Content Marketing

Make vs Buy Decisions in Content Marketing


  • We’ll talk about outsourcing decisions in content marketing initiatives
  • Some components can’t be outsourced - Others probably should be
  • Assess your time, budget, skills and passions to make the right decisions

Assessing What You Can and Should Get Help With

Developing and executing a successful content strategy is a time consuming and demanding endeavor. It stands to reason that many businesses bring on an outside consultant or agency to help.

It’s important to understand what can be outsourced effectively and what requires internal participation. It’s your basic make-vs-buy decision adapted for content marketing.

The goal of a content strategy is to continually build better relationships with potential and existing clients. At a high level, that means two things:

  1. Providing value to your target audience by educating them and sharing your expertise
  2. Conveying the personality and culture of your organization

Authenticity is crucially important as you build relationships and tell your company story. Consequently, some of the work just can’t be outsourced completely. You’ll need to participate - at times deeply - to have great success.

However, an outside expert can be instrumental in many other facets of strategy development and execution. So how do you assess what you can and should do yourself? And what may be best left to an outside expert?

Self awareness is the key to that analysis. Some of the questions you’ll need to ask yourself are:

  • How much budget vs how much time do I have?
  • What skills are required and which of those are possessed internally?
  • Which tactical elements will I enjoy and which will be an unwelcome chore?

Honestly answering those questions will help develop a plan that utilizes external resources to build upon your existing strengths.

Client-Side Requirements for Content Marketing Success

Before we get to all the things a marketing consultant can do for you, let’s discuss some of the things that they can’t do without you. I think a company must participate in the following three elements in order to expect success.

1. Providing subject matter expertise

You and your team are the experts in your field and know your business better than any consultant. Internal expertise is a huge asset that should help provide value to your audience. Some participation is essential.

However, a consultant can be extremely useful for harvesting your internal expertise and doing more with it. A skilled content marketer should be able to  interview a subject matter expert for 30-45 minutes and extract enough information to create several content pieces.

For many people, the biggest challenge in content marketing is sitting down to do the actual writing. Getting some writing and creative help can be well worth it.

2. Conveying culture and personality

One of the key opportunities of content marketing and social media is producing content that is not only useful, but reflects the people and culture of your organization.

People like to do business with people. When you show a bit of what makes your company human it can offer a real competitive advantage with certain customers. If the person running your social doesn’t have the pulse of your business, it won’t ring true and feel authentic. At best, you miss an opportunity - at worst, you confuse and lose credibility with customers.

An outside consultant needs access to and assistance from internal team members to understand and convey a company’s culture.

3. Customer service and response

Digital communication channels present amazing new opportunities - and also present demanding new responsibilities and expectations.

When you open new lines of communication with customers, you must be ready to deliver great service through those channels. Every message, every comment, every reply from your audience deserves your attention and response.

Much of that communication can be handled by an astute consultant. But other situations - unhappy customers, technical questions, order problems - could require internal team members get involved quickly.

Be sure to have systems in place that can always maintain exemplary service levels and escalate issues as necessary.

How marketing consultants CAN help small businesses with content?

Fortunately, there are many places where an outside expert can take charge. Filling skill and knowledge gaps within your organization can have a fantastic ROI.

You may choose to take the lead on some of these internally. But after an honest assessment - other components will likely require some help.

  • Research and buyer persona development - Conducting primary customer research, keyword search volume research and competitive analysis
  • Writing and storytelling - Researching and crafting compelling narratives, clearly conveying complex ideas and elegantly telling the story of your company
  • Content production - Producing value adding blog posts, whitepapers, videos, infographics, podcasts, etc to reach and educate your audience
  • Imagery and design - Professional photography and graphic design
  • Marketing automation and email - Segmenting customer lists, developing automated customer workflows and optimizing for best results
  • Analytics and reporting - Testing, learning, adjusting, testing, learning, adjusting, testing, learning, adjusting, testing...
  • Social posting and content distribution- Sharing the great content you create with the people that need it most
  • Digital advertising - Accelerating growth by expanding reach with paid social promotion, pay-per-click advertising and display retargeting
  • Process design and QC - Designing the processes and systems that ensure your marketing engine runs consistently and efficiently


