Content Marketing – The Art Of Developing Content They Can’t Resist

Content Marketing is one of those buzz phrases in the online marketing space that many use and few understand.

Some people confuse “blogging” with content marketing, while others say they’re “content marketing”, when what they’re really doing is journaling.

Content marketing as I see it, does two things.

Engages the reader & and compels them to take action.

When your content doesn’t drive actions, it’s not really marketing. It’s just content.

Marketing is about using creative to drive viewers to a desired outcome. So if content doesn’t do that, it’s only a story or a set of instructions, and nothing more.

It’s is fine creating content for content’s sake, that’s art. Just don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re “marketing” or “building trust” when nobody interacts with or shares your stuff.


The Purpose of Content Marketing

To understand the purpose of content marketing, and the role it plays in online marketing, you must first understand the marketing funnel.


Many people start blogging with the intent of selling products or services, however when asked what the overall strategy is, they say “create awesome content and people will want to buy my stuff.”

While that’s at the surface of content marketing, and is most often pushed by “experts”, what most people don’t realize is that content is supposed to take their reader through a journey over a longer period of time.

So what they’ll do is create a piece of content, like a blog post, video, or any other form of media expecting it to do the work of generating leads, selling the service, raising awareness and starting a discussion.

Of course, when content fails to do even one of these things over a long period of time, it causes you to spin out into a million different directions until eventually you say, “why bother” and quit.


What Are Your Content Goals?

In the real world, unless you’re a “business celebrity” it’s rare that one piece of content achieves all four goals.

Instead, most online marketers take a more strategic and methodical approach to the content they create and the goals that it reaches.

Those content types and goals are:

1. Viral – Content that is designed to spread organically through a specific community. Usually, the content is at the extreme end of a spectrum: It could be hilarious, cute, heartwarming, controversial, disgusting, or downright scary. Usually, it has little substance beyond the initial spark that makes viral content unique; thus has a fairly short shelf life.

Viral content’s main goal is to get your prospect to click a social share button and forward to as many people as possible in order to raise awareness.

2. Discussion – Once awareness has been raised, it’s time to take that relationship to the next level. Discussion content is designed to spark conversation within a community. Like Viral content, it could also be hilarious, cute, heartwarming. etc.; but, unlike viral, it’s shelf life is much longer. The content can play on the same extremes as viral, but it’s more thought-provoking and deeper in nature.

The main goal with discussion content is to get its consumer to leave comments and interact with other readers. In the marketing funnel, that’s giving consideration to a problem that needs to be solved.

3. Lead – This content is designed to draw people into some sort of opt-in. Generally speaking, the goal of this content is to expose a gap between where the consumer is, and where they would like to be and hints at a possible solution in exchange for an email address or other personal information on a lead form.

The ideal lead conversion outline takes the viewer on a journey, at the end of which he realizes what can be summed up in three words: “I need help.”

4. Sales – Sales content is similar to lead content, but with one major difference. Instead of getting the consumer to say “I need help,” this content convinces him into making a decision to alleviate their problem.

Sales content leads the buyer to believe that making an exchange of dollars will alleviate that problem and solve the problem.

When you create a piece of content with only one of these goals in mind, the intention flows through the entire piece, from opening headline to final call to action.

Where “Content” Gets Tricky

What’s interesting about content marketing is just how tricky it really is to develop something unique.

This is where the big guys say you need to have your unique selling proposition and develop your own voice and brand character and blah blah blah.

While this is true, what few people really emphasize enough is the amount of market research skill level to realistically create “engaging” or “compelling” content.

In my opinion, creating web content shares many characteristics with long running television shows,critically acclaimed films, and best selling novels.

What matters the most is The Art of Story Telling, compelling characters, story structure, and style.

While we’ll talk each of these in more detail in future articles (subscribe to be notified) let’s get an overview what these mean in terms of content marketing:

Story telling

In order for story to work well in content marketing, you need to understand your customers in intimate detail.

To start, think about your ideal customer’s current situation. What stresses them out? What makes them happy? What are their goals, desires and dreams?

As an exercise, try writing about a day in your customer’s life.

Maybe they’re struggling to keep their position at work and need a big win.

