The content treadmill happens when we focus on getting stuff out there rather than on why we’re doing it. Getting stuff up, posting for the sake of posting, content for content’s sake, feeding the beast and peddling the churn.
We’ve all been there, it happens, but it’s not where we want to be because when it comes to content marketing, quality over time is always better than quantity quickly. Real quality and effective content marketing has lots of parts - none of it’s rocket science, but it’s sure as hell not just chucking stuff up just to get it up.
When that’s what you’re doing, when you’re focused on getting out there and getting stuff up without a holistic approach to your overall intent, it’s very easy to miss pieces. There will be holes and gaps in what you’re doing, which means your efforts just aren’t as effective as the could be. And that definitely feels like a kick in the guts when you’re busting it on that treadmill.
Filling the gaps though and removing the holes is what this content framework will show you - exactly how to take a holistic approach to your marketing so you can become more effective, attract more leads and make more sales by creating smarter, better, more attractive content that takes a lot less time to produce. Applying this framework to your content strategy will help you do just that.
Start with why
The Ultimate Content Framework is a graduating circle that starts in the middle with WHY. It’s based on Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle, but this one’s for content. So in the middle, at the core of everything is WHY - your mission, the reason you’re in business. This is where you start, with the problem you understand and solve for your customers and clients with your products and services and also through your content.
Now let’s explain what that might mean in terms of content marketing … When you’re focused on feeding the social media beast and posting ‘stuff’ to post stuff, as opposed to being focused on why you’re doing it, there’s pressure to produce, no matter what, doesn’t really matter what it is, just get something up, put it out, stay active.
But doing this fails to ask why this ‘stuff’ is useful, how will it really be of value to our audience? What is it saying about our brand? How does it express our values and why does it matter?
The truth is that ‘stuff’ probably doesn’t really matter and it’s probably not clear where your audience and customers fit into that picture either. It might be entertaining for example, but are they seeing themselves in that story?
When you come at it from WHY, however, from your mission, from your reason for being here, all of that’s flipped on its head.
From WHY the focus isn’t on getting something up, it’s on taking the time to explain something of value and importance in a meaningful way. When you really care about what you’re doing, when you really care about allowing people to understand how it matters and how it can help them, you’ll care less about showing up for the sake of it and more about finding better ways to express that thing.
You’ll know that thing is useful and you’ll know why. You’ll know it’s of real value to your audience and how. You’ll be communicating your brand values without even trying and you’ll easily convey why it matters. You’ll take the time to show your audience how they fit into this picture. You’ll understand and have anticipated the questions they’ll ask and the steps they’ll want to take next. They’ll see how they fit in and they’ll know straight away whether this thing is for them or not.
When you’re on the content treadmill, you’re hanging out around the edge of the framework. This is where your audience is of course, but are you really connecting with them? How much of it is just social media churn? And the biggest problem with so much social media churn is that even if you are connecting with the right people, they’re falling through the gaps because they don’t know where to go next.
And no, that gap is not filled just by including a link to your website. Why? Because what’s there for them when they get there? Why would they click through?
You see, starting on the outside like this means you’re probably missing the steps they need to take to follow you into your products and services, to becoming paying customers. These steps are the gaps and the holes you need to fill with your content.
I know that if you own a coffee shop and you post a quirky series of Facebook posts about your new chai latte range, you’ll hopefully get people in the door. But even still, that’s just the beginning of those customers becoming loyal regulars. How you can make that happen is still a better question than, ‘what should I post next?’
So moving from the inner circle of why, you move to flagship content which is the first bridge you’ll in that path for your customers. You’re building this from the inside, out, but it’s important to realise that their journey will be from the outside, in. They don’t start with your why, your mission, your products and services, they find you on social media probably and move from there in, and your flagship content is very important in this pathway.
Flagship content is something that encapsulates your mission, expresses and showcases what you do giving people a taste of what it’s like to work with you or experience your products and services before they actually buy or become a client.
