Entrepreneurs have a natural impulse that easily takes over and makes us forget about anything else: promote, promote, promote. This is as true of content marketing as it is any other aspect of business. It’s why we’re using content in our marketing, right? To sell our shit? The problem with the ‘sell shit’ mentality is that it really doesn’t work. Sure it might work occasionally, but only in the same way that a paid advert landing on a sales page for a business and product nobody has ever heard of before works occasionally.
It’s a hard sell.
All sell, all the time is hard selling, and that is not what content marketing is all about.
At least, it’s not what it should be about.
Why You Need To Write Non-Promotional Content
The need to write non-promotional content, because this is a concept that people really struggle with. There are different blogging strategies that serve different functions. The creation of relatively short posts, optimised for specific search terms you know people are looking for, with a strong theme drawing attention to your stuff, and a call to action at the end encouraging people to buy something specific, or get in touch to talk about buying something specific is an effective use of blogging to promote certain businesses, but it’s not an effective content marketing strategy.
Yes, it involves content, but the dominant objective is SEO – creating content that gets your site found by new people, and tells them at a glance who you are, what you do, and what they can buy from you.
This strategy has a lot of great long-term benefits as part of a dynamic content marketing plan, because it leads to a lot more organic search traffic, which in turns results in new people discovering your business. This allows you to fulfill the main objective of a content marketer: building relationships with your audience and bringing them into your tribe.
It also has a similar benefit of a paid advert – drawing people to a page they’ve probably never heard of before and making an offer.
Some people will buy.
And that’s grand.
But it’s still not really content marketing.
SEO Blogging And High Concept Offers
Rather, that is a strategy I refer to as SEO blogging, and it works best for product-based business – things that are easily explained and demonstrated, that can instantly be seen as valuable. The shoes that look gorgeous in all the photos you see as soon as you land on the page, the gadget you can see fixing the exact problem you have in the explainer video. The time to use non-promotional content in an SEO strategy is to write about something you know your audience loves, so that when they are searching for it they find you, and naturally want your stuff because it relates to this thing they were searching for. Books are a great example of this, and publishing reviews of books you know your ideal clients will be buzzing about and searching for is a great way to get them on your site. Once they’re there, your website’s layout and calls to action will direct them to buy something. If you’re really smart about it, you’ll monetise your non-promotional SEO posts so that, even when you’re no promoting your own stuff, you’re promoting something that will earn you money (for example, linking your book reviews to Amazon’s affiliate programme, or writing a post about how awesome B School is and linking to Marie Forleo’s affiliate programme).
In SEO blogging, even non-promotional content is frequently promotional. And it works the exactly same way Amazon’s advertising strategy works. A search term leads to a page, either a specific product page, or a search results page showing multiple products. If you find a product that fixes your problem, you buy it. If not, you might find a similar product that solves a related problem, and buy that.
SEO blogging can work for service-based businesses and businesses that sell high-end, luxury products, provided their products/services are high concept. Cars, for example, are pretty much exclusively sold using a combination of SEO blogging and advertising – I’m currently writing 40 SEO blogs a month for one client selling cars for exactly this reason! Of those posts, 1 in 10 is non-promotional, with 90% of their content directly promoting their cars, and only 10% offering anything of value that’s unrelated. That 10% goes on posts optimised for local SEO, like ‘Where To Get The Best Mexican Food In [Insert Town]’, and ‘Top 10 Places To Ride Your Bike In [Insert Town]’.
They work because locals are searching for these terms and, when they find the posts, are made aware of the car dealership. They’re probably not immediately in the market for a car, but the next time they are trying to think of a local garage, the odds are they will remember the website that helped them find their new favourite restaurant or bike trail.
And yet look at that ratio – 90% promotional, 10% non-promotional.
How many times have you heard the 80/20 rule applied to marketing? It’s 80% value, 20% promotion. This is a basic rule we all learn that a lot of us promptly forget when it comes to content marketing, specifically because of of SEO strategies like the one I use for my car dealership.
