10 Content Marketing Goals Worth Pursuing

content goals that build your business

Ever wonder why content marketing works so well for some businesses — and doesn’t seem to do anything at all for others?

Curious about why some content that seems great doesn’t do anything to build a business?

Content is king” has been an online cliché for years now, but it’s not true. It’s never been true.

Content all by itself — even terrific content — is just content.

It may be entertaining. It may be educational. It may contain the secret to world peace and fresh, minty breath, all rolled into one.

But it has no magical powers. It won’t transform your business or get you where you need to go, until you add one thing …

Content marketing is a meaningless exercise without business goals.

What makes content marketing work?

To make content work, you need to understand your marketing and business goals. Then you can create content that serves those goals, instead of just giving your audience something to pass the time.

Your blog posts, email marketing, ebooks, podcasts, advertising … all of it needs to fit into a larger picture.

Now, if you blog purely for creative self-expression, go ahead and write as the spirit moves you.

But if you’re using content to market a business, you need a strategic framework so you can get the most out of your time and hard work.

Here are 10 of the business goals that drive our content marketing at Copyblogger Media.

You might focus on just one or two, or you may use all 10. As you read through the list, see which of these you can apply to your own content marketing plan.

Goal #1: Build trust and rapport with your audience

This is the most obvious use of content marketing, and it’s a good one.

When you create useful, interesting, and valuable content, your audience learns they can trust you. They see that you know your topic. They get a sense of your personality and what it would be like to work with you.

Lack of trust kills conversion. An abundance of valuable content builds trust like nothing else.

But too many marketers stop there. In fact, it’s just the beginning.

Goal #2: Attract new prospects to your marketing system

We all had it drilled into our heads by Mr. Godin when we were just baby content marketers: You have to be remarkable.

Your content has to be compelling enough that it attracts links, social media sharing, and conversation.

Why? Because that’s how new people find you.

No matter how delightful your existing customers are, you need a steady stream of new prospects to keep your business healthy.

Remarkable content that gets shared around the web will find your best new prospects for you and lead them back to everything you have to offer.

Goal #3: Explore prospect pain

No, you’re not doing this to be a sadist.

The fact is, most enduring businesses thrive because they solve problems.

They solve health problems, parenting problems, money problems, business problems, technology problems, “What should I make for dinner?” problems.

When you understand your prospect’s problems, you understand how to help them — and then you have the core of your marketing message.

Strategic content dives into the problems your prospects are facing. What annoys them? What frightens them? What keeps them awake at night?

A smart content marketing program leaves room for audience questions. These might come in email replies, blog comments, or you may hold Q&A sessions or webinars specifically to solicit questions.

Listen to the problems your market asks you about, and use those as a compass to guide your future content.

Goal #4: Illustrate benefits

Obviously, we don’t dig up prospect problems and leave it at that.

We talk about solutions.

We talk about what fixes those annoying problems. Techniques, tips, tricks, methods, approaches.

If you have a viable business, you have a particular take on solving your market’s problems. Your individual approach is the flesh and blood of your content marketing.

Your “10 Ways to Solve Problem X” post shows the benefits of your approach. It illustrates how you solve problems and shows customers what they get out of working with you.

Strategic content doesn’t just tell a prospect “My product is a good way to solve your problem.” It shows them. And that’s a cornerstone persuasion technique.

Goal #5: Overcome objections

Your prospect is looking for ways to solve his problem, but he’s also keeping an eye out for potential problems.

Strategic content can be a superb way to address prospect objections — the reasons they don’t buy.

Is price a pain point? Write content that demonstrates how implementing your solutions saves money in the long run.

Do your customers think your product will be too complicated to use? Write content that shows customers going from zero to sixty … painlessly.

Understand the objections that keep customers from buying, and then think about creative ways to resolve those objections in content — often before the buyer ever gets to that sales page.

Goal #6: Paint the picture of life with your product

Ad-man Joe Sugarman was one of the great early practitioners of content marketing. He was a master of long-copy magazine ads for his company JS&A (a consumer gadget company) — ads that were often as interesting and compelling as the magazine articles they appeared next to.

In his Copywriting Handbook, he described how he might approach writing an ad for a Corvette.

