You’ve seen his name in The Wall Street Journal, the Economist, and Fortune magazine. TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden isn’t just an SEO whiz — he’s also a content marketing expert whose books, articles, and other media have attracted industry-wide attention. But what can we learn from his illustrious insights into content marketing?

“Content should ask people to do something and reward them for it.”

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According to Odden, content marketing only delivers results when you provide positive reinforcement in exchange for consumers’ behavior. If you ask your audience to buy your product, sign up for your email list, or perform some other action, you want them to walk away from the interaction with a positive impression of your brand. It’s all about delighting the people with whom you hope to forge relationships.

For instance, instead of just asking your potential customers to subscribe to your blog, offer to send them a free, exclusive report that will help them achieve a goal, fix a problem, or improve their lives. You need that give-and-take to establish a relationship with your prospects. Otherwise, you’ll breed resentment instead of gratitude.

“A blog is only as interesting as the interest shown in others.”

In his bestselling book, “Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing,” Odden warns against tunnel vision. Yes, your blog can help you sell more products or attract new customers, but if you focus too heavily on your business’s navel, you’ll repel more prospects than you attract. Today’s consumers can spot a selfish marketer from 500 paces.

Odden encourages content marketers to spread the word about other businesses and individuals, as well. If you become a contributor to the community, you’ll attract people who share your values and believe in your business. If you become an ambassador and advocate for others, they’ll return the favor.

Nobody can say that the man doesn’t practice what he preaches. Odden’s Twitter feed is rife with links — not to his own content, but to other people’s stories, articles, infographics, and videos. He uses his platform to lift others up, which in turn gives him a greater presence on social media.

“Great marketers have immense empathy for their audience. They can put themselves in their shoes, live their lives, feel what they feel, go where they go, and respond how they’d respond. That empathy comes out in content that resonates with your audience.”

Image via Flickr.

If you don’t have empathy for your audience, you might not make it as a marketer. Odden frequently encourages content marketers to walk a mile in their customers’ virtual shoes. What do they want? What do they need? What drives them forward and holds them back?

It’s not just about writing buyer personas or conducting anonymous Facebook poles. You must put yourself in the prospect’s position and get to know his or her motivations and limitations. You’ll find yourself writing content that speaks more clearly and resonates more soundly with your audience.

Lee Odden has won awards, spoken at conferences, and bent the ears of innumerable movers and shakers in the content marketing industry. In short, he deserves your attention. How can you apply these nuggets of wisdom to your own content marketing efforts?

If you’re not sure you can produce the type of content that converts and closes, contact us. We’re experts in the latest best practices for content marketing, and we can give your blog the oomph it needs to become a lead-generating machine.