5 Things You Were Told Were Truths in Content Marketing That Actually Aren’t


The world is a strange, chaotic and confusing place, and as human beings, we need labels, categories and conventions to make sense of things. Content marketing isn’t immune to this need for categorization and convention-making, but Doug Kessler of Velocity, a B2B content marketing firm, thinks it’s time to challenge some of these long-held conventions.

While speaking at Content Marketing World, Kessler took the hammer to some perceived infallible truths about content marketing that will make you go “hmm…”

1. Convention: Marketing Hides Its Weaknesses

Challenge: Actually, you should show your weaknesses. It can create publicity, and people love honesty and vulnerability. Interesting things can happen when brands are honest about their shortcomings or failures, and it’s not nearly as dangerous as you think. Being upfront about what your brand is struggling with or working to improve can surprise and delight people. It signals confidence. It builds trust. And if you tell the bad, they will believe the good.

2. Convention: Content Marketing Is All About the Data

Challenge: Data is good, but data in and of itself is not always right. As marketers, we should be living and breathing data, but we should also be prepared to follow our hearts. Most great projects start with fundamentally human beliefs and instincts. Nothing in Google Analytics can replace that.

3. Convention: Hide the Nerdy, “Boring” Side of Your Brand

Challenge: Advertising and marketing have always had an unhealthy obsession with “cool,” but the geeky stuff is often the most interesting. Brands should focus on infusing passion and expertise into their marketing and get their geeks into the spotlight. B2B companies are filled with geeks who know stuff others don’t. Lean into that; don’t back away from it.

4. Convention: Marketing Is Relentlessly Positive All the Time

Challenge: Explore the charged emotions, not just the happy. Not everything needs a positive spin. Brands can be outraged about something offensive, disheartened about something sad. Acting like a fully realized person, not a cardboard cutout, is what people expect of brands in the modern, social age.

5. Convention: Marketing Should Never Swear

Challenge: This is really an extension of the previous convention, that brands and their marketing should be positive all the time. But if we act like we do in real life, swearing shouldn’t be off-limits. As people, we swear liberally—but we don’t swear in marketing. To be clear, this isn’t a blanket recommendation to drop f-bombs willy-nilly for the sake of doing so. Don’t swear if your audience doesn’t like swearing. But if you’re Red Bull and using “shit” makes your brand seem more authentic and resonates with your audience, go for it.