Content marketing strategy: we’re all just students, really

by Dan Smith

Content marketing strategy: we're all just students, really

Suze’s son Tom who is still a student doing a Masters in Marketing Management

If you read my feverish rant (the first paragraphs, anyway) in my recent article about companies that plough expensive resources into developing sophisticated content marketing strategies but use rather feeble and random efforts to find inhouse writing/blogging talent, you will know that I took the delightful Dan Smith to task about not going far enough in his companys efforts to find and train people properly to write blogs for his company.

Dan, being an honest, skilled writer, SEO expert and a truly good sport, not only commented kindly on that article of mine, but also has written a guest post sharing with us the positive outcomes of that discussion. Please join me in welcoming him now…

As regular readers of this blogsite may be aware, Suze recently published a post in response to something I’d mentioned in one of my own recent posts over on

With my post, the focus was on explaining why your content marketing strategy is failing, for reasons you’re unlikely to realise.

Based around my own personal experiences, I’m pleased to say Suze enjoyed the post generally, but picked me up on a couple of things I mentioned, primarily around the point of using and not overlooking members of staff in-house who can help drive your content marketing strategy forward.

We all need (to listen to) feedback

As ever, Suze’s points were completely justified and I was welcoming of the feedback. I’m a strong believer that feedback – whatever form that comes in – makes us more effective in our lives and I aim to listen whenever someone makes a comment about something I’ve been involved with.

With anyone who receives feedback, however, I’m naturally quite protective of my work. I’ve been involved in the world of SEO and content writing for a decade now, and feel confident that I’ve got a good grasp on just what needs to happen to see success.

This doesn’t mean I don’t listen to feedback – genuinely, I do – but just that I don’t necessarily take it on board all of the time. That’s not me being overly confident, stubborn or believing I’m above anybody else, but purely that after 10 years being heavily involved in the industry, I like to think I’ve got an understanding of just what does and doesn’t work.

However, this time, something was different. I read through Suze’s post two or three times at least, and began to question whether what I was doing was actually the most effective way to approach this part of the content marketing strategy.

Having had full confidence in my approach up until this point, I realised that what Suze’s comments were highlighting to me was that I was doing the one thing I was trying to persuade others not to do – make assumptions.

It doesn’t matter that I have a decade’s worth of experience or that I’ve discovered what has and hasn’t worked in the past. I’m not only far too aware that things change all too regularly in these industries, but that individuals, teams and whole organisations can differ, regardless of whether they’re in exactly the same roles or industries as each other.

If you’re assuming, you can’t be learning

I have to admit I’ve had somewhat of a ‘facepalm’ moment here. I’ve talked in the past about the need to continually develop and expand on your knowledge base to ensure you see as much success as you possibly can whatever your career path is, yet I’ve perhaps become a little complacent with this in some respects.

I remember the days when I would get in from my (unrelated) day job and spend hours every evening reading about freelance writing, learning how I could get gigs, what I had to do when speaking to potential clients and how to ensure the content I produced exceeded expectations and resulted in work referrals.

I’m not saying everyone needs to constantly be devoting 40 hours each week to learning and developing, but Suze’s comments have highlighted the fact that every single one of us cant stop the educational process. Whether it’s investing time in an official course or, as with this scenario, reading through the comments others have of your work, you might consider yourself a guru, expert or legendary writer, but at the end of the day, you’re still a student with a requirement to constantly develop your knowledge.

Youre absolutely right, Dan. No matter how old we are (and Im older than you by a mere, er, lets not go there ) the day we stop learning is the day we need either to take up knitting or jump off the nearest bridge.

How open minded are you about learning new stuff even when you are already an expert in your field?

Please share your views!

Content marketing strategy: we're all just students, really

Dan Smith

Dan Smith is Leighton’s SEO Specialist.  Having a strong focus on the user experience and high quality, unique, audience-relevant content, Dan’s a huge believer in listening to what your audience wants – if you can do this and deliver to their needs, everything else should fall into place perfectly.

Catch up with Dan on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.





  1. Hi Dan and Suze. That’s the question I’ve been asking myself currently. I have over 30 years experience as a self employed person (with several different businesses under my belt) and over 10 years of them as a marketing “expert”. I had a debilitating stroke in 2005 and tried for several years to do business the same way as I had done. I couldn’t.

    I consider myself a lifelong learner and recently I’ve been asking myself how to NOT use my years of experience as I decide what to do next. I don’t want this to colour my decisions but want to find a way to use “beginner’s eyes” to make this decision.

    What would you two suggest?

    • Trudy, like you I have been around the media/writing/consulting block many times but what I always say – and believe in – is that experience is only valuable if you adapt its teachings to the present day and, indeed, those of tomorrow as well.

      Whatever you do, don’t dismiss your experience. Simply use its teachings to help guide you and advise others (as you do so very well) aligned with the latest of tech/social resources we have, and of those we know are looming on the horizon. That’s what makes yours very valuable combinations!