A car dealer has a high concept product, and for them, this strategy works. But unless you have similarly high concept products or services, you need non-promotional content, and you need a lot of it.
What Are High Concept Products And Services?
Despite the name, ‘high concept’ actually means ‘really simple concept’, something that’s incredibly easy to instantly grasp. It’s a term used in fiction all the time to explain a story that has a really simple premise.
Jaws is a good example as the entire film can be sumarised with a short sentence: A town is terrorised by a monster shark.
It’s not difficult to grasp what the film is about, or where the drama comes from. If you like horror films, you know you’ll love it. If you like shark movies, you’ll give it a try. And if you hate sharks or horror movies, you’ll give it a miss. No further explanation needed. The film posted can tell you everything you need to know simply by showing a shark poised to attack a swimmer.
High concept stories can be amazing, or they can be truly terrible. The first Jaws film is a classic, excellent film, but if you’ve seen Jaws: The Revenge you’ll understand what I mean! Same concept, totally different execution, and as a result a totally different experience. So high concept products and services are neither bad nor good, they are simply easy to explain. If your business is high-concept (i.e. has a very simple premise), your offers are easier to sell because they don’t take much in the way of explaining. Their function and value are self-evident, and when people are looking for them it’s because they already know they want them.
When you want new jeans you search until you find a pair you like and buy them. If you want to hire a cleaner you search until you find someone suitable and hire them. There’s no complexity to the sales, and so a promotion-heavy SEO strategy can work very well.
It’s All About Your Objective
A good SEO blogging strategy involves a lot of promotional content that’s relatively short, concise, and very on point. This is one of the first things anyone attempting blogging for business will learn. So shifting that mentality up a gear when you graduate from simply blogging as part of an SEO strategy, to creating a full and dynamic approach to marketing your business using content, is difficult.
The crux of the issue is that of objective: if you’re trying to boost your SEO, a higher ratio of promotional content is fine since the aim is to get as many people on your site as possible. It’s not a given that they will be reading a LOT of your content. The hope is generally that they buy having seen only a few pieces.
In content marketing the objective is the long-term nurturing of a relationship and the welcoming of new people into your tribe.
People who will (hopefully) read all your content.
If all your content is promotional, that relationship isn’t going to last very long.
The Complexities Of Content Marketing
Content marketing is for businesses that have much more complex offerings. Products and services that are the opposite of high-concept. My own business is the perfect example of this, because while the term ‘content marketing’ is well-known, the specifics of it allude a lot of people, and you need to understand its complexities and the incredible value it can bring to your business before you will become convinced it’s worth the investment. Yet the level of investment required isn’t always an indication of how difficult it is to explain – remember, luxury cars are high concept, yet some of them cost more than my house!
When you have complex offerings, SEO blogging isn’t an option. Rather, isn’t an aspect of the overall solution you need, which is a content schedule that does a lot more than simply sell.
You need balance.
Content that informs and educates your audience on the value of your stuff, without trying to sell it to them. Instead, you gently nurture your relationship with them, enticing them onto your email list, building trust with them, giving them everything they need to understand the complexities of what you do, why you’re the best at it, and why it’s worth what you’re about to ask them to pay for it.
Only then do you sell.
I see so many people going wrong in their content marketing simply because they are all promotion, all the time.
Every post they write ties to their core offer, and even when it’s long-form, high-value, and highly educational, it’s still a constant barrage of promotional posts that only explain what their stuff does and why people should buy it.
It doesn’t provide context.
It doesn’t give further meaning.
This kind of heavily promotional strategy quickly burns out your audience’s attention span because you are constantly playing the same tune.
Even if it’s the best song in the world people are going to get sick of it eventually.
If you take a look at my content you’ll see that a lot of it relates directly to content marketing but there are also pieces that don’t. Posts about business in general, entrepreneurship, social media marketing, and other topics that are important and of interest to my audience. They’re not directly related to what I offer, but they are still relevant.
They’re all non-promotional.
And that’s the key.
