Hero content is a concept that is central to many content marketing approaches and in this post I’m going to explain what it actually is and show how you use hero content in a campaign.
In this post
- What is Hero content?
- The benefits of hero content
- Using the 3H strategy
- The 3 H Strategy: Hygiene
- The 3H strategy:- Hub
- The 3H strategy:- Hero content
- Start with a plan
What is hero content?
Hero content is the main piece of work that an entire campaign will lead up to or centre around and can feature (among other things) a major white paper, a research piece or an eBook that provides valuable and useful information for its readers.
Hero content establishes the credibility of you and your brand and shows users that you can be relied upon to have a detailed grasp of the subject. In short, it shows you are a subject matter expert.
The benefits of hero content
To my mind there are three benefits of hero content.
The first is the establishment of credibility.
When you are working in services marketing credibility is the key because with services the potential client needs to know that they are buying quality.
A chunky piece of hero content helps to establish that credibility and shows the client that you know what you are doing. It gives them the warm feeling they need that you have the background, experience and knowledge needed to help with their particular issues.
The second benefit is that it gives you a substantial subject for the focus of your marketing.
If you are wanting to get press attention, backlinks and visits then nothing works as well as original research or a thought leadership white paper.
Your hero content can form a central part of your marketing effort and depending on your objectives will enable you to drive engagement, shares likes etc. for your site.
The final benefit is the use of hero content to build a mailing list.
There can’t be many people who haven’t signed up to a mailing list to get a valuable piece of research or to read an insightful article.
It’s pretty much standard practice in the business world and from my point of view, I accept it both as a price to pay for the content but also in the hope that when I get emails from the company they will also be interesting.
Using the ‘3H’ strategy
The 3 H strategy was devised by Google to help YouTubers and is a method of garnering interest and pushing them towards hero content.
It’s an excellent way of marketing, especially if you are in services but it works across the spectrum and you can see charities, government organisations and online stores all using the 3H strategy too.
The 3H strategy uses 3 different types of content; Hygiene, Hub and Hero to engage with the audience.
The idea is that it all revolves around giving away free content to build credibility and brand loyalty.
The 3H strategy:- Hygiene
Hygiene is the name of the content that underpins the whole strategy.
If you were to transfer it to the AIDA marketing concept then it would be an ‘A’ – Attention.
Also called supporting pieces these are short, sharp attention getters that give potential clients some insight into a small area of your expertise.
They form the bedrock of the strategy and are useful for getting hits through keyword marketing.
The important point is that they aren’t necessarily going to make you sales.
If it was in the field of human relationships then a hygiene piece would be a first date. All your customer is doing is seeing if they like you enough to go on a second date, you’re not getting married yet!
The most common types of hygiene content is a blog article but it could be a short podcast or video. In fact, anything that is designed to get attention from your target market.
Because they tend to be simpler and shorter, hygiene pieces are the cheapest to produce and many marketers will say that done well, they produce the best ROI of anything.
The 3H strategy:- Hub
Longer and more in-depth than a hygiene piece, the hub content is the next step in the 3H marketing method.
Also called ‘pillar’ pieces, hub content is a way of gaining more engagement from your intended audience.
You’re starting to give them something of real value here so the types of assets you produce could be things like worksheets, step by steps, longer ‘how-to’ videos and indeed anything that your customer can use in their day to day work or life.
Strangely they tend to be the longest-lived content because where the hygiene pieces are often topical and of the moment, a good pillar piece can be reused in a variety of different campaigns.
The 3H strategy:- Hero content
This is where it ends up – Hero.
Now you are really getting to the meat of the issue and what you are providing is a chunky, original and useful bit of work.
Maybe you have done some original research that will help businesses or you have an ‘ultimate guide to…’ that assists startups, helps with inheritance tax or even helps people plan a funeral!
Whatever it is I guarantee that in your business there is some hero content that is waiting to be discovered.
By the time your potential customer has read some of your hygiene content, used your pillar piece worksheets and pored over your hero guide they are clear that you are trustworthy, you know what you are talking about and you are professional.
And when you are in services that is the golden nugget that you are searching for.
Start with a plan
The place to start is with a sensible and realistic plan.
Think about what you want to achieve as a result of the campaign.
Think about your potential clients. What issues do they have that you can solve?
Think about how all the pieces of hygiene, hub and hero will work together.
You can decide to produce all of the hygiene first and then roll it up into a hero piece or you can start with your hero content and then chop it down into bite-sized chunks. Then you can expand upon these in a series of blogs.
Generally speaking, I’d say you need to look at producing one hero content, 2-4 hub pieces and an 12+ hygiene pieces that all support the theme.
And don’t get too ambitious. You are much better off proving you are a subject matter expert about a single, focused issue than trying to write a hero piece that contains everything you know.
3 ideas for great hero content
So I’m going to fess up here. These aren’t 3 great ideas for hero content that I have just had.
In fact, these are all pieces of hero content that I have already produced for clients, so I’m not being original. But then the point is that these are simply examples of ideas that you could use in your own industry.
Rydoo – the state of expense management
Rydoo is one of the best global Travel and Expenses systems out there and they asked me to produce a report based on the data they were seeing from their users.
The report was designed to who how expenses claims had changed as a result of COVID and what it meant for employers and employees alike.
This is a great way to use data you may already have in your systems and produce something of value for your potential customers and to make you a thought leader in your industry.
You do need to be careful of course. You need to be aware of GDPR requirements and you need to make sure you don’t give away any trade secrets!
Download a copy of the report here.
So although much of the hero content you see on the web is written, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Another COVID themed piece of content, the webinar “How to use the end of lockdown to rebalance your finance operations” was a way to drive engagement with a very specific target market – people who may need to buy new finance software.
The webinar was produced for the Access Group, a major UK based software house and was promoted across their social channels and supported with blogs.
There are lots of good things about webinars; they promote engagement, allowing attendees to ask questions and become part of the discussion, they are accessible for people who hate reading, and the platform pretty much demands that people give their email addresses otherwise they can’t get in!
The good news is that you know all of the information you need. After all you are an industry expert (even if you think you aren’t) so it takes little in the way of research.
And if you really don’t want to present it yourself then why not get a good looking and intelligent presenter. Ahem…
Ebooks as hero content
One of the most important reasons for producing hero content is to build an audience.
You want people to get some value out of your work so that they come back and enjoy more content.
The truth (that most content marketers won’t tell you) is that most of the people won’t buy what you are selling, but you may well find that they recommend you to other people and you may never know.
But, if you produce some hero content with real value it will build your audience and prove your credibility on a particular subject matter.
In a shameless act of self-publicity here’s an ebook I wrote for accountants called “The accountants’ guide to digital marketing” which you can download here.
Don’t worry that it talks about marketing an accountancy practice, in fact, it’s useful for anyone who wants to know more about hero content or just content marketing in general.
Need a bit of help?
I’m a professional writer and I spend my life producing this type of content.
I can either write for you to your plan or I can help you produce your campaign plan that you can write or I can do the lot.
Give me a shout and let’s chat. No obligation naturally.