Motivational/Inspirational

When it comes to the mistakes businesses make with respect to an effective content marketing strategy, the list is a long one. But perhaps, at the top of the list, is the reality that so many businesses are producing the wrong type of content—at least when it comes to generating revenue for the company.

For those companies actively engaged in content marketing, I have found there are 3 main types of content, and as I describe each below, I’d challenge you to consider where the majority of your content falls. (Note** Content types can easily overlap, but more often than not, they lean towards one of the three mentioned herein.)

Feel-Good Content

Although you’ve likely not heard the phrase “feel good” content before, it’s certainly something you’ve seen online multiple times over the years. In fact, one of the main signs of a “feel good” piece is that it brings you a smile when you read the title. Or, if it doesn’t bring you a smile, it sparks your curiosity. Here is an example from The Sales Lion:

Feel good content, like this article, often do very well when it comes to social media and sharing.

Feel good content, like this article, often do very well when it comes to social media and sharing.

From many marketer’s perspectives, the article above would be considered a very successful piece of content. It used the popularity of The Lego Movie to make a point about brand storytelling, and it did quite well from a social-sharing perspective.

That being said, this type of article likely will NOT generate many (if any) leads for The Sales Lion as a digital marketing agency. Why? Because it’s not specifically addressing a direct problem related to the majority of our B2B or B2C clients looking to engage an agency for assistance.

Thought-Leadership Content

Ever read an article online that started with, “The future of….”? If so, you just read the most classic example of a thought-leadership post. Generally, these types of articles analyze current industry and market trends but also make predictions going forward. Furthermore, they discuss the good, bad, and ugly an industry has to offer.

Although thought-leadership content can generate leads for a company, it’s more of a positioning piece than a straight lead-gen piece. This being said, thought-leadership content is great for those looking to grow their brand as a teacher, speaker, or presenter in a particular industry.

For example, over the past 5 years of writing on The Sales Lion, a large portion of the content here has been of the thought-leadership flavor. This strategy has dramatically influenced my speaking career, but it has also slowed down the progress of the agency side of the business. (For example, many folks still don’t know TSL is a digital marketing agency…but this is changing.)

Here’s an example of a thought-leader post from TSL:

Although writing articles discussing the future of your industry may make you a thought-leader and sought after speaker, they aren't necessarily your strongest lead-generating content.

Although writing articles discussing the future of your industry may make you a thought-leader and sought after speaker, they aren’t necessarily your strongest lead-generating content.

Lead-Generating Content

Although the two previous types of content *can* generate new business, lead-generating content is focused clearly on the questions/fears/thoughts of a company’s ideal prospect or client. The easiest way to look at thought leadership content is by simply asking yourself this question:

If someone is in the buying process of our product or service, would they potentially be asking/needing to know the subject of this post?

For example, if we were looking at the ideal swimming pool prospect (B2C), the questions would look something like this:

On the B2B level, here is an example from The Sale Lion:

Even though an article like this one is targeting a smaller, niche audience, it's the perfect "lead generating" piece of content.

Even though an article like this one is targeting a smaller, niche audience, it’s the perfect “lead generating” piece of content.

Here is the thing about lead-generating content folks—It’s often times not viewed as “sexy” in this social media world we all live in. This means it’s likely not going to be a home run on Twitter, Facebook, etc. But despite this, it actually has a better chance of generating long-term traffic, leads, and sales.

Another example of this is “industry” or “vertical” based content. This type of content is not even applicable to a large portion of a company’s audience. Notwithstanding, the small portion it *does* apply to makes it, potentially, a very valuable piece of content. An example of this in my case would be the Hubcast—a podcast that is focused purely on those companies using or interested in using HubSpot. A small portion of the TSL audience uses HubSpot. Notwithstanding, that little weekly podcast is a strong lead-gen tool for our company.

Where’s Your Focus?

Hopefully you’re seeing the differences between these types of content and also thinking about which type(s) would make the most sense for you and your business. Yes, there are points where the three can and do overlap, but for the most part, they each have a unique strategy and goal.

Finally, one last point to make: Be careful not to get too caught up in other blogs and websites to the point where you lose sight of your goals, vision, and ideal client. Fact is, you DON’T have to be considered a “thought-leader” to generate a tremendous amount of leads for your business. But you DO have to be useful, helpful, and utilitarian. If you’re able to always keep your ideal client front and center, while at the same time letting go of vanity metrics, you’ll likely find the success content marketing success you’re looking for.

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