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Nick Berry

My Entire Thesis Around Content Marketing

Content Catalyst

This is your warning, this article is insanely long, 3091 words long. You can’t say I didn’t warn you. This is a rabbit hole you might not come up from.

All of the below is based on my experience over the last 20 years in sales and marketing. This isn’t just a bunch theory, but the stuff I have been learning and applying over my career.

At its core content marketing is really simple. Create a shit ton of content based on 2 or 3 content silos, then keep doing it for a really long time. AND have a full distribution strategy in place to make sure your audience, or a decent segment of them can consume your content in a place they prefer.

There are a ton of benefits to creating content, even if you created one high quality blog article a week for 6 months straight. That’s 24 articles you will have for distribution, social media promotion, and email marketing! Plus the inherent SEO benefits of high quality content.

Understanding what a content silo means.

Every skyscraper only survives because of the foundation it’s built upon. So you need to decide what are the 2 or 3 things you’re going to be selling or building your foundation on. Since most of my audience is insurance agents we’re going to focus on you. You’re going to want to narrow your focus to 2 or 3 lines of business that your team can knock it out of the park on. So let’s work with the three pillars for a typical main street agency. Homeowners, Commercial Auto, and Business Owner Policies. 

Let’s build the content silo strategy for this agency.

Main Category: Insurance Solutions

Overview: A main page or hub discussing the various insurance solutions the agency offers. This is a top-level page that links to each of the three core products.

Sub-category: Homeowners Insurance

1. Overview: An introduction to homeowners insurance, explaining what it covers, its importance, and why someone might need it.

   Potential Content Ideas:

   Blog: Benefits of having homeowners insurance.

   Blog: How to choose the right homeowners insurance coverage.

   Guide: What to do after property damage to make the claims process easier.

   FAQ: Commonly asked questions about homeowners insurance.

2. Local Insights: Discuss any specific considerations for homeowners insurance in the local area (e.g., if it’s a flood-prone region, a guide on flood insurance might be relevant).

Sub-category: Commercial Auto Insurance

1. Overview: Introduction to commercial auto insurance, its nuances, and its importance for businesses.

   Potential Content Ideas:

   Blog: Differences between personal auto insurance and commercial auto insurance.

   Blog: Top reasons why businesses need commercial auto insurance.

   Guide: Steps to claim commercial auto insurance after an accident.

   FAQ: Answering common questions about commercial auto insurance.

2. Local Insights: Address local laws or regulations related to commercial vehicles and how insurance plays a role.

Sub-category: Business Owner Policies (BOP)

1. Overview: Dive into what a Business Owner Policy is, who it’s for, and the type of coverage it provides.

   Potential Content Ideas:

   Blog: Understanding the components of a Business Owner Policy.

   Blog: How BOPs protect small and medium businesses.

   Guide: Tailoring your BOP to match your business needs.

   FAQ: Addressing common questions and misconceptions about BOPs.

2. Local Insights: Share local regulations or conditions that make BOPs especially pertinent for businesses.

Supporting Content:

Glossary: A glossary of insurance terms that can be linked to from the main articles. This helps in ensuring your audience understands all the jargon.

Reviews/Testimonials: Showcase customer reviews and testimonials specifically related to each insurance type.

So you’ve got the core outline of pages you’ll need to create(or have created). I’ll leave the design of that up to you, but remember, ugly sites still make money so don’t get hung up on design. But you’ve got three primary categories you’ll want to create blog content about. And we need to make a shit ton of it for a really long time. So here’s my word of advice. If you’re going to do this yourself, batch create the content, then schedule the posts. Another trick I keep up my sleeve is backdating content. 

Let’s stop for a minute, I want to get something off my chest before we go any further. 

NOBODY IS GOING TO YOUR WEBSITE TO LOOK AT YOUR BLOG.

If this hurts your feelings, I don’t really care. It’s the truth.

