2013This article will not be “logical.” It will not fit in that little box that’s so requisite to get anything “approved” in most organizations. Nor will it be for conservative-minded marketers and business owners that would rather imagine 1000 ways “it might go wrong” instead of dreaming of the unlimited reasons “it might go right.”

In other words, what I’m about to tell you takes guts, imagination, and the magic of thinking big.

So if you fall in the latter, please continue to read on.

Oh, and it’s long too, as well it needs to be, so you’ve now been warned.

12 Months to Do Magical Things

Whether you’ve been embracing content marketing for some time now or are just starting to jump on the train that has already left the station, over the next year you have the ability to do unbelievable things in the digital world to help your business. In 2012, I worked literally with dozens of companies on their content marketing efforts. Some took the advice they received, made it their own, and then shot off like a rocket within their industry. Others threw up barricades, looked for excuses, and stumbled badly out of the gate.

Based on these experiences, as well as the constant set of content marketing “experiments” I’m running at “The Sales Lion Center for Advanced Content Marketing Studies” (wink), I’ve come up with 8 innovative and outside-the-box steps your business can take to build your brand and achieve outrageously successful results.

1. Show it like it has never been shown before:

A while back I was working with a manufacturing company and one day, when I was touring their manufacturing facility, I decided to start recording a video of what I was seeing. Within seconds of realizing what I was doing, the management team became extremely nervous, and told me that I would not be able to record inside their facility because they didn’t want their competitors to see their processes, equipment, and methodologies.

In other words, instead of worrying about the consumer, they were worried about the competition—which truly is the death of great marketing in the digital age.

Luckily for this business though, after spending some time helping them understand their “secret sauce” was no secret, they embraced a transparent marketing approach that helped brand them as one of the top in their field within a year’s time. And speaking of “secret sauce,” have you ever wondered why McDonalds food looks so much better on camera than in person? Instead of ignoring the question, McD’s shows how this is made possible in this incredibly transparent video.


Lesson: If you do it, show it. Video is a magical medium. Just pull out your phone and record the dang thing. Make it accessible to the masses. Invite the world in to see how you do what you do. And if you need the ultimate example, just see what McDonalds is doing to take transparency and trust to the next level, which is just another reason why every fast food company will always be second place in that industry.

2. Reward Your Competitors

I’ve spoken about this subject more and more over the last 6 months—much to the chagrin of many traditionalist marketers that can’t seem to grasp the principle of transparency and influence in the digital realm. But considering I’ve personally applied what I’m getting ready to tell you, hopefully that will help influence your decision and thought process here.

Competition Awards

One of my first content marketing experiments on giving credit to those in my industry, even the competition. This article opened my eyes to the power of such a transparent approach.

I first started experimenting with this in 2010 with my swimming pool company when I gave out awards to manufacturers in the industry, many of which were competitors of mine. Not only was that article a major anomaly to the industry at that time, but it also generated tremendous discussion, confusion, and curiosity—from industry peers as well as potential customers. Today, that article has hundreds of inbound links, ranks for a multiplicity of major keywords, and has generated dozens upon dozens of leads that have turned into customers.

In 2011 and 2012, I further experimented with this by writing “best of” posts with respect to my local competitors in the Virginia and Maryland areas. These posts struck a chord with real people and search engines alike, and again, like the previous “competitor” articles, generated trust, traffic, and sales.

When consumers type in “Best Pool builders Richmond Virginia”–they land on this article. Not only that, this article ranks for a variety of my competitor’s keyword phrases as well in search engine results.

I’ve also had many clients experience tremendous success by prolifically reviewing and comparing products, brands and services. One such client, Yale Appliance, has garnered national attention in the kitchen appliance industry by creating a mountain of “vs” related posts, therefore addressing core subjects and issues their customers want to know.

Yale Blog Growth

With huge emphasis on “Vs.” style posts, the Yale Appliance website exploded in traffic and sales in 2012.

Lesson: Stop pretending your competitors don’t exist. Your customers already know they exist, so find a way to deal with it, to your advantage.

3. Review Your Competitors

In every industry there is good and bad. There are good products and bad products. There are good services and bad services. There are legit and non-legit companies. The list goes on and on.

But if you want to be known as a trusted voice and source of consumer information, this is the type of content that needs to be on your website, blog, and other marketing platforms.

