Are you following content marketing best practices? If so, how’s it working out for you?

For generations, we were raised to work hard, keep our heads down, secure in the faith that eventually we’d get ahead. Sounds quaint, I know. And, while it may have been solid advice a few decades ago, all around us we see examples of doing the exact opposite that have paid off extraordinarily well.

President Trump, Kim Kardashian, Uber, Airbnb – they all “broke the rules” of what was traditionally acceptable, and they’ve all landed in spots that would’ve seemed preposterous just a few years ago. This isn’t about cheating to get ahead, but about questioning the accepted way of doing things. Specifically, your content marketing.

It’s time to break the content marketing rules

When you’re doing the right thing, following best practices, mimicking what has worked for others, a lot of times you’re really just aiming for second place.

You might find those examples above distasteful, but you cannot deny that they succeeded against the odds. And now the odds are stacked against all of us engaged in content marketing, thanks to the explosion of content on the internet. Why in the world would anyone read your content, as opposed to all that other content out there? Why would they stop their busy workday and take time to read something that’s painfully similar to something they’ve already read?

Too often, content that a brand creates is … tame. It doesn’t take a stand. It’s overly polite. Deferential. It aims to not piss anyone off, which is smart if you’re in the prime market position, but if you’re not Number One in your market, you need to rock the boat.

Uncomfortable? Yup.

Don’t follow the leader; be the leader

For marketers, our job is to get our brand noticed in a favorable way with the right audience. More and more, that requires a willingness to take a side in the prevailing argument, so that the “right audience” feels an affinity for your brand because you stand with them and against those other guys. As music industry analyst Bob Lefsetz wrote recently, you need to take a stand.

“If you’re playing to everybody, you’re playing to nobody. That’s the story of the past five years, the plethora of information that makes it nearly impossible to get your message heard. Feel lucky you have an audience at all. And satiate it, not those who don’t care.”

In his new book Tools of Titans, Tim Ferris reiterates this theme: A lot of today’s most successful people got there by not being sensible and not following the rules. Crazy, right?

If you’re looking to break away from the pack, you can’t spend your marketing budget following the pack. You need to be bold. Courageous. Your marketing won’t get noticed if it’s only incrementally better than what your competition is doing.

Whether you’re B2B or B2C, your customers have changed the way they shop and buy things. We need to get ahead of them in order to succeed.