It’s really easy in B2B content marketing to get caught up in our own projects. I do it all the time, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. But sometimes that kind of focus can lead to a blindness that keeps you from seeing what else is happening and, if you’re not careful, can lead to burn out. It can keep us from pushing ourselves or coming up with new ideas. Instead, we lean on the old and the comfortable—even when the old and the comfortable may not be the best approach.
I try really hard to not let myself get stuck in those ruts where I keep coming back to the same ideas over and over. I have to consciously make myself regularly stop, step back and go out looking for inspiration. When I do that I have some go-to people and brands that I look at to get myself inspired again. This isn’t the whole list, but here are five—four people and one brand—that I look to when it’s time to relight the fire.
Why Ann? She’s the queen of content marketing, and she’s still excited and passionate about it as a practice. Sometimes you need that. You need someone who can not only teach you things but also fire you up and motivate you. Someone who will remind you that even though it may not always feel like it, what you do has value. For me, that’s Ann.
Why Rand? Rand is the guy who sees where things are going just before the rest of us. He started Moz just as the whole idea of SEO was starting to gel. And a couple of years ago he left Moz to start Sparktoro to provide audience insights just as Google was putting more emphasis on search intent. This is the guy who can see around the corner, and it’s always good to know what’s next.
Why Jay? There was a moment where everyone in content marketing was talking about creating shows. To me, it felt like the natural next step in brand journalism. Jay was at the front of that charge, and he’s stayed there. He’s always looking for new opportunities and the next place that content marketing can go. It’s something we should all be doing, but it can be easy to get caught up in the now and not make time for the next. Following Jay forces me to keep thinking about what’s coming and ways that we can use those forms for our clients.
REI’s Coop Journal
Why REI? I don’t love REI’s Coop Journal because I’m some rabid outdoorsman. The family and I just went on our first camping trip, and I hadn’t been camping in decades. I love the Coop Journal because it’s everything that content marketing should be. It has well-written long-form articles and beautifully shot films that can inspire even the crankiest homebody to want to get out into the wild. And it has reviews of outdoor gear that will keep you informed when you do decide to go exploring.
They clearly know their audience, the folks who are either outdoors or dreaming about the next time they can be, and they serve them the kinds of content that will keep them engaged and entertained until the next time they are ready to make a purchase.
Lately, in addition to inspiring and informing, they’ve also been hosting conversations about racial injustices and inclusivity in the outdoor community. Recognizing their role in creating these kinds of dialogues is another reason I love reading REI’s Coop Journal. They show me all of the things that content marketing can be and inspire me to think bigger when my focus can sometimes get too narrow.
Read the REI Coop Journal.
Why Aarti? Where there is clearly a big team behind what REI’s doing, Aarti is the opposite. The Food Network personality is a one-woman content shop (if you don’t count the production help she gets from her husband). And she produces a lot of content. I’ve mentioned her before, but her Instagram account is essentially AartiTV. She hosts weekly conversations with friends. She has regular cooking demos. She keeps her followers updated on her recent cross-country move and her family’s search for a new home. She also shares about her faith and advocates for causes she believes in. None of what she’s doing is slickly produced or highly polished, but it’s all very genuine and authentic, and it reminds me that what matters isn’t the polish but the message.