Treat educational content like a passive index fund.

TL;DR = Invest in educational content. Spend the money. Build a strong portfolio. Spread out the risk. Use your content wherever it makes sense.

Happy Monday!

Last week I published a blog post about Reach Teach Sell. It’s my practical framework for marketing and content strategy. It includes seven steps aligning to the customer lifecycle:

  1. Reach potential customers where they already are.
  2. Teach them something new with educational content.
  3. Sell them what they need by providing all the necessary info.
  4. Support the onboarding process, set customers up for success.
  5. Retain your customers by staying in touch.
  6. Reward customers for their loyalty and success.
  7. Refer new business by helping customers spread the word.

Most of my day-to-day work at GoDaddy focuses on teaching through educational content. You’re going to find a ton of articles on the GoDaddy Blog filled with tips for small businesses.

Publishing educational content isn’t an original strategy.

HubSpot covers marketing topics and they sell marketing software. Wistia covers video topics and they sell video software. Moz covers SEO topics and they sell SEO software.

(You get the idea.)

So, at a high level, we’re looking at a flow like this:

  1. We know a lot about X topic
  2. You can trust us with X topic
  3. We sell a product or service to help you deal with X easier/better
  4. Would you like to try it? (y/n)

Makes sense, right? You have this massive library of content that prospective customers will use. A percentage of those prospects will convert into leads. A percentage of those leads will become paying customers.

It all works… in theory. But we’re skipping over a big step: creating the content in the first place.

Good content takes time, effort, and budget.

This is when we hit a roadblock in getting businesses to pay for content creation. They want the content, but they don’t want to set aside budget for the work that goes into it.

[ Related: How much does content marketing cost? – Siege Media ]

So these reluctant businesses may go down one of a few paths:

  • They might go the cheap route, hiring inexpensive freelancers from a site like Upwork.
  • They might pay an expert to have one or two strong pieces produced.
  • They might try to offload the task to someone in the company, who may or may not have the necessary skills to do the work.

Sometimes these approaches work out. Sometimes the business ends up working with an amazing freelancer at a great rate. Or one of their few pieces does very well. Or the colleague who took on the task has a knack for it, and they do an amazing job.

More likely, though? The cheap freelancers produce cheap work. The few expertly-produced pieces didn’t take off. Or the colleague missed the mark in their attempt.

Mashing some text into WordPress and hitting Publish doesn’t take a lot of effort. But it does take a lot of effort to research, write, edit, revise, and produce quality, original content.

And one piece of good content isn’t enough. You need to do it again and again and again. And not all the content will be a breakout success. You’ll have a few killer assets that bring in the majority of your search traffic.

[ Related: Building a long tail of evergreen content – Intercom ]

But you gotta keep going. You gotta keep cranking. You gotta keep putting out that content on a regular basis.

I get why these businesses are nervous about content. A single asset might not live up to expectations, and so you look at the cost of producing it, and you wonder, “was it worth it?”

When we put all the focus on driving search traffic, it’s a risk. Unlike paid advertising, we don’t have as much control. We don’t see a quick return on spend. It can take months before we see a lift in sessions.

So here’s a different way of thinking: Think about investing in content like you’re investing in a passive index fund.

[ Related: Passive Index Funds – Wealthsimple ]

Passive index funds work because you’re spreading out the risk. So spread out the risk with your content. Don’t only chase search traffic. Figure out where you can support efforts elsewhere in the business:

  • Can you use your educational content in top-of-funnel advertising to build awareness?
  • Can you repackage your educational content as sales collateral?
  • Can you repurpose your educational content for other platforms?
  • Can you use your educational content to stay engaged through customer newsletters?
  • Can you use your educational content to help customers be more successful?
  • Can you include customers in your educational content, then use it as social proof for sales?

Now you’re spreading out the risk. So even if an asset doesn’t do well in search, it may still play a kick ass role in supporting something else.

By tying the content into all these other areas, you’re not asking for budget in a silo. You’re treating content as a layer, as a component, in a bunch of places.

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