Building the Content Marketing Pyramid, Part 1

Running a company blog or social media account sounds easy at first, but over time it can cause an existential crisis – especially if your audience won’t engage with you.

You have to take a step back and figure out why you’re working hard to create better content. Are you incorporating your content marketing goals into each content decision you make? And are you working toward the right goal for your brand?

We’ve identified the top five goals for using content marketing: brand awareness, lead generation, consumer engagement, customer loyalty, and thought leadership.

Full Pyramid1

Most brands use content marketing to increase awareness and leads. Some brands worry about engagement. Only a few brands focus on loyalty and thought leadership.

Over time, content marketing can help your brand achieve all five goals. Think of these goals forming a pyramid: Before you can achieve customer loyalty and thought leadership, you must build a foundational layer of brand awareness.

Those terms carry a lot of meaning for marketers and salespeople, but we want to unpack each goal and consider what they really mean in a content marketing program. One of the best ways to understand something is to teach it to someone else. So let’s pretend the following:

Your niece wants to run a lemonade stand. She believes she makes the best lemonade in the neighborhood, but she needs help selling it.

When she comes to you for advice, you explain that content marketing can help her sell lemonade. You show her the Content Marketing Pyramid. But your niece doesn’t understand what you mean.

“Brand awareness and lead generation? I just want to sell lemonade!”

Buzzwords and jargon are confusing. If you want your niece to understand how content marketing can help achieve her goals, you’ll have to break down the Content Marketing Pyramid layer by layer.

Awareness is the foundation of the Content Marketing Pyramid.

Pyramid base

You tell your niece that 36% of marketers use content marketing primarily to increase awareness of their brand. She wants to know why awareness is important.

You point out that people won’t show up to buy her lemonade unless they know she’s running a lemonade stand. The more she spreads the word about how great her lemonade tastes and its value to potential customers, the more likely someone will hear her message and want to buy lemonade from her.


“How do I increase awareness with that pyramid thing?” she asks.

“The Content Marketing Pyramid’s foundation is built on tactics that increase brand awareness,” you reply. “So we need to do things that help people know about your lemonade stand. We could post flyers at the community center, or go door-to-door. We could ask your friends to spread the word–”

“Or we could write about it with sidewalk chalk at the park!”

“Exactly! The best way to build awareness, no matter what you’re selling, is to share a specific message on a specific channel or platform that focuses on attracting the attention of a specific kind of person.”

“So we tell kids it tastes yummy and parents that it’s healthy and organic?”

“You’re a natural!”

Leads form the second layer and need strong awareness for maximum effect.

Pyramid bottom two

Next you try to explain lead generation, and how 30% of marketers use content marketing to increase their leads. You explain:

“Anyone who hasn’t bought your lemonade but might want to buy lemonade in the future is a potential lead, or customer. Once people are aware of your lemonade stand, they can buy lemonade from you. But we have a much better chance of getting people to buy your lemonade if we can talk directly with them.”

“Why’s that?”she says.

“It’s easy for potential customers to ignore a flyer or a decorated sidewalk. But it’s harder to ignore a handwritten note delivered on their doorstep once a week.”

“Then let’s do that and skip the awareness part!”

“You shouldn’t invade people’s privacy. You need their permission to send them information and offers.”

“How do we get their permission?”

“As you build awareness! It’s as simple as bringing a notebook to your door-to-door visits or the park. Ask your potential leads if they will sign up to receive more information from you. If they agree, then they become leads!”

“Which means we built more of the pyramid!”

“That’s right. Why don’t we take a break and drink some of that lemonade? Then I’ll explain how to keep building your Content Marketing Pyramid.”

Increasing awareness and leads are the top two goals for 66% of marketers. Once they build the foundation of their Content Marketing Pyramid, then they can focus on the upper levels.

Next week, you (and your niece) will learn how content marketing can engage customers, inspire a loyal fan base, and lead an industry conversation. Stay tuned!

If you’ve made it this far but you don’t know what content marketing is, we’ve got you covered.

Need to know common obstacles and success stories? We’ve got those too.

We can even help you decide what your general content strategy should be. Our Content Marketing 101 series puts the power of content marketing in your hands!

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