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Earlier this week I was stoked to join a panel of expert marketers to present and exchange ideas on Social Media Today’s “Best Thinkers” webinar series.

The topic du jour was The Value of Content on Today’s Web (the link here offers the program’s audio, slides or full replay).” For a good portion of the discussion, I simply listened as SMT’s Robin Carey and IBM’s Saul Berman tossed around notions of what lies ahead in content marketing, particularly where “paid for” content comes to play.

I tackled a few questions related to the subject and asked a few, but I largely kept my mike on mute as Saul spoke to some of the concepts in his recently published business book, “Not for Free.”

I’m all about free.

In the second half of the webinar, I talked plenty (which is much more my style).

The emails and evites that promoted the event promised we’d examine the following:

What skills do content creators need to develop to be successful?

Yabba-dabba-doo. That’s definitely in my strike zone. Also along for the talk show was my friend Arnie Kuenn, CEO of Vertical Measures and author of the content marketing masterwork, “Accelerate.” Prompted by Robin’s questions, Arnie and I ping-ponged our way through some sort of discussion about what makes content valuable.

Time didn’t allow us to field many questions, so it was hard to read how the audience was reacting, but a lot of people responded to my mini-dissertation on what makes content valuable via Twitter. For example…



Much of what I had to say was garbage.

How’s that for an incentive to listen to a replay of the webinar?

I’ll come clean. When it was my turn to present, I launched into a brief overview of what I consider to be the “treasure” and the “trash” of content marketing today. It’s a black and white point of view, but I think that way. I believe you get remembered or forgotten.

So in my mind, in the content marketing realm, you create treasure or trash. So I offered my take on each. First, I highlighted what I believe to be trash.

trashy content


Next, I took a shot at “What’s treasured?”

content treasure

The main course was content marketing skills.

When I wrapped up my rant and dove into the subject the audience actually came to learn more about—what skills are needed to cut it in content marketing—I presented the following slide. I found my list made the rounds on Twitter. I believe we should get into this.

content marketing skills

So, here, and now, since people like you found this mini-lesson worthy, I thought I’d expand on these points…

  • • Listening & learning—Without a doubt, this was the webinar’s hottest topic. I put forth the proposition (how lame does that sound?) that listening outranks all skills. Our moderator, Robin, wanted to discuss it more and so too did the audience. We’re working on a plan to do just that. In this discussion, we hit upon the value of social media, tools including Twiitter, LinkedIn Answers, question sites, and so forth. It’s a big, big, big topic. Before we moved on, we even talked about the long lost art of asking living, breathing prospects and customers questions about their information needs. Someone on Twitter dubbed this amazing science “F2F.” You do the math.
  • • Media—Again, this is a webinar and then some, however by putting it on my “skills needed” list I mean to suggest an effective content marketer understands media. There’s a lot of it today and different folks click different stuff. It’ll do you good to get this stuff, psychologically speaking.
  • • Writing—How could I resist? Content marketing is as much a war for your attention as any media ever. If you want to devalue that, you can allow any hack to write your content. If you understand the importance of content, you’ll want the very best content creators (hint, writers) on your team.
  • • Persuasion—Everyone says online content is journalism. They say you need a publisher mentality. They’re right. Not many say it’s selling. They’re wrong. You need to sell something—even if it’s just your point of view or opinion. Your content doesn’t have to point to the cash register, but it does have to be persuasive.
  • • Design—This skill is not optional. Guess what happens to crappy looking content? It gets a crappy response. If your content is valuable it must look valuable.
  • • Social media—Sorry, but yeah, your skill set needs to expand and if social media is not on your to-do list, please tell me what is. If you want to be an ace content marketer you need to grasp how, when, where and why social media performs a huge role in helping you share and promote your content, engage prospects, establish and build relationships, and create new opportunities.
  • • Analytical—C’mon now right brains, let’s all sigh, gasp and curse together. Feel better? Cool. Effective content marketing speaks to the users’ needs. So effective content marketers understand what they are. You combine research, intuition and speculation, then you create content. But you’re hardly done. Then you analyze the results. Then you respond accordingly. If you’re not willing to buy the ticket to board this train and ride it out, you gotta’ go. You’re on track to create trash.

Do you have questions? Comments? Additions for my lists? Please share your thoughts. Want a copy of the slides? Here you go.

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