No matter what business you’re in, you know about content. Whether it’s your favorite business guru, blog articles like this or your marketing agency’s invoice, you’ve been around content.
Maybe you think content means blog posts. You’d be right.
Maybe you think content means YouTube videos. You’d also be right.
And, maybe you think content means a podcast. Again, you’d be right.
According to no cognitive scientist but one somewhat funny freelance copywriter, „content“ has become a shell of a word. It gets thrown around almost as much as „synergy“ in corporate offices.
This article will teach you about the different misconceptions about content, what content really is (from a a marketing strategy perspective) and how you can create content for your business which creates customers for you.
Content: The Big Misconception
I started out writing „content“ which ranked people’s affiliate sites on Google. The general idea about content there was that it needed to be 1. readable and 2. cheap.
After all, content’s only use was to make Google bots think „oh, this website has a lot of words and is relevant to keyword x, lemme rank that.“
And don’t get me wrong, optimizing for search rankings is good. But you can find an abundance of examples which show you why content is far more than some filler to outsource for a few bucks.
Now-famous Gary Vaynerchuk did no-bullshit wine tastings on YouTube. He put effort into the content (his videos)—and later attracted hordes of customers to his wine business.
Al Gore created „An Inconvenient Truth“, which didn’t win him the election, but cemented a public reputation as a sustainability-oriented politician.
Author of 2017’s most highlighted book on Amazon Mark Manson puts out blog article after blog article. Whenever he announces a new book, crowds flock to the bookstores.
All of these are pieces of content, but none of them are written by some outsource employee getting paid a few pennies for every word written.
Because content is more than filler.
What Content Really Is
To help you understand how content works within your marketing strategy, you need a little bit of background.
Legendary copywriter Eugene Schwartz came up with a concept called „Awareness Levels“. This model assumes there are different stages of awareness for any product. I’ll give you the gist of it.
Let’s say you run a roofing company. Somebody who has a leaking roof already has an urgent problem. Once they call you, they’re ready to buy.
This person is very high-awareness.
On the other hand, someone who just had a new house built would be a low-awareness target. They’re certain their house is fine and they don’t need to worry for now.
In between those two are many different stages of awareness. Somebody might have had „get someone to look at the roof“ in the back of their head forever, but it’s not urgent yet.
Another person might’ve just experienced a hailstorm. They know they should get somebody to check on the roof, but they keep putting it off.
You can come up with dozens of other scenarios.
Fact is: There are different levels of awareness.
And here’s what content does:
Content moves a prospect from their current awareness level to the next one.
Let’s stick with the roofing company example. Imagine your prospect has „get someone to look at that spot in the roof“ in the back of their head. While surfing the internet, they stumble upon a post you created, titled „5 Early Warning Signs For A Leaky Roof“. Your prospect clicks and reads.
After they’ve read the article, they’ve moved up an awareness level. They know doing nothing will lead to bigger problems, so they call your company for an evaluation.
That’s effective content for ya.
Let’s get back to our previous examples.
Gary Vaynerchuk’s no-nonsense wine reviews took people who despised pretentious wine reviews from „wine’s for snobs“ to „Gary said this tastes like a fruit roll-up, let’s try it!“.
An Inconvenient Truth created awareness for a giant problem in our world—and moved people closer to voting for Al Gore.
And Mark Manson’s blog articles contain pieces of his wisdom—and hearing about a full book will make fans excited to get the full picture.
Now, how do you create good content for your business?
How To Create Content That Moves People Up The Ladder Of Awareness Levels
Before you do anything, you need to pick a form of media. You can do video, pictures, written or audio content. Getting into the details of these forms of media would take too long, but choosing your form of content is mostly a matter of:
What do you like to create?
What are you already good at?
What does your audience actually consume?
- Budget (both time- and money-wise). Some forms of content take more effort or money to create.
Once you’ve chosen what kind of content you want to create, you obviously need to choose a topic. And while I can’t read your mind from here (sorry), I can give you some actionable tips on how to come up with content that doesn’t suck.
First, content rarely sells the product directly. Exceptions exist, but moving readers to the sale is usually the job of sales letters, VSLs (Video Sales Letters) or product pages.
Second, I like to include a CTA at the bottom of any content piece. It could be retaining the reader and asking them to sign up for an email newsletter. The CTA could ask readers to ask their questions in the comments. Or the CTA could link to another content piece which explains certain things further.
In essence, the CTA is an invitation to step up another awareness level.
Generating Ideas For Content
Content generally falls into one of three archetypes:
- Talking about problems (and potentially solving them)
- A combination of the two
If you re-read the intro to this post, you’ll see this post first talks about a problem (confused about content) and then segues into solving your problem.
(CAUTION: Solving the problem in your content piece is a fairly advanced tactic because you don’t want to solve the problem so much that your prospect doesn’t need your solution anymore.)
If you want to get started with content, create your content so it acts like a doctor giving a diagnosis.
Let me explain.
You might have headaches, a runny nose and itchy skin. After WebMD gave you the same answer as always (cancer or pregnancy), you drag your sick body to the doctor. After joining the coughing crowd in the waiting room, you eventually talk to your doctor. He performs a few checks and gives you a diagnosis: You’ve got the flu.
Now your problem isn’t „runny nose, headaches, itchy skin“, it’s „the flu“.
Conceptualize your content to do the same. Help them see their problem in a different light than they did before and you’ve got a good chance you’ll move them to the next awareness level—and closer to the sale.
If you’re lost for ideas or just don’t have the time, get in touch with me. We’ll hop on a call, talk about your business and see how I can help you create an effective content strategy that routinely creates sales for you.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Include „cookie“ in the subject line.