13 Content Marketing Secrets I Learned From My Dad

Father’s Day Content Marketing Lessons

Content Marketing Lessons I Learned From My DadContent marketing runs in my family.

My dad was a big New York City publisher.

Before you think New York Times or Daily News, let me clarify. My dad was physically big. He was 6’5”.

Rather, my dad ran a local weekly newspaper in Queens called The Leader-Observer. It’s still in print!

His content focus was hyper-local.

Anything happening in his newspaper’s geographic territory was important to his readers. Translation: local politicians, schools, kids’ sports teams, weddings, births and obituaries.

My dad truly knew his core audience and provided the information they craved and needed.

BTW, here’s how to create a 2016 Content Marketing Plan. 

13 Content marketing secrets from dad

To celebrate dads everywhere, here are 13 content marketing secrets from my dad.

Content Marketing Lessons I Learned From My Dad

1. Know your audience

My father knew his target market, both readers and advertisers. They weren’t an abstract concept.

My dad spent time and shoe leather walking through the newspaper’s territory to meet advertisers and to talk to their customers.

He moved the newspaper’s offices to a welcoming storefront location so readers and advertisers felt its real physical presence. As result people came in with a wide range of requests. Many times, my dad took the time to talk to the visitors to find out about them.

Content marketing tip:

  • Ask readers what information they need. An executive I worked with called a few customers every week. He got amazing response to his calls. Even better, he uncovered information he wouldn’t have known to ask!

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


2. Establish a regular publishing calendar

As a newspaper with a second class mailing permit, my father ensured it was delivered every week, regardless of the number of articles or advertisements.

Therefore, the content had to be completed in time for the printer to meet this schedule. When getting the materials together was hard, my dad edited the copy after dinner.

Content marketing tip:

  • Build audience anticipation for your information. My dad knew his readers expected to receive the newspaper every Friday without fail. This is core to building an on-going audience.

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


3. Create on-going features your readers want

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


Because this information wasn’t relevant to his readers! 

What information is important to your audience?

Consider pre-sale, purchase and post-sale.

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.

Business content creators may find developing information your audience wants difficult.

Maybe the topic’s boring.

Maybe you don’t know how to create new column ideas.

Content marketing tip:

  • 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!

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


4. Create special content offerings

My dad loved holidays.

For major holidays, my dad got local merchants who didn’t usually advertise to participate in holiday content. He turned the centerfold spread into a holiday greeting. He charged local merchants and professionals to get a small tile ad on the page. When he had a lot of sponsors, the ads were smaller.

When there wasn’t a holiday driving advertising, my father created local events. He understood that he had to help his advertisers to drive sales.

During the traditionally weak summer season, my dad got everyone to participate in a Sidewalk Sale.

What topics can you use to get your audience talking?

Hubspot's Example of an Editorial Calendar

Content marketing tips:

  • Examine last year’s results to determine what worked and what didn’t. Enhance your existing content where appropriate. Use a content audit.
  • Start your content marketing editorial calendar with the major holidays and events related to your business. What information can you provide that your audience wants and needs?
  • Brainstorm content for the spaces in your editorial calendar.

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


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


5. Leverage the power of other people’s audiences

My dad understood the power of other people’s audiences. He had been the CFO of a mid-size advertising agency during the Mad Men era.

He added new columns written by local stars. They were members of the community.

It was a win-win. The columnist broadened and reinforced their community standing. My father got free content and an opportunity to win new readers to his newspaper.

Content marketing tips:

  • Figure out who the influencers are in your niche. Build relationships with them. At MarketingProfs B2B Forum, Mark Schaefer recommended assigning specific influencers to each member of your team. This distributes following and engaging with influencers across platforms.
  • Don’t expect people to contribute content for free. You must think WIIFM (aka: “What’s in it for me?”) Provide some form of compensation for the content.

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


6. Use ego bait strategically

Everyone wants to see his or her name in print.

As a newspaper publisher, my dad understood this. He knew he controlled an important media outlet for his audience.

He included people’s names where appropriate, especially for community events.

Most importantly, he took care to spell people’s names correctly.

Content marketing tip:

  • Mention or quote influencers in your content marketing. Don’t assume everyone you mention will respond to your request or share your post. Like my dad, give them credit and link to them where appropriate.
Content Marketing Lesson I Learned From My Dad

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

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


7. Be active in your community

My dad was a newspaper publisher in the pre-Internet days. For him being active in the community meant attending Rotary and Lions Club meetings. He was on the board of the local Boys and Girls Club.

If you don’t have your own community, participate in other people’s networks related to yours.

Content marketing tips:

  • Schedule time to participate in social media. Be active in on-going conversations and chats. This doesn’t mean spending the entire day on social media!
  • Get out from behind your computer. Attend live events and network.

