Basic vs. advanced in content marketing

Warning: this content is older than 365 days. It may be out of date and no longer relevant.

I read an interesting article the other day that claimed basic content was boring content, and if you wanted to establish yourself as an authority, you needed to write much more advanced content to differentiate yourself. While in theory this makes a great deal of sense, in practice, it’s a recipe for a tiny but dedicated fan base. Why? There are two reasons for this.

First, most people still need the basics. Even if you’re an advanced practitioner, the basics are still the foundations on which you build. If your goal is not the elite 1% of practitioners who are truly advanced, then your content must prominently feature the basics as a way of on-ramping new audience members.

Second, most advanced techniques don’t translate well to simple how-to guides and posts. How-to guides are fantastic for things that are basics, when you’re trying to master the mechanics of how to do something. More advanced techniques typically aren’t about how to use any given tool, but when, where, and why to use a tool in a certain context.

Here’s an example. In the martial arts, there are basics, such as how to punch correctly or how to do an outward wrist-twist joint lock. One of the most advanced techniques in the martial art I practice is loosely translated as standing in the eye of the storm. It’s not a technique you can write down and hand to someone – it’s a mindset of being able to keep centered and focused in the middle of a fight so you can see what’s really going on without being blinded by fear, ego, or dozens of other mental distractions that obstruct the truth.

Here’s a more marketing-related example. A basic is measuring your website traffic from a variety of different sources, such as Direct, Referral, SEO, etc.

Audience Overview - Google Analytics

The advanced techniques aren’t more ways to measure. The advanced techniques are being able to look at a website’s traffic and understand why something happened so that you can either avoid it or do it again.

Audience Overview - Google Analytics

How do you teach that in content marketing? You can’t, not really. You can give examples, but every example of advanced technique has far more nuance in it than can be taught in a few blog posts. In the example above, I can illustrate what happened, but explaining why and how it can be done again would require an awful lot of time and text.

Should you do advanced techniques in your content marketing? Only if you’re truly an advanced practitioner and you’ve got a goal of appealing to other advanced practitioners. If otherwise, stick with the basics. They’ll serve you well.

You might also enjoy:

Want to read more like this from Christopher Penn? Get updates here:

subscribe to my newsletter here

AI for Marketers Book
Take my Generative AI for Marketers course!

Analytics for Marketers Discussion Group
Join my Analytics for Marketers Slack Group!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This