The 3 Pies of Content Marketing: Do You Have the Perfect Recipe?
Let’s say that effective online content marketing is like baking a pie. Or more precisely, it’s like baking three pie recipes into one…
Behold, the THREE PIES OF CONTENT MARKETING!
- Pie of Entertainment (Clickbait & Fluffy Content)
- Pie of Education (To Educate and Respond to User Intent)
- Pie of Promotion (To Overtly Drive Conversions)
As much as I love pie, I cannot consume all of these pies at once with my allotted fist-sized stomach. Therefore you, as the baker (business owner or marketing manager), must present me (the information consumer) with options that will allow for the most ideal pie eating situation that I am willing and capable to handle. Can your recipe (social or blog post) include the flavors of all three in one? The answer is most likely no. But it is not impossible, and there are alternatives to the all-in-one pie that we find so elusive.
Read on my friend!
To understand why it is so difficult to make a single content marketing pie that serves all, we must first take a look at the unique qualities of each pie recipe and observe each in its pure form.
We all love the Pie of Entertainment. Who has not binged on this sweet pie for hours only to realize that you have a horrible stomach ache and have gained no nutrients whatsoever… (some may argue that it was well worth it in any case). Honestly though, who can resist that slice of “Baby Panda Learns How to Lose Weight Better Than Humans” or pretty much anything like “How My Cat Ate Three Cheezburgers in Under Minute”? We can’t resist, which is why “lolcats” is so popular, and why all those get-skinny-quick tricks spread so virulently across the interweb.
The truth is that these pies are delicious, but will probably spoil some dinners. That hasn’t stopped millions of users from clicking on them to satisfy curiosity and the desire for entertainment. Which is why the Pie of Entertainment cannot be ignored when looking at it from a marketing standpoint. I will provide an example in the next section.
The recipe for a truly pure Pie of Entertainment has no perceivable lasting educational value or promotional plugs (“but that baby Panda taught me how to lose weight!” … the key words here are “lasting value”…). Consumers of this pie will almost certainly catch on to attempts you make to teach them something hidden within, and while that may not dissuade them from finishing the pie, any whiff of a promotional plot will often stop a consumer mid-bite, not only will they not finish the pie, but wipe any residue from their tongue with the nearest napkin and never come back.
While it is extremely difficult to combine the Pie of Entertainment with the Pie of Promotion, it is much easier to serve a slice of the Pie of Promotion alongside the Pie of Education.
The Pie of Education is the content we serve to users who are looking for specific information. They are hungry and want to be sustained by something more filling, something with eggs and vegetables in it, like a quiche. (Have I taken the pie analogy too far yet?)
Oftentimes the Pie of Education can be just as appealing as the Pie of Entertainment for those who have the specific appetite, this is where keyword research and understanding user intent comes into play. If you know what user base you are targeting, then you can bake a pie specifically for their tastes. You may miss the curious majority, but in this case you are much more likely to guide the educated consumers into a purchase or conversion of some sort.
The Pie of Education often looks something like “The True DIY Office Desk” (and you actually teach them to make an awesome office desk), or “The 10 Most Useful PC Hotkeys and Shortcuts You Didn’t Know About”… you know, content that truly tries to make people’s lives better or easier (without pushing how YOUR product can improve their situation).
The pure recipe for the Pie of Education is a post or article that is full of useful information with no detectable self interest in it. Healthy pie eaters will flock to this pie and truly be nourished by the valuable and unique information that your content provides.
For all three of these pies you should still be cooking them up with your company or organization’s goals in mind. But be careful. For example, although producing dozens of empty calorie Pies of Entertainment may seem a waste at first, there are several long term benefits to building a base of return customers. With a larger following and lots of return-pie-eaters there is a greater likelihood of them stumbling across your products or services, assigning them greater value based on positive association from past exposure. It is much harder to track ROI with this tactic, but that does not mean that it can’t be well worth it!
This brings us to our final pie…
The Pie of Promotion is by far your favorite pie to bake… admit it. You just LOVE to tell people how awesome your stuff is and how it will change their lives. There are effective ways to make a pie of promotion appealing to your consumers, but usually this involves including some aspects of entertainment and education to keep them engaged long enough to consume and convert…
You may find a piece of this content titled “Check out the Newest Central Air-Conditioner Technology!” or “Need a New Online Marketing Edge?”, followed by a shameless touting of “what OUR company can do for you!”
In all honesty the pure recipe for the Pie of Promotion is pretty gross. This is the recipe that your grandma continues to tell everyone is good for you, and force-feeds to you every time you visit… In serving this pie you will generally only find a small batch of interested consumers that are looking for your product or service in pretty exact terms, or possibly those just looking specifically for your brand.
I think you can see the point I am trying to make with all the pie references and pure-recipe descriptions. Likely you will want to assess your goals and create a piece of content that is some combination of the three.
Or another effective tactic is to (over the course of time) create a dozen entertainment articles, sprinkle in several educational posts, and make a promotional plug on rare occasions. This will draw more users in, but not scare them away with too much “look at me! look at me! LOOK AT MY PRODUCT!!”… in fact, you may want to consider NEVER creating a promotional post without a clever integration of entertainment or educational-value content.
In any case, don’t forget to go out and taste all of the pies out there and see how other successful businesses or organizations do it. Also… don’t forget to eat real pie sometimes too. Pie is the best!
For more on this subject take a look at the last Whiteboard Friday over at Moz.com, which was the inspiration for this post. Or check us out over here at Oozle Media, and we’ll teach you more about effective content marketing, and excellent recipes for online marketing success! (there is the slice of promotion you were looking for) ;P