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


8. Play well with influencers

Running the local newspaper before there was social media gave my father access to all the local politicians, religious leaders and business executives. He provided a neutral third party forum.

Regardless of what he thought of their political views, he treated them all equally. In the process, he taught me the importance of mutual respect.

Content marketing tips:

  • Take the time to read and engage with key influencers. Just engage. Don’t ask for anything special.
  • Spotlight influencers in your content. Create roundup posts and interviews.

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


9. Monitor your competition

Many businesses give competitive analysis lip service. They use it to support their point of view. This isn’t very useful.

By contrast, my dad found competitive knowledge was a business necessity. He always talked to the other publishers and their advertisers in neighboring communities.

Content marketing tip:

  • Watch your competitors. My father believed you had to pay attention to what your competitors were doing. Otherwise, you might miss an opportunity or, even worse, they might expand into your turf.

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


10. Tap into the power of photographs

My father was a long-time amateur photographer (complete with a full darkroom in our basement). He understood the power of photographs, especially ones of his readers and advertisers.

He believed film was cheap.

What was important?

Capture a special moment in time. (Of course, this was before digital cameras and smartphones.)

This example of Ford’s Facebook Header is old but I still love how it conveys the people behind Ford.

Ford Motor Company Facebook Cover Image - Branded Content

Ford Motor Company Facebook Cover Image – Branded Content

Content marketing tip:

  • Include photographs in every piece of content. They’re eye-candy. Take lots of photographs and select the best. It’s what the pros do!!!

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


11. Manage your content creation process

My father improved the quality of his newspaper and associated offerings by bringing related services in-house. As a result, he was able to oversee and manage the people and processes. This reduced time involved and creation costs.

Your content marketing strategy must be developed and managed internally since it’s an integral part of your marketing and your business.

Content marketing tip:

  • Integrate your content marketing plan across your organization. This reduces redundant efforts.

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


12. Maximize your content distribution

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

Yet, the reality was that my father’s newspaper (and other publications) used a network of different distribution channels. When there were big events such as a graduation or political campaigns, he made special deals and extended print runs.

Content marketing tips:

  • Utilize every distribution channel you have. Include owned and social media.
  • Extend content marketing promotion beyond the first day. Optimize your content for search to ensure that it continues to drive readers. Also, promote your content over time where relevant. Consider how you can get the equivalent of my dad’s graduation or political sales.

B2C Social Media platform use for content marketing distribution-2016-research chart

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


13. Monitor your content marketing metrics

My father was an accountant by training. He tracked the newspaper’s metrics like a hawk. He went beyond just the number of newspapers delivered.

My dad taught me the importance of bringing more in sales than you spent to create and deliver your product. Otherwise you can’t keep your business going.

Content marketing tip:

  • Use a combination of content marketing metrics. You need more depth than a single metric. That said, Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi focuses on email registrations. Remember you may have to track interim steps since your content may not lead to sales directly.
Joe Puliizzi's key content marketing metric: email registrations

Joe Puliizzi’s key content marketing metric: email registrations

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

Dad’s content marketing secrets bottom line:

Most important of my father’s content marketing secrets:

  • Each week’s newspaper wasn’t an end in itself. Each edition of the newspaper was a part of an on-going relationship with his readers. Its goal was to enrich its readers’ lives.

This was his content’s higher goal. It involved readers. The newspaper’s advertising and other revenues were a by-product of this goal.

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

Think of my dad cheering you on as you create your content marketing.

Remember he’s cheering for you.

Make awesome content!

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 Father’s Day and Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated. It originally appeared on June 13, 2014.

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

Meet me at Content Marketing World, the largest content marketing event on the planet!Content Marketing World 2018

Save $100 – Use my promo code, COHEN, when you register.

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bike/3102285113/

Tags , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to 13 Content Marketing Secrets I Learned From My Dad

  1. Pingback: 13 Content Marketing Secrets I Learned From My Dad | Doloers Hunter Ranking Tips

  2. Great example of an old school approach. Every single point is important even these days.
    Plus – this article is a great example of engaging content with quality research in it.
    Thanks for the post!

  3. patmcgraw says:

    Heidi, what a fantastic post and tribute to your Dad. They’re all important points but #4 jumped out at me – so many are trying to better understand their audience (#1) but they’re forgetting to understand their competitors.

    And it needs to be a deeper dive than products and price and promotion – it needs to be a 360-degree deep dive so you understand their finances (can they survive a price war?), HR (who do they hire, how do they hire, how do the compensate, evaluate, promote?), supply chain (who do they buy materials from, what do they use to make their products, etc.) and more.

    Anyway, great post – thanks!