5 Core Content Types You Need To Support Your Marketing

The 5 Core Content Types are at the heart of a balanced content marketing offering.

This includes all of the content, information and data across your business.

It enhances your product and/or service offering by adding what Harvard Business professor Theodore Levitt called “intangibles.”

In light of the seismic marketing shift, you must provide a mix of content, information and/or data to meet your audience’s needs. To get found and consumed, this includes:

  • When a visitor wants it, 
  • Where the visitor is located (especially to answer “Near me” voice and mobile searches), and
  • With the device and content format of the visitor’s choice.

Together the 5 core content types fill your editorial calendar while meeting both your audience and business needs.

Even better:
You can transform this content into different formats, platforms and/or devices to:

  • Remains visible, findable and viable over time.
  • Maximize measurable content marketing results while using  marketing resources and budget efficiently.
  • Build business value with owned media and an addressable audience.


5 Core Content Types


1. What are Content Pillars (aka: Foundational Content)?Core Content Types - Content Pillars

Content Pillars establish the foundation for your content offering and thought leadership. This content type addresses one of the major topics or themes at the heart of your content marketing strategy.

From this substantial foundation content, you can create other pieces of related information.

Associated with your top business goals, content pillars or foundational content answer the question:
What do you want to be known for?

Look for a “white space” in your category for your pillar content. Your objective is to “own” core search terms in your content niche (including mobile and voice).

Where necessary, follow Orbit Media’s Andy Crestodina’s advice to “niche down” to find an available opportunity. Don’t worry about being too niche, since the more specific your content gets, the more universal it becomes.

If the focus of your content pillars are too close to a competitor or close substitute, change them. In Joe Pulizzi’s words make a “content tilt.”

Further, associate your content pillar with your content hub terms. This provides structure and data to support content sustainability over time.

As your business and content marketing evolve, update and transform your foundational content to keep it relevant.

Why Original Research Content is a Content Pillar

Where appropriate, use original research content. Since original research provides a good way of keeping this information up-to-date and attracting attention.

While original research yields strong results, it requires content marketing investment. For example, according to Andy Crestodina:

“The [Annual Blogging Research] takes around 150 hours to create each year. That’s 10x the amount of time we invest in a typical post. But the results are 100x that of a typical post.”

How long does it take to write a typical post?

Actionable Content Marketing Tactics:

  • Answer: “How do we contribute to the thought leadership of our broader community?”
  • Remain the best piece of content on a specific topic (Hat tip: Lee Odden).
  • Repackage and/or re-promote each piece of foundational content.


2. What Is Customer FAQ Content?Core COntent Types

As a core content type, Customer FAQ Content is associated with They Ask, You Answer author Marcus Sheridan. In 2008, Sheridan saved his pool business by answering every question his customers asked in a blog post.

What was the most important question Marcus answered?

Without knowing the cost, prospects won’t buy!

While many marketing and sales professionals avoid discussions about price:
instead, like Sheridan, give a range and/or change your offering.

Because  providing this key information, shows transparency and builds trust. Also, it gets rid of unqualified prospects!  (BTW–Here’s the original version of his post.)

Fiberglass Pool Prices_ How Much is My Pool Really Going to Cost?-1-3-1-1-1-1

Further to support content marketing disruption, Customer FAQ Content helps both voice first and marketing AI needs.

To do this, take a page from Crystal Communications’s George Stenitzer. He collected the Top 100 Questions in Content Marketing. 

Customer FAQ Content - Core Content TYpes

Actionable Content Marketing Tactics:

  • Put yourself in your customers’ shoes when you answer questions. Don’t guess what your customers want—Ask them! 
  • Create marketing personasUse responder emails to gather information. (BTW, I’d be thrilled if you subscribed to the Actionable Marketing Guide Newsletter.)Example of how to gather information from new email subscribers via Actionable Marketing Guide
  • Add FAQ Customer Content on a regular basis. Get customer-facing employees to help you create this core content type!
  • Create a  Customer FAQ Content email address. Ask customer-facing employees to blind copy it for every customer question they answer. Monitor this email box on a regular basis!
  • Promote Customer FAQ Content in all relevant customer communications. Also give sales and customer service access to this information.


3. What is Consistent Content?

From a core content type point of view, consistent content comes builds your audience’s content consumption habit for your information.

Because overtime your readers, viewers or listeners expect this content on a regular schedule.

Further as Ann Handley points out:
“You show up for your readers because you promised that you would!”

Also known as cyclical or recurring content, your consistent content ideally should be produced and published at least once per week to achieve best results.