Now that we have that out of the way, If someone does happen to fall upon your blog landing page, you don’t want it to be 32 articles in a row about the same subject. I recommend alternating subjects/categories. 

I write two articles a week, and I do my best to alternate between categories or subjects. Here’s another one of my secrets. I write a ton of content ahead of time, usually if I’m writing about cold email, I’ll write two or three more articles about the same subject, but either publish them later, or backdate them if they’re not going in the newsletter. You can do the same thing.

The other important part and we’ve talked about this in the past is internal linking. When you’re creating the content, write it so you can link back to the landing page of the product category you’re writing about! (See what I did there)

Now Google is really going to like you for creating all that content (over time), but what google and other search engines are really going to reward you for is consistency. Do you know why I publish every single week? Because I know over time, Google is going to reward me because I’m creating new content for them to scrape, index, and eventually serve to the masses searching for the things I’m writing about. So create a content publish calendar. Keep it sustainable, start with once a week. When I first started I was publishing once a week for about 6 months, then started adding another article every Monday.

Here’s my search console for the last 12 months since I started the newsletter just so you can see what kind of effort it’s going to take. But I am being rewarded with consistency.

So that’s creating our content silo, what are the action steps you’ll need to take?

  1. Create 4 landing pages
  2. Come up with content ideas  for each of those 3 lines of business
  3. Create a publishing schedule for yourself.
  4. Publish and internal link back to those landing pages
  5. Keep publishing!

Creating Adjacent Content

Many agents can write for days and days about insurance content, don’t get me wrong you need to do that, but the real power in content marketing isn’t just talking about your product, it’s talking about your customers and their wants and needs! They’re looking for more than your insights on commercial auto claims. 

Here’s some content ideas for you while you’re here.

Homeowners Insurance Adjacent Content Ideas

  • Local Landmarks & Stories: Write about local landmarks, historical homes, or neighborhoods and their significance. This subtly highlights the importance of protecting such valuable assets.
  • Interviews with Local Artisans: Feature local craftsmen or artisans who contribute to homes, like custom furniture makers, landscape designers, or mural artists. Discuss the value they add to homes.
  • Home Tech and Automation: Explore the latest in smart home technology available in your region and how they contribute to safety and possibly insurance premiums.
  • Local Home-Related Events: Promote or review local events like home expos, artisan fairs, or garden tours. Explain how such events can inspire homeowners to upgrade and consequently reassess their insurance needs.

Commercial Auto Insurance Adjacent Content Ideas

  • Spotlight on Local Businesses: Feature local businesses that rely heavily on commercial vehicles. E.g., A day in the life of a local florist and their delivery van.
  • Vehicle Maintenance Tips from Local Mechanics: Collaborate with local garages or mechanics to provide unique maintenance tips or hacks, focusing on commercial vehicles.
  • Eco-Friendly Driving in [Your City]: Highlight routes, habits, or local resources that support sustainable commercial driving.
  • Behind the Scenes: Showcase a local event or festival and discuss the commercial vehicles that power the event from the background, like food trucks, equipment vans, etc.

Business Owner Policies Adjacent Content Ideas

  • Local Business Success Stories: Share inspiring tales of local entrepreneurs, subtly weaving in the importance of being insured.
  • Workspace Designs: Showcase innovative local office or workspace designs and discuss how they contribute to productivity and employee well-being.
  • Networking in [Your City]: Share insights about the best local places for business networking, or review local business events or seminars.
  • Starting a Business in [Your City]: A step-by-step guide or resources for local entrepreneurs. Discuss local permits, best practices, resources, and, naturally, the importance of getting the right insurance.

Why should you produce all this extra content? Well by creating content adjacent to your product you’re showcasing not just your insurance expertise, you’re showing the local community you’re well connected. And it ties directly into the next thing we’re going to talk about, distribution.

Now that we’ve got some content ideas, let’s talk about action steps for you to take.