I first started experimenting with digital reviews in 2008 with my swimming pool eBook, “How to buy a fiberglass pool the right way from the right company at the right price.” After that, I took it a step further by giving my honest opinion of manufacturers on my company blog, seeing huge success with each article written.

viking pools vs trilogy post

Articles like this one comparing two different lines in the swimming pool industry get read thousands of times a year.

Within a year’s time of doing these things, my personal and professional brand in the fiberglass pool industry became such that I was receiving multiple emails every single day from consumers around the world asking me what pool they should buy, who they should buy it from, and how they should go about doing it. Because of this, the information on our blog had an incredible influence, for good and bad, on manufacturers within the swimming pool industry.

As my friend Jay Baer would say, the River Pools and Spas brand had become a “Youtility” within the industry—the go-to place (utility) for honest and useful consumer information.

The same occurred after months writing with The Sales Lion. As a HubSpot partner, I created content that was open in discussing the software’s problems, benefits, competitors, etc. By so doing, I’ve become known by many as a trustworthy voice on all things HubSpot, and have a very large foundation of HubSpot clients to show for it.


HubSpot problems

Even though I’m a HubSpot partner, by giving an honest take on their strengths and weaknesses, I’m able to generate traffic and trust. Just Google the phrase “HubSpot problems” to see what I mean.

Lesson: Consumers are reviewing you. They’re also reviewing your competitors. It’s your choice where that conversation takes place.

4. Use platforms and methods that have not previously been used in your industry

As someone that consults with businesses about digital marketing on a consistent basis, one of the first questions clients like to ask is the following:

Who else in our industry is having success doing it this way?

Although this isn’t necessarily a bad question, it can be a sign of negative things to come. Why? Because it really doesn’t matter what other companies have done in terms of digital marketing and what platforms they’ve been on.

  • So what if no one has a blog in your industry?
  • So what if no one uses video effectively?
  • So what if no one has found a way to utilize Facebook and get returns?
  • So what if no one has a podcast in your realm?

Despite the fact that they’re in an industry where practically no one is blogging, Ongoing Operations (client) has managed to quickly rise to prominence because of their astounding content marketing efforts.

Lesson: What other businesses have and have not achieved from a marketing standpoint doesn’t mean squat to you. Their methods and their vision aren’t yours. Forget’em and start your own trend, regardless of the actions of others.

5. Be Everywhere

Although Pat Flynn can certainly speak to this better than I can, this is a trend that really started to pick up greatly in 2012 for individual brands and companies alike. Essentially, the principle of “be everywhere” comes down to our ability to communicate with our audiences in as many forms/platforms as possible, as consistently as possible.

Granted, I’ll always be a firm believer that spreading ourselves too thin is not a good thing, but if there are ways to find greater reach without sacrificing quality, then we should do it. To give you an example as to what I’m talking about, no brand and businesses exploded more than CMI (Content Marketing Institute) did last year. Let’s take a moment to analyze their strategic growth and “be everywhere” methodology:

  • They took the CMI blog to new heights by posting beefy, quality content on a daily basis– leveraging the knowledge of industry experts and other businesses around the globe to form a very sound, guest post driven blog.
  • They came out with the premier traditional magazine in the content marketing industry—CCO (Chief Content Officer) Magazine
  • They grew Content Marketing World into a massive conference for marketing professionals on a global level.
  • They started offering smaller Content Marketing World conferences and workshops around the world.


CMW sydney

CMI is rapidly becoming a global brand, all because they understand the principle of “Be Everywhere” so very well.

These are just a few examples of what Joe Pulizzi and the CMI gang did this past year, but without question, they were literally everywhere preaching the word of content marketing, establishing themselves as the clear leader in a growing industry.

Lesson: Whether you’re a mom and pop business or a massive corporation, finding more ways to communicate, teach, and reach others in your industry could provide major brand and business benefits in 2013.

6. Challenge the Status-Quo at Every Corner

Let me just be very frank for a second and say that most industries lack guts. I openly say this because every field has major problems, issues, and inefficiencies that no one wants to talk about. (Note: When was the last time you saw anyone that worked for the IRS talk about their terrible waste issues? Answer: Never)

To give you an example of what I’m talking about, for years fiberglass swimming pools were installed on top of sand. My swimming pool company, having been taught this method, installed our first 300 pools on top of sand.


sand vs gravel pools

Because we saw a problem with the status-quo in the swimming pool industry, we decided to do something about it.