For content creation, consistent content:

  • Has a easy-to-create content template and personality. In addition to reducing creation time, the author builds a personal relationship with your audience.
  • Builds audience expectations for your content.  Even better, they give you permission to contact them, adding to your addressable audience.
  • Allows distribution of other marketing messages. But respect your audience by keeping promotion to a minimum.

While email is the most popular consistent content format, choose the content format your audience prefers. Email often by-passes other content distribution challenges related to screens and devices.

In addition:
Other options of this core content type include blog posts, videos, webinars and/or podcasts.

In his “You Ask, I Answer” column, Chris Penn includes 3 content formats: video, audio and text.

Chris Penn – You Ask, I Answer

Actionable Content Marketing Tactics:

  • Create more than one form of consistent content to reach different audiences. For example, create an internal newsletter that reads like a local newspaper. Accenture does this to stay in contact with job applicants.Core Content types
  • Offer a regular column on your blog. Include a regular feature or interview. Late Night TV Shows provide a great example of this.


4. What is Crowd Pleaser Content?

As a core content type, Crown Pleaser Content attracts new visitors and increases visibility, often with the help of influencers. 

Publish crowd pleaser monthly to stay visible and to drive traffic .

But understand:
Crowd Pleaser content requires resources and time to gather, organize and optimize the information.

Input from relevant readers, customers and influencers are a key element of Crowd Pleaser Content to attract new audience.

A partner in content creation is a partner in content distribution. @crestodinaClick To Tweet


Don’t assume contributors will remember or look for your published content! Further, to increase the impact on social media platforms, get influencers and others to participate on the same share. 

So take a page from Content Marketing Institute’s Lisa Doughtery:
Remind contributors and help them by providing pre-formatted shares.

While roundup posts provide an east-to-follow format, Top Rank Marketing works with Traackr to produce their Top 50 Influencers. Since they link and show photos, the influencers continue to share the content over time.

Crowd Pleaser Content- Core Content Types

Actionable Content Marketing Tactics:

  • Spend time on personal influencer outreach. According to Blogging Brute’s Mike Allton, “I typically reach out to 50 – 100 influencers and generally only need to ask once to get a great set of responses. Further, I always give them at least a week to respond to the question. And I only follow-up if they expressed interest but didn’t respond.”
  • Invest in on-going content distribution and promotion over time to get maximum results.
  • Select Crowd Pleaser Publication timing with care. Since timing is the most critical distribution element. For example, avoid holidays.


5. What is Curated Content?

As a core content type, curated content not only provides low-effort content creation, but also extends the life of your existing content.

Select from 3 standalone curated content options to fill your editorial calendar and keep existing content visible. 

  • Regular columns to meet a set publishing schedule
  • Occasional content to fill an editorial gap
  • Epic content to support a major marketing objective or campaign.

For example, Content Marketing Institute’s Jodi Harris used curated content to create and update the Content Strategy Guide. Additionally, this is an example of pillar content that links to many related pieces of spoke content. (BTW, here’s my content curation guide from Content Marketing Institute.)

Content Curation - Core content type

Jodi integrates links to other related content through out the article.

Core content types-curated content via content marketing institute

Include links to relevant content in every piece of new content. And go one step further to make it stand out.

Actionable Content Marketing Tactics:

  • Track your most popular examples across all platforms. Add these examples where and when relevant.
  • Create an annual top performing post. It gets your best content another opportunity to shine.


5 Core Content Types Conclusion

The content marketing bottom line:
Use a mix of the 5 core content types to fill your editorial calendar while meeting visitor, audience and customer needs. 

Beyond creating and maintaining quality content, it balances your resources and budget. While content marketing budgets have remained constant or increased, they remain finite. Therefore balance your content mix with resource-intense and limited resource content.

Further, offering a mix of the 5 core content types helps to reach different segments of your audience. Also it takes advantage of different platforms and formats. As a result, you support prospects at different points in their purchase process.

By using a mix of the 5 core content types, you improve your content marketing ROI. Because you keep older high value content top of mind and upgrade weaker content. Either way it’s a win your finance team will love.

Go on. Try these 5 core content types. I dare you.

See how they work together to yield stronger, measurable results.

Remember—no piece of content is an island in your marketing plan.

Each piece of content is more than that!

Each piece of content is an entry way into your entire offering.

What is your favorite type of content and why do you think so?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on FacebookTwitter and Google+.


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Photo Credit: Heidi Cohen – use permitted with link to this article.

Editors note: This article was originally published on April 19, 2016. It have been very extensively revised and updated.


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