Balancing Your Content Is Like Balancing Your Chakras
Creating a balanced content schedule is the heart of my Divine Blogging method, specifically because an unbalanced schedule it’s the single biggest mistake people make, and the single biggest reason content marketing fails. It led me to create a way of devising a balanced content marketing schedule that provides non-promotional content as well as promotional content, for a schedule that sells, but in a soulful way.
No hard sell.
Just the provision of awesome value so that you become the obvious choice when your audience is ready to buy.
Yet (ironically) the need for balance can actually be one of the toughest aspects of Divine Blogging to effectively explain to people.
Even my existing clients struggle with it.
So here’s an analogy: Balancing your content marketing schedule is just like balancing your chakras.
Let me explain….
What Is Chakra Content?
If you’re worried I’m about to get all Woo Woo and new age on you, there’s nothing to fear. Chakra content isn’t about your literal chakras, it’s a simple analogy. In some forms of Hinduism Buddhism chakras are believed to be vital for your health. There are seven of them, located throughout the body, and if they fall out of alignment or become ‘blocked’ by negative feelings they can make you ill.
Wellness relies on maintaining balanced chakras.
It doesn’t matter how strong, healthy and clear most of your chakras are, if one of them is blocked the whole system suffers, because they are ‘powered’ (for want of a better word) by a flow of energy.
Just like your circulatory system carries blood all around your body, and a single blood clot can screw up the system and make you seriously ill, a blocked chakra disrupts the flow of your energy, leading to illness.
With me so far?
Your content is the life energy of your business, it’s what keeps everything running. And just as there are different chakras that serve different functions, there are different types of content that have different jobs.
One of those jobs is promoting your stuff, but there are a lot of other jobs that need doing for the system to work. Things like:
- Establishing your expertise
- Building trust with your audience
- Providing tangible, actionable, take-away value
- Making you and your business relatable so your ideal clients self-select
- Avoiding burning out your audience by constantly playing the same song
- Creating evergreen content optimised for key search terms
The last point is another thing a lot of people struggle with, because the content you need to create for a truly balanced schedule often includes posts that are slightly out of alignment with what you’d ideally like to create. There are ways of tweaking it to make it more in line with your zone of genius, but often what you need is a great, informative post that gives people searching for that term the specific information they want, and nothing else.
Once they’re on your site and you have solved their immediate problem with really useful info, they’re likely to have a look at your other content, and that’s where your specific brand of magic is happening. But on your content created with a the specific objective of balancing your schedule, the goal is to attract new people who have problems relating to your offer, but don’t yet understand enough to know they need you.
You’re catching them early in the development of their need, ensuring you’re the first person they come to when that need grows in complexity and they start looking for a solution.
So sometimes you’re going to write about stuff you’d rather not talk about.
And that’s okay, because your content really isn’t about you: it’s about your ideal clients.
How To Use Chakra Content To Balance Your Blog Schedule
The chakra content analogy is a great way of remembering this need for balance and the various aspects needed to create it.
Think of your content marketing schedule as the chakras of your ideal client, forming their opinion of you and your business. They need all of them to reach that zen state in which they will buy from you. Their chakras (by which I mean, their opinion of you) is only as strong as the weakest link.
If any link in the system is blocked, weak, or missing, the flow of energy doesn’t work, and they will never actually buy from you. They may stick around and keep reading, but there’s a missing link and without it they never take that final step.
You need to balance the objectives of your content to ensure all the needs of your ideal clients are being met.
If you’re familiar with chakras this analogy will be super-easy to grasp. But if you find chakra theories foolish or misguided, just set that thought aside for a moment and remember, I’m not being literal here, it’s simply an analogy.
The chakras represent core needs and desires that are present in all human beings. That includes your ideal clients.
Chakra content is simply a way of ensuring your content marketing is meeting all the needs of your ideal clients, and not just the needs that directly serve you (i.e. the pain points that will compel them to buy from you).
This is the heart of soulful selling and any good content marketing strategy: meeting the needs of your ideal client as a whole, complete person.
So what exactly are the seven ‘chakras’ you should be including in your content schedule, and what is the function of each?