  • Limits to your time, skills and interest areas mean hiring a marketing consultant or agency may make sense
  • Some aspects of content marketing will require your participation
    • You must: Provide expertise, infuse company into content, maintain service levels
  • Other aspects can - and often should - utilize outside marketing expertise
    • A consultant can help with: Target market research, storytelling, writing, content creation, photography, video, design, marketing automation, email campaigns, content distribution, social posting, digital advertising, process design and quality control


Building an Audience Before Building Your Small Business

If it’s true  what Jim Rohn says, that “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” then I am feeling pretty good about myself.

I have been lucky recently to spend time with a number of fellow entrepreneurs at early stages of their dreams. Some were close friends and family - others are new friends and new business. All of them impressive and inspiring.

I have found myself discussing a variety of business plans with varied leaders. Two newlyweds taking steps toward opening a locally sourced food and wine business on Long Island. Another the co-founder of a Charleston, SC based brewery. Another a distiller and expert on Korean Whiskys planning his own Brooklyn based brand. The last is an innovative furniture maker in the midst of raising a series A in New York.

These are all vastly different businesses that I felt emphatically compelled to give the same advice: Begin building your audience before you begin building your business!

People tend to humbly and quietly go about their planning, waiting until they are farther along and can more thoroughly prove themselves. But the smart move - and the brave move - is to take a risk by putting yourself out there much sooner.

Start interacting and building trust with the audience your business will serve. Learn what they like, what they want to know, and what they need to know. Then start giving it to them.

Launch a blog, or a video blog. Start a podcast or make series of educational videos. Host a webinar or interview an industry expert. Write - take pictures - network - design - create - share… Whatever!

Just honestly and vulnerably share what you know and love with people. That inspires excitement, trust and eventually loyalty. The sooner you start the better off you will be.

I have been giving this advice so much that it was clear I needed to write it down. Here are some of the benefits to beginning to build an audience before you are ready to open your new business.

Develop the habit

Creating a habit of content creation is a real challenge. Start developing that muscle as soon as possible.

Get in a mindset where every part of your journey is viewed as a content generation opportunity. Everything you learn - every challenge you face - every connection you make - All can be an inspiration to create something interesting and helpful.

People think they will immediately begin pumping out great content when their business launches… It doesn’t work that way. You need to cultivate the habit of creating and sharing until its part of your identity.

Get to know your audience

You will learn about your audience as you build it. The process of building that relationship will teach you what your audience responds to, who influences them and what they need.

You will be in a much better position to design and sell your product when you better understand your target customers.

Steepen your learning curve

Immersing yourself in the audience development process speeds up the rate at which you learn all sorts of things.

You’ll be researching posts, sharing data, interacting with people, meeting influencers, answering questions, finding new distribution channels, testing tactics and much more. Content creation puts you in the role of teacher and teaching is often the best way to learn.

All that work naturally increases the pace of your own learning. As an entrepreneur you need to be learning as much as possible and audience development can be a key driver.

Hone your message

Creating content for your audience is a great way to continually hone your messaging.

As a small business or startup owner, you likely won’t have a team of top copywriters to start. You will need to work exceptionally hard to develop messaging that will resonate with customers.

They say “if you want to be a better writer… write!” Committing to building an audience will force you to practice your craft and hone your messaging in time for your business to benefit.

Reach early adopters

A new business needs to be strategic about who they are targeting at each stage of their growth. Beginning your audience development at the earliest stages can help your reach the all-important early adopters.

The broad-market customer you may target when you are established is precisely the wrong group to target at the earliest stages. That’s because a broad-market customer won’t consider an unproven new option - they won’t consider you.

