn only hundreds of times better. You get to absorb the content by simply listening while you perform other tasks like exercising, cooking, driving or even shopping. Podcasts can be a wellspring of ideas for content marketing too. I’ve listened to the Ideacast, a weekly podcast featuring the leading thinkers in business and management from Harvard Business Review and been inspired to do further research on a topic and create a blog post or other piece of content related to my field of work.

Of course, life’s not all about business. There are other non-business Podcasts mixed in there too which can get your creative juices marinating. One such example is the great spin off Podcast by This American Life‘s Sarah Koenig called “Serial“, which tells a single story, one chapter at a time each week, and the great “Startup” from Gimlet Media which follows the progress of former Planet Money host Alex Bloomberg as he sets out to create his own business which specializes in, you guessed it.. Podcasting.  Podcast listening can become addicting. The key is to keep looking for new content so you have a wide variety in your listening device of choice and keep your hopper full.

In a recent blog on Convince and Convert, they came up with 23 Reasons Why Business People Love Podcasts and supported the post with this great Infographic check it out below. The people behind the Infographic recently launched a new website called for the specific purpose of aggregating top marketing Podcasts, so be sure to check it out for new Podcasts to add to your player.  I’d highly recommend starting off with Social Pros and the Social Media Marketing podcast, particularly if you are a marketer trying to get the most out of your channels.

Also, I’m very curious if you have any recommendations on good “business” Podcasts, share them in the comments.


Please include attribution to with this graphic.





Money Saving Tips from Game of Thrones Characters


Game of Thrones is a great show eh?  They film much of it in Northern Ireland at Titanic Studios, which is a large green screen facility about 1/4 mile away from where the Titanic was built, hence the name Titanic Studios.  The Belfast docklands have one of the largest economic regeneration efforts in Europe going on at the moment. It’s nice to know that film and television are a big part of that story.

I ran across this really cool Infographic on Debt Roundup just now. The blog post author for Debt Roundup is Grayson Bell, a personal finance writer. He compiled an excellent set of money saving tips and the folks over at Gryffin brought the ideas to life in an impressive Infographic layout. Grayson once ran up over $50,000 worth of credit card debt and had to learn how to break it back down. He now teaches others how to get their finances under control.

Game of Thrones Money Tips from Debt Roundup

There are quite a few money saving categories on the diagram that jump out at me. Smoking cigarettes for example. I can’t believe I once smoked but it’s true. I quit in 1997 though – to this day by far one of the hardest things I ever did. So, let’s count up how much money I have saved just by making that one money saving decision. Since February 1997, calculating roughly a pack a day at $5, I have personally saved $31,875, a number that truly shocks me considering the other things I still spend pocket money on.

Since quitting smoking I have saved $31,875, a number that truly shocks me

– Gary Stockton

I love a good cup of coffee in the morning, it’s my guilty pleasure, I normally order a Venti coffee on the way to work from Starbucks. If I multiply $2.35 for every work day in the year I come up with roughly $600 per year. I bought an electric vehicle a few years ago and have saved a lot of money on gas, and my employer is kind enough to offer free EV charging at the office, so no worries on the transportation front. I’m afraid to calculate dining out at restaurants, so I think instead I’ll simply close this post with a recommendation to go over to Debt Roundup for more excellent money saving tips.

Finding Great Content for Your Marketing on Tivo

The other day I was off work, sick, flipping around the Tivo looking for things to watch. During the Summer, it gets tough to find interesting viewing since mostly everybody is outside enjoying the sunshine. In my case, I was in bed nursing a nasty case of food poisoning, laying still, trying to take my mind off vomiting. I channel flipped, and flipped and flipped but all I could find was The View, Divorce Court and Jerry Springer reruns. The cache was empty.  So then I clicked my Tivo menu to go into the Video on Demand and to my delight I discovered a Video Podcasts category.

Tivo Video on Demand

Tivo Video on Demand

Apparently Tivo offers the ability to subscribe to video podcasts and you can even set these podcasts up as season pass, so you never miss an episode.  Why is this important? Well, for starters, the device I normally listen to Audio podcasts on is a 16GB iPhone 4S. It wouldn’t take too long for this device to fill up if I subscribe via iTunes to a lot of video content. The option is there for me if I decide to subscribe there later on though. One thing Hubspot might consider is to release an Audio version of this show so viewers with less storage could listen instead of watch.

Hubspot Marketing Update

Hubspot Marketing Update

I was delighted to see my friends Rebecca Corliss (@rebcor) and Mike Volpe (@mvolpe) from Hubspot (@hubspot)  listed in the business section for a show called “Marketing Update“. The show was previously known as “Hubspot TV”.  In the show Mike and Rebecca provide a round-up on inbound marketing related news and trends, offering an off the cuff take on what brands are doing in the world of content marketing and search optimization. The shows starts off with a few notable news articles related to marketing methodology such as Newsjacking offering an opportunties for the hosts to trade off with their lighthearted commentary. They come across as very authentic and natural.

