Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

The value of thinking time can’t be measured in time 

I was watching Dave Chappelle, the standup comedian, on Netflix at the gym on a cardio day and it started like this:  Dave was sitting on a chair and staring off into the distance. The voiceover said this is where all of his ideas come from and he calls this “the stare.” Oh no, how […]

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#AdobeSummit blog: Why you should stop knee-jerk reactions in #digitalmarketing 

A look at the importance and impact of ideas. Audience: CMOs, communications and marketing leaders

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#AdobeSummit: Why would I ever need a 3D photograph of myself?

Disclaimer: Adobe invited me to the Adobe Summit North America 2017. This post was not approved by them. They didn’t even get a preview. It’s my opinion and if you agree it’s yours too. 😂🤔  I often try to avoid the booths (aka vendor) area at conferences but try to at least get a quick […]

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Marketing and communications: Why sharing your strategy is not a weakness 

A visit to a childrens’ place reminded me that it’s quite OK to share our strategies with others. Just because others know our strategies doesn’t mean that they can actually implement them or even want to. But yet I often still see the attitude and mindset by marketers and communicators that their strategy needs to […]

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Digital marketing leaders: Be prepared to repeat yourself A LOT!!!

“How many more times do I have to explain this?” “I’ve said that for years.” And at some point people understand it, actually hear it and most importantly – believe it! But as a (digital) change agent you might as well get used to one thing: You’ll repeat yourself a lot. Maybe even for years […]

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When will we think of revenue models outside of advertising online?

Facebook Live now allows broadcasters to take commercial breaks. All in the name of innovative revenue models. Or something like that. The thing is, many of us moved our consumption from traditional channels to digital channels so we could avoid endless interruptions with TV commercials and maybe even unnecessary print ads in magazines and newspapers. But […]

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Why good marketing teams use the 24-hour rule of feedback 

Feedback – even when it stings or is wrong – can be tremendously helpful. We can learn from it and make necessary adjustments. At the least, we get an idea how others perceive us.  But feedback that is about something too long ago is just worthless and it usually only serves one of two intentional […]

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Why the digital gurus are wrong and print is NOT dead!

I love digital storytelling. More so than many of the corresponding offline and print counterparts to digital channels like blogs, social media and news notifications. But, repeat after me: Print is not dead! Here’s an inventory of exhibits: My mailbox. The one outside my house. If direct mail didn’t work at all, how come so […]

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Why editing for preference is the biggest waste of time in content marketing 

Everyone who creates content likely has had an editor who edited for preference only. They change words because they like another word better. Not because it actually makes a difference to the audience or impacts that story’s performance. I even once had an editor who admitted that he edited to “add value, and it’s my job.” […]

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How to not become the latest shiny object on the shelf 


February 11, 2017

Change Leadership

I’ve been the latest shiny object myself. I’ve also crowned others as the new king, queen, savior, whatever. Of course, the shiny object means the latest thing or person to which we are paying attention. It’s the one thing that will save us. They will help us disrupt. <Insert additional cliches here.> New leadership hires often […]

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New job opening: Chief Office Politics Officer 


February 9, 2017

Change Leadership

You may have seen some of the new roles people have come up with over recent years: Chief Digital Officer Chief Listening Officer Chief Content Officer Chief Transformation Officer Chief Engagement Officer Chief Intel Officer The list goes on, and some of these roles actually could help organizations be more successful and transition at least […]

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Why not to worry about the “industry standard!”

The so called “industry standard” is something many marketers talk and care about. What’s the industry average, and are we a bit better?  Let me rephrase that:  Are we slightly above industry average? Who wants to be average? I don’t. I’m trying to be the best version of myself and in my field – however […]

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How to maneuver today’s world of churn

We live in a world of churn today. And we might as well get used to it and make it work for ourselves and our businesses. Because if we don’t understand the realities of churn, it can be quite stressful. OH NO. Another person unsubscribed or unfollowed. That doesn’t feel good. See. Ha. So what […]

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Is authentic storytelling content marketing still a differentiator when everyone does it?

Here’s the scenario: Two competitors both use similar authentic storytelling content marketing techniques. They all read my book, which you can order here.Ha. But seriously, let’s take that scenario. Is this technique still usable when everyone – including our competitors – use it? Totally! Yes. Yes. You own your stories and others own theirs. Many […]

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How technology companies can use content marketing to stand out and grow business 

Technology can be sticky, and once you use a particular technology that mostly works, it can be hard (mentally and practically) to move away from it.  A simple example is WordPress, which I use on this blog. It allows me to easily blog from my phone and desktop. I can easily grow my mailing list […]

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How to spot an actual expert [DIGITAL STRATEGY]


December 15, 2016

Change Leadership

Experts know things, they challenge the status quo but also listen to learn.  Today, many out there are trying to be thought leaders (aka experts). And many of them  have no clue. They repeat what others (the actual experts) are saying but then don’t update their tune when those experts update what they are saying […]

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Being authentic doesn’t mean we should be boring


November 18, 2016

Change Leadership

But that’s just how I am. Boring. That’s how I talk.  Isn’t being me what Authentic Storytelling is about? Yes, totally, but boring authentic stories don’t get consumed. They get ignored. If you are boring, it doesn’t mean you have to change completely, but just know that your stories might not be as impactful as […]

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VIDEO: How helpful marketing teams can find ways to publish stakeholder content

Helpful storytellers often find ways to find a story for just about any topic. Look a little deeper to help people share their stories. Here's how.