However, there is a small portion of the market comprised of early adopters that want to be first to try something new. This group will also be interested in your struggle to build something new.

The story of your entrepreneurial journey may catch the attention of this early adopter customer. And that customer type is the single most important factor in the early success or failure of your business.

As your business grows, the early adopter crowd will lose interest in you because you are no longer the hot new thing. But by then you are a proven entity which is now attractive to the broad-market audience that ignored you in the beginning.

Use content as a networking tool

Becoming a content creator can be a great way to support your in-person networking efforts.

Successful networking can be vital to the planning process of your business. Whether you are raising funding, looking for a co-founder, recruiting early employees, or prospecting for your first clients - you need to be taken seriously.

But it can be difficult to establish your expertise in the early days when you don’t have an established business - or even a business card and website.

Pointing to content you have created gives something tangible to showcase your expertise and make you memorable. Having a blog, a YouTube channel, a podcast, or some other creative output can really help bolster your credibility.

Head start on SEO

Getting a jump on content creation is going to provide you with a big SEO advantage when it comes time to actually launch your business website.

Google values unique, relevant, frequently posted content above all else. Quality is the most important factor but it is unrealistic to believe that quantity has no impact.

The majority of new small business websites launch with only a handful of pages - which makes sense. Your site should be easy to navigate and should focus only on what is most important.

But if you are able to tie in an existing blog - or other resources like video, infographics, podcasts, etc - you add additional content without distracting users. In fact, it will improve the user experience - which is what search engines reward.

Don’t worry if you don’t know your eventual company’s name or have its domain. The majority of any SEO value you gain can be passed to your site later using 301 redirects or canonical tags.

Your business will have a big advantage at launch if you have already built a treasure trove of content.

Build a photography collection

Building your community will have the side effect of forcing you to develop your own photo library.

Getting attention online generally requires great images to pair with your written work. Your posts will perform far better with a visual to help tell your story.

Getting in the habit of producing content will also get you in the habit of collecting great photos. I have written in the past about the importance of building your business photography collection.

Start producing content and you will likely become your company’s first photographer without even trying.

Build while you still can

Another advantage to building audience before launching your business: you don’t have the distraction of running your business.

The best marketing is a great product or service. I recommend you remain exceptionally focused on design and execution in the early days.

That won’t leave much time for building an audience. You will be distracted from developing your product - or you won’t have an audience to tell when the product is ready.

An audience-first approach allows for extreme product focus at launch. When the product is just right, you’ll already have loyal fans eager to hear about it.


  • Begin cultivating an audience long before you launch your new business
  • Don’t wait until you are ready - Take a risk and just start creating and sharing
  • Develop a habit of being an “always-on” content creator
  • Start learning about your audience by interacting with them
  • Force yourself onto a steeper learning curve
  • Craft, test, iterate and improve your messaging before the pressure is on
  • Reach early adopters by sharing your journey as an entrepreneur
  • Use your content to accelerate your early SEO results
  • Use content creation as the impetus to build your own photography collection

Planning & Collecting Photos for Small Business Marketing

Everyone hates stock photos… yet they are used constantly. How can that be?

It’s because collecting good photographs and imagery is much harder than you think. Without a large budget for professional photography, it requires long-term planning and a cultural shift in your organization.

You will need many photos in the course of marketing your business. Websites, print brochures, blog articles, social media posts, PR opportunities, etc. All will be improved with good visuals.

If you only think about photos in the moments you need them for some particular project you will be way behind. With a good plan, you can effectively create your own stock photo gallery that is far more personal and authentic than anything you can purchase.

The difficulty of producing quality photos is easily underestimated. You may routinely dazzle your personal Instagram followers but when you are on a deadline and need something that feels professional you’ll realize how few photos are keepers.

But you can rely on amateur photography if you approach the task strategically.

A big piece of the puzzle is committing to consistency and volume. With amateur photography, you’ll want a large collection of photos from which to pluck the gems.

