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Backwards Content Marketing: Start With the End in Mind

Posted on 11th January, by Jennifer in Blog Strategy, Content Marketing. 1 Comment

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In my earlier post, Content 101, I mentioned the 3 C’s of large-scale content marketing strategizing. Today I’ll dive into day-to-day content planning, once again borrowing some principles from the field of education. After all, content marketing brings customers in by offering something, and often that is information or a skill. Sounds a lot like teaching and learning!


Understanding by design, or backwards design, is a planning framework that starts with the desired end result and, you guessed it, works backward. In teaching, the obvious goal is knowledge, but there are different ways to measure that: written tests or quizzes, performance tasks, or project deliverables, to name a few. I often wrote these objectives as “I Can” statements, as in, “I can identify the four trophic levels,” or “I can safely bring distilled water to a boil.”

In marketing these are Calls-to-Action (CTAs). The ultimate desired action is for the customer to buy what you are selling, of course, but break that down into smaller steps. What has to happen before they decide to buy? Each of these is a separate CTA. Think in terms of “They will,” statements. After interacting with your content, your lead, prospect, or customer may:

  • Comment on a blog post.
  • Subscribe to a newsletter.
  • Share your content on social media.
  • Interact with your social media outposts.
  • Contact you for more information.
  • Request a demo of your product or service.
  • Purchase your product or service.

Not every piece of content will have the same CTA, and the CTA(s) will influence what goes into your content. Your call to action may be as simple as a Subscribe link at the bottom of your newsletter, but in the body of your e-mail, you want to produce such scintillating content they can’t help but opt in. If you want people to tag your business on Facebook, you need a robust and interactive Facebook presence as well as a Like button on your blog and Foursquare badges on site. People are more likely to request a demo if they can already see some, but not all, of the features in video or picture, and if there’s an easy way to contact you.

We’ll discuss how to produce more than enough quality and quantity of content in subsequent posts. Until then, think about what you want the viewer to do or know after interacting with your content. And subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss a thing!

Related posts:

  1. Content 101 | The 3 C’s of Content Marketing Strategy
  2. Content Marketing Institute recommends 8 content production tools including Innoblogs

One Response to “Backwards Content Marketing: Start With the End in Mind”

  1. [...] Start with the goal (the Thesis of your infographics). What are your 3 main points – what do you want to reader to walk away with? What is the conclusion or call to action (CTA)? (Read a post about how different CTAs can multiply and shape your content.) [...]

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