One of the questions I most often get asked is, what does content marketing look like when we’re responsible for developing value at every step of the buyer’s journey? Should we have different stories? Should we align around one idea? Is it our brand? How do we scale this?

For example, I was working with one of my clients recently. Their digital-magazine team was under pressure—and not because the platform was failing. Quite the opposite. They’ve had a successful year, growing their audience from 5,000 to 25,000 subscribers and meeting every one of their marketing goals. So what was wrong?

Attention. They were getting lots of it. Everyone in the company, it seemed, wanted to cash in on their success. Suddenly, product groups, enterprise salespeople, and C-suite executives had ideas for how they might take advantage of this hot property for every step of the buyer’s journey. Requests, submissions, and opinions came pouring in.

The team needed a clearer sense of when to say no.

I worked with them as they reviewed analytics, considered where to expand business goals, and weighed options for driving value for their audience. Then we dug into the editorial mission for this particular platform. We used a framework that I teach as part of our Master Class series. While there’s more to this framework than we have space for here, at a high level it breaks down a core story into four parts:

  • The Human – Who is our hero? (Usually it’s our audience—our customer.)
  • The Desire – What does the hero want?
  • The Resistance – What are the obstacles?
  • The Truth – What is the truth that our content (uniquely) helps the hero discover?

The first three usually come quickly. But the truth… that’s where the challenge lies. Choosing a focused truth that we believe in isn’t easy. As marketers, when we’re asked what’s special about our brand, we typically fall back on such values as breadth of product features, or our expertise, experience, and a superior approach.

Those aren’t truths—even if they are factually accurate.

Truths are things that people believe. They care about truths.

The thing is, truths may not differentiate our product or service to our audience. However, truths differentiate the reasons why a customer will care about what we have to say about our products and services. And this gives us the power to be “choosy” about the kind of content we publish on our content marketing experiences.

To get to a differentiated truth, you must narrow down to a specific point of view on the world. You must focus on a specific truth. Take Lincoln Electric’s ARC Magazine. They tell you their specific truth at the bottom of their masthead: “Welding is a chosen life.” The truth they illuminate about their hero is not that welding is a career to fall back on, or how to pick the equipment you need to become a welder. The editorial mission (and the focus of all their content) is that welding is more than just a career – it is an art form that you lean into. So the content focuses on the inspirational things that can be created from welding.

Look for that kind of truth. A focused truth. One that sets your brand apart.

Choosing your truth usually means focusing. Narrowing down. Deciding not only what your mission is, but also what it’s not. That kind of focus gives you the ability to say no to all the pressures to go wide with your content and diffuse your message.

For my client, this was the hardest thing we did all day. When we were finished, the team felt more focused. They had a sense of when it made business sense to say no. And, they were inspired to use this as a workflow trigger to redirect the “wider content” to other channels.

They felt ready to scale up their success in 2019 by narrowing down.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

Read stories from other marketing leaders in The Guide to B2B Content.

Guide to B2B Content

Robert Rose

About Robert Rose

For more than 25 years, Robert has helped marketers tell their story more effectively through digital media. Over the last five years, Robert has worked with more than 500 companies, including 15 of the Fortune 100. He’s provided strategic marketing advice and counsel for global brands such as Capital One, NASA, Dell, McCormick Spices, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Robert is the founder and chief strategy officer for The Content Advisory, the education and consulting group for The Content Marketing Institute.