You should harness the creativity of your entire team. Make it clear that creating a collection of photos to draw from is the responsibility of the group. Everyone has a phone camera and everyone can participate.

Look for ways to incentivize contributions. Try a weekly photo contest that recognizes people for their creativity. Try giving out little rewards to those that are making a real effort. It can and should be a fun process. Get your staff on board and you’ll suddenly have a team of iPhone toting photographers continually building a collection.

You can improve the results by providing your team with creative inspiration. Nurture a culture where everyone is constantly thinking about the imagery that defines your personality, story, process and product.

Hold routine brainstorming sessions and keep a running list of specific shots you want to capture. Get your team involved in that ideation process to harness their creativity and entice their enthusiasm. Establish a Dropbox or Google Drive account where people can easily upload their photos. A tagging system to keep pictures organized is also a good idea.

Coming up with the creative ideas for imagery is a big part of the challenge. Below are some photo types and examples that can provide a framework for brainstorming and hopefully trigger additional ideas.

Focus on the community

If you serve a particular geographic area, take pictures that reflect the community you serve. That could mean shots of local landmarks like a distinctive building or a gazebo in the town square. It could also be a landscape photo taken from the highest point in town.

Think about local visuals that all your customers will immediately recognize and associate with the community.

Showcase your toolkit

Collect images of the tools you use to get your job done. For a fine home builder the tools are quite obvious… they’re tools. Snap a few photos of the nail while framing or the cement truck when it arrives to pour the foundation.

For other businesses, the tool kit may be less obvious but it exists. A lawyer has a legal pad. A real estate agent has a sign. A yogi has a mat.

Those images become the static equivalent of B-roll for a website, blog or social post.

Reflect your customers

What photos would reflect the customer you serve? An inn can use visuals of the luggage their guests will certainly be toting. A caterer might want bride and groom shots.

Portray an event

Don’t miss the opportunity to gather photos at any events you and your team visits. If your staff attends a tradeshow, walks for charity, or has a ribbon cutting, be sure to have cameras out through the whole thing.

Diagnose the problem

Use images to document the problem you solve. An accountant serving small businesses could capture the unwieldy box of receipts from an unorganized client. A stone mason could show a collapsed rock wall or a crumbling chimney.

Before and after

Now that you have documented the problem, be sure to the capture the solution for a powerful before and after sequence. A landscaper can show the beautiful space salvaged from an overgrown mess. An engineering firm could display the detailed schematic that grew out of a rough sketch.

Highlight your personality

Not every photo has to relate directly to the work you perform. What images would reflect the personality and spirit of your brand and team?

Demonstrate creativity with photos of your team working on an artistic personal project. If you’re fun and like to cut loose, get some pics of the team clinking glasses at happy hour. Get shots of office dog under your desk.

Introduce the team

Your most important asset is likely your team. Get as many pictures of them as possible. Candids, portraits, solos, group shots, in the office, out and about, with their pets, pursuing their hobbies, hard at work, hard at play… everything!

That collection will convey the human side of your company.

Show the work getting done

An author could show herself parked in front of the computer, signing books or at the podium of a speaking engagement. A university should collect shots of professors engaging with students. A chef peeling an enormous pile of potatoes conveys the work that goes into every step.

Feature your workspace

Provide additional context for your audience with images of your work spaces. Include your office or desk but get more creative with it as well. A law firm could capture shots of an empty courtroom. A bakery might take close-ups inside the oven.

Document your process

Try presenting visuals from your planning or creative process. You could use a series of images that show the evolution of your product design. Or capture your team gathered around the whiteboard in a brainstorming session.

Display your raw materials

Get pics of the raw materials that drive your business. A farm shouldn’t just shoot the produce – photograph the seed. Caterers could snap shots of the grocery delivery. Manufacturers might have a huge rack of sheet metal that would make a perfect background image.

Show products in the wild

Don’t stop at staged product images – document your product or service in use. A builder could bring life to a client’s kitchen renovation with shots of a family dinner. Or a designer could show where their work is being displayed.

