How to choose your content pillars & Red Flags When Working With Clients

The Growth Report #67

Hey OG,

I do not have any news from the kitchen today.

But I got this for you: 30 Animals That Look Like They’re About To Drop The Hottest Albums Of The Year

Head over there and get a good laugh.

Back?

Great. Now let’s drive right into…


...Today's topics

📈 Sales & Marketing:
How to choose your content pillars

🧰 Tools of the Trade:
Articles, Tools and Inspiration for Marketers

⛑️ Reflections from the Trenches:
Eight red flags to recognize a bad client


📈 Sales & Marketing

How to choose your content pillars

Content is a branding exercise, meaning the goal of your content strategy should be to embed your name in the back of people's minds as THE solution to turn to (way before they ever enter the buying cycle).

The best way to make that happen? Post about the same overall topics and tie them to your revenue (i.e. to your product or service).

For example, here at GrowthBay we offer services focused on:

  • B2B Content Marketing

  • SaaS Demand Generation

  • Marketing Strategy

So we focus the majority of our podcasts, newsletters and LinkedIn post on those topics.

Because when you see the GrowthBay logo or my profile pic on social media, I want you to associate us with B2B content marketing, SaaS demand generation, and marketing strategy.

Choose your pillar content topics, tie them to revenue, and write about them the majority of the time. That's how you'll see your content efforts bear fruits over time.

Alright, ready? Let’s do it.

1. Brainstorm content pillars

Revenue

Your content should tie back to what makes you money. Ask yourself:

  • What product or service(s) do I provide?

  • What struggles do my ideal customers have with it?

  • What educational topics on those struggles can I write about?

Ideal Customers

Your content should be focused on your ideal customers. Consider:

  • What help do they need?

  • What type of content attracts them?

  • What questions do they ask the most?

Expertise & Passion

Content is a long-term strategy - meaning you need to pick topics you can create a lot of content around. Ask yourself:

  • What was the reason why the company got started? What transformations do you want your customers to go through? What status quo are you trying to disrupt?

  • What topics am I, the founders or the team passionate about?

  • What topics could I, the founders or the team talk about for hours on end?

  • What topics do I, the founders or the team know a lot about?

  • Which expertise areas are tied to how we make money?

2. Find the Intersection

Your content pillars should be found on the intersection between revenue, ideal customers, and your passions/expertise. If the topic doesn't fit in all three categories, keep thinking!

Choose 3-4 topics
The point of having pillar content is to narrow down your focus. People won't associate you with a specific topic if you're sharing 5-8 different topics that aren't aligned. Consider:

  • One overarching topic (mine is marketing)

  • 3 sub topics that fit your main topic (ours are content marketing, SaaS demand generation, and strategy)

  • Keep them similar - don't go for completely opposing topics.

3. Now you focus.

Once you have your content pillars, create the vast majority of your content around those topics for a minimum of 1 year. You'll embed your brand in the back of people's minds much faster that way and when you tied these topics back to your product or service (as described above), they'll remember you when it's time to buy.


🧰 Tools of the Trade:

Articles, Tools and Inspiration for Marketers

💬 On Fate

When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate. — Carl Jung

👨‍🎓 Marketing & Leadership Education

  • Explore vs. Exploit - The goal of testing a lot of growth ideas is not to find a lot of things that work. The goal is to find your points of leverage as quickly as possible and focus your limited resources.

  • How to create a product marketing framework - Build your product marketing strategy around questions and "workstreams".

🤩 Brands and (digital) Products that caught my eye

  • Show - A self-proclaimed "video-first-marketing" platform. It does video-hosting, video creation, video analytics and has modules for booking, prospecting and content promotion.

  • Blog Audio - Convert your articles into AI-generated audio.

  • Meta Description Generator - Automatically Generate meta description ideas for your articles and blog posts.

📚 Interesting reads


⛑️ Reflections From the Trenches

Eight Red Flags to Recognize a Bad Client

Determining whether a prospect will be a bad client can be tough.

We all have horror stories about clients who made us want to curse the heavens and rain down fire on them for the sleepless nights, stress, and the loss of hair they induced.

If only there were a way to know a prospect would make a bad client BEFORE they become a client! Actually, there is — and it involves putting aside your focus on the amount of revenue they might bring in and looking for some signs in the discovery process.

The red flags are there. We often don't want to see them because we're focused on the dollar signs. Trying to determine if a prospect will be a bad client?

Look for these Red Flags —> 🚩

1. Personalities Don't Match

If you don't get along personality wise during the discovery phase, you won't get along when they are a client. Personality matches matter.

2. Shows Up Late

Are they showing up late to discovery and proposal review calls? Don't expect that change if they become a client. It shows that they:

  • Have time management issues

  • Don't respect your time

  • Likely won't deliver information you need on time

3. Rushes the Sale Process

Do they want to sign the contract without really reviewing what they are getting? I know how exciting that can feel, but hold on! You're setting yourself up for a frustrating experience. Here's why:

  • They don't know what they are getting

  • They have expectations that you aren't meeting

  • Something is going on behind the scenes

  • A VC firm is requiring, but they don't really want to do it

4. Demands a Specific Timeline

Are they demanding a faster than normal timeline from you? That CAN be a bad sign. If you still want to move forward, make sure you include verbiage in the contract that timelines are dependent upon:

  • Client providing all information in a timely fashion

  • Client reviewing proofs quickly

  • No changes in scope

5. Too Busy to Review

If they don't have time to review your proposal or samples or case studies, they won't have time to review your proofs or get you information. Combine that with a specific timeline and you're setting yourself up for a very frustrating experience.

6. Thinks They are the Expert

Look for signs that they think they know better than you. Trust me, it will come through when you present options, proofs, and suggestions when they are a client. Be on the lookout for:

  • Corrects you when reviewing the proposal

  • Says that you should "only" need a certain amount of time to do something

  • Says "we know our industry and what works"

  • Wants you to tweak your offer to "fit" them

7. Constantly Changes Their Mind

You'll see this in the discovery and proposal steps. If they constantly change their minds on what they want, don't expect them to be decisive when they become a client. It will lead to:

  • Changes in scope

  • Changes in how they want you to communicate

  • Changes in when they want proofs or the final product

8. Your Gut Says "NO"

Seriously, listen to your gut. If you feel something is off, then something IS off! You're likely recognizing the red flags subconsciously and are too focused on the revenue to see it.

-

And then as you have identified bad clients that suck the soul out of you and your team, know that you are permitted to let them go (with grace and integrity please).

Your teams' mental sanity is more important than the lost revenue.


That's it for this week.

Talk soon,

Sandro