But, over time, we started to see issues popping up—issues we knew could have been prevented had there been a better base for these pools.

So despite the fact that we were in a major minority and got attacked for it, we wrote extensively about the need to install fiberglass pools on top of gravel when they’re in the ground. And because of this educational push, today, 4 years later, the majority of fiberglass pools built in the US are built on gravel.

The same applies to The Sales Lion. All over the web, I see lots of things being taught about inbound marketing, content  marketing , and social media. I feel much of the information being taught out there is exceptional. But there are also times I feel bad advice is being given, at which point I’ll write articles that openly disagree with the opinions and sentiments of others (respectfully).

Although this may open me up for attacks, it also shows that I’m my own man with my own opinions and experiences—something that businesses are often looking for when they seek to hire any type of consultant.

Lesson: Great companies and brands don’t just “accept” everything as it is. Neither should you. Develop a sound opinion and share it to the world.

7. Become the Wikipedia of Your Industry

This is another area where I philosophically disagree with a few others in the social media realm. Based on every content marketing campaign I’ve seen achieve huge success for businesses, there is one over-riding principle that makes all the difference: They Ask, You Answer

Because they’re willing to address the questions they get from customers day in and day out, Block Imaging (client) experienced huge benefits from their content marketing efforts in 2012.

In other words, if a prospect or customer has ever asked you a question, the answer to that question should be found on your company website. By doing this, a company will be viewed as the ultimate teacher and voice of their industry, and gain the respect of the 2 parties that dictate everything when it comes to success—search engines and real people.

Lesson: Make the choice to control the conversation. It can either happen at your house (your website and other platforms) or someone else’s place. Why not choose yours?

8. Dance with the Influencers

In every industry and in every realm, there are influencers. Some might be bloggers, some might be media outfits, others might be buying groups—the list goes on and on. But if you’re looking to have incredible brand recognition in your industry, it’s important to establish relationships with these groups. Sometimes you may want to write about them, mention them, or simply drive business their way. But make no doubt, attaining success is much easier when it’s a team effort.

Joe and Marcus

Joe Pulizzi is just one of many people who helped make 2012 my most successful professional year ever.

On a personal level, I know I never would have attained nearly the success I’ve  been able to manage in this industry if it wasn’t for the likes of great people like Michael Stelzner, Jay Baer, Joe Pulizzi, Mitch Joel, Gini Dietrich, and others. If it weren’t for these folks, much of the stuff I’ve said or written would have fallen by the wayside and been read by few people.

Lesson: Like it or not, influencers exist in every field. If you sincerely embrace and help them, they just may help you as well.

Your Turn

Question? Comments? What else would you add to the list? Is there anything here you don’t  agree with? Tell us about it. :-)

69 thoughts on “8 Renegade Methods of Using Content Marketing to Dominate Your Industry in 2013

  1. Hi Marcus,

    I plan on implementing many of the items on your list over the next year. I am one that likes to think outside the box and be different and original. I don’t focus on what could go wrong, and if something does that is where you learn and grow. Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming trying to figure out what to do first, or which social media platform to get good at using. I took over managing our company website in September when we switched to WordPress.org. I have taken a couple of the Social Media Examiner courses, as well as others Amy Porterfield being another which were all wonderful. Each person I saw speak was very motivational and I wanted to implement everything they said. You were one of them. I think I have purchased way to many marketing books over the last 6 months. I soon realized I would drive myself crazy and get very confused trying to do it all. I sat back and decided I could only do a couple things at a time, get comfortable with them and then add on the next thing to learn. One of the places I worked on over the last few months was our Facebook page. I set a goal of 400 fans by the New Year which I am happy to say I did achieve. I only started really working hard on the Facebook page in September. I have some new goals this year #1 being the blog, which should help with ranking better on Google. I would like (I am going to) to get more familiar with Twitter (I am still not sure how it all works) I also want to learn more about video. I am very excited about all the new opportunity this year and reaching my new goals. Wishing you all the best in 2013 and Love your blog.

    • Love, love, love this comment Lana. You’d be amazed how many people have gone through exactly what you’ve experienced these last 6 months.

