Most companies don’t have a clear marketing message. They confuse social media with brand building, and they have no direction for their messaging strategy.
Marketing is not about posting on Facebook or Twitter. It’s not even about advertising anymore—it’s all about creating content that your audience wants to consume. Content that solves their problems and engages them in a way that makes them want to buy from you rather than from your competitors.
Marketing isn’t about advertising anymore–it’s all about creating content that your audience wants to consume.
However–even with a system, you need content pillars.
What are content pillars?
Content Pillars are the categories of content you wish to be known for.
If your brand is your reputation and brand strategy is actively trying to shape that reputation, then online–content buckets are the categories of things you want to be known for.
I’ll often call them content buckets, because the topics flow in and out of each pillar, much like watering a plant. You water the plant and it’s full of topics related to your pillar, then as you use those topics, you need to water it again.
Why do you want to create content pillars?
It’s important to have these buckets in place because it helps with the creation process. A content bucket, simply put, is a tool you use to make content creation easier for you. If you’ve ever stared at the blinking cursor of doom, you’ll know–content is sometimes really hard to come up with when you’re doing it on the fly. Having content buckets filled with topics ready to go makes this problem disappear.
Before you define them
What I’ve seen most people do is sit down and attack their journal with vigor, only to come up with an empty page–or a scribble of notes.
There are a few things you’ll need to know before you start.
- What are you known for?
- Who is your audience and what do they want to know about the most from a business standpoint
- The type of content that has been successful in driving traffic to your site if you have an existing business.
And finally, it is far easier to do this if you have a strong opinion around your subject. This is hard when you’re first starting out! But following someone else’s framework without making any changes on your own is a good way to start, but not a great way to attract a following.
- What fires you up?
- What pisses you off?
What makes you excited to still be working at 8pm or gets you up at 6am to begin even if you’re not a morning person?
These are the things that make defining the pillars a breeze.
Three ways to define your pillars
1. Attention, interest, trust
Your attention bucket is all about the content that engages and starts a conversation with your audience. Once you’ve got their attention, we move to interest. What bucket would capture–and keep–their interest? This is typically going to be the sticky content that helps them think differently about their problem. The third bucket is all about authority–what makes you the authority on this subject so they trust you? You can gain attention and interest without building trust, so what are you going to say to get them to take you seriously?
Let’s use a life coach as an example. In this case, a life coach who helps post-grads figure out the next step in their life. Maybe they’re 25 and figuring out the cubicle life isn’t for them, maybe they’re trying to decide if law school is a good idea.
Attention: Your 20’s Aren’t All They Were Cracked Up To Be. I’d put a lot of engaging content in this bucket. A fun quiz, where are you post-college? Which Schitt’s Creek character represents your work life, something like that. I’d also put testimonials from happy clients in this category. Using your personality to get ahead in life. Using Strengths Finder to get a promotion. The topics here have endless possibilities.
Interest: Turning Your Quarter-Life Into Your Best Life. This bucket is all about keeping their attention. So many people out there create way too much engaging content and not nearly enough that goes to that next level–this is where you transform your Schitt’s Creek quiz taker into someone who realizes, their character isn’t what they want to be AND they have other options. This is sticky content all the say–see episode 132 for more on that. Case studies of clients who have used your service go here. Anything that opens up possibility. You could even include how-to content in this bucket.
Trust: Your Sweet Spot. This bucket is not only about the client finding their sweet spot, it’s about you demonstrating your own! Comb through past client testimonials–is there a common theme? Is there something you’re so good at, you can’t help it–even if it feels totally natural to you? Your sweet spot will showcase your services and lead to selling content, but also showcase the transformation you offer clients.
2. The three-part message
The three-part message can be a great way to keep your brand promise, mission statement succinctly intact.
The 3 part messages are often used by businesses because they help distill an organization’s brand and core values into one or two sentences that compel the viewer while also giving them something to remember!
This is even true if it’s longer than 3 words–you just break them up to use as the pillars of each message in this format
Look at my promise: authentic, automated marketing. I could easily break that up into three pillars:
Authentic. What does it mean to be authentic? How can you show your authenticity in your marketing? How much of “you” should you put in your marketing? What goes into your content strategy?
Automated: Consistency is the backbone of building your KLT factor up, yes? So we need automation.
Marketing: Visibility is absolutely required to market your online business, and visibility depends on you showing up with content.
See how that 3-part message easily breaks up into content pillars? If I kept brainstorming here, I could easily place 10 topics into each bucket.
3. Your expertise, what you stand for, what separates you from the next ___.
For this option, your expertise is going to be very similar to the trust portion of AIT. What is it that you’re skilled at? What you stand for is your battle cry. It’s going to answer that question, what really pisses you off about your industry and how can YOU do it better so you’re the natural choice. And as for what separates you from the next person, that’s up to you. If someone has the exact same schooling, training, and location as you, what’s in it for a client to choose you over that other person?
For me, my expertise is the sweet spot between content strategy and marketing funnels. I talk all the time about how they have to play well together. My battle cry? KLT. Building your KLT IS how you make it as an online entrepreneur, whether you’re a service provider or a course creator or both. And finally, what separates me? I’d argue a ton! I’m a strategist through and through, but a creative as well. I bring depth AND beauty to the table.
One of my clients cohosts a boy parenting podcast. She’s a homeschooling mom of four boys and a registered nurse. She’s written for countless publications. Her expertise is bringing the worlds of health, parenting and education together for a unique take on raising boys. Her battle cry? There’s no such thing as a “typical boy.” And what separates her from most parenting experts is that she’s in the thick of it but has the health education to back up her real-world anecdotes. And for the record? I haven’t created a content plan for her, I’m helping her build a funnel right now–I just spouted this off on the fly.
When you know your business, your offer, and your people? It’s pretty easy to do that.
And it’s even easier to get your content out there when you’ve done this work.
To close–creating content isn’t optional anymore. The benefits of a content-rich business are many:
- Create an emotional bond with your audience that drives action
- Stop losing leads by using creative and compelling content
- Failproof content that helps build trust with potential customers
- Grow your business exponentially through intelligent marketing
- Approach marketing strategically, not tactically
Content is queen! It’s a clear way for you or anyone else who wants their voice heard online–to be remembered by people.