  • Broaden your content horizons, mix in content that’s not directly tied to or promoting you, your business, or your products.
  • Mix it up, if you’ve read the book or understand the concept of jab, jab, right hook apply that same philosophy to your content marketing. Publish 2 adjacent pieces of content for every one product related content piece.

A Sustainable Content Distribution Strategy

This is probably the most important part of this book, I mean newsletter issue that you’re going to read. Distribution is 1000x more important than the actual creation of the content. If you do not have a solid AND sustainable distribution strategy, you’re going to get burned out and it will take 10 times longer to see the results you’re going to need from creating all this content.

I documented my personal content distribution strategy here. This strategy has helped me grow this newsletter from 0 subscribers on Jan 8, 2023 to 133 subscribers to today October 18th, 2023. In an extremely niche audience talking about marketing tactics and strategies for insurance agencies. 

I only linked back to that article for the internal juice, don’t worry I’m going to walk you through my process, and talk about what my plans are for sustained growth.

Email and Newsletters

Email should be your first consideration with content distribution, it’s the easiest and everyone has an email address.

You’re probably already paying for a CRM with “broadcast” abilities, so no need for more tools here. But you do need to segment your list. If you have a large list of customers don’t just start dumping them into an email broadcast. 

What would I do? I would send my list of customers an opt-in email, and add them to a list or add a tag for anyone that subscribes. Now any new leads that come into the system, I would add them to the list or tag by default. I would add that to your privacy or terms page just for CYA.

By asking existing customers to subscribe, and adding them to a list or adding a tag to their profile when they fill out the form, that gives you the cover you need if you ever have any spam complaints.

Now that we’ve got some technical mumbo jumbo out of the way, let’s talk turkey, what to send them? I would not, I repeat, would not send them a 3093word thesis on the subject like this newsletter. You knew what you were getting into with this. 

I have one rule for email, KISS, Keep It Stupid Simple.

Write a summary of the content, why they should ready it, and a button linking to the article. Imagine you’re writing a tech-bro LinkedIn post, keep it 2-3 paragraphs long MAX, and each paragraph should be a maximum of 3 sentences. (if you notice I even do that in my writing). 

And try to keep the reading level below 6th grade. It’s not that your readers have poor reading skills, the harder it is to read or consume something, the less likely they are to keep going. Hemingway App is my go to for this. It will highlight the problems and tell you what the reading level is.

Just like publishing the blog post, sending the emails on a consistent basis you will be rewarded. And one more word of advice, always send it from a person. Don’t use role based emails, especially when you’re sending marketing content. Human email addresses get significantly more opens.

What I do is I publish the blog post Wednesday night, and then schedule the email to go out at 7:15 AM on Thursday morning (CT). Why that time? Well I’ve got a theory that I’ve never tested, but like to call Bathroom Time. I like to send my emails around the times I think people are taking a deuce. No really, that’s my theory. Also I don’t ever schedule my emails for the top of the hour like 9 am. I don’t have a reason why, it just always bugged me.

Social Media Distribution

Before you start down the rabbit hole of social media distribution I tell everyone this, pick a channel you think or know your audience hangs out on, and post there consistently for at least 3 months. Once you’re getting some results (they might not be awesome right away), then add another channel, and repeat.

Now let me set the record straight, I was running my mouth the other day about something that bugs me. I get it social media is hard, but don’t just blast out some boring ass content from your carriers because it’s free or easy.

You have created your own masterpiece of content, and now it’s time to share it on the socials right? Wrong, stop, don’t do it! Yet.

Here’s the strategy I’m currently using. Post the day before, engage the day of publication, summarize and link to the article the day after.

Tuesday or Wednesday I tease what this week’s newsletter is going to be about and tell the user to click the link in comments or tweet thread.

Thursday I spend my “toilet time” engaging on twitter, linkedin, and facebook, with a sprinkling of reddit.

Friday, I summarize the post or write a tweet thread, linkedin post and facebook about the post, and link to the article in the comments or tweet thread. (I haven’t been doing this lately, just been lazy to be honest with you)

The rest of the week, I just post random shit that bugs me or that I’m working on.