Sahasrara: The Crown Chakra
Let’s start at the top, with the crown chakra. According to chakra metaphysical theory, the crown chakra is located at the very top of the head, and connects us to the divine. Whether we think of this as our own divine power, or a divine being (i.e. god) isn’t nearly as relevant as what this chakra represents: personal power and sense of will.
Our crown chakra guides us.
I mentioned before that the chakras are a flow of energy, and that energy has to come from somewhere. Unlike the circulatory system, which pumps blood around and around, ‘life energy’ (again, for want of a better term) doesn’t come from within us. It comes from our motivations, our inspirations, and our passions. And it enters through the crown chakra (if you’re struggling with the metaphysical nature of this, think of it as coming from your higher brain function, your deepest thoughts).
From there it travels through you, passing through all the other chakras before leaving through your root chakra (we’ll get to that in a minute).
The crown chakra is essentially the connection we all have to our greatest selves, and to a power greater than ourselves (the universe, or god, or whatever higher power you believe in).
Tapping into this aspect of your ideal client’s psyche allows you to feed their sense of self, and overcome confusion and discomfort caused by a lack of understanding of or connection to their core desires and beliefs.
Crown Archetypes: Enchanter & Mystic
If you’re familiar with Divine Blogging you’ll know I use archetypes to plan content that speaks to your ideal client on a deep, profound level, by writing different types of content to ‘speak’ to the twelve different archetypes present in every person’s character. The crown chakra is represented by the Enchanter archetype (Aphrodite and Pan), and the Mystic archetype (Hekate and Proteus).
Ajna: The Third Eye Chakra
The third eye governs our intuition and the visionary aspects of ourselves that allow us to see great things. It’s linked to wisdom and knowledge, but it’s less the book-smart knowledge as it is visionary knowledge – the understanding of how things fit together and the truth of the world. Intuition can be a great guide, and often the most successful people are the ones capable of trusting their ‘gut’ and following their dreams and vision for the future.
Helping your ideal clients with aspects of their lives relating to the third eye involves enabling them to find direction in their lives, trust themselves and their own vision of the world, and create that vision in reality. While the crown connects us to our greatest selves, the third eye connects us to our most powerful selves.
Third Eye Archetypes: Ruler & Dreamer
The third eye chakra is represented by the Ruler archetype (Hera and Zeus) and the Dreamer archetype (Persephone and Hermes).
Vishuddha: The Throat Chakra
While the third eye is all about intuitive intelligence, the throat chakra is concerned with active intelligence – book smarts, intellect, and practical intelligence that governs freedom of choice and willpower. As you might imagine from the throat, it’s strongly connected with voice – the ability to be heard and the right to speak. This is far more than simply the ability to say whatever we want, it’s also the wisdom to temper our voices so that we only say that which brings us peace and empowers us, rather than voicing unwise thoughts and feelings and causing harm to ourselves, and others.
Clarity of voice and speaking your truth are very important to this aspect of a person’s psyche, and helping your ideal clients with this area of their lives is simultaneously about empowering them with the wisdom and knowledge to make wise choices, and instilling in them the confidence to follow a path that’s true to that knowledge through self-empowerment.
Archetypes: Seeker & Sage
The throat chakra is represented by the Seeker archetype (Atalanta and Meili) and the Sage archetype (Athena and Odin).
Anahata: The Heart Chakra
Like the previous two chakras the heart chakra focuses on wisdom, but it’s the wisdom of love. Unlike the crown chakra, which covers our passions, this type of love is that of a mother or caregiver, and allows you to both give and receive love, and also love yourself.
Helping your ideal clients in this area of their lives is all about encouraging their love and acceptance of themselves, and others, practicing forgiveness (again of self and others) but also of creating in the world the kind of wonder they feel within themselves, and want for other people.
Archetypes: Creator & Nurturer
The heart chakra is represented by the Creator archetype (Gaia and Shiva) and the Nurturer archetype (Demeter and Apollo).
Manipura: The Solar Plexus Chakra
The solar plexus is all about self-esteem, personal power, and the freedom to express ourselves while managing our relationship with the world and people around us. The confidence to be ourselves, and accept ourselves exactly as we are, while simultaneously finding our place in the world.
