Content Marketing Minds: Ten Brilliant Marketing Minds, One Mindset



I want to accomplish a couple of things here today.

One, I want to introduce you to a group of content marketing leaders you should tune into because you’ll learn from them, gather valuable points of view and sharpen your skills.

Two, after making my way through this roster of leaders I admire and endorse, I want to wrap this post up with a conclusion that speaks to why I feel this all-star team shares a common vision—a collective mindset that gives content marketing its wings.

So, first, we’ll look at 10 friends and mentors I consider to be the leaders of a movement and new paradigm in new media marketing.

Let’s hash this stuff out together. Use #CMMinds anytime to make comments or counterpoints, add your ideas and ask questions. I’m listening. 

Ann Handley

ImageLadies first. Ann is the queen of content marketing. With co-author C.C. Chapman (another brilliant marketing mind), she co-wrote, “Content Rules,” which is essentially the manual for creating content that engages customers.

Ann was the first to coin and claim the title, “Chief Content Officer,” which is her role at MarketingProfs, the biggest and best online resource and community

for information-hungry marketers.

What I love most about Ann is she’s fixed her marketing mind on an uncompromising crusade to champion great creativity. In a recent post, at, she wrote, I’m waging a war on writing mediocrity in 2014. I’m not talking about adhering to the rules of grammar; I’m talking about upping the importance you place on what you say, and how you say it. As a cornerstone of good writing, voice and tone are hugely undervalued in content and social media. Together, they constitute the secret sauce of great content, and I expect that more companies will pay attention to both in 2014.”

Twitter: @marketingprofs

Jay Baer

Image“The goal is not to be good at social media. The goal is to be good at business because of social media,” writes Jay Baer, a proclamation he backs up relentlessly. 

I admire Jay for a long list of reasons, but this mantra of his represents what I like most. Jay’s a strategist, a pragmatist, and a marketer. This is not to say his content is more heavy handed than the leaders of today’s pack. It’s not. It’s useful.

Jay will tell you, as he’s told the world in his masterful book, “Youtility,” smart marketing is about help, not hype. He’s a content machine who’s enjoying meteoric success as a speaker, author and consultant to large brands, but is forever humble, gracious and generous. While the spotlight is often on Jay, he consistently deflects the bright light to marketers big and small who are realizing great success by creating “friend of mine” awareness, a term Jay’s coined that speaks to the demands of new media in a profound way.

Twitter: @jaybaer 

Chris Brogan

ImageLet’s look at some of Chris Brogan’s best-known endeavors… Human Business Works is his publishing company. Trust Agents is his landmark book, co-authored by Julien Smith. Owner Magazine is a digital mag dedicated to helping develop its readers’ capabilities.

Have you picked up on the common thread? Human. Trust. Owner. Chris is 100% about people—forming and building meaningful relationships.

He makes the rounds as a speaker and consistently breaks records for handshakes, hugs and photos. He sends a charming personalized newsletter out every Sunday. No photos. No videos. No HTML. Nothing but words. It’s the digital equivalent of a hand-lettered scroll. Chris is all about relating, conversing, and sharing. He’s very real, very irresistible, very helpful. 

Twitter: @chrisbrogan 

Joe Chernov

ImageAmongst the people on this list Joe Chernov is the one I know the least. Since I’ve known of him, his resume has read VP marketing at Eloqua, VP marketing at Kinvey and now, VP of content at HubSpot. 

It’s fitting much of Joe’s career has been dedicated to the marketing automation profession. In my mind, Joe is the “right person, right place, right time” marketer. To understand his work is to understand how vital it is to anticipate and meet the needs of the market you serve.

Joe has created oodles of information assets, from eBooks to infographics and SlideShare decks, that define useful.


Brian Clark 

ImageBrian Clark, the founder of Copyblogger, took to online marketing with very little knowledge about marketing. He claims he still doesn’t really do marketing. He does media.

Every kind of accolade has come his way. More importantly, with Copyblogger Media and its many properties, Brian’s paved the way for one rock star after another in the world of online media. At his core, he’s a teacher. Copyblogger focuses on delivering tools and training that empower people to successfully grow their businesses through social media and online marketing.

If you’re looking to get schooled in how content marketing is a tool to build your authority and make rain for you business, look no further.

Twitter: @brianclark

Doug Kessler

ImageIn an act of sheer jealously (with tongue in cheek), I once tweeted how I hate this guy. The forever quick-witted Doug, tweeted back “hate” is one of his favorite metrics. Smart ass.

