The Recipe for Content Marketing Success, a la Jay Baer (and the Barenaked Ladies)

The odds are that we’re gonna be alright.

When you’re up all night writing a blog post (cough) or sitting through inspiring, motivational content marketing sessions that make you think “I’m doing it all wrong and where do I even start to fix it” or heading back on the plane to work, trying to grasp what you’ll try to implement first, the odds are, as the Barenaked Ladies sang to a group of 3,500+ content marketers: we’re gonna be alright.

Because if there’s one thing I’ve taken away from a day of jam-packed content marketing sessions, it’s that you only need one trait to succeed in content marketing. 

Yes, it’s great if you’re organized and strategic, a curious thinker, creative, humble and nimble and every other fun adjective you can think of. But it means nothing if you don’t have passion.

I’ve written before about the importance of being passionate in content marketing – in fact, I called it my biggest content marketing mistake and my biggest strength.

Passion, untamed, can be a weakness, but as Jay Baer told me today, it is also the only thing that will set your brand apart from your competitors, that will set you, as a content marketer, apart from other content marketers.

Because anyone can learn content marketing. It’s not rocket science.

I think some people are better suited at it than others – it kind of helps if you like writing and have a good eye for detail, a brain for strategy, a heart that doesn’t mind some stress every now and then. But those things can be taught; they are skills that can be learned.

As Jay said, competition commoditizes competency. And when that happens, what separates the good from the great is passion.

Content marketing is hot. And you’re not the only content marketer out there anymore (I met 3,500 of them today). But there is something that you can bring to the table that no one else can and that’s true, unrelenting, unwavering, passion.

Competition commoditizes competency.

A common phrase I’ve heard a lot at Content Marketing World over the past few days is that “customers can smell a marketing spin from a mile away.”

I’d like to take that even further and add that it’s not necessarily a marketing spin they can smell, but inauthenticity. They can smell your lack of passion – they won’t pinpoint it or be able to rationally explain it, but they can tell and it makes you stand out – not for the better.

It’s something I’ve noticed in employees, too, as I’ve had the pleasure of working with a variety of people over the past few years. Many of the people I’ve worked with are more than capable of doing great things, they’re organized and meet deadlines, they do the tasks they’re assigned, they’re pleasant to work with.

But one thing I can tell, usually within a few days, is if they have passion or not and that one key trait differentiates themselves in every single thing they do.

So what do you do if you’re not passionate about content marketing (and you’re working as a content marketer?)

Find out why. What’s holding you back? Senior management quenching your passion? Work for another company. Is your brand too obsessed with sounding corporate or copying the competition? Pave the way instead. If this isn’t your passion, find out what is: what’s the thing you rush home from work to do in your free time, or the thing you think about while riding the subway?

What separates the good from the great is passion. Your competition can copy every single thing you do, down to your email marketing campaign to your product itself.

The one thing they can’t steal is your passion – and it’s the one thing you should be guarding behind much more than just gated forms.

Stick to that passion inside that motivates you to be better at what you do – and the odds are that you’ll be alright.