The Five Phases of Content Marketing

Billboards, radio ads, direct mail – traditional marketing methods have become less effective by the year. And as a growing organization, you know you can do more to generate leads and surpass your goals.

That’s where content marketing comes in. The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

All that to say – content marketing is a strategic way for your team to showcase its value and convince others to work alongside you. Instead of simply pushing for a sale, you’re using relevant, valuable content to help your audience with their problems and offer worthwhile solutions.

This type of marketing is why we focus on messaging first at Evan Cox Consulting. To truly engage your audience, you need to create a clear, compelling brand message. Only then can you move into developing valuable content based on that message.

Once you’ve defined your messaging and started creating content, your organization can develop an ongoing strategy to continue discussing topics your ideal clients and customers are interested in learning more about.

Leaping directly into your content is a mistake – because with no defined message, you’ll struggle to capture the attention of those new to your brand. However, if you take the time to cultivate your story, you’ll find it’s much easier to create content that others appreciate.

An entrepreneur who’s made a serious impact in the world of content marketing, Alex Hormozi, shared more on the five phases of content marketing and how organizations can use them to grow. The founder of acquisition.com, Alex successfully scaled his business to six locations in just three years, now having more than 450,000 Instagram followers and 350,000 YouTube subscribers. If anyone has taken advantage of the power of content marketing – it’s Alex.

Several years ago, Alex told his clients they should stop making content — because they were only wasting their time. Now, in 2022, he realized he didn’t exactly hit the nail on the head.

I’m breaking down his five phases below, with more information on how you can use them to your advantage. Take a look and shoot me a message if you’d like to chat more about your content marketing strategy.

Content Strategy Phase One: You Make Something & You Post It

Though this phase may sound simple, many organization leaders often wonder how to get started when it comes to content creation. So if you’ve ever asked yourself, “What should I post?” this one’s for you.

Alex defines this phase as posting “something, sometime, somewhere.” But those new to content marketing may not know where to begin. Here are a handful of content ideas to get you started:

  • Team stories.
    • Share more about your team and why they make your organization different from the rest.
    • Example questions to answer:
      • When was your organization founded, and why?
      • What is your overall mission?
      • What are some fun facts people may not know about you?
    • Value-based tips.
      • If your audience has a problem, you’re there to guide them to a solution. Let your content serve as pieces of advice they can use to experience a transformation.
    • Behind-the-scenes.
      • Showcase what it’s like to be a part of your organization as well as the hard work you put in.
    • Testimonials.
      • Any kind of social proof is always great to share.
    • FAQs.
      • Receive a handful of the same questions? These make for great pieces of content.

    Content Strategy Phase Two: Post Something Consistently

    Now that you’re ready to show up, creating content consistently is essential. One social media post won’t do you any good — instead, you need to be active, proving you’re ready to help your audience.

    Alex advises finding a platform you like (ideally one you’re already using) and posting again after you’ve posted once. Even if it’s once every seven days, this is about consistency.

    Pro Tip: Set aside one day each week to batch-create your content. For example, if Tuesdays are light, use that day to create as much content as possible. This way, you’ll always be ahead and never worry about running out. 

    Below are links to a handful of free content calendar templates you can use to stay organized and regularly create thumb-stopping content. Take time to experiment and see which ones work best for your team.

    • Asana
      • This template allows you to create a clear publication schedule so all of your team members understand what’s being shared and when.
    • Hootsuite
      • If you like to plan your content out week by week, this template will help you keep things organized.
    • ContentCal
      • More than just a content calendar, ContentCal’s marketing plan template makes it easy for you to visualize your marketing strategy.
    • Airtable
      • Those juggling various important dates will appreciate Airtable’s drag-and-drop content calendar template.
    • Hubspot
      • With a step-by-step guide on how to use it, Hubspot’s social media content calendar is great for teams who like to plan things in advance.
    • ClickUp
      • This calendar template creates clear workflows, helping you understand any bottlenecks in your content creation process.
    • Trello
      • With a section for resources and ideas, Trello’s social media content calendar template organizes all of your efforts in one spot.

    Content Strategy Phase Three: Post Reliably on All Platforms

    You’re showing up — and that’s great. But it’s not quite enough if you’re hoping to use your content to grow your organization.

    Next up: increasing the volume of your posts. This means posting a certain amount of times per week on allplatforms — not just one. 

    It’s important to note that this can take time. We’re talking 6+ months if you have the money to pay for it.

    The purpose of this third phase is to get comfortable with how to put together content for each platform (even if you do just post once per week). And just as you get comfortable with each platform, you’ll also want to get comfortable creating content for the different audiences you may have on each social media site.

    Nonprofits often have the challenge of multiple, unique audiences – donors, volunteers, and those you help being just a few. Similar to nonprofits, businesses may also be juggling multiple products and services.

    So, let’s walk through what this phase might look like as you create your content.

    Example: You’re a nonprofit hoping to gather donations for a yearly outreach trip. This piece of content would then need to be packaged differently depending on the platform. Here are a few ideas to consider:

    • A short-form video on TikTok with stats on how each donation makes an impact
    • A donation page link on Facebook that links directly to giving back
    • A 1-minute reel on Instagram with interviews of those you’ve helped over the years
    • A long-form blog post on LinkedIn covering the benefits of giving back
    • A handful of short tweets on Twitter with CTAs to make a donation

    Overall, it’s the same concept — gathering donations — it just looks a bit different depending on the network.

    The same goes for businesses looking to promote different products and services.