Seriously, when I dove deep into content marketing 3 years back, I started reading zillions of blogs and continually came across this outrageously talented wordsmith. I decided to rechannel my jealously and befriend, er, stalk him. We’re friends now, collaborators even. 

In Doug’s writing, I recognized the point of view of my personal advertising hero, Tom McElligott. I finally got the chance to ask Doug if he dug Tom. He did. We then proceeded to learn we’re both from Connecticut and have about 99 more things in common right down to the model of guitar we play.

Love and life took Doug to Great Britain where he and his business partner founded Velocity Partners, specialists in content marketing for B2Bers. There, at their booming content marketing shop, Doug and team are waging a war against the boring babble that’s characterized B2B since the days of Moses. Doug’s work makes it clear we are all prone to consuming content that’s funny, smart and informative.

Twitter: @dougkessler

Lee Odden

ImageI suppose I struggle a bit to characterize my friend Lee, founder of TopRank Marketing. Good guy. Sincere. Smart. Maybe a bit reserved, but oh-so accomplished.

I met him at a conference (though I was already a fan), bought his book, had it signed, asked him questions for as long as he’d put up with me, then went to hear him speak.

My is this guy knowledgeable. His book, “Optimize” is like 100,000 tips you’d be crazy to ignore. His company’s blog at is insanely informative.

Just this month at NMX, where Lee was a keynote speaker (and I was footnote speaker), he got up on stage and revealed how strategic content marketing (sans advertising) catapulted his digital marketing agency to its current prominent position. The man—and his team, too—are value through and through.

Twitter: @leeodden 

Marcus Sheridan 

ImageGod made Marcus (alias, The Sales Lion) and either broke or lost the mold. I won’t get into the unlikely backstory that made him a content marketing superstar here. Let me just tell you what the Marcus Sheridan of today is all about.

Listen. Communicate. Teach. His words. He tells it like this: When I define content marketing, I do it in these simple terms: A business’s ability to be the most helpful and effective teachers in the world at what they do.”

Marcus is a born teacher. It’s funny too because when you fire up his microphone, he bounces off the walls and prowls the room like the lion he professes to be. However, he’s actually a fairly mellow pussycat behind the scenes.

Suffice to say, Marcus is on a mission to simplify this dang (he loves that word) thing called content marketing so that you get it and apply it to become the king of whatever jungle you inhabit.


Michael Stelzner

ImageMichael is an author, entrepreneur, podcaster, and giant of social media. In his phenomenal book, Launch, Michael talks about the Elevation Principle, which goes like this: 

“Great content” plus “other people” minus “marketing messages” equals growth.

Given that us content marketers mostly understand the need to produce great stuff and dial down the marketing messages, we’re left with Mike’s true hallmark: other people.

Mike seriously means it. His dominant website, Social Media Examiner, blog and all its related properties—including on and offline events—showcase the wisdom of “other people” and give them a platform to shine. Tune into Mike and company and you’ll simply learn the value of content marketing. 

Twitter: @mike_stelzner  

Joe Pulizzi

ImageJoe Pulizzi is the king (or Godfather) of content marketing. He wrote the books, blogs, keynotes, webinars, annual surveys and manifesto on content marketing. It’s a complete mystery to me how Joe finds the time to travel the world as the ambassador of content marketing. 

Joe created the Content Marketing Institute and simply institutionalized the form. He perpetually teaches its principles, examines its state, demonstrates its merits, and speaks to its critics. All the while, Joe remains as objective as possible.

One of the things I most admire about Joe is he doesn’t blindly endorse content marketing as a sure-fire path to success. He continuously points out the majority of so-called content marketers miss the mark because they fail to do it the way it needs to be done—strategically.

Twitter: @joepulizzi

Where do these great minds meet?

They teach.

Whether through blogs, books, interviews, podcasts, presentations, speeches, or content of any kind, these marketing leaders are teachers.

Some are marketers for hire, so they teach on behalf of their clients. All are advocates of the power of content marketing. They teach how the most effective way to gain the trust of a prospect today is to answer their questions, generously dispense useful information and resources, and help them achieve their goals.

They teach these ideals to anyone who seriously wants to understand and practice content marketing. I suggest you become one of them.

Content Marketing Minds is a weekly Social Media Today column written by Barry Feldman about content marketing at its best and its worst. Look for the future installments on Thursdays.

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