5 Core Content Types Every Marketer Needs To Succeed

Fill Your Editorial Calendar Without Hurting Your Budget

5_Core_Content_Types_-_Chart-_Heidi_CohenNo [piece of content] is an island complete in itself.

Long before content marketing ever existed John Donne understood its interconnected nature.

Content is part of your organization’s total offering. It makes what Harvard Business Professor Theodore Levitt dubbed “intangibles.” These attributes of your products and services aren’t concrete. They can’t be tested in advance.

Content transforms information about your offering into tangible terms your prospects, customers, end users, decision makers and influencers can understand.

To yield measurable results, often known as content ROI, your content must be integrated as building blocks of a larger whole. They must be aligned with your organization’s key goals.

To this end, you need a mix of the 5 core content types. Together they meet your target audiences’ information needs. Additionally, they generate awareness and engagement that produce quality leads and sales.

5 Core content types5_Core_Content_Types_-_Chart-_Heidi_Cohen


1. Foundational content

Often referred to as pillar content, this content type forms the core of your content offering. It’s the content to which you’ll link back to in you’re future content. It should generate the lion’s share of your traffic and leads. As your content evolves, it’ll need updating to stay relevant.

It answers the question associated with your business goals:

What do you want to be known for? 

Keep your response simple. It’s much easier to convey to your audiences, including your employees and stakeholders. To stand out, use original research content to verify the one data point that’s often asserted but rarely supported.

Select 3 words to represent your content focus. (This is a variation on Chris Brogan’s annual 3 word tagline.) It’s key to ensuring you can own these terms in your niche and search. If they’re too close to a competitor or close substitute, consider changing them via what Joe Pulizzi calls a content tilt or pivot.

At a minimum, start your content marketing with 3 to 5 pieces of foundational content.

Collectively, your foundational content should:

  • Answer the question: “How can we help our readers and the broader community?”
  • Be updated on a regular schedule.
  • Assess the potential to repackaged and/or repromote each piece.

Foundational content requires lots of effort and resources.


2. Customer-focused content

Customer-focused content is what The Sales Lion Marcus Sheridan calls, “They ask, you answer” content.

In its simplest form, this core content type answers every possible customer question including price. Smart content marketers won’t shy away from explaining their pricing. Instead, they’ll find ways, like Sheridan, to give a range and/or augment their offering to enhance generic products.Fiberglass Pool Prices_ How Much is My Pool Really Going to Cost?-1-3-1-1-1-1

The key to customer-focused content is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. To this end, create a marketing persona.

Don’t guess what your customers want.

Ask them.

Really it’s that simple!

Take a page from Social Triggers’ Derek Halpern. Ask what keeps your prospects up at night in your email confirmation

Ask your readers to tell you what is on their minds

Ask your readers to tell you what is on their minds

You can create customer-focused content on a regular basis. Translation: Every day or every week.

Even better, get your fellow employees to help you create this core content type! This includes customer-facing personnel such as customer service and sales.

Don’t ask them to write articles or blog for you. Instead create a special customer content email address and ask them to blind copy it for every customer question they answer. This provides a first draft for your blog post. The catch: You must monitor this email box on a regular basis!

BTW, another Sheridan tip (I’m sorry but the guy’s a sales genius!):

Create a “Who You DON’T Want As A Customer?” post. The key is to explain why. Since everyone wants to belong, it converts like a charm! That’s what Sheridan told me!

customer-focused core content type


3. Cyclical Content

Think like a traditional media company to develop this core content type.

Report the news related to your specific niche.

Also, consider newsjacking, writing about a high profile news item applied to your topic.

David Meerman Scott who created the term newsjacking cleverly tapped into the media frenzy over Donald Trump. (Note: Scott was careful to state that he was NOT writing a political piece. Be careful of topics that attract readers who just want to flame a high visibility topic.)

Cyclical core content type

Don’t limit yourself to print publications like newspapers and magazines for your inspiration. Use television, radio and events as well.