This chakra seeks to balance the intuitive powers of the crown and third eye with the intelligence of the throat and heart, and enables people to find their equilibrium.
To help your ideal clients in this area, make them feel accepted and valued, and show them they fit perfectly into the grand scheme of the world. Topics that enable your tribe to create stability in their lives, even if the face of their intelligence, creativity, and love (which are often very disruptive influences!) will go down well.
The solar plexus chakra is represented by the Everygirl (or Eveyman, if you prefer) archetype (Bridgid and Perseus). Tribe-based businesses thrive under the needs of their ideal clients’ Everygirl archetype because they provide a community that gives their audience that sense of belonging while helping them to find the confidence and self-esteem to establish a similar feeling in the world, and their relationships with others.
Swadhisthana: The Sacral Chakra
The sacral chakra is another aspect of our creativity and form of expression, focusing on relationships and sexuality, as well as the polar nature of existence (good/evil, male/female, positive/negative, rich/poor). There’s a playful element to this aspect of a person’s psyche, as well as a slightly more insidious element capable of jealousy and manipulation.
As with all chakra content it’s all about balance, ao this type of content should help people to express their positive capacity for creativity, fun, love, and power without succumbing to the negative elements. A good example is manifesting money and other things you desire in a positive way that benefits yourself and others, without resorting to underhanded tactics to get what you want.
The sacral chakra is also the aspect of a person’s psyche that is prone to addictions, so content that helps people accept and move beyond their addictions without resentment of themselves or others is also a good idea. (Remember, addiction can take many forms, from the obvious forms of substance abuse to obsessive love, a fixation on a particular subject, and even OCD. Try to think about these things in the abstract as well as a literal interpretation).
The sacral chakra is represented by the Jester archetype (Eris and Loki).
Muladhara: The Root Chakra
The root chakra is concerned entirely with the creation of harmony in life and the world, however that harmonious existence comes through necessary conflict. It’s the most earth-centred chakra (being as it is closest to the earth physically) and balances out the more cerebral aspects of yourself (intuition and intelligence) with your roots.
It’s the vital connection between ourselves and our families, as well as the world. The core desire tied to the root chakra is that of survival, both in the physical and emotional sense. Helping your ideal clients with this aspect of themselves may involve giving them practical ways to cope with anxiety and stress, manage their emotions, and solve their restless nature. It’s also about choosing to accept yourself and your true nature, and finding a path that allows you to do so, even if it means going against the grain of society. In this sense, it’s similar to the solar plexus, but differs markedly in that while that is concerned with fitting into society, the root chakra is about making a place where you’re free to be yourself, even if society objects.
Archetypes: Warrior & Rebel
The root chakra is represented by the Warrior archetype (Freya and Thor) and the Rebel archetype (Kali and Prometheus).
Putting Chakra Content To Work
When you’re writing your content, look for ways you can meet the needs of every aspect of your ideal client. It’s virtually impossible to meet the needs of all seven chakras in a single piece of content, so don’t even try. Rather, focus ever piece of content you create on one of the chakras, and ensure you create some content geared towards all seven. You’ll find one or more of them are far more relevant to your ideal client than others because we all have a dominant archetype, and dominant needs and beliefs. So don’t worry if a lot of your content seems to be focused on one ‘chakra’; as long as you have at least some content in your schedule catering to all seven you’ll end up with a good balance.
Balance, in this case, is not about giving equal weight to each aspect of your ideal client’s needs and wants, but knowing how much weight each element has for them, and creating a schedule that reflects that – prioritising their dominant needs while still occasionally looking after the lesser (but still very relevant!) concerns.
Both chakra content and archetypes are part of my signature content marketing method, Divine Blogging, which lays out my entire content marketing strategy including all twelve archetypes in detail, how to create an in-depth psychological profile of your ideal client, and how to craft a powerful content schedule tailored directly to them. If you’d like to learn the full method you can buy the book, or download the first chapter now totally free by signing up below…
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