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Why not to shoot for being the next Uber or Amazon

I hear it all the time:  We want to be the next Uber … or Amazon … or somebody else that is successful in a newer niche.  But what if it’s not about being the next somebody else? What if we just focus on being a better and more succeful version of ourselves? It’s doable. […]

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Why do we blame people for telling us the truth?

Hearing the truth – especially when it’s negative – can hurt. It’s so much easier to live in la-la land where everything is great. In reality, even when most things are great there are always some that aren’t. “Hearing the truth – especially when it’s negative – can hurt.” – @ctrappe Click To Tweet When […]

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How journalists can establish their personal brand for content marketing success 

One way for journalists, and really just about anyone, to get into content marketing is by having a strong brand. Of course the first step in getting a strong brand is to build one – in part through participation. There are certainly many self-proclaimed experts out there who don’t practice what they preach but somehow ended […]

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Why “being busy” shouldn’t be a content marketing success metric

This brochure, blog post, whatever piece of content I just finished took me a while to produce. Hours that added up to days and maybe even weeks, but I don’t even want to consider the actual amount of time it took, because, well, that’s a lot! Wow, it took that long to produce this thing? […]

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Always do this when your website copy tells us how awesome you are!

Much of the copy I read on websites is so laden with self-congratulatory, back patting and superlative-driven that it even puts the perfect social media lives of some people to shame. Everything is oh-so perfect. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. It’s sentences and phrases like these:  We are the best in our field. […]

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How come nobody is sharing my POSITIVE brand story?

Influencer marketing and outreach. Brand ambassador programs. Social media amplification. You name today’s buzz phrase to help us (the brands)  get our stories shared.  All these tactics actually work. Seriously. But, they can and will backfire when the product stinks.  Marketing – whether content, product or traditional – isn’t usually in charge of product development […]

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The problem with context in storytelling (and life)

Content is king, relevance is queen and distribution runs the day-to-day. And context writes the paychecks. Or something like that. Enough #buzzwords. But really, context is important and is typically what makes our content marketing stories relevant. I’ve remembered this discussion in traditional and content marketing newsrooms over and over:

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Who should get credit for our stories anyway?

Credit is an interesting thing. When we give people credit when it’s deserved and wanted it builds relationships. But when we give it – especially publicly – and it’s not wanted it can make the next shared chapter worse. And then there’s the case of not giving credit when it’s due. Sounds complicated.  When credit […]

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What industries can benefit from content marketing or authentic storytelling?

It’s always dangerous to throw round absolutes, but I have yet to come up with an industry where content marketing is absolutely not possible or zero percent helpful. Basically authentic storytelling content marketing comes down to these pillars:

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Hope might not be a strategy, but stories that instill hope are motivators

You’ve probably heard some of those digital marketing/content marketing/general strategy experts out there who blurt out: “Hope is not a strategy.” Usually, they say (and I’ve said it before)  that when somebody says: “I hope this will happen when I do [insert current strategy].” And they are correct to a degree. Hope is not a […]

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[MARKETING] Why we shouldn’t make up quotes for people in our marketing stories

It can seem easier for writers and content creators to write the quotes from “actual people” marketing materials. It’s one way to make sure they stay on message, I suppose.  Marketing materials, of course, can include printed pieces, other offline items and all kinds of digital components, including ads, blogs and eNewsletters. And many marketers […]

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Don’t fake it until you make it but grow into it 

During a 2016 speech at a marketing conference I shared the story of a football coach who told me to appear confident even if I wasn’t. If other players didn’t think I was confident of my call as a center, they may lose trust. A valid concern. After I shared that story somebody said: “it […]

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Why thought partnership is the next level of thought leadership

So many out there want to be experts, gurus or thought leaders. Some of the thought leaders out there are even worth following and listening to. They have good ideas. Some are entertaining. And some have no clue what they are talking about. I personally follow thought leaders and see the value in people branding […]

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Following the leader does not always lead us to the right place  


August 30, 2016

Change Leadership

It’s construction season in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where I live. On my commute to the office there’s so much construction on one of the main roads into town that on one day they were flaggers to make sure cars would get to the correct lanes, which were marked by cones and quite weavy. Traffic was […]

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[CULTURE] Why a relaxed dress code in a content marketing environment encourages production 

I like dressing up – but usually only do it when I’m keynoting, doing a workshop or meeting with clients on-site. 

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Why production time isn’t always the best way to measure content marketing effectiveness 

I solve problems and mentally write blog posts while getting gas, going on a run and sometimes while taking a shower. That, of course, happens because our brains are freed up to think about those problems and stories without artificial pressures. That’s why some of us – me, too – wake up at 2 a.m. […]

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You don’t have to justify your story to me

We all want to be loved. Sometimes so badly that we work harder on convincing the unconvinceable and forget about empowering those who already believe and are sharing experiences with us. I think of this sometimes when I chat with somebody who has a different method of operation. They explain what they are doing. I […]

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Why to be careful with directive language 

“Do this…” “Here’s how you should do ….” Directive language – aka being bossy – hardly ever works. People don’t have to have to listen to it anyway. Short-term compliance won’t help us reach long-term goals. I once had a boss say to me:  “… And we have no choice but to do this. Go […]

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