It’s not entirely sustainable because I’m not automating it. But an app like Buffer would probably make that easier for me.

Now is that the right strategy for you? Maybe, maybe not. Let’s talk about social media while I have you here. It’s called social media, not self promotion media. Do you need to distribute your content you spent all this time, energy and maybe money on? Absolutely.

I talked about this up there in the email section, but if you haven’t yet, go read the book Jab Jab, Right Hook by GaryVee, yes I know he’s obnoxious and we’re all tired of seeing his face, but the message is not wrong.

Post a solid mix of other content besides your content. I did a review of an agency’s social media account that was crushing it at the time. Here’s the 5 types of content you need to create in addition to your blog/article content.

Community Content 

Elevate Your Team Content

Humor/Memes

Inspirational Content 

Holiday Content

You can read more about those specific content types here: https://nickberry.co/blog/boost-your-insurance-agencys-social-media-engagement-with-these-5-content-types/

Why should you do this too? Because if you only post about you, and what you’re promoting people are going to tune you out!

Just like everything else we’ve talked about, posting consistently with quality content is going to be rewarded. And don’t be afraid to repost older content. Just think about your own experience on social media. Do you really remember when someone reposted something from 5 months ago?

Paid Media Distribution (Running Ads)

I get this question all the time, should I be running paid ads for my content? Honestly if you’re new to content marketing probably not. Most of you reading don’t have the budget, ad buying experience or the time to do this right. Is it possible, absolutely. But that would basically be an entire other book I’d have to write.

But once you’ve got your feet under you, and a great process in place there is a strategy I stole from my mentor Todd Giannattasio at Tresnic Media.

You’re going to need about $300 a month of advertising budget for this. And I would recommend sticking to facebook/meta/instagram or whatever they’re calling themselves this year.

$5 a day for content amplification rotating out your organic posts to your warm audience.

$5 a day to a cold audience.

$10 a day with a list building ad sending them to a lead magnet

$10 a day with 3 ads to your primary offer.

Iterate and Learn.

Keep an eye on the channel you’re starting out with, experiment with different post types(videos, graphics, pictures, text), different times of day, and different content pieces. I would say do something 10 times before you change anything. Especially if you haven’t been consistent in the past.

Here’s some action items you can implement.

  • When writing your articles, write an email summary, and a social media post at the same time, that way it’s fresh in your brain and ready for distribution.
  • Pick one channel and get really good at it before moving on.
  • Come up with your own schedule that works for you.
  • Experiment with different styles and content.
  • Repost older content

Content Marketing is the Long Game

Content marketing isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. Think about it. If you bump into someone for the first time at a social event, you wouldn’t immediately trust them with your secrets, right? Similarly, when someone stumbles upon your content online for the first time, they’re just getting to know you. They might be intrigued, curious, or even skeptical. And that’s okay.

Now, imagine that person from the social event keeps showing up in your life, always sharing valuable advice, funny stories, or just being genuinely helpful. Over time, you’d start warming up to them, right? This is how content marketing works. Every piece of content you produce is a chance to show up again in someone’s life, providing value and building a connection. But just like in real-life relationships, trust isn’t built overnight.

Remember this: producing content and then just leaving it out there is like shouting into a void. If you want people to hear you, you’ve got to share your voice, and then share it again, and again. Make your content visible. Email it to your subscribers, share it on your social media, let your community know about it. If you just create and hope someone stumbles upon it – you’re in for a long wait.

But don’t get discouraged. This isn’t about quick wins or instant gratification. It’s a steady process. With every article, or video you put out there, you’re laying another brick in the foundation of trust. So, stay patient, stay consistent, and most importantly, always focus on offering real value. The payoff? Loyal customers who not only trust you but also vouch for you.

After reading all of this and you’re just not ready to tackle all this on your own, I created a program just for insurance agents to start building a content library and distribution machine. Schedule a call with me to find out if you’re ready.

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