      The fact that you’re realizing you can’t be everything and everywhere is a good sign. Clearly, choose to be great on one or two platforms first, then good things will happen.

      Cheering you on,


  2. Marcus,

    Another EXCELLENT article. This one is a true keeper. Every CMO should read this article before they set their goals for 2013.

    I’m keynoting at an oil and gas field services corporation next week and will reference this article and your website.

    Thank you!

    • You’re a good man and I really appreciate the support David.

      Good luck in your conference sir, you’re doing awesome things. :-)


  3. I am strong believer in content marketing. I think 2 and 8 are frequently overlooked by businesses. I am also not a fan of companies completely outsourcing content creation. It is hard to be authentic and speak from you heart if someone else is doing it for you. Thoughts?

    • Yes, outsourcing can go bad Maria. It can also do well. Depends so much on the outsourcing company and the true “investment” to make it great.

      Thanks so much for stopping by,


  4. Marcus,

    A line I give to Insurance Agents all the time is, “We are no longer the gatekeepers of our expertise.”

    Meaning, whether you like it or not the curtain has been pushed aside. To pretend that we can hide our “secret sauce” is a joke and debilitating joke at that. I love how hard you push for openness.

    Keep fighting that good fight my friend.


    • Dude, that’s a seriously good freaking line. Have you blogged it yet? I know I say that to you all the time, but there is a whole subject around content gatekeepers there that needs to be written.

      • I don’t think I have… It will be done!

        Thanks dude.

  5. Marcus,
    I’ve been regularly reading your blog for awhile. This is another great one. I have learned so much from you, and thank you. As I’ve been reading along over time, I have sensed your escalating joy and gratification and confidence as your business has been growing to new heights of success. The above picture of you & Joe is the true “testimonial” to me of all you do and preach…you can see how geniuinly happy you are, both professionally and personally. I know by your writings that you’ve worked really, really, REALLY hard for it. I recently “started over” in the past six months by launching all new branding and a new website. But, I have a couple decades on you chronologically, and, I admit, I’m excited and fearful all at the same time. You are an example to me that hard work done the RIGHT way really does pay off…which inspires me to keep on keeping on. The best to you in 2013.

    • This is one of the kindest comments I’ve read in a long, long time Sheryl. I simply can’t thank you enough, and yes, I do sincerely love this stuff. Other than my family, it runs my thoughts, day in and day out.



  6. Marcus,

    Always nice to have your inbound marketing pipes cleaned.

    I know in my industry (insurance, more specifically health insurance) one company has issued a “new” policy that requires agents to get approval from them before you blog about them.

    If this were to become the standard, independent agents like myself, would be faced with getting “approval” from as many as seven or eight companies. It’s sad to see some things go backwards.

    Maybe I should send them a copy of this article…

    • Seriously Joey? That’s just ridiculous.Wow. I can tell you that company has a longggg road ahead of them.

      Keep fighting the good fight man,


      • To quote the great James Hetfield, it’s “sad but true.”

  7. Marcus, I put this post up there in the group I consider your “signature posts” because they explain so well what you’re all about. If anyone ever read your other stuff, they can come back here and think… “Oh, yeah. I totally see that in his writing.”

    Transparency. Go bold or go home. Do what others aren’t doing. Say what others aren’t willing to say. But doing these things from the heart.

    “On a personal level, I know I never would have attained nearly the success I’ve been able to manage in this industry if it wasn’t for the likes of great people like Michael Stelzner, Jay Baer, Joe Pulizzi, Mitch Joel, Gini Dietrich, and others. If it weren’t for these folks, much of the stuff I’ve said or written would have fallen by the wayside and been read by few people.”

    A year from now, my man… I hope to say something similar. Reading this, it now makes so much sense why you are so helpful for people like me. You realize how much these people have meant to your growth. Your willingness to pass that on is SO LIKE YOU based on these values you explain above.

    When I performed my site audit, one thing I realized was that the content I liked the most (not always the stuff that others liked the most) was written when I stripped away any fear and wrote in big bold strokes. The opinions that no one else was voicing. I’m proudest of that stuff, even though some of the dryer content is what generates what may just be “false traffic.”

    Screw traffic, man. It feels good to write with a soul. And it feels good to read it!

