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The Content Vacuuuuuuum *pop* 🔥 Content Hell

Alan Wanders
Alan Wanders
Hi everyone,
Time to put some suspenseful music on, this email is as hellish as they come. Ready?
What if I told you that all your content efforts will amount to absolutely nothing. They’re all heat and no light. No one will care or notice about what you’re putting out there.
You’d be disappointed, of course. I would be too. In fact, I was, when this happened to me.
This week is all about how dumb ol’ me walked straight into a content vacuum.

My brush with the Content Vacuum
Last year, I was onto a good run.
My results were great, my rates were rising. Everything seemed to be going right. It briefly occurred to me that I might be a bit awesome.
You probably recognise this state of affairs from the start of any film, right before something bad happens. And something bad did happen.
I took on a freelance gig at a small software business thinking that - because things were going well - this would go well too. I never really thought too much about why things going well, because as long as they are, who cares!?
But instead I fell headfirst into a content vacuum.
By content vacuum I don’t mean what happens to our parents’ brains when they click-hole 12-minute prank videos on Facebook. I do mean an environment where the content you’re putting out makes absolutely no difference to your objectives.
It was awkward - and although my client was nice about it - I scrambled to figure out wtf was going on. Why was nothing working? Where was I?
After some hair-pulling I peeled back the layers: content strategy, marketing strategy, commercial strategy. Something important was missing. Some things.
I looked back at what went right with previous clients. There was a group of immovable foundations, like a chemical compound, which gave content the right conditions to grow.
Let’s call it AMI, or MAI, I don’t know. Anyway, it means:
Audience, Message, Intent.
These three things pre-exist any successful content strategy.
  1. Audience: You know specifically who your target audience is, and have a group of clients who look just like this
  2. Message: You know specifically what you need to tell your audience to make them care about what you do
  3. Intent: You know your audience will - at some stage - care enough about the problem you fix for them to get their wallet out and say ‘go on then, what’s the damage?’
That’s not to say other types of marketing won’t work. But right now, if you don’t know the above, you shouldn’t invest in creating content.
I spent hours scraping prospects’ phone numbers from Linkedin and trying to cold call them. Not to sell, but just to fill in the AMI blanks. It was a mess.
Hello... Is this a Content Vacuum?
Now then. How to spot a content vacuum.
Many content vacuums don’t feel much like content vacuums to begin with. You / your client may have perfectly logical responses to the audience, message, intent questions.
But these responses need a good prodding. So there are a few other questions you need to ask them just to check they are on the right page.
  1. Do you have a subject matter expert? ‘No’ here suggests that you might not be close enough to what your audience really thinks. It definitely means you’ll struggle to produce content for them.
  2. Do you have someone in biz dev doing outreach? ‘No’ here suggests you’re not having ongoing commercial conversations with prospects. That means you might be out of touch with how the market expects you to solve their problem.
  3. Do all clients come through as referrals? You’d want to see some other channels - not just referrals! - have worked before. Referrals come in when you have a good product, and do not prove that you are able to market your product effectively.
  4. Ads and Emails: Have either of these channels worked? If bottom of funnel Google ads and cold email have found people that are prepared to buy, content can probably do the same.
  5. Bonus: Do you have access to a network? An existing (relevant) audience doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be able to market your product. Though it does make it a lot easier to win that early traction.
Consider these questions before hiring a content marketer or taking on a new content gig. Or it could be painful and awkward when things go pear-shaped.
Content? Very, thanks for asking! Sorry, yes I'll have it with you EOD.
Content? Very, thanks for asking! Sorry, yes I'll have it with you EOD.
Content nihilism rules the day
Good and bad news everyone, the success of your content strategy is mostly out of your hands.
The content plan you spent ages on sits at the back of a six-legged pantomime horse that begins with commercial strategy, then leads on to marketing strategy.
That’s why you need to choose a really good pantomime horse. Not necessarily an established business, but one that’s clear on who they’re targeting, why, and when those folk buy.
Of course, the decision is totally in your hands. But to make the right one you need to consider much more than just content.
Good luck!
👉 Over to you
Thanks for reading! Now you’re done there are two ways you can help. Either would be amazing.
  1. Forward it on to someone who you think would like it
  2. Reply and let me know what you thought of it
Thanks, and see you in two weeks!
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Alan Wanders
Alan Wanders

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