Their last few ideas were shot down by the boss, and that’s starting to take a toll on their confidence. Of course, this spills into their marriage because their spouse thinks they’ve bet on the wrong horse. If they don’t have a big change, and fast, they could lose everything.

All they need now is a friend to help them get back on track.

Or perhaps…

They’ve just gotten a promotion after years of hard work, and that comes with an extra $30,000 bonus.

Through their career, they’ve had a great relationship with the family and kids, and because of that everyone was willing to sacrifice knowing this day would come.

Now, it’s time for them to indulge. Maybe it’s a new car, maybe it’s breaking ground on a new house, maybe it’s an in ground pool; whatever it is, it’s big, and everyone is excited for them to have reached this new chapter in their lives.

Even though these stories are very different, they’re very human and relatable.

With this understanding, the stories you take their life story into account, and drawing responses like:



”Sitting here after an early rising due to insomnia… this article really hit home for me. I think you just described me to a fault.”

Comment from 5 Silly Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Blog on


Of course, telling these stories without any frame of reference is hit or miss. Which is where the next section comes into play.

Character Study

Great stories are driven by great characters. Great main characters almost always the reflection of who the viewer is or who they would like to be like to be.

Tyler Durden for example is the embodiment of rebellion and the human id. Empire magazine describes him as “effortlessly stylish, unshakably cool, and dangerously charismatic…he is a monster, he is the very image of modern man (or at least how modern man would like to see himself).”

What could you do if you made your readers feel like Tyler Durden?

With content marketing, the main character has to be your reader. And you have to understand them well enough to guide them through a story that takes them from where they are to where they want to be.

According to Edgar Roberts in *Writing Themes About Literature* you define character by:

(1) What a person says (and thinks, and shares in the third-person omniscient point of view).
(2) What the character does.
(3) What others characters say about him.
(4) What the author (market research/demographic data) says about him, speaking as either the story-teller or an observer of the action.

Fortunately, you can gather all of this information by studying social media, blog comments, demographic reports etc. to learn about your customer’s profile.

It’s a lot of work, and if you’re impatient, you’re going to hate it. But it’s the only advantage you have to creating content that actually does something.



If content were a product you bought at the store, structure would be the product’s packaging.

How you structure your content is going to probably one of the most important aspects to what kind of audience you’re going to build over a longer period of time.

On a post by post level structure is about the overall elements that make up a post; headers, subheaders, paragraph length, multimedia usage, etc. Consistency to the way your content is presented establishes a familiarity over time with an audience. An example structure for a post might be Long Posts, paragraphs 3-4 lines, New Subhead every 3-4 paragraphs

Structure also applies to the overall publishing of content to the blog.

Are you more likely to write detailed series of posts to thoroughly flesh out a subject or are creating smaller posts to cover a wider range of subjects within a category? How you structure your content creation is widely dependent on how you want your blog to be perceived.



Style may seem obvious, but the truth is, it’s an incredibly difficult thing to master. Mostly because developing your own style requires vulnerability and demands you do and say things that you’ve been trained to keep private.

Fear of developing a unique style is the #1 reason most bloggers succumb to that generic borg voice, which is why 99% of the blogs out there sound like they were written by the same person.

But nobody cares about that voice.

What we do care about is your honest, and unique perspective.

So what if it’s weird? People get weird. We like weird. It reminds us that we’re not so alone in our own weirdness and we appreciate the hell out of you putting your weirdness on display so we know you’re just like the us we keep private.

Style makes you attractive. The only way to develop it is to repeatedly take risks.


You Will Have Content That Flops, It’s Not The End Of The World

Everyone, and I mean everyone who puts themselves out there and does creative work has failed.

Yeah, I know it’s cliche, but it’s true, and you have nothing to worry about if it doesn’t work.

I mean, think about this for a second… if you have no visitors now, who’s going to know you’re doing something new, or different, or even ::gasp:: weird.

So what if it’s scary? Who’s going to know right now anyways? And besides, they’ve already heard that other guy, and the 10,000 people who try to emulate him. Don’t you owe it to them to give them something new?

I think so.

If you agree, I’d love to teach you more. Enter your name and email and I’ll show you just what I mean.

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  • Tommy Walker

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    I'm the host of "Inside The Mind" a show about online marketing for the internet generation. Say Hi On Google+

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