    Stay awesome.

  8. I think you hit on something very important here that many businesses aren’t taking advantage of–do the things that nobody else is doing. Every industry usually has some void that is not being filled by current marketing strategies. Find out what those are and just go for it. As the article mentioned, it could be that nobody in your industry is blogging or creating short videos or podcasting. There’s an audience for whatever industry you’re in, and the first one that fills the need usually becomes the dominant player who is viewed as THE expert in that field. So why shouldn’t you become that person?

  9. Hi Marcus

    Thank you! You are definitely and inspiration and thought provoking guy. I like to think I know something about content marketing and then I read this article and realize there is so much more that I can do. Rather than be discouraged I feel invigorated! I also feel overwhelmed by all the opportunities at times. Action is better than no action so this article has helped me identify some I hadn’t thought about.

    Would welcome the feedback on my latest blog article – I can provide the link if you like.

    To a great New Year and keep the ideas coming.


  10. Dude, you are starting out 2013 STRONG! As my friend Bob Burg taught me we do business with and refer business to people we KNOW, we LIKE and we TRUST. If you want to be knowable, likable and trustable, you have to care and share. You have to be a YOUtility. All your points above speak to this and how digital marketing helps to build those connections on a scale that’s never been available in human history.

    I think my personal favorite is #4. So many business are waiting to see what their competition is doing they forget to focus on what their CUSTOMERS want and need! They need to quit being followers and LEAD.

    Keep bringing the rebel/renegade thunder my man. The industry needs it (and so do I ;-) And can’t wait to hear more about “The Sales Lion Center for Advanced Content Marketing Studies”!

  11. Just discovered your site recently and can tell I’ll be back often. This is a great post – not just another “8 things you can…blah blah blah” but a really in-depth look at what people are doing, what they aren’t and how to be creative in marketing efforts.

    Which of course means I have some homework to do. I’ve been slowly (sometimes too slowly) building my business for years but always ignored the value of producing interesting content, connecting with people in person and online, and really creating a solid web presence. A lot of what you talk about really struck a chord with me – especially when it comes with talking to influencers. Every time I meet someone new I’m astounded at how quickly it creates new connections and energizes me to do new things.

    I’m going to have to do some serious brainstorming about reviewing and rewarding competitors – love the idea, but want to find a creative way to pull it off. Thanks for the great read – my motivation for the day!

    • Anthony, glad we’ve connected man and that you’ve found some value in the content here.

      Hoping your 2013 is an amazing one sir!


  12. Probably the best post I’ve read in a long time, simply because we do some of the stuff in here – especially reviewing the competition. While it’s not our main source of traffic, we feel like making our website different – by talking about what’s good (and bad) with OUR competitors. We are continuing to do what nobody in our industry has yet done. Time will tell if it pays off.

    • Love what you’re doing with your business Earl, that’s awesome, and rare as well.

      To a great 2013!!


  13. Number 6 is definitely the most challenging for me and is definitely one I plan to work on this year at my new blog/site. There is plenty that can be said in my world of writing and publishing and too many people still being mislead. That’s what drives my desire to be bolder and less afraid of the reaction I might receive. With your example and those of others, my goal is to stand up, speak out and be me so that I can help my readers and my community even more. I’ve got at least one blog post in mind already so we’ll see where things go from there :-)

    • Sounds like a great goal Cheryl, I know it’s in you!! :-)

  14. I like that you said to show people how you do things. You meaning me. I have always been one for not being able to keep a secret, as my wife has so blatantly pointed out. For instance, when I find a cool tip for social media, I can’t keep it to myself, I’ve gotta tell somebody about it!

    I really don’t think about my competitors. I blog to help people, and if my posts can even help my competitors, then I have done my job.

    Who are my influencers? Well, you are, for one!

    • You’re a good dude Wade, thanks bud. :-)

  15. Great information here. Very valuable for a new business owner. I love challenging the status quo and doing things in a way they have not been done before;)

  16. Excellent points, Marcus.

    Especially about challenging the status quo when it comes to inefficiencies. I have to constantly be asking, “How is this action or priority supporting my business?” Many times, I “feel” productive. But am I moving the ball forward in the key areas of my business? Looking forward to reading more.