Feel the breeze blowing through your hair as you drive through the warm evening. Watch heads turn. Punch the accelerator to the floor and feel the burst of power that pins you into the back of your contour seat. Look at the beautiful display of electronic technology right on your dashboard. Feel the power and excitement of America’s super sports car.

Sugarman isn’t describing the car. He’s describing the experience of the driver.

Sugarman was a master at mentally putting the customer into the experience of owning the product … whether that product was a pocket calculator, a private jet, or a multi-million dollar mansion.

It works very nicely in an ad. It works even better in your content.

Storytelling is one of the best content marketing strategies, and it’s a superb way to let customers mentally “try out” your offer before they ever experience it for themselves. Use content to show what it’s like to own your product or use your service.

Case studies are terrific for this, as are any stories that show how your approach to problem-solving works. Pick up Sugarman’s book for lots of ideas about how to create fascinating content for products that might not immediately suggest a fascinating story.

Goal #7: Attract strategic partners

Once upon a time, Copyblogger was one writer.

No software business. No marketing education business. No Rainmaker Platform, premium WordPress themes from StudioPress, or Synthesis WordPress hosting.

From very early days, the quality of the content posted here has attracted strategic partners — the partners Brian Clark worked with to create every line of revenue-generating business we have today.

Eventually, that evolved into the creation of a new company — Rainmaker Digital (formerly Copyblogger Media). The partnership brings together a great complement of skills, and together we can go farther and faster than Brian could have on his own.

Whatever your business goals are, partnerships are often the smartest way to get there. When you’re passionate about creating excellent content, you’ll find that potential partners are attracted to that passion.

Goal #8: Deepen loyalty with existing customers

This one is probably my favorite.

Every company needs to attract new customers. But the biggest growth potential in most businesses comes from building a tighter relationship with your existing customers.

A solid base of referral and repeat business is the hallmark of a great business. Even if you never did any content marketing to anyone other than your customers, you could radically improve your business by improving the communication you have with your customers today.

Create a richer experience for the people who have already bought from you. Make your products and services work better by pairing them with useful, user-friendly content.

Don’t treat the waitress better than you do your date. Give great stuff to the people who have already bought from you, and they’ll reward you for it.

Goal #9: Develop new business ideas

Your content stream is a fantastic place to try out new ideas.

Thinking about repositioning your key product? Trying to better define your unique selling proposition? See a new problem on the horizon that your customers might want you to solve?

Get those ideas into your content, and see how people react. You can watch what excites people and what fizzles out.

Business writer Jim Collins talks about firing bullets, then cannonballs. In other words, when you get a new idea for your business, fire off something low-risk to test the waters.

Don’t start firing your big ammunition until you’re sure you can actually hit the target. (And that there’s a target there to hit.)

Content is an amazing low-risk way to try out your ideas while risking very little. Your audience will let you know with their reactions which ideas fire them up and which ones leave them cold.

Goal #10: Build your reputation with search engines

Lots of content creators think this is reason #1 to create content — but if you put this goal in the wrong place, you’ll probably struggle with SEO.

That’s because search engines find you valuable when readers find you valuable.

Search engines are looking for content that’s valuable to their users. If you create that type of content, your SEO battle is 9/10 done.

So put the first nine content marketing goals first, and the 10th becomes a matter of relatively simple SEO optimization.

How about you?

What’s the main thing you’re looking to get out of content marketing? Do you have a content marketing goal you don’t see here?

Let us know in the discussion over on LinkedIn …

Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on February 1, 2012.

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Reader Comments (60)

  1. says

    I think one of the best reasons for creating content is building your own expertise. Educating others is maybe the best way to learn your craft better. Writing a blog post, preferable a relatively long one, will force you to think about questions your readers/prospects may have, and then answer them clearly.

    My blog (http://AffectSelling.com) is an educational tool, for my readers and myself as well…

      • says

        Hi Sonia,

        Glad I could add something :)

        The sixth goal, about showing life with your product, was my favorite in your list. I think that’s used mostly in advertising, and often forgotten in content marketing.

        I guess you could also add, as a goal, customer service/support. As you did with the recent “Genesis for Beginners” PDF. It qualifies as content marketing, but also helps existing customers. FAQ’s are similar in nature, but less content-marketing-like.