The fake news like The Daily Show and Last Week Tonight also provides useful inspiration. These half hour comedy shows are broken into segments like a 3 act show.

  • First segment. Curates the real news to present commentary on what’s happening. The host rifts on a hot news topic adding a satirical spin.
  • Second segment. Is a feature story. Think magazine cover story mixed with investigative reporting. Often it’s an on-going series. Stephen Colbert was brilliant at this. His “Better Know A District” was a series of conversations with sitting Representatives.

  • Third segment. Is an interview with someone interesting. Jon Stewart established his political chops giving him access to a wide range of politicians who wanted access to his hard-to-reach 18-30 year old male demographic.

Like a traditional media entity, you can create cyclical content on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.


4. Crowd Pleaser Content

This core content type is blue ribbon content. By its nature, it attracts readers and shares.

Publish this long, useful content monthly to support your traffic and visibility. But understand that you get what you pay for. Crowd Pleaser content takes resources and time to gather, organize and optimize the information.

Syed Balkhi tapped into the power of this content with his List25 blog. It’s a smart move. It has an easy-to-follow format for both readers and content curators. Every post consists of (you guessed it!) 25 points. It’s a no brainer.

Here’s an example of one of List25’s top posts, 25 Things Women Say That Men Misunderstand. You know from the title that every visitor will read it and shake their head in agreement. Check the opening and a select point.

Crowd Pleaser Core Content Type

Crowd Pleaser Core Content Type


Crowd Please Core Content Type-List Point

If you reach out to influencers or others, allow additional time for communication, outreach and follow up. Do this poorly and you’ll get limited results. (Check Lee Odden’s 50 Ways to Fail At Influencer Relations to see how to do this well.)

If your content references or includes influencer commentary, this can boost your visibility. Send them a followup email and let them know that your content is published.

For example, Ian Cleary recently created his influencer roundup entitled Content Marketing Mastery to support his Irish event.

Crowd Pleaser Core Content Type

Influencer Roundup As Crowd Pleaser Core Content Type


5. Long-playing content

This core content type is a key element of contextual marketing since it reduces once and done content. It gives your content re-promotion an extra boost

Long-playing content can be as simple as republishing existing content and as complex as adding related articles such as a series.

Long-playing content is also a budget saver. By building on existing content, it usually requires less resources and budget.

Jason Miller of LinkedIn has done an amazing job of extending The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide To LinkedIn. After its initial launch, it’s gone through two pivots with rewrites.


Another key element of long playing content is content curation. Like content marketing, content curation has evolved.

Content curation not only provides low effort content creation, but also extends the life of your existing content.

3 standalone content curation options to fill your editorial calendar.

  • 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.



The content marketing bottom line:

Using a mix of the 5 core content types goes beyond filling your editorial calendar.

Beyond creating quality content, you need to balance your resources and budget. While content marketing budgets have remained constant or increased, they’re still finite. Therefore you need a content mix of resource-intense content and limited resource content.

Further, a mix of these 5 core content types enables you to reach different segments of your audience. It supports different points during their purchase process and fulfills your readers’ content needs.

Use a mix of core content types provides the added benefit of improving your content ROI. Long playing content keeps older high value content stays top of mind and weak content can be improved. 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 part of 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 Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

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Image Credit: (c) 2016 Heidi Cohen – Use requires link to this article.

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4 Responses to 5 Core Content Types Every Marketer Needs To Succeed

  1. DMIOA says:

    Quite an informative blog! I really like the second point which emphasizes on the need of creating customer-focused content. Any piece of content, whether a web page, article, blog, infographic or even a podcast that serves all relevant and important information is surely going to support your marketing strategy. Plus, reaching the influencers is again a powerful tool for the outreach activities.

  2. Yes,It is nice article and worth to read it!! I like the point that content should be customer focused by this way you can get more customers and increase your business
    and brand value.

  3. Audrey Taylor says: