10 Dad-Tested Content Marketing Secrets To Make You A Better Marketer

dad-tested content marketing secretsDid you know dad-tested content marketing secrets can boost your results?

Okay–I admit that content marketing runs in my family.

But I bet that your dad taught you a thing or two about content marketing! 

My dad was a big New York City publisher.

Before you think New York Times or Daily News, let me clarify:
My dad—not the media entity—was physically big.

My 6’5″ father ran a local weekly newspaper in Queens called The Leader-Observer.

And, established in 1909, this print publication still exists!

Despite its geographic focus, its dad-tested content marketing secrets apply to all forms of content marketing. 

Here’s why you can use his content marketing lessons:

As great writers know, you add small specific details to your content to make it universally appealing!Click To Tweet


So it doesn’t matter if your content marketing audience is for:

  • Consumers,
  • Businesses,
  • Not-For-Profits (aka: NFPs),
  • Government, or 
  • Other specialized micro-segment

My father’s content marketing secrets will make you a better marketer and help you improve your results.

And isn’t that what really matters to you?


10 Dad-Tested Content Marketing Secrets

To improve your marketing results, follow these 10 dad-tested content marketing secrets. 

But realize that while each one focuses on a key element of a content marketing strategy, together they don’t substitute for a documented content marketing strategy and a related mission statement.

Don’t worry–My dad won’t mind that you tell your colleagues that your father taught them to you!


1. Know your audience

As a publisher, my father knew his audience.

For him, they were real people, not abstract concepts. 

My dad spent time and shoe leather walking through the newspaper’s territory. He met advertisers and talked to their customers.

To get closer to his audience, dad moved the newspaper’s offices to a welcoming storefront location so readers and advertisers felt its physical presence.

My father lived The Leader-Observer’s mission statement everyday:
“Serving The Community Since 1909”

Leader Observer

Before his first sales call, Ted Rubin’s dad advised him to arrive an hour early to walk around the neighborhood. And then look at what was on display the office of the person with whom he was meeting.

To find points of emotional connection with your prospect beyond business so you can have a conversation.

Never forget the people! Because if you forget the people, you're overlooking the most important part. Ted Rubin's dad @TedRubinClick To Tweet


DidIt’s Kevin Lee’s father said:

“Deliver value to your clients and they will come back to you indefinitely.”

And Lee clarified:
“It’s more than simply going the extra mile because I’ve seen folks go the extra mile but in the wrong direction. You gotta know what the client is trying to accomplish in the short, medium and long term.” 

Dad-Tested Content Marketing Secrets:

  • Seek out all of the information your audience offers you. Understand them as people in the context of their business and personal lives.
  • Continue to find out about your audience. Do this  before you meet, after each encounter, and regularly over time.

Download the ultimate content marketing checklist (It’s FREE!)


2. Establish Consistent Content Schedule

To maintain his second class mailing permit, my father had to create, print and distribute the newspaper every week. The USPS cared about the consistent delivery of the publication. So the articles and ads had to be completed in time for the printer to meet this schedule.

Joe Pulizzi says: “Content marketing fails because of a lack of consistency.” @JoePulizzi Click To Tweet


Consistent content is information that you publish on a regular schedule. As a result, your audience develops the habit of actively seeking and consuming it.

5 Characteristics of Consistent Content via HeidiCohen.com

Dad-Tested Content Marketing Secret:

  • Create consistent content to build audience anticipation for your content. My dad knew his readers expected the newspaper every Friday without fail.

    Consistent Content Template to Create Consistent Content

    Plan your consistent content to build share of audience attention (aka: SOAA)


3. Create content your readers actively want

My dad eliminated some of the editor’s pet columns.


Because this information wasn’t relevant to his readers! 

He knew that his audience cared about the hyper-local events that happened in his newspaper’s geographic territory.

Provide regular columns based on what your audience wants to know! My dad offered local politics, school issues, children’s sports, and personal life events (such as weddings, births and obituaries).

For example, Pat Flynn does a great job of this with his monthly income reports.

Pat Flynn's Monthly Income Report - Recurring Content Column Example

Pat Flynn’s Monthly Income Report – Recurring Content Column Example

BTW, here’s how to create must-read recurring columns.

Dad-Tested Content Marketing Secret:

  • Ask your sales team, customer service and other front line employees what questions your prospects and customers ask. Then answer them. It’s a step out of Marcus Sheridan’s “They Ask, You Answer” playbook!
  • Create easy-to-develop content and columns that your audience craves where new information changes regularly.