        • says

          Don’t forget SAQs – Should Ask Questions: questions a potential buyer should ask you about
          your product or service – if only they knew what you know. These are the important things that
          differentiate you from your competitors.

          • says

            Hi Eric,

            You’re right; an FAQ should include the SAQs.

            It would make a great blog post too: “7 Questions You Don’t Know You Should Ask When Buying *blank*” 😉 You’re customers would be better educated, which leads to better buying decisions, which leads to happier customers. And you’d gain credibility, because you helped them make a better choice.

    • says

      It’s funny you said that, because I often sit down to write blog posts on issues I’m currently tackling. It helps me flesh out and resolve my own problems, or even just jogs my memory and helps me complete whatever task I’m working on.

      • says

        Hi Liz,

        I do that too :) Writing a blog post helps me organize the ideas I have about a topic, whether or not it’s a problem for me. When I think how to explain the solution, it becomes clearer to me too 😉

  2. says

    I’ll add:

    11. To test new ideas, quicker. Before going full steam ahead with new positioning or a new offer, content gives you the opportunity to see if it resonates with your audience. And because all it may take is one article to perform the test, you can optimize how quickly you learn.

    12. To build a community. It’s great having people pay attention to you, but content can also be the social grease that allows your prospects and customers to talk to each other. That’s a community, a tribe, and content can make it happen.

    13. To increase referrals. It’s much easier for a client (or even just a prospect) to refer people to your content than it is to refer your service.

    14. To increase ad conversions. An ad landing page that offers content can perform better than ads that goes straight for the sale.

    15. To build automation. Content can be delivered through an autoresponder, giving new prospects the same experience as old prospects, even if you’re on vacation.

    16. To turn a service into a product. Content can help you reach a goal of transforming parts of your service offer into a product. For instance, a wedding planner can sell a checklist that helps brides organize a wedding.

  3. says

    I agree that having content alone will not get you anywhere!
    If content is king, there are too many queens trying to influence the king 😉

    All in all, content marketing plans need to rely on the people that read your material; it is easy to forget this. People producing content are highly knowledgeable about a particular subject and think they know enough to produce the necessary content.

    However, a strong content marketing plan involves reaching out to your readership: survey your readers to discover what they want to know, what questions they need answered and what kind of content they enjoy the most.

    • says

      Content is just a way to engage prospects and customers. People get into the habit of thinking it stands all by itself, but without the market there, it’s just something to read. :)

      • says

        You know how you have probably heard something before, but suddenly it makes so much sense? Sonia, you have a wonderfully clear way of breaking down concepts into easy-to-follow steps. I usually operate under the false assumption, “if I write it, they will come.” Thanks for helping shift my perspective to the bigger picture.

  4. says

    The bullets/canonballs metaphor is definitely gold, it really doesn’t take much to test the waters with new ideas.

    Better than weeks/months of thinking about what MIGHT happen with no action.

    • says

      The Collins chapter (it’s in Choose to be Great) on bullets and cannonballs is really good. His version of “bullets” is small test products (similar to The Lean Startup), but content lets you fly a trial balloon even before you get to the small product stage.

  5. says

    Using content to speak your mind and paint a picture of life is a very valuable goal. Awesome content really can achieve this and it is awesome to see in practice. Thanks for sharing!

  6. says

    Content and marketing are both equally important in my experience, I like the goals you went through Sonia, if you take one of them and think about it as you’re writing a post in can help you in the way you’ll write it and chances are that post will reach out to the intended reader.

  7. says

    Excellent post which I enjoyed. So much talk about content out there but sometimes without direction @ why to dot it and what you are trying to achieve. This post links these two together:)

  8. says

    These are essential points that we all must cover. Perhaps adding some ideas for being able to collect the information better in terms of solving the problems and potential solutions that they can use shown to these individuals.

  9. says

    I think the idea of ‘exploring prospect pain’ is a terrific one – it’s something that I see done well in some people’s sales literature. Others completely shy away from discussing pain, it’s all about the product-as-magic-bullet.
    I’m also laughing at the ‘experience of life with your product’ remembering my ad testing days. Both of these things can be a huge struggle for business owners, because we fail to get into our customers’ minds.

