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How to Advance Your Content to the Knockout Stage

Are you one of the three billion people planning to tune into this year’s World Cup? Have you followed your team from the qualifying matches all the way to group play? For those who get to watch their team win their way into the knockout round, the World Cup is nothing but excitement and adrenaline. But for those who are forced to watch their team fight hard only to get stuck in the group stage — well, that can be nothing short of disappointing. (If these terms seem foreign to you, check out Mashable’s helpful article on how the World Cup works — then make your way back here!).

Does this scenario sound kind of familiar? For many marketers, it’s the story of their content marketing efforts. Many marketers invest huge amounts of their time and resources into collateral that falls flat on its face, and never even makes it to the “knockout stage.” If you’re not doing everything right (don’t worry, we’ll walk you through this part), you risk ending up in content limbo, stuck in group play along with the thousands of other content pieces that were unable to break through the noise.

Let’s take a look at what a piece of content might look like as it passes through each of these stages: group play, the knockout stage, and the final showdown.

Stage 1. Group Play

Getting into the content marketing game starts with creating content (in keeping with our sports theme, remember: you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. You can’t have content success without a foundation of content to build upon). Take a look at this article for some ideas of different types of content you can create, then pick the ones that best fit your budget, resources, and needs. You can also check out our Content Creation Guide to get started with buyer personas and goal-setting.

However, keep in mind that simply creating content is not enough. A strategy focused on the quantity of content, and not the quality, is what will keep you from moving to the knockout stage.

Stage 2. The Knockout Stage

If you want to create content that will blow your competitors out of the water, you need to focus on creating collateral that is both unique and helpful. With more than two million blog posts published each day, it takes more than throwing some words on paper to make an impact on your audience. Talk to your support team to see what issues your clients are bringing up, reach out to sales to get a better understanding of your prospects’ pain points, and then start creating content targeted toward these needs. This will take your content strategy from simply “creating content” to “creating content people need.”

In the words of Jay Baer, “Just be useful.”

Stage 3. The Final Showdown

While creating content that’s unique and useful is great, I’d encourage you to set your sights higher. In fact, many argue that the “marketing” part of content marketing isn’t truly reached until you’re creating content that converts, impacts your bottom line, and wins you deals. If you want to graduate from the knockout phase to the final showdown, you need to create content with revenue-earning potential. Tie your content to your demand generation efforts (and measure your results) to start seeing how your content can really make an impact on your business.

Want more information on beginning and advance content marketing techniques? Take a look at our Content Creation Guide for more details on content mapping, distribution, reporting, and more.

content creation guide