Get artsy

Get a bit more abstract and symbolic with images that represent your value. A sapling could convey personal growth. A rocket ship could represent business growth. Just don’t use those ideas exactly because they are really cliché - but you get the idea.


  • Stock photos suck – collect your own imagery whenever you can
  • Have a long term photo collection plan and weave it into the company culture
  • Enlist the help of your team and inspire their creativity
  • Create a system that makes it easy to contribute and organize photos
  • Provide a framework of the types of images you want

Photo types to consider:

  1. Focus on the community
  2. Showcase your toolkit
  3. Reflect your customer
  4. Portray an event
  5. Diagnose the problem
  6. Before and after
  7. Highlight your personality
  8. Introduce the team
  9. Show the work getting done
  10. Feature your workspace
  11. Document your process
  12. Display your raw materials
  13. Show products in the wild
  14. Get artsy

How Technology Has Democratized Content Marketing

Have we reached a point of content saturation on articles about content saturation? It’s true that there is a lot more content and a lot more noise competing for attention. For bigger brands this may not be a welcome development. After all, they always had the resources, content and access to distribution that made content marketing effective.

But for smaller businesses on tighter budgets, changes in the content marketing landscape have been decidedly positive. Laments about content saturation from that crowd just seem like hollow complaints.

The fact is that the technological advancements that have increased content output are the same factors that have allowed smaller brands into the game in the first place. Would you rather have access to a content marketing toolkit in a competitive landscape or not have access at all?

In this post we’ll take a look at the technological innovations that have democratized content creation and distribution and allowed small businesses to benefit.

Content distribution on your terms

The barriers and middlemen between you and your audience have dramatically and consistently melted away over the last decade or so.

Consider the options you had to distribute any content you created in the past. Your options basically included books, magazines, newspapers, direct mail, billboards, television or radio… and let’s not forget skywriting.

As a business owner you don’t control any of these channels. Your content must be accepted by an editor or you must pay for the privilege of communicating with your audience.

Contrast that with similar channels today that offer far more control. You can easily self-publish written content with a blog, eBook, whitepaper, or slideshare deck rather than going through a publisher. Television can be substituted with video hosting and sharing tools like YouTube, Vimeo or Wistia. Podcasts can replace radio, be distributed for free with iTunes or Stitcher, and consumed on demand. Direct mail becomes email…  and I guess Twitter is the new skywriting. Haha

Content can be shared on a much larger scale without the marketing budget that would have been required in the past. Social media and SEO have become key methods for reaching a new audience. And you can maintain that audience like never before with owned channels like your website or email list.

Even when a major channel like Facebook drastically reduces organic access to your audience, there are dozens of other social channels with fewer barriers able to pick up the slack.

So yes, while content saturation is real and there is more competition for attention than ever, small businesses and organizations with tight budgets have more direct access to their audience than ever before.

Inexpensive devices to capture amazing audio and video

Advancements in hardware technology have opened up content formats that would have been unapproachable for many small businesses in the past.

The cost of cameras, video equipment and microphones continues to fall as quality and usability improve. Even the capabilities of a smartphone make amazing content achievable for any business. For just a few hundred dollars – which you probably already spent – and you have the tools to create striking visual content.

The camera quality on the latest phones is better than most high end cameras were not long ago. With each iteration new features like improved panoramic capability and slow motion get better and  better.

The sound capture on phone microphones is pretty amazing too - especially if you are able to keep the phone close to the sound source. Picking up a few other tricks - like using one phone to film and another to capture audio - will improve the output even further. For more suggestions, Wistia has a piece on creating great video with only an iPhone.

There are also some very affordable shotgun microphone attachments that enhance audio even further. An inexpensive lighting setup can provide even more polish with a minimal investment.

The increasing affordability of drones offers new opportunities as well. Check out this video featuring the Lily Drone. It promises the ability to capture aerial video all by yourself that would have required a helicopter and camera crew in the past.

