The Ultimate Guide to Competing with Content

The Ultimate Guide to Competing with Content

I have some depressing news for you. Your prospects, customers, and leads do not wake up every morning in breathless anticipation of your blog posts or ebooks. Nope, that kind of anticipation is reserved for Jay-Z albums and J.K. Rowling novels, so you can’t just craft a single blog post or video and think you’re done with your content strategy and execution.

Winning with content starts with the recognition that you need to earn people’s attention, not rent it. To earn attention, you need a content strategy that is truly remarkable, deeply relevant, and easily accessible to your target audience.

In other words, you need to win the battle for eyeballs and engagement, and doing so requires an understanding of what your audience needs, reads, and shares on a regular basis. To get started, here are some tips to keep in mind before, during, and after launching your content strategy.


Stage 1: Identifying Your Audience

Don’t Try to Boil the Ocean

If you try to be all things to all people from a content perspective, you’ll end up being relevant to no one. Develop target personas that make it clear to everyone in your organization (not just your marketing team) who you are developing content for on an ongoing basis.

This sounds obvious, but at some point in your evolution as a brand publisher, you’ll be asked to focus on something that simply isn’t a good fit for your prospects, customers, and leads. A clear, concise persona definition keeps your entire team rooted in who your target customers are (and aren’t), and prevents you from wasting valuable time, money, and energy targeting people or companies who will never buy from you.

Channel Your Inner Nancy Drew

Before you start publishing, you need to conduct a formal investigation. A good audit has two distinct components: customer due diligence and competitor due diligence. I recommend you start with your customers first, even if you don’t have any just yet. Rooting your strategy in understanding what they find most valuable online is the very best way to approach your content.

Ideally, you’ll identify ten customers you can interview about their content consumption habits, but if you don’t have ten customers, choose ten people who fit your persona profile and invest the time to truly understand where, when, how, and why they consume content.

In my experience, you really want to avoid leading the witness in these interviews. In other words, you don’t want to ask “Would you read our ebooks if we produce them?”

Mike Volpe

Mike Volpe

Mike Volpe is the CMO of HubSpot, an inbound marketing and sales platform company based in Cambridge, MA. With over 11,000 customers in more than 65 countries, HubSpot is helping businesses transform the way they market and sell to match how modern consumers shop and buy. Learn more at
Mike Volpe

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8 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Competing with Content

  1. Hello Mike,
    I always want to write competing content that will serve both human and search engine the right way. But I could not achieve my goal because it was not the proper way. The way you lead me here is simply worth trying. In past days I was just stuffing Keywords around the content but it never worked. I also did not pay attention to promoting my content after writing it.

    Obviously these are not the right path to gain dominiton over your competing content. At last I just wanna thank you for writing this ultimate guide of competing content that will help me to write quality content from now.

    Best Regards

    1. Hi Munna, thanks for reading! So glad to hear you found this helpful, thanks for checking it out and for your feedback.

  2. What a great blog. Of course it does come down to what does success look like, but the bottom line is like anything you do in business (and even if this is just a sharing of a passionate interest) that you need to plan, set goals and understand what your customer (or your reader) wants.

    The information in this blog is probably not what the average reader wants to read, because bloggers mostly write out of passion and the blog is the output. However to gain a large audience, just like winning lots of customers, is about doing the work, the plan, the strategy, knowing your competitors and much more. Writing the blog is just one in a long list of activities.

    This is an excellent read for those who are serious about being successful in social media. Of course reading this blog is the easy part. The hard part is doing the work. If you have read this far, congratulations, now get going:)

    1. Thanks Luigi! It’s a tough trade off–like you, so many bloggers love the writing part of content creation but don’t love some of the other components that come with content success–I’m glad to hear the strategic angle was helpful to you!

  3. Thanks to Mike Volpe,

    I think focus on targeted customers are useful. From that, we can create content that they really need. Your content will bring value for them.

  4. Great article at time where content marketing is the way to get most traction on the web. Local businesses should start planing to achieving their rankings 6-8 months advance if they want to truly get the most of eye balls to their business from the web in 2015.

  5. Thanks Mike for a lovely post..

    This includes all we need to focus while promoting our content to reach the users and also to make google happy …..