What is hero content?

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.

What is hero content?

Let’s start off by defining the concept of ‘hero content’.

Essentially, hero content is a main piece of work that an entire campaign will lead up to or centre around.

For example, think of 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 the 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 3 H 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.

image of the 3H model


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.


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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 that you can expand upon 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.

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.

Want to know more abou thero content? The guys over at stickyeyes have done a great post here