The show then delves into a Hot Topic to do a more in-depth discussion.  I hope they continue to make the shows, in the episode I watched “LinkedIn: Let’s See Who’s Viewed Your Updates, Creepy or Not?” they provided some great insights on recent Linked In developments, and offer great recommendations on how marketers can make use of recently announced products or enhancements.  You can find more info on Marketing Update at

Rebecca Corliss and Mike Volpe of Marketing Update

Rebecca Corliss and Mike Volpe of Marketing Update


There are lots of other great video podcasts on Tivo such as “Small Businesses Do It Better“, hosted by Carissa Dunphy (@CaffeineKeybord) a show designed to promote and educate Small Businesses, Entrepreneurs and their supporters. You can find more info about this show at:

What are you waiting for?  Click the top button on your Tivo remote and go check out the great additional content in the Video Podcasts section.


Arianna Huffington at INBOUND13

Some very wise words from Arianna Huffington. Boy did her keynote speech at INBOUND13 inspire.

Mocking NSA PRISM Slide Deck Creates Professional Branding Opportunity

At Content Gardener we love watching savvy marketers do some effective newsjacking to build business opportunities for themselves. This week we saw a spectacular example out of Paris, France appearing on Slideshare.

What is Newsjacking?
Newsjacking refers to the practice of capitalizing on the popularity of a news story to amplify your sales and marketing success. The term “Newsjacking” was coined by David Meerman Scott in his book Newsjacking: How to Inject your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage. Hubspot also did an excellent post on Newsjacking too.

You have to be careful when newsjacking a story. You have to pick the right story, and include your product or service in a subtle way without causing too much controversy for your company or brand. You get bonus points when you come up with a solution to the original problem reported in the news. This is what Paris based presentation designer Emiland did when he proceeded to mock the recent NSA slide presentation, which explained how the controversial PRISM data mining program works. Using humor and touch of brilliant design, Emiland created a greatly improved slide deck for the NSA and posted it on Slideshare. As of this writing the post has received over 30,000 likes on Facebook, 2,811 retweets and over 900 shares on LinkedIn. The presentation has received over 757,000 views on Slideshare, and to that we say, BRAVO!

As you can see, Emiland included a few of the slides which were publicly released during the initial set of congressional hearings and applied a new logo for PRISM, a gorgeous deep blue color scheme, and greatly improved charts which cut through the clutter and make a much clearer point concerning how the PRISM program works. The slide deck includes stylized icons for all of the participating social networks and gives a hint of his superior presentation design skills. At the end of the deck Emiland includes the following phrase:

“Even if you are not a government agency, I would be happy to help you with your next presentation”, along with a link to his web site


The author saw an opportunity to newsjack a story and apply it to his own business, creating instand brand recognition for himself and doing so with humor without creating any additional controversy. We have no doubt in our minds that Emiland received quite a few leads for design work.

In a way, Content Gardener is newsjacking this story. In essence we are newsjacking the jacked news.

Patreon Empowers a New Generation of Content Creators

I got an email via YouTube this morning informing me that Howard Pinsky of Iceflow Studios had uploaded a new video. Howard makes really cool YouTube videos about Photoshop. He’s an expert at it and so I subscribe to his feed. In his latest video he explained that because of recent changes by YouTube and other social platforms, he isn’t getting the exposure he used to, and therefore revenue is down. He then went on to explain how his subscribers could help support him directly as a content creator by becoming a Patron.

Patreon LogoPatreon Creator Jack Conte

Howard explained that he had joined a new platform called Patreon, created by musician Jack Conte. Patreon is designed to help fans and followers of content creators more directly offer support by pledging $1 or $2 per video, and setting a cap on the monthly amount they pledge to their favorite artists. I thought, wow! this is an awesome idea.  Jack Conte has over 650 Patrons for a total donation amount of $5,384 per video. For that much money, he can hire actors, producers, caterers, the sky’s the limit.  What it really does is allow this artist the creative freedom he needs to keep creating art.  As Jack puts it:

I make music in my home studio and post it on YouTube and SoundCloud for you to enjoy. No labels, no publishing companies, no intermediaries. Every dollar you pledge gives me the freedom and ability to maintain my independence and make the art that I want to make.

Like a Kickstarter Right?

Crowdsourcing for funding is not a new concept. Kickstarter has blazed a magnificent trail, giving birth to countless artistic projects in the past five years. Between April and May of 2012 Singer Songwriter Amanda Palmer famously raised over $1 million to fund a new record, art book and tour project. Patreon is different to Kickstarter because it’s not about funding one big project which requires lots of funding. It’s for bloggers, YouTubers, musicians, or artists like Howard Pinsky, anyone who creates content on a regular basis, and it could be anything really. A new song, a video, even a new recipe. Patreons can set a monthly maximum to ensure we are always within a budgeted amount. This is a good safety net. Let’s say I become a Patron of Howard’s videos and pledge $1 per video and then he pumps out 50 videos. I can say that I will fund $1 per video up to 5 videos in a month.