  10. says

    I find your writing to be very useful & engaging. It resonates with me in many ways. Ok…It Rocks ! Let me add- I think in our new customer driven marketplace that the customer is King- not content. In a truly customer centric organization the first goal should always be provide meaningful and relevant content to customer. best g

    • says

      I like that a lot. It cuts away a lot of the ego-driven content that gets created out of an attempt at cleverness or to get attention from the echo chamber.

  11. says

    Producing quality content every time will build trust with your visitors. If you do that, eventually the search engines will view your site favorably. Hopefully, the search engines will continue to get better at finding ways of identifying high-quality content. Thanks for the tips!

  12. says

    Once again some great insights to inspire me to greater things. I recently got involved in a partnership venture as a result of my writing and it has given me a whole new direction so the point about attracting business partners is def. right on.

  13. says

    I was just talking to my execs about this very thing: we are selling an idea. So what do we want visitors to do? At each stage of the sales cycle, you need to think about what your prospect is thinking, proactively answer questions and direct their next step.

  14. says

    Just an edit note on Brian’s bio that I clicked on from this article – there is only one N in the Dun of Dun & Bradstreet.

    In regards to content, exploring new ideas as suggested by Hashim above is one that I use – and that has led to some nice discoveries!

  15. says

    That’s a really insightful piece of content. Thanks Sonia!

    The fourth Goal, “To illustrate benefits” is my favorite on the list. I always sense something missing in our posts. Now that I read your advice. I realized that we often write about prospect problems but leave it open ended. Solutions are what readers are looking for, not reminders about those annoying problems.

  16. says

    Just what I needed to get myself on the right track! I always read and learn from your posts. I especially like the order you’ve put these in – I think I’ve been working backwards!

  17. says

    Wow, Sonia, I am so glad that you went into all 10 of your goals, because that is an exhaustive, authoritative and impressive list of what you are doing there, and why it moves you so passionately. You have said the last word, I believe, in attacking on all fronts, guerilla-marketing style!

  18. says

    I’ve worked with a lot of business owners that understand the power of fresh, relevant, well-written content. They read Copyblogger. They join sites. They build blogs. They spend a lot of time “knowing” but then they don’t have the time for the “doing.” Part of it is not having a good plan for the content that they need. A much bigger part comes from lacking the time or the confidence to actually begin writing. We’ve been experimenting over the past 6 months with using batch-recorded podcasts, having them transcribed and then rewritten into posts. It’s a labor intensive process for everyone but the business owner. 😉 But, we’re getting the content out and it’s in the words of the business owner (podcast). The editors listen and do their best to do the rewrite in the “voice” of the business owner. Little need for the owner’s involvement after the recording.

  19. says

    These are all good reasons to create content and start developing out a content marketing plan. But it also assumes you know what the heck you’re doing. Which of course is a good thing, but so many have no clue where to start or what to do. They just know they need to proactively start to make their plan B their plan A – and the sooner the better.

    For those people, I recommend this:

    Identify YOUR biggest challenge at the moment. (i.e. Not enough people know about my WordPress set up and design business)

    Turn that biggest challenge into a SPECIFIC question. (i.e. How can I generate 5-10 leads per day about my for this business?)

    Then Do This …

    Write it on a note card. Keep it somewhere where you see it a lot. Get to work to answer the question. Focus on that ONE thing and nothing else.

    Work on that problem and document the process.

    Begin to write and/or record your observations, thoughts, opinions, reviews and next action steps as it pertains to answering the question at your blog.

  20. says

    Hi Sonia
    You touch upon some valid points, when it comes to running a small business or any business. Setting goals and know your purpose is critical to running successful businesses as well as become a successful entrepreneurs.

    It reminded me of the various tips touch upon by seth godin in his purple cow book as well as what Tony ribbons talks about knowing your purpose.

    Once we can identify what our purpose is, we can begin to make the right choices and provide content that helps us grow our business and provide contact to attract, keep, educate our readers to take action.


  21. says

    Thanks for sharing these goals. Over the next few months I’ll be focusing on content marketing activities, so the timing for this post is perfect.

    I personally view great content can be used to demonstrate thought leadership.

    This is a great post. Thanks again.

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