So using the coffee shop example, say you’re a local coffee shop that caters particularly for people with dogs AND top quality coffee - two things you’re passionate about. Maybe you come up with a quirky infographic explaining how important it is for dog lover who also love coffee to find a coffee shop that’s perfect for them and their pooch. A humorous checklist, let’s say, that unashamedly lists the features of your coffee shop in a way that’s entertaining to dog owning coffee lovers everywhere.
Now from that one piece of cool content, you model your tone, humour and brand on everything else you do and build it from there.
Maybe you’re a financial planner that caters for time-poor high-income earners. You might do something like a quick 4-minute video to accompany a 10-question questionnaire that quickly assesses whether their life insurance is adequate. This represents something of value to your audience and generates leads for you. Again, once that flagship content is established, it’s easy to build out other content so this one piece keep working for your over and over.
Aligned content is content that’s …
- Specifically designed to feed into your flagship content
- Ideally housed in your website
- Linked together with internal links
Designed to feed your flagship content
This means that the flagship piece would be a logical next step.So using the examples, the coffee shop for dog lovers might create a series of 10 short blog posts, or videos about the challenges of getting good coffee with your pooch in tow. These would be shared to social media and each one would have a call to action asking readers if they’ve seen the ‘Dog lover’s guide to choosing a coffee shop’ with a link.
The life insurance assessment would do the same, breaking down each of the 10 questions into a more detailed article prompting the reader to take the 2-minute questionnaire to find out if they’re adequately covered.
Is ideally housed on your website
Whatever its form, be it a blog, video, podcast etc., housing it on your site means you can use the reach of social media to expose it to a wider audience, but then bring that traffic back to your own site, which benefits you, not Facebook. You don’t own social media, or what you put on it, but you do own your website and your email list, so you’re not at the mercy of algorithms. Even if people don’t open your email, they’ll still see it and they must still take action, even if it’s hitting delete. The same can’t be said for social media.
Linked together via internal links
This means anticipating the next steps your audience & customers will want to take and making it easy for them to do so. So if you’ve just presented or explained a financial management concept, for example, think about what they’ll now need to know next, write that article and reference both articles between the two and provide a link to them. It’s the problem - solution tango: when you solve one problem, you’ll arrive at the next … so you solve that problem too.
On one hand, this facilitates that relationship journey of discovery that people are taking with you and a way for you to show your understanding of the problem and your expertise in solving it by providing logical and helpful next steps. It’s the exact opposite of flash-in-the-pan content treadmill fodder and content for content’s sake. Every piece has a purpose and fits into the bigger picture.
On the other hand, those internal links form the content architecture that Google loves. If people consuming your content are following logical links and staying on your site to do so, Google’s algorithm sees your content as relevant because those links show Google the logical progression that people are following through your content by their actions. This is part of what improves your search engine ranking and allows you to be found by more people.
Promote your content
Last, but not least, is the final piece of your content creation journey, which will also usually be the first step in your audience & customer’s journey with you. Promoting that journey is what happen out there in the outer circle on social media. With that pathway from why, through flagship content, aligned and linked feeder content, you now have a LOT to work with.
This is how your content becomes ...
Content that consistently expresses your brand message & vibe
Content that’s way easier to produce and takes less time
Content that’s more useful to and loved by your audience & customers
Content that generates more leads and makes more sales
Content that makes customers & followers loyal advocates
This is how you close the gaps.
Now that you can see your content holistically in terms of this framework and the journey you want your audience to go on with you, it just becomes so much easier to see how important the other aspects of content marketing is and how they fit in ...
- How your branding matters, as is showing up in a way that’s consistent and recognisable & familiar.
- Who your audience is and how you serve them with value and relevance
- And how now it’s not hard to figure out what to say and how to be useful!
Because starting with why and building out that pathway makes all the pieces logical and clear. It all starts to come together and you start to stand out.
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