Your ability to create something amazing is limited only by your own creatively and knowledge of your audience.

Software to design and edit content like never before

The job of editing, enhancing, designing, and packaging your content used to require an entire team and tens of thousands of dollars (or more) in equipment.

Today, an inspired creator can put out a remarkable product with nothing more than a laptop, a smartphone and some enthusiasm.

An out-of-the-box MacBook basically serves as a fully equipped creative studio. The Pages application allows you to mix text and imagery to create magazine quality documents. The Photos application offers basic photo editing, retouching and organizaton. iMovie serves as a very capable mobile video studio. GarageBand enables musicians or a podcast creators to generate amazing audio content. And Keynote provides  a great tool for giving compelling presentations.

If your budget is even tighter, many of the primary capabilities of those applications can be performed directly on an iPhone with standard or inexpensive mobile apps.

Design help is even easier to get. Freelance job sites make finding and working with a professional designer more convenient and affordable than ever. Other platforms like 99designs are innovating on the process further by providing a platform for small business owners to setup design competitions and choose their favorite result.

The ease and low costs of today’s tools make it possible to produce content that many small brands would never have been able to attempt just five or ten years ago.


  • Technology has made great content marketing more achievable for SMBs that ever before
  • Today’s distribution channels put far more control in the hands of low-budget marketers
  • A smartphone in the hands of a creative person is a content generation wonder-tool
  • Standard creative apps make polishing content cheaper & easier than ever
  • “Content saturation” is merely a symptom of a golden age of small business content marketing

Understanding the When and Why of Content Marketing

There is a simple answer to the question, “ When is content marketing a good fit?” … the answer is “Almost always!” That’s not particularly useful though.

The more important factor is understanding why content marketing fits for your company. That answer will be different for every business.

But let’s start with the very broad times when content marketing is a good fit.

Content marketing tends to produce outsized results in cases where the target customer is likely to conduct extensive research that will influence purchasing decisions.

In many cases that research won’t even involve much direct product research. It could be that they are simply delving into a problem they have. Other times they may simply be exploring an interest or passion, curious how it can be pursued more deeply. Or they could be seeking information aimed at improving themselves personally or professionally.

The question of why they put in that effort is more useful.

Below are a few main reasons why somebody may be inspired to seek out the information that will influence their buying decision. Understanding those motivations will help you craft content that truly speaks to your audience and provides a distinct value.


The purchase is expensive

The most obvious reason people consume content prior to an important purchase is that they perceive the purchase to be expensive.

And it’s important to remember that expensive is a very relative term. It applies at different times for different reasons.

Anything that represents a large portion of your income is obviously going to be considered “expensive”. But something with a relatively low cost can still be perceived as expensive. If you’re going to pay a premium, that luxury needs to feel justified.

I’m a sucker for a fancy cup of coffee despite the shame of paying double. I’ve read about how premium brands differentiate their roasting process, how the Fairtrade label means the farmers are treated better, and even how writing in a coffee shop can increase my productivity. Whether I believe all that or not, it does make me feel better about paying for “expensive” coffee. “You win, hipster coffee shop. Here is my $4.”

Implementation will be time consuming

Spending is not the only type of expense we face. Sometimes monetary costs are a non-factor but the proper purchase is very important because of the time and effort it takes to implement.

I recently spent a hefty chunk of time reading and watching video to choose an email marketing tool. At the service level I was looking at, the main competitors were all free.  That didn’t make it an easy choice.

I knew I was going to spend a significant amount of time implementing the tool – setting up email collection widgets on my blog, creating email lists, building an email template, etc. If I made the wrong decision that time would be wasted. You better believe I did a lot of reading on the capabilities I should be looking for in a tool.

Purchases can be particularly difficult to implement in B2B because a business purchase may require buy-in from various departments. If I want a new tool at work, I need to convince the others. A poor choice could cost my time, cost my team’s time and tarnish my reputation at work.