Encourages Deeper Engagement With Fans

Patreon provides a great platform to enable fans to support content creators and artists they love, plus it enables Patrons to become a bit closer to the creators of the content, because only Patrons can view and post comments in the content creator’s stream. Here, content creators can connect with their most loyal and supportive fans. I think this is a killer feature that many artists will reap many benefits from, beyond receiving feedback on their content, but they can identify followers and fans who are more likely to tell others about their work, and so, it can help artists and content creators get their content out to a wider audience. Patreon also enables artists to offer different levels of participation. Fans who sign up for a higher amount might be eligible for special Google Hangouts, or get access to pre-sales for concert tickets or other special events.

Step-By-Step – Creators

When you sign up for a Patreon account, the first thing you are encouraged to do is create a Vlog welcome video announcing your support of the platform and how your fans and followers can help support your content efforts, you can do this on YouTube or Vimeo. Creators are encouraged to not only provide a link to their Patreon page, but to include a vlog at the beginning or ending of their videos, and I think that’s where the real genius of this platform is. Artists are now empowered to openly and honestly tell their fans how they can help support their work. The content is still free, they are just asking for help and that that’s brilliant! The Patreon platform is enabled for Social, making it easy for fans and followers to Tweet, Post or otherwise get the word out on the artists they love and support.

The thing I really love about the idea is the grass roots element of being able to directly support a content creator. It’s the closest thing I have found online to listening to a great singer in the subway and dropping a few dollars into his guitar case.

How Do Content Creators Get Paid?

After the end-of-month charging of your Patrons, you’ll be able to access a dashboard with all the funds you received and any shipping address information if your rewards required a shipping address. You’ll know exactly who should receive what rewards, and you’ll see the funds reflected in your account right after the charge. Patreon sends payments by paypal, check, or direct deposit. Automatic monthly payments happen before the 15th of each month for accounts with over $100 in them.

What Are You Waiting For?

Do you have songs you can share with the World? Switch on your webcam, grab your guitar and go for it!

Seth Godin Passes 5,000 Blog Posts

Seth Godin

Seth Godin


Every morning I receive a note in my in-box containing a new blog post from Seth Godin, and yesterday, June 5th, Seth passed a major milestone with his 5,000th blog post. It’s quite a historic accomplishment when you think about it. 5,000 posts. That’s a lot of writing, but when you comprehend the amount of wisdom contained in each of those blog posts and the amount of thinking that has occurred these past 3,650 days, you get a sense of how monumental it is, and what a true cause for celebration we have. Seth has that rare talent of being able to look at things that seem obvious in ways that make those things seem fresh and new, even profound.

But at the end of the day the writing is done for the love of marketing. As Seth puts it, he considers blogging “a joy and a privilege” and he does it “because he can”. Recently, I started this very blog for that same reason. I wanted to offer opinions on content marketing and stuff that interests me, and because I love to write down my thoughts in the hope that they will resonate with others. I want to leave a record of what I was thinking and talking about in the 21st century, to help others solve problems, open minds, or even to connect with like-minded people. Most of all I want to be inspired to write better, to think differently about marketing and to hopefully inspire others.

So what has Seth Godin learned after 5,000 blog posts? He said his biggest surprise was that more people aren’t doing it.

” My biggest surprise? That more people aren’t doing this. Not just every college professor (particularly those in the humanities and business), but everyone hoping to shape opinions or spread ideas. Entrepreneurs. Senior VPs. People who work in non-profits. Frustrated poets and unknown musicians… Don’t do it because it’s your job, do it because you can.

If you are unfamiliar with Seth Godin, for his 5,000th post he asked his colleague, Bernadette Jiwa to nominate five all time favorite posts, and here they are in no particular order:
* Five years from now…
* Ode: How to tell a great story
* Make something happen
* I spread your idea because…
* Reject the tyranny of being picked: pick yourself

Congratulations Seth, looking forward to your next 5,000 and more of your wonderful books.


Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner

When I saw that Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner had followed me back on Twitter last night, I sent him a quick DM telling him that his wonderful Social Media Marketing Podcasts had inspired me to start up my own content marketing project – The Content Gardener. I was very surprised to receive a personal reply. So I think it would be very fitting that my very first blog post is dedicated to the man who inspired this passion project.

Michael, thank You for producing such wonderful podcasts and sharing your wisdom with the rest of the World. You make it look so easy. I hope to some day appear as a guest on one of your shows.

With great admiration,