Top ten content people you must know when defining a content strategy

top ten inspiration sources for a content strategyIt is said that the blog format of ‘top lists’ will be decreasingly popular over the coming months and years. That’s possible but I made a list of people you have to know – or at least their work – before even considering a content strategy anyway. Read how and why this list was made or scroll down to interact with it, add people or share your comments.

Note that a content strategy is not the same as a content marketing strategy and that I went a little bit back in history for this list. As we should know by now, content marketing is not new and content has been a crucial part of marketing forever. Simply put: without content there is no good website, email, social interaction, advertising, search engine marketing, customer service etc. So, this list is certainly not your traditional one and goes further that the strict definition of content marketing as an approach. I’m sure that there’s at least one person on the list you never heard of.

Content strategy and community: participate

I also stayed away from the trend whereby content strategy is viewed upon only from today’s ‘social content and social sharing perspective’ on one hand or an integrated demand generation, linked with touchpoints in the buying journey, on the other. A content strategy requires more than that.

Often lists are made to get more traffic. But I didn’t want to follow the tradition of lists that are essentially mentioning the usual suspects and those with a lot of ‘influence’ on the web. Yes, I like a different approach, in fact it’s the first list I ever made. You know how it is: we all hate lists until we get featured on one, right?

A final difference with other ‘top lists’ is that this one is about community. In fact, most marketing and content is about community. So, you can add your own top people when it boils down to content marketing and vote those who are listed up or down. However, it’s not a popularity contest or competition. What I want to achieve most of all is that this lists leads you to good books, content and other resources you can use for your content strategy. I hope you will add people in that same spirit.

Who is listed and why

On a last note: this list of top ten people you have to know before defining a content strategy is based on my personal experience with the work of the mentioned people. If I would look at content from a strict B2B or strict social perspective, I would have added more.

So, check out the list below and add your comments and inspiration sources. As the list will change and grow, here’s an overview of the ten people I started with and why I believe you need to know their work before defining your content strategy (I don’t make lists just for the sake of them but to hopefully provide you real value), in random order.

  • Ardath Albee. I never met Ardath but I read her posts and watched her presentation at Content Marketing World. As a B2B marketer, I can fully recommend her way of working with buying personas, brand positioning and content mapping (don’t forget the ‘middle’ of the buying journey as Ardath says). Content strategy with brains.
  • Gerry McGovern. I read Gerry’s books ages ago but Gerry is still out there, doing what he does back: focusing on the tasks of the customers and hammering on the customer experience. His ‘Customer Carewords‘ approach is simply a must for everyone that does something with content and we all do. I’m glad Gerry spoke at one of our events and the audience just loved it because 1) Gerry is a great storyteller and 2) he is simply right.
  • Kristin Zhivago. Kristin spoke at one of our events too. We worked on a manifesto for a while, I appreciate the work she did with Gerry McGovern and she’s a great storyteller. Although Kristin is strictly speaking not about content marketing, content – and mainly listening to customers – plays a huge role in her book and in the paper she wrote with Gerry.
  • Joe Pulizzi. It’s hard to underestimate the virtues of the man that did few realized before him: put content back where it belongs, emphasizing the needs of a content strategy and making us think about content in a more systematic way.
  • Brian Clark. If you wonder what the founder of Copyblogger does in this list: well, there are few people I know that consistently put out so much content on blogging, SEO and content marketing and focus on results. Brian shares a lot and not only on his blog, check these free content marketing eBooks out. I have to add Joost de Valk here from an open sharing perspective too. And from a blogging viewpoint there are many others to mention of course. Debbie Weil, Robert Scoble,  Shel Israel, well, you know them.
  • Lee Odden. I have been preaching a holistic approach in marketing and in the use of content for years. I’m glad Lee Odden took it much further and wrote Optimize, urging people to have an integrated and buyer-centric approach of SEO, social and content. And I’m glad we worked together. Lee also looks at optimization. I should of course add Bryan Eisenberg here too.
  • Rebecca Lieb. Let me be short about Rebecca. I don’t know her personally but in the work some of us are doing to help businesses integrate the use of content marketing in the organization in practice, her research at Altimeter will prove to be important. A special mention for Michael Brito and Brian Solis in this regard as well.
  • John Simmons. Never heard of him? Do me – and yourself – a favor: get yourself books such as ‘We, me, them & it’ or ‘The invisible grail now’. Learn how to write powerfully for business and use words to engage with audiences now. Also check out his 26 Fruits blog. There are of course oher great sources when it boilds down to writing for business. Just one other: Maria Veloso.
  • Rob Norton. Gerry McGovern wrote great books. Rob Norton co-authored a few of them. We often forget to mention co-authors, right? From that perspective, I should also mention people like Robert Rose, to name just one.
  • Bob Boiko. Content strategy, content marketing strategy, etc.: that’s what we all talk about. However, let’s not forget content management. Although his book goes back quite some years now, no one wrote a better and more exhaustive book about content management than Bob Boiko. Period. Special mention here as well: Gerry McGovern (again).

Update: this is a list of some content people I think you should know. However, as Tristan Lavender reminded me on Twitter: who are the most important people to know before defining a content strategy? Indeed: your customers, prospects and personas!

Join us on June 10th in Antwerp, Belgium, for the Content Marketing Conference Europe. With confirmed speakers such as Jay Baer, Lee Odden, Mike Corak, Kelly Hungerford, Dado Van Peteghem, Tristan Lavender, Guido Everaert, Tom De Baere and Xaviera Ringeling (more to be announced), we'll take you across a learning experience leading to tangible insights and actionable inspiration, moderated by media expert Jo Caudron!

Content Marketing Conference Europe



  1. [...] Content Marketing Experience’s JP DeClerck compiled a list of the ten people you absolutely must know when defining a content strategy. Of Lee Odden, he wrote, “I have been preaching a holistic approach in marketing and in the use of content for years. I’m glad Lee Odden took it much further and wrote Optimize, urging people to have an integrated and buyer-centric approach of SEO, social and content.” [...]

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