    • Jesse, wow, love this. Like you, I find myself asking that very same question, more and more, and I’m hoping it’s a sign of business maturity and acumen ;-)

      It’s funny how that I define the phrase “productive” (in a business sense) completely different than I did just a year to two ago.

      Keep fighting the good fight sir,


  17. Hey Marcus,

    I’m new to your blog and this is the first ever post that I’ve read. I loved your post and the point that banged horns in my head most was – Show it like it has never been shown before. Man you write great. Looking forward to read more.


    • Glad you enjoyed it Ram, hope to see you again sir. :-)


  18. Gotta say Marcus, way to deliver great value in a single post! Great stuff, and I think what is interesting is that so much of the advice is counter-intuitive and goes against the grain. I particularly like the idea of finding platforms that are unique to your industry.

    I plan on using this post as a checklist to see where I can improve.

    • Just promise me that you’ll give me an update later this year Adam on your success!!

      Again, great seeing you my friend,


  19. Hey Marcus and fellow renegades,
    Read “The Power of Unpopular,” by Erika Napoletan. Be forewarned: lots of potty mouth, but a great lesson in establishing love affairs with the right audience and blowing off the wrong audience.

    • Well said Barry. Erika understands this principle of “I ain’t here to please everyone” as well as anyone I’ve seen online.

  20. Sometimes I wish I were in a “traditional” industry, where there’s lots of room to do things that others aren’t. But since I work with social media and online marketing, there isn’t much that hasn’t been tried by someone, somewhere, before now.

    I do like the idea of making videos of what I do, though, so will have to give that some thought in the coming year. :)

  21. Hi Marcus, I found this post through Twitter (Thanks to Felicity Fields!) and loved it. I like number seven the best because it encourages you to actually take notice of customer questions and develop answers.
    Transparency and information access are valuable, especially for small businesses. I am delighted when I see small businesses helping each other grow by sharing information, experiences, best practices. I actually wrote about it the other day on my blog: http://www.detailedsandy.com/?p=296

    Thanks for such a great post.

  22. Marcus, This is one of the better and more actionable articles on content marketing that I have read in a long time. Great job and thank you for taking the time to share. Even though as marketers we know the mantra “give away your best stuff” fear creeps in and stifles creativity. It takes some “cohones” and c level buy-in to be honest about a company’s strength and weaknesses, I agree with Ryan Hall , we aren’t the gate keepers anymore. The cat’s out of the bag. Thanks for an awesome post.

    • Seth, I very much appreciate the kind words and yes, cahones and content marketing/social media success seem to go hand in hand my friend.

      Thanks again,


  23. The majority of thought leaders in the industry provide no practical advice, opting for the easy generalities like, “create exceptional content!”

    Marcus, your commitment to providing applicable ideas really sets your content apart and keeps me reading, listening and watching.

    Awesome post yet again.

    • That’s incredibly kind of you to say Joe, thanks so much. :-)


  24. Wow Marcus, totally blown away. I really have a lot of respect and admiration for your story, you see ours are very similar, except to your credit you have been able to put the peaces together in such a remarkable way. You have a new admirer. I actually gave this piece a little commentary on my platform and would be honored to hear what you think. My hat is off to you sir!

  25. Hi Marcus, heard your blog on this yesterday and blow me down but 2013 isn’t already half over. I’ll have to make this is financial year resolution

    • Glad you liked it Ross, good luck!! :-)

  26. Great stuff Marcus,
    As a web developer and SEO company that focuses on the industrial market (think RUST-belt) it has been a real struggle to get industrial marketers to embrace content marketing and these new (and efficient) channels to market.

    Coming from our SEO background this stuff comes a little more natural to us than most, but we call still need to be reminded of the importance of the, very actionable, points you make.

    NOW…if we can just get the industrial marketers of the world (or even the Midwest!) to understand this stuff…our economy will be a lot better off.

    With your passion and enthusiasm, it makes my job a lot easier.



    “by Tom Repp”

  27. Great job and thank you for taking the time to share. Even though as marketers we know the mantra “give away your best stuff” fear creeps in and stifles creativity. It takes some “cohones” and c level buy-in to be honest about a company’s strength and weaknesses, I agree with Ryan Hall , we aren’t the gate keepers anymore. The cat’s out of the bag. Thanks for an awesome post.

Comments are closed.