Hero content is a marketing gift that keeps on giving. Also called big rock assets or lead magnets, these long-form pieces are designed to generate a lot of value for your target audience and, in turn, generate a lot of interest for your brand.
While incredibly valuable for your business, hero content takes a lot of time and brain power to create. Some of the most impactful, top-performing assets reach around 2,000 words—even more—and frankly, some teams simply don’t have the time or creative bandwidth to make these epic works a reality. There’s a solution.
Over the years, I’ve found that there are a few tried-and-true elements of powerful hero assets. This is certainly not a silver bullet solution, but it provides you with a framework—a recipe of sorts— to make getting started a little easier.
1. A Foundational Trend or Issue
Because hero assets are designed to resonate with the largest possible base of buyers and generate a ton of leads for your business, they typically connect to a much larger trend or business issue. In the world of the buyer’s journey, this would be the “awareness stage” or TOFU.
Ask internal SMEs and sales teams about the trends and business issues they’re hearing about in their conversations. Then, use a third-party tool or platform to validate what you’re hearing. You don’t want internal biases and experiences to cloud what’s really happening in the broader market. I’ve been playing with SparkToro lately, and I really love that you can get deeper insight into the sites, podcasts and social accounts target audiences follow, and even the words and phrases they use on their own properties.
2. Lots and Lots of Data
It’s no wonder why 51% of B2B buyers say they’re looking more closely at the trustworthiness of content sources; so many marketers tend to tell product-focused stories under the guise of thought leadership. Validating the importance of your story using timely data (especially buyer- or user-specific data) is crucial to winning trust and adding value.
Two years used to be the ideal expiration for data, but because surveys and research analysis has become so widespread, I would argue that you should focus on only sharing data that’s a year old or younger. To ensure that your content can remain a valuable piece of your library, use data in callouts, visuals and other modular components that can be easily spotted and updated.
3. Use Cases and Success Stories
Marketers have long pushed the belief that case studies are bottom-of-funnel content. But if your hero asset is trying to make a business case for an innovative trend, technology or approach, you need real-life examples—or at the very least hypothetical use cases—to make your case.
For some readers, these little tidbits help bring your story to life and even help trigger your audience to look further into a new approach or new investment. You don’t want to be heavy handed, though. Save the “we’re so great” chest-beating for later-stge assets. In fact, you could simply reuse these examples and expand upon them for individual case studies, product-focused checklists and, my personal favorite, case study portfolios.
4. Influencer Input
Reaching out to some of the top experts in your field may feel a bit overwhelming. You’re too busy to navigate the back-and-forth and frankly, don’t want to deal with the rejection, you may be thinking. But I say, take the risk! You’ll be surprised how often folks are eager and willing to share their input, especially if the content is designed to position them as an expert.
I notice hero assets that emphasize future trends, new realities and considerations, and even disruptions tend to get the most influencer draw. They want to be perceived as ahead of the curve and get their brand (themselves) in front of new readers and potential clients. It’s a win-win.
If you want to get something in the field quickly, zero in on partners and colleagues you know can share input quickly. Clients, reseller partners and even tech vendors in your space could provide great fodder to support your story.
5. Tactical Tips and Takeaways
Any good piece of content includes some sort of next step for the reader. You don’t want to just harp on the pain they feel or the disruption that will plague their industry. They won’t feel valued, empowered or excited to learn more; they’ll feel like you used them for their data. Mix in some best practices throughout the piece or include a few callout sections that provide the qualitative insight they crave.
Doing so will also serve you; you can reuse these elements for promotional blogs, social posts or even later-stage assets. Full-funnel campaigns should follow a consistent narrative, and reusing these elements helps create that consistency and reaffirm key messaging points.
When designed effectively, hero assets pack a lot of value for your audience and your team, too! Using these elements as part of your content strategy, you have a lot of elements to reuse and repurpose for different supporting assets and promotional elements.
If you’re too crazed to start a concept from scratch, you also can take a close look at your existing content and find ways to reuse and repackage them together to create a more evergreen hero asset. This is where an audit can be extremely valuable. Check out our new playbook, which walks through the audit process, so you can determine if this approach is right for your team.
Alicia Esposito is VP of Content for Retail TouchPoints. Formerly a Senior Content Strategist for Content4Demand, she oversaw the content and editorial strategy for B2B clients in a variety of industries. She also helped company partners and clients with their content strategy and creation efforts and has a passion for crafting immersive and relevant content experiences using new approaches to storytelling, interactive formats, influencers and more. When she’s not dwelling over all things branding, messaging and content strategy, she’s spending quality time with her family, binging on Netflix or eating guacamole.