One of the most important rules of good writing is “show, don’t tell.” In this post, I’m applying that principle by showing you what good content marketing looks like instead of telling you*.
This post kicks off an occasional series on the blog, highlighting smart content marketing efforts I’ve found online. And I do mean “found” — I discovered the posts examined below through organic searches and directory sites; I have no relationship with the businesses featured.
Each installment of the series will focus on a different industry or niche. I’m starting with content marketing examples written by business and executive coaches.
Business coaches often find content marketing effective for a few key reasons:
- Their clients take a bit of time to choose a service, conducting research and weighing their options before deciding.
- Business coaches usually are interested in establishing authority and thought leadership in their field.
- Business coaches recognize the importance of long-term strategy. And content marketing is a long-term play — over time, a library of high-quality, strategic content can turn a business’s website into a lead-generation machine.
Both pieces highlighted below accomplish at least one content marketing goal effectively. That’s not to say they are perfect — it’s nearly impossible to find a perfect blog post, case study, video, etc. (this post included). But as you’ll see, I’ve highlighted what I think the author has done well, and what they could improve.
Hopefully this series will help you create better content for your business. Let’s get rolling …
Author: John Bulman, Profitability Thinking
What This Post Does Well: Bulman has published a classic piece of awareness stage content. When a potential client is in the awareness stage of the buyers’ journey, they’re trying to diagnose a problem they are experiencing, and if they’re thinking about solutions, it’s only in a broad sense.
You can imagine an overwhelmed business owner investigating outsourcing options and finding this post through a Google search. And you can imagine them identifying with the problem Bulman lays out in the first two sentences:
“As a business coach, some of the things I see are business owners not getting things done that they know are necessary to grow their business, feeling overwhelmed and guilty that this is happening, and eventually burning out. If this is you, it’s time to take your time back.”
Outsourcing, Bulman says, can help solve that problem. So he describes five tasks ripe for outsourcing — providing plenty of value for a stressed-out entrepreneur.
Ideally, a post like this starts a relationship between Bulman and potential clients: They’ll return to his site for more smart tips, they’ll learn how his services help similar business owners, and eventually they’ll schedule a free “discovery call.”
Bulman also gets points in my book for not pushing for a discovery call in this post. Instead, the calls to action encourage the reader to take an online business assessment and to sign up for his email newsletter.
When a prospect is in the awareness stage, it’s unlikely they’re very close to buying. So a button that asks them to sign up for a 1-on-1 sales call is unlikely to convert, and it could turn them off.
The online assessment and email newsletter are smaller asks, and more appropriate in this context.
What Could Be Improved: If I were Bulman’s editor, I would suggest he get more specific. Exactly what kinds of IT businesses can help with “fixing [my] technology and installing new plugins,” for instance? Where can a busy business owner find them?
Or, even better, has he worked with a client who has saved time by making one of these changes? If so, tell that story in this post.
Example 2: What Happens In A Coaching Session?
Author: Russell Heath, Russell Heath Coaching
What This Post Does Well: If anything, this post over-delivers.
Based on the headline, the reader expects to learn what happens in one of Heath’s coaching sessions. But the post also gives the reader a sense of what an entire coaching engagement would be like.
The reader learns about “practices” between sessions, about Heath’s stance on advice (he generally doesn’t offer it), and how long coaching lasts.
And, as promised, Heath also offers a detailed look at what happens during an individual coaching session, from setting a goal at the start to wishing the client well as the session concludes.
Bottom line: This is smart decision-stage content. It’s the kind of post you want a potential client to read when they’re close to choosing your services — it explains exactly what they’ll get, and what the experience will be like. I would not be surprised if this post has led to multiple new clients for Heath.
What Could Be Improved: The post closes with a call to action in the body text: “Let’s get started—get in touch with me today,” linking to Heath’s contact page. And below that is an attractive form promoting a free downloadable guide.
I would get rid of the “Free Guide” form and move the “Let’s Get Started” call to action into that spot. If a prospect has read the post and wants the kind of coaching that it describes, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to get it. A prominent, easy-to-complete form is a good way to accomplish this.
Update: I emailed Heath to let him know I had blogged about his blog, and he took my advice. There’s now a “Schedule Your Free Session” call to action at the end of the post. Smart move, if you ask me!
That concludes “Episode 1” of my new series on good content marketing examples. Are you curious what good content marketing looks like in your industry? I’m taking suggestions for future installments in this series. Leave yours in the comments or send me a message.
* – Some readers may recognize that I’m not using “show, don’t tell” in exactly the same sense that it’s used when referring to descriptive writing. Fair enough. I will acknowledge that, while maintaining that this post adheres to the spirit of “show, don’t tell.”