Building the Content Marketing Pyramid, Part 2

(This is the second post about the Content Marketing Pyramid, as part of our Content Marketing 101 series.)

Full Pyramid1

Last week we identified the top five content marketing goals but only focused on the first two, brand awareness and lead generation. They form the foundation of the Content Marketing Pyramid.

You don’t want to stop at the foundation. You want your content marketing efforts to have a point – literally. Consumer engagement, customer loyalty, and thought leadership are the layers that give your Content Marketing Pyramid shape and purpose.

Remember your niece’s business venture selling lemonade? You helped her use content marketing to raise awareness about her lemonade stand and find some potential customers to target with personalized offers and information.

“I sold lemonade today! I’m done now, right?” she asks.

“Not even close!” you say. “How will you make sure your lemonade really meets your customers’ needs? How will you get people to come back to your lemonade stand every time they’re thirsty? How will you convince people who don’t even like lemonade to buy from you?”

“I don’t know! Can that pyramid help us?”

“It sure can.”

Engagement lies at the heart of the Content Marketing Pyramid.

Pyramid -2

According to the 2014 IMN Content Marketing Survey, about 18% of marketers focus on increasing consumer engagement after they build a strong strategy for brand awareness and lead generation. Your niece looks confused.

“Why do marketers want to marry consumers?” she asks.

“It’s not that kind of engagement!” you clarify. “When we say ‘engagement,’ what we really mean is ‘interaction.’”

Brands that engage with consumers ask questions and answer consumers’ questions. They follow topics and issues important to their target audience and contribute to that conversation.

Marketers talk more when building the first two layers of the Content Marketing Pyramid (brand awareness and lead generation). To build the middle layer, they have to listen more to consumers. That’s why consumer engagement is at the heart of the pyramid. It helps brands adapt or tailor their product to the meet the real demands and needs of their customers.

“But I thought they just want lemonade,” she says.

“What if your lemonade is too sweet for some customers? Or it makes them hungry for sugar cookies?” you ask. “If you engage with them, you can understand what they really want from your lemonade stand and meet their expectations.”

Loyalty elevates your pyramid in the eyes of your customers.


Only about 9% of content marketers work to build a loyal customer base through content marketing, according to the IMN study. Marketers can’t build customer loyalty before they build the first three layers of their Content Marketing Pyramid. That hard work pays off: Customer loyalty can make earlier content marketing goals easier to maintain.


“But if people love my lemonade, they’ll always buy it. Right?” she asks.

“Not always. Maybe your lemonade is more expensive than the lemonade they make at home. Another lemonade stand closer to their home could open. Even if it doesn’t sell lemonade as good as yours, it’s still competitive because of the location.”

The market never stays the same. Businesses come and go, technologies adapt and change, and consumer demands fluctuate. Over time, only customers who are loyal to your brand keep coming back. That’s why you want to encourage your current customers to love you, even while you try to attract new ones.

“How do I do that?” she asks.

“Start a rewards programs! Send thank-you notes around the holidays—“

“Ooh, what if I make a mascot called Lenny the Lemon and let people take pictures with him? My friends love taking silly pictures.”

“Great idea! Interact with consumers to figure out what they love, then do that.”

Thought leadership gives your brand a far-reaching voice at the top of the pyramid.

At the top of the content marketing pyramid is thought leadership, the content marketing goal of 6% of marketers.

Pyramid top

“What’s thought leadership?” she asks.

You think for a minute, then pose your own question.

“Well, what’s a leader?”

“Somebody who’s the boss of other people. Like my mom!”

“A good leader isn’t bossy though. People want to listen to a good leader. And a thought leader is someone whose ideas are so compelling and trustworthy, they influence the ideas, opinions, and beliefs of others.”

“So if I become a thought leader, I can convince people to think that lemonade is awesome! Let’s skip that other stuff. I’ll just do thought leadership. Once people like lemonade, they buy my lemonade since it’s the best.”

“Not so fast! A pyramid without its base is pretty wimpy-looking. You need the lower levels to have a big impact with your thought leadership.”

Thought leadership draws upon the first four content marketing goals to inform, validate, and strengthen its message. People will trust your leadership if they know about your brand (awareness), are interested in the brand’s products (leads), feel like it relates to their needs (engagement), and like your brand as a source (loyalty).

“This Content Marketing Pyramid is really cool,” she says.

“Are you ready to use it to make your lemonade stand a success?”

“Yes! But… how do I know who to talk to? I know my friends and family like my lemonade, but who else should be my customer? I don’t see that on the pyramid.”

Sounds like your niece needs help finding her audience! Next week we’ll help you (and your niece) figure out the right audience for your brand and the right channel to use to reach them.

Check boxesOur Content Marketing 101 series gives you the power to create better content.

We’ve found challenges in the content marketing world and champions who overcame them.

Need help crafting your content marketing strategy? We’ve outlined the three best options.

Stay tuned!

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