Download the ultimate content marketing checklist (It’s FREE!)


4. Create Special Content Offerings

To expand your reach and drive traffic on a regular basis, I recommend using large content or a combination of mega-content and crowd pleaser content.

From an advertising sales point of view, my dad loved holidays.

Because major holidays offered a promotional hook. As a result, local merchants who didn’t usually advertise felt the need to participate.

Dad turned the centerfold spread of the newspaper into a big holiday greeting card. Local merchants and professionals paid to get featured. The size of the feature depended on the number of sponsors.

During slow periods that lacked holiday tie-ins for advertising, my father worked with local merchant associations to created events to drive shopping traffic. For example, during the middle of the summer season, they created a Sidewalk Sale.

HINT: You don’t always have to create fresh new content!

LinkedIn’s Jason Miller has re-envisioned The Sophisticated Marketers Guide 3 times. Content Marketing Secrets From Dad

Long Playing Core Content Type

Long Playing Core Content Type


Dad-Tested Content Marketing Secrets:

  • Examine last year’s results to determine which content or promotions worked. Enhance your existing content where appropriate. Use a content audit to guide you.
  • Start your content marketing editorial calendar with the major holidays and events for your business. Focus on your audience’s needs and timing



5. Tap Into The Power of Other People’s Audiences

As the CFO of a mid-size advertising agency during the Mad Men era, my dad understood the power of other people’s audiences.

To expand his readership, my father added columns written by members of the community who had their own audiences.

As a result:

  • The columnist broadened and reinforced their influence in the community.
  • My father received quality content and the opportunity to win new readers for the newspaper.

In today’s content marketing ecosystem, your options for tapping into other people’s audiences include:

Dad-Tested Content Marketing Secrets:

  • Tap into the thought leaders within your community.
  • Assess the potential for reusing or recycling content, especially when you present it to another audience.
  • Don’t expect people to create content for you without compensation.

Download the ultimate content marketing checklist (It’s FREE!)


6. Play well with influencers

Before digital media, search and social media existed, the local newspaper was one of the top platforms for becoming known to a wider audience. (Hat tip: Mark Schaefer, author of Known!)

Further, with fewer media entities, each outlet mattered for reaching a target audience and building influence in aggregate. 

As a result, my father had access to all the local politicians, religious leaders and business executives. Regardless of what he thought of their specific political or business views, he treated them all equally. He believed in the importance of mutual respect.

Instead my dad helped build other people’s influence with his audience:

  • Provided a neutral, trust third party source.
  • Mentioned people by name.
Content Marketing Lesson I Learned From My Dad

Ego Bait Example – Easy As Pie Ebook by Divvy and Top Rank

Dad-Tested Content Marketing Secrets:

  • Take the time to engage with key influencers.  Pay-it-forward and focus on their needs, not yours!
  • Spotlight influencers in your content. Create roundup posts and interviews.


7. Be active in the community beyond your business

As a newspaper publisher in the pre-Internet days my father was an active member of the community. He regularly attended both Rotary and Lions Club meetings.

Further, my dad was on the board of the local Boys and Girls Club and actively helped get a new building developed.

The dads of my marketing colleagues also believed in community:

  • Tom Pick said: “While I didn’t understand its importance early in my career, start right away to build and maintain your professional network!”
  • Erik Qualman‘s father had a broader approach: “You can learn from everyone!”
  • Brian Carter‘s father recommended: “Think about how your actions affect other people (aka: empathy!)”

Don’t worry about being an introvert or shy–we’ve got you covered!

In today’s social media connected world, if you don’t have your own community, participate in other people’s networks related to your business category and personal interests.

BTW, I’d be thrilled if you followed me on Facebook

Dad-Tested Content Marketing Secrets:

  • Contact one person per day via the communications channel of their choice. And actively listen to them. Drew Neisser’s father taught him the art of listening and the endless joy of curiosity.
  • Schedule time each day to participate on social media. But limit your time to 15 minutes or less and do it only once or twice per day.
  • Get out and meet people in real life. Attend conferences, live events and network.



8. Optimize your content marketing for broader reach

While content optimization often refers to digital formats, especially search and social media, take a page from my dad’s playbook.

What did my dad do?
He made sure that every element of his content helped to expand his audience (aka: reach) and/or support his advertisers (aka: sales).

As a long-time amateur photographer, dad knew the power of photographs.

For him:

While photos are cheap, capturing a special moment in time with a great image is priceless. Click To Tweet


So my dad stuffed every issue with photos. And always included the names of the people in the photo in the caption. By doing this, he optimized for his readers and his business!