    Example: You’re a consulting business that sells online courses as well as 1:1 coaching services. As you create content, you can strategically weave both offers into your calendar. Like this:

    • A short-form video on TikTok that covers the benefits of your online course
    • A page link on Facebook that links directly to your 1:1 coaching sales page
    • A 1-minute reel on Instagram that walks through the modules of your online course
    • A long-form blog post on LinkedIn breaking down your 1:1 coaching services
    • A handful of short tweets on Twitter discussing the topics you cover inside your online course

    These pieces of content may look different, but they’re all helping you widen your reach and increase brand awareness.

    Content Strategy Phase Four: Maximize Output on All Platforms

    You’re now posting consistently on multiple platforms. Next, it’s time to maximize those platforms.

    This means taking advantage of the number of times you can post on each site. For example, short-form platforms such as Twitter and TikTok can take around 5-10 posts per day, whereas long-form platforms such as Facebook and Instagram can take around 1-2 posts per day. 

    Look at your platforms, determine their maximums, and create content accordingly. Alex refers to this as “cranking up the volume.” You want to broadcast your message as widely and often as possible — without driving your audience crazy.

    Pro Tip: Lean into repurposing your content. If you create one video, chances are, you can break it up into multiple smaller posts. So instead of posting something once, ask yourself, “How can I turn this into multiple pieces of valuable content?” This way, you’ll get the most bang for your buck.

    Content Strategy Phase Five: Capturing & Creating

    When it comes to content marketing, quality > quantity. However, Alex notes that quality plus quantity wins every time. He states, “There’s no such thing as too long, only too boring.”

    This fifth phase is all about furthering your reach and volume. It takes time to produce quality content your audience is sure to love, which is why it’s more than okay to experiment here.

    One of my favorite quotes from Alex regarding this phase?

    “The more you give, the more you grow. The more you take, the more you shrink.”

    If you’re focused on growing your brand, giving back to your audience is vital. Whether this is in the form of education or entertainment, you must consider what your audience is looking for from you. Only then can you create content that makes them stop and pay attention.

    Pro Tip: Always include calls to action (CTAs) inside your content. Having an excellent offer or initiative is one thing, but if your ideal clients don’t know how to get there, they’ll never work with you. Serve as their guide and use CTAs to help them reach their desired result.

    Content Marketing Objectives

    Now that you’re familiar with the five phases of content marketing, you’ll want to understand the objectives that come along with them. Alex defines these objectives as the following:

    Phases 1 + 2 = lead nurturing

    Phases 3 + 4 + 5 = generate new customers from your content

    If you receive donations or work with new clients because of things such as referrals or paid ads, that’s okay — there’s no need to abandon those efforts.

    That’s why the first two phases of your content marketing are simply lead nurturing — lead generation. Your content should serve as a way for people to verify your organization and whether or not they will move forward with you.

    Before anyone hands over their credit card, they will look at your website and social media pages and ask, “Is this person legit?”

    Think about it: How often have you looked at someone’s website or social media pages to verify their value? Whether a new restaurant in town or a potential business partner, we take comfort in validating whether or not someone shows up for their brand. 

    Get clear on your objectives before you start creating content. This way, as you work through the five phases, you have a firm idea of what you hope to accomplish with each piece of content.

    Maximizing Your Content Strategy

    If you start having content that performs better than others, you’ll want to focus on gathering it. Create a spreadsheet of top-performing posts to keep track of it all. Add any FAQs you’re regularly asked so you can have responses on hand for the future.

    Alex clarifies that your organic content is a low-risk way to test hooks and headlines to get people to buy from you. Unlike paid media, you’re not paying to make people listen. But, if they do, you know which pieces of content are worth creating again.

    Acquiring customers from your content is a long-term play. Alex himself created content for about 18 months before it started bringing in significant business. He states, “Patience is the ultimate advantage.” 

    Be patient. Experiment. And figure out what works best for your audience before putting in additional effort.

    Moving Away From Content Marketing Vanity Metrics

    As you continue creating content, it’s easy to focus on traditional metrics — likes, impressions, shares.

    Unfortunately, likes and followers ≠ sales or donations. 100,000 followers sound great, but if none of them are paying you, you’re wasting time trying to reach them.

    Having a smaller audience full of people ready to help you further your mission is what you want. So yes, a return on your investment in content marketing is important, but don’t get too wrapped up in metrics that don’t matter.

    Focus on Being the Guide

    Here’s the truth: Everyone is not an expert. Alex talks about how people claim to be experts in a particular subject matter without much experience to show for it.

    So, how can you truly become an expert? First, narrow down the problem you solve for people. This is where you’ll want to rely on the StoryBrand Framework to grow.

    When you hire a StoryBrand Guide, like me, the goal isn’t only to create content. It’s to strategically create marketing content that adds value and places your brand as the helping hand, or guide, in your reader’s story. They’re the hero. Unfortunately, too many organizations place themselves at the center of their story when in reality, their focus should be on their ideal clients and customers.

    With StoryBrand, you’re the guide, and your audience members are your heroes. Focusing on the specific problem you help them solve will position you as a true expert.

    Before you hit publish, Alex recommends asking yourself:

    1. Why should this person listen to me?
    2. Why is this worth their time?

    Posting for the sake of posting is one thing. But posting content you know will make someone’s life better is something completely different.

    Focus on being the guide, and your audience will trust you to lead them to a worthwhile solution.

    Looking for additional help with your marketing materials? Let’s chat about your goals and how we can work together. Schedule a consultation today to get started.

Evan Cox

For more than fifteen years, I have served businesses, nonprofits, churches, and the leaders who guide them. Whether serving on staff at internationally-renowned nonprofits or running a coffee company in Southeast Asia, my work has taken me around the globe. Today, I work alongside organizations as a StoryBrand Certified Guide, so that they communicate the right message and then infuse it throughout all their marketing–from strategy and copy to websites and fundraising.

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