Editor's Note: Today's post comes courtesy of Anne Murphy, Senior Managing Editor at Kapost.
Marketing—at its core—hasn't changed. It's about cultivating and delivering a strategic brand message, attracting the right people to your business, and turning them into customers. Despite these constants, the way we practice marketing has changed dramatically.
In the past, marketers used traditional advertising to deliver their message and lure a captivated (and less distracted) audience in. Today, marketers are responsible for much more of the buyer's journey to purchase. They must organize their message around buyer pain points and deliver a seamless, engaging experience across every channel and device.
Our strategies for delivering content must continue to shift as we gain insight into what drives success and what falls flat. If you're not constantly testing and tweaking your content distribution strategy, you're going to miss out on new opportunities to drive revenue for your business and cultivate relationships with your prospects.
The Evolution of the Content Pillar Approach
We've discussed the content pillar approach before. It centers on creating of one major asset, breaking it into many derivative assets, and using them to strategically fuel all of your marketing channels with consistent, relevant content. At Kapost, we plan, execute, distribute, and optimize our content-driven marketing efforts around the pillar concept—and so do many of our customers.
But, you need to constantly evaluate and optimize your processes to stay ahead. So when we took a hard look at the pillar approach—at it's success and its failures—we realized there were a few things that needed to shift in the way we approached our strategy.
The revised content pillar approach retains the same foundation. It still focuses on the creation of one meaty asset—like an eBook or whitepaper—that tackles a single strategic theme or buyer need, and is then repurposed into many derivative assets that fuel marketing channels.
But our revised content pillar approach has been tweaked to focus on complimentary (not just derivative) content that aligns more closely with buyer needs and product strengths.
Appetizer, Entree, and Dessert Approach
Our advised model encourages marketers to coordinate and plan an entire, cohesive "meal" for buyers. The concept here is, instead of just one meaty asset, each content pillar should contain three major assets that serve the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel. These assets are called the Appetizer (top of funnel), Entree (middle of the funnel), and Dessert (bottom of the funnel).
The Appetizer- The Appetizer is a fun, engaging asset, like a SlideShare or an infographic that serves the top of the funnel. The goal here is to engage a lot of prospects, and drive them toward a related, gated content asset. This type of content is often optimized by channels like your blog and website, social channels (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and video channels like YouTube and Vimeo, or even used to facilitate conversations with influencers and media outlets.
The Entree- This is your major content pillar asset. The entree piece could be an eBook, a white paper, or a workbook (like the one you’re reading now). Marketers should distribute this content through email or marketing automation, and support it with paid email and online or social advertising.
The Dessert- This is a product-centric asset, like a PDF, video and or demo, that reveals how your product serves the theme in question. This content can be distributed through your marketing automation as part of your nurturing efforts, hosted on video channels or supported by webinar platforms (ReadyTalk, ON24, etc.), and distributed to the sales team to accelerate the deal cycle.
How They Work Together
To put it simply, the appetizer drives to the entree asset; the entree asset directs readers to the product-centric dessert asset.
The key to the success of this approach is to keep the three main assets complimentary. So, for example, the key topic examined in the Entree (your main course) must address a widely accessible and important buyer need (the focus of your Appetizer) and align with the strengths of your products or services (outlined in your Dessert asset). When you get this recipe right, the result is a cohesive content experience from awareness to consideration to purchase.
Every piece of content you create should be buyer-centric, tackling the problems, interests, and questions of your target audience. That's true whether it's an infographic on travel expenses (top-of-funnel content) or a step-by-step tutorial for using an app to find a hotel last-minute (bottom-of-the-funnel or post-purchase content).
The original content pillar approach lacked a hard-hitting, product-focused asset, the content sales team needs to align an insight with a solution, to follow up quickly and strategically, and to approach each conversation with a "Challenger Sale" mentality. With the Appetizer, Entree, and Dessert approach, these three assets are unique to each stage of the funnel, and hit on different parts of your brand story. And, each of these three assets can still be broken into many assets, so you have even more relevant and consistent content to fuel your marketing channels.
For more on how these work together to fuel your channels and support the entire buyer's journey, check out The Multi-Channel Content Distribution Guide. It covers this approach in even more detail, and includes a template to help you organize and test this strategy.