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What is a Content Pillar? The Foundation for Efficient Content Marketing

Anne Murphy
By Anne Murphy Jun 27, 2013 2 comments

Creating content, and lots of it, isn’t easy.

In fact, Content Marketing Institute reports that producing enough content is the biggest challenge for B2B marketers. This isn’t exactly surprising when you consider that marketers need to create content to fuel social media, marketing automation campaigns, syndication, paid campaigns, blogs, eBooks…the list goes on and on and on.

But it doesn’t have to be this hard to create high quality content for all of your go-to distribution channels…

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Recently, the CMO Council put out a great white paper on content marketing and how organizations are using content to drive traffic, leads and revenue. One part in particular caught my eye:

While large reports still have a place, the ideas they generate need to be offered in a wider variety of easily consumable media types. A recent study by Deloitte on the future of productivity in Canada included a major report of some 60 pages, [Colleen Albiston, CMO of Deloitte in Canada] says. But her marketing team also generated infographics, motion graphics, social media communications and other content that reached a wider audience of decision makers and key influencers. The result, she says, was a dramatic increase in full report downloads and a two-fold increase in media impressions and news coverage.

 

At Deloitte, they provided bite-size piece of content that covered the concepts in their longer and more detailed report. By giving little consumable tidbits, they saw an increase in downloads, site traffic, and earned media. That’s more people sharing your content, providing contact information in exchange for the report, and converting from site visitor into known contact or lead.

That 60-page report is the perfect example of a large piece of content being broken down into smaller, more consumable pieces of content to reach a wider audience and attract new eyes. But even the above example can be taken a step further. With careful planning, these large pieces of content can become the foundations of your marketing campaigns. We call them content pillars.

Content Pillar for the Content MarketeerWhat Is a Content Pillar?

A content pillar is a substantive and informative piece of content on a specific topic or theme which can be broken into many derivative sections, pieces, and materials. Examples of content pillars include eBooks, reports, and guides.

Basically, it’s a big piece of content that you can turn into many little pieces of content to fuel all those channels you’re currently struggling to fill. By focusing your attention on creating a single content pillar, it’s easy to break that finished piece into blog posts, infographics, videos, emails, social media updates and more to attract different kinds of buyers through different channels.

This method is an efficient and process-driven way to cover all your content bases. Sounds pretty good, right?

Planning for Efficiency

The first step in planning your content pillar is figuring out how you’re going to create that larger piece of content, and strategizing how to get the most out every section.

Let’s use an eBook as an example. Normally, you’d want to conduct interviews with thought leaders to get their feedback on the topics you’re covering in the eBook. You’ll also write text that expands upon specific ideas and includes best practices and how-tos. Maybe you’ll collect data to back up those claims and create an infographic to be featured in the eBook.

Whew! That’s already a lot of work, isn’t it? Well, before you dive in, let’s think how you could turn each of tasks into content gold mines.

When you conduct interviews, why not hire a videographer to capture their answers on tape? Then, not only can you use their answers to inform the text portion of your eBook, but you can create videos around specific themes covered in the eBook to further promote your content and present your organization as a thought leader. You can also write a blog post on each video to produce, which you can then share via all your social channels. The relevant blog posts and videos can also be incorporated into your marketing automation campaigns.

Already, from just one piece of an eBook, you have tons of derivative pieces filling up your blog, social, and marketing automation channels. Also, you’re reaching buyers with different formats, and can test which work best for your audience to further improve outreach in the future. The same goes for the text and infographic. Splice the text into different sections and turn them into blog posts and emails. Pitch the infographic for syndication, or write a guest post about it on an influential site that caters to your target audience.

By organizing and planning your pillars so that they can be broken into more consumable pieces of content for you target audience, you’ll get a lot more bang for your content buck.

Toby Murdock, CEO of Kapost, spoke on this topic at Content Marketing Bootcamp in San Francisco, and gives a great overview of how content pillars can fill your editorial calendar and fuel your marketing campaigns. Watch the full session for some great info on organizing for content marketing in your organization, or skip ahead to 14:23 to learn more about content pillars specifically.

iconAbout the author Anne Murphy

Anne Murphy

Anne is the Senior Managing Editor at Kapost. She crafts content about content marketing. Her puns are almost always intended.

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