The decision is difficult to reverse

Some purchases take on an extra level of importance because it’s difficult or impossible to change course if the wrong choice is made.

Consider the process of choosing a tattoo and an artist to ink it. If I’m unhappy with the result, I’m stuck with it. I have no doubt that the spontaneous drunken tattoo is still a thing… but many people put a lot research into that decision

It can also be more difficult to reverse a decision if subsequent purchases require compatibility. Anything that is a key part of an ecosystem fits this description.

For instance, if I buy a new baby stroller, I may then buy a car seat that clicks into it, a cup holder that fits it, a customized rainhood, a color coordinated diaper bag, the bassinet insert and much more… it’s not really a hypothetical – I bought all that crap. Haha. We read a great many blog posts and watched way too many videos before selecting that stroller.

The risk of failure is enormous

People will also put more consideration into a purchase when there is a very high cost of being wrong. In those cases you need to be sure they get the decision right.

A small business owner may need to hire a lawyer to assess their liability and draft customer contracts that protect the company.

Making the wrong decision could be catastrophic. If the attorney they hire lacks the requisite expertise or industry understanding, the contract they produce could leave the business open to a major lawsuit. That’s a decision that gets researched.

The audience has a problem and needs to discover solutions

Some problems have an obvious solution. If somebody needs transportation to work every day, it’s pretty clear that buying a car is one possible solution.

In other cases, your audience may not even know a purchasable solution exists.

Consider the situation faced by the Saas company, Slack. If you don’t know them, Slack is a team communication tool that puts all your communication in one place that is easily searchable. Their target customers are only half aware that they have a need for this type of tool, much less know to look for it.

But clearly content marketing was a good fit. In a single year, Slack grew from 15k active daily users to over 500K active daily. That wasn’t because people were Googling ‘tool to revolutionize team communication.’ Their content strategy was able to articulate a problem people didn’t know they had and gradually present a solution.

The choice makes them feel

What if the cost is low, there is no complex implementation, the options are clear, and the decision can easily be changed in the future. That doesn’t always mean a purchase won’t be heavily researched.

Buying decisions that are subconsciously aimed at satisfying some emotionally driven desire will inspire more research and thought, making it a perfect match for content marketing.

Fashion choices may be influenced by a person’s need to fit in or, conversely, to stand out. Someone may be influenced to donate time or money to a non-profit because it touches their sense of community. Having the latest tech gadget may appeal to your self-image as an innovator.

Emotional triggers can also be negative. Fear, for instance, is a powerful motivator in many purchase decisions. Acquiring insurance is always driven by the fear that something bad could happen. It’s dangerous to attempt to stimulate fear with your marketing, but understanding it’s inevitable effect can help guide your strategy.

Some combination of the above

In most cases, there a several contributing factors that make a buying decision feel important.

I’ll go back to that stroller example for this one. I bought a stroller. It was expensive as hell. Sure, it cost less than my rent, car, vacation or computer… but for a stroller, it felt really expensive. I needed to make the right decision because I also had to get all the accessories – which meant I couldn’t just sell it and buy another if I didn’t like it. If it weren’t sturdy, I felt as though my baby could pop out and land in the road… that would be a significant parenting fail. But at the end of the day, it was all worth it because purchasing that stroller made me feel like the cool dad – regardless of how it made me look.

If it’s not already clear, that stroller was the most researched purchase in history. Haha


  • When is content marketing a fit? – Usually – Whenever the buying process includes research
  • Why is content marketing a fit? – That’s different for every business and every buyer persona
  • Understanding why a purchase is important to buyers will guide your content strategy
  • Some common reasons a why a purchase becomes important enough to research thoroughly:
    • It’s expensive (or feels that way)
    • Implementation is time consuming
    • There’s no going back – the decision is final
    • The cost of failure is too high to risk
    • There’s a problem but no clear solution
    • The purchase will impact how the buyer feels
  • Most important purchases involve more than one of these reasons
  • New parents are the marketing equivalent of a bullseye