Despite being old, this Facebook Page header image from Ford shows its employees and brand.

Ford Motor Company Facebook Cover Image - Branded Content

Ford Motor Company Facebook Cover Image – Branded Content

If he was working today, my dad would optimize for the 5 key audience every content marketer has and answer their questions.

  • Customers: Is it worth my time?
  • Social media: Do I look good by sharing it?
  • Search: Is this information the best answer?
  • Influencers: Will I get additional recognition?
  • Your Business: Will it convert sales faster?

Dad-Tested Content Marketing Secrets:

  • Include photographs or other visuals in every piece of content. They’re eye-candy and make your content easier to consume.
  • Optimize each piece of content to attract a broader audience. Consider the context in which it appears.


Download the ultimate content marketing checklist (It’s FREE!)


9. Maximize Content Distribution

From the outside, my dad’s old school local newspaper with its established mailing list appeared to have no distribution problem.

In reality,
My father’s newspaper and related media entities used a mix of  content distribution channels to increase reach and drive more traffic to advertisers.

For dad:
This often translated to taking advantage of co-marketing with other organizations.
For example, he printed extra newspapers for special events, such as a Sidewalk Sale or political campaign. In addition to improved distribution, he made money selling the additional newspapers!

But you don’t need to be a media entity to get measurable results from co-marketing!

Sprout Social generated 25,000 new leads by partnering with 40+ businesses. Further, they didn’t pay for promotion!

Since my dad retired, the media environment has changed. As a result, the need to diversify your initial content marketing distribution and to continue to keep it visible over time has increased. 

Because your competitors invest in diversifying their content distribution and this includes paid options. (ContentMarketingInstitute-MarketingProfs 2019 Research)

Dad-Tested Content Marketing Secrets:

  • Take advantage of each distribution channel that makes sense for a specific piece of content.
  • Extend content marketing promotion beyond the first day. Optimize your content and continue to keep it visible over time. Where necessary, change the content distribution presentation.


10. Monitor content marketing metrics to fix problems and increase profits

An accountant by training, my dad tracked the each of the newspaper’s metrics like a hawk.

By contrast, while at Content Marketing Institute, Joe Pulizzi laser-focused on email subscriptions. Over the years, Content Marketing Institute continues to promote the size of their readership to encourage others to join.

Dad-test content marketing secrets

Content Marketing Institute Sign Up Form shows readership

BTW–I’d be thrilled if you sign up for the AMG newsletter.

My father examined the financials in depth to better understand which promotions and other changes were working and bringing in additional revenue.

In the process, I learned the importance of bringing more in sales than you spend to create and deliver your product. As a result, you build business value over time. Otherwise you can’t keep your business going.

From a media perspective, I learned that:
Advertising, not subscriptions nor editorial excellence, drives profitability.

In today’s ever-evolving connected media landscape, media entities have 3 ways to create revenues:

  • Subscriptions
  • Advertising
  • One-off products such as conferences and other content

Dad-Tested Content Marketing Secrets:

  • Use a combination of content marketing metrics. Additional metrics provide a fuller understanding of your business and content performance. Track interim steps since your content may not lead to sales directly.
  • Always include a call-to-action and connected content off-ramps to be able to measure results. Also integrate these metrics into your analytics!



Dad-Tested Content Marketing Secrets Conclusion

When it comes to dad-tested content marketing secrets, remember:

Each week’s newspaper wasn’t an end in itself.

Rather by delivering consistent content with each edition of the newspaper, my father continued to build and maintain an on-going relationship with his readers and his advertisers. 

Beyond providing information to his readers, my dad achieved a higher goal. He encouraged, engaged and motivated his broader audience to develop and participate in their real world community. 

My father walked the talk:
He helped to organize leaders and to get grants to build a new building for the local Boys and Girls Club of Richmond Hill, now of Metro Queens.

For him, the newspaper’s advertising and other revenues were a by-product of this goal.

So please take my dad’s content marketing advice to heart as if he were your father.

Think of my father cheering you on as you plan, create and distribute your content marketing.

Go on–he has faith that you will succeed!

What content marketing secrets did you learn from your father?

Your dad didn’t have to be a publisher to teach you about content marketing.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

P.S. This article is dedicated to my dad. I love you!!!

Editor’s Note: This article was significantly revised and updated. This article was originally published with the title, “13 Content Secrets I Learned From My Dad” on June 13, 2014 and was updated on June 17, 2016.

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on FacebookTwitter and Google+.


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Photo Credit: Family archive. All rights reserved

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