4 content marketing techniques that we have to let go of

If you spend enough time analysing content marketing techniques and using them in your daily working life, you start seeing patterns. Some of these patterns are great. Such as seeing people embrace storytelling and growing it to educate people. Or creative practitioners using content marketing to share their work to new audiences in ways they previously couldn’t.

But with everything in marketing comes the bum note on the chorus. I know it sounds terribly jaded and cynical of me. And yes, I know some of the content marketing techniques I am about to discuss really work for people.

Yet I cannot help thinking that it’s be nice to take some of these out to a nice bloody pasture and call it a retirement party.

You might like this, but these are the content marketing techniques that are so over-used, they’ve simply lost meaning for me. And what to use instead 

Confusing journals with newsletters

Maybe there is something I am doing wrong with newsletters but…I rarely want to read a miniaturised blog in my inbox. To me, a newsletter is an intimate place of invitation. It’s where you can go to find a summary and overview of what is inspiring a person. Grab at a glance the things out of their arsenal that are firing. Get to them in the formats you need to.

I’d like to be up close and personal with you. But I’d love to also know what’s in it for me. There needs to be balance. Tell me a story but give me something to do after I’ve read it.

Who have nailed the content marketing techniques of great newsletters? Here are a couple for you to check out:

  • Try Austin Kleon for bite-sized ideas leading to short, varied content on creative process. It’s ideal for seeing a subtle mix of self-promotion as well as behind the scenes and motivation in creative process.
  • Meander with Ann Friedman into politics, writing, feminism and more in long form on a weekly basis. This is a great example of strengthening your position as a commentator by being the go-to person for weekly comment
  • Grab a monthly story with Anna Brones that is story driven. This is a great example of using audience-centred narrative to inspire action in others.
  • Daily doses of the Snoozeletter are quite inspiring if self-care is your thing. What is great is that it’s delivered daily to help you with a common problem- getting to sleep. It’s also effective in its integration of product

Using scarcity myth

I’ve talked a lot about scarcity myth in marketing before. We’re often mistaking pushing people with language for supplying them a way to act via user experience.

We need to supply people connection. Our customers do need a road map to action. They need to be able to work out what you want them to do next.

To utilise content marketing techniques to the full, we need to avoid:

  • Website pages that don’t prompt you to move forward with your journey
  • A lack of invitation to connect. You’re not invited to sign up with what information and what matters
  • Creating pressure. Commitment and pressure are two different things. Commitment is about consent whereas pressure is often about manipulation. Customers prefer to feel as though they’ve made the choice for themselves

We tighten the noose on people too much and it increases the stress as opposed to the chance for action.

Politics are built in fear. Sales are about what we lack instead of what we’re enriched by.

We’re encouraged to give into FOMO to the point it’s a real problem. Spending beyond our means is a feature of our relationship with the financial system.

We’re seeing burn out in so many people, young, old and entrepreneurial alike, because we’re pushing them to be over-invested, passionate, work-centric and running against the clock.

Good things take time! Look at nature or a sunrise. Look at the creation of cities or movements. When things are considered and contemplative, they have a greater propensity to propel us forward for longer.

Remember to breathe. Don’t treat life like it’s an all or nothing equation that must be done right now to be effective.

It’s OK to think about what you want to do, what commitments you want to make.


Pressure leads to paralysis. Focus on building trust and a welcoming vibe instead. Look for the mechanics to make commitment seem like it’s on your customer’s terms. Empower instead of manipulating customers.

There’s no room for the customer

Door reads push on a metal sign to indicate the high pressure stakes of content marketing techniques
Photo by Tim Mossholder via Unsplash

One of the biggest issues that has come to pass with the invention of marketing, reality TV and the ‘everyone can be famous’ age with influencers and social media is the heralding the individual as all you need to make it big.

I get why it’s popular. We aren’t exactly attracted to you per se. We simply see the potential to fit ourselves into the frame. We get behind the everyday hero that we could be.

But why?

Why is being popular and famous so attractive we buy the idea of the end product over the execution? And where’s the sustainable value?

Personal brands are great. They work well with people. But I often feel like there should be another term outside personal brand for the personality proclaimers.

Where it counts is when we explore meaning. Demonstrating purpose with others is powerful. Sharing your intentions, inspiring action, encouragement, changing the world, these all matter.

A recent example of someone doing well at the balance of celebrity versus meaning is Brooke Blurton. Blurton is using her post-Bachelor fame to empower young Aboriginal women. Here’s a wonderful example of tying a behind the scenes moment with ideology in a relatable way.


It’s less about “be like me” and more about connection and what you want to give to others. Let me walk inside your techniques, ideas and talents. Share your meaning with others. Give a clear ride into your purpose.

Content complacency

You can understand marketing content techniques yet fail to connect with your audience. This is usually done by playing in the shallows or not exploring your audience well enough.

If you want to use story to inspire people, dig deeper.

The play on stereotypes, the re-use of the same tired phrases until they are so thin, you can practically see the writer’s boredom leaking through, the notion we’re hanging on the vine awaiting the offer or wisdom, to me, it’s all become a little tiresome.

We’re in such a hurry to make use of content marketing techniques, we’re using them badly. There’s familiar and then there’s just using a trope because you cannot be arsed trying.

Look for the opportunity to break new ground. Maybe shake up the convention. Know the rules well enough that you are tempted to break the 4th wall as opposed to paste over the last person.

Some things that could do with retirement include:

  • Gender-baiting in marketing
  • The big magician reveal of some alleged game-changer that is anything but
  • Rock bottom marketing, the bounce back from this and all associated drivers
  • Air weaving. This is the notion that to write or produce content is enough. It isn’t. It has to be useful and engaging and further the story
  • Trying to make people angry to go viral


Look for the opportunity to play with your content. Use your imagination and say things in a way that stands out. Break the tropes, play in the margins and be brave enough to try new things.

What matters with content marketing techniques

Humans like formula. This is why you can break down content marketing techniques like you can script lines or character sketches in a TV show. It’s why pop songs, even when different, share the same spacing, timing and recurring themes.

Yet what makes them stand out is understanding the content marketing techniques well enough to execute well. My main frustration with content marketing is often, the rules and bones of technique are there. What is lacking is any discernible difference between it and the next thing.

The aim with your marketing is not to tick off checklists and be like everyone else. Use the marketing trends to inform you. Try different techniques. Play with ideas and be creative. Use the foundations as something to build on. Not as a silver bullet, but as a way of educating yourself as to what you want your voice to sound like.

And remember, it’s so much easier to get up in the morning and shake the sales tree when you feel OK with your marketing. If you’re only doing it because it’s in vogue or you see others cracking it with that technique, that’s not enough.

Get comfortable with telling your story on your terms.

Need a hand? Let’s get you across content marketing techniques and into your very own content marketing strategy today.

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