The 3L Content Marketing Quality Test

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The 3L Content Marketing Quality Test

Marketers spend a lot of time worrying about whether their content is valuable. This is generally a good thing because it means we’re legitimately interested in creating quality content for our audiences.

However… we’re not really doing a great job of that, are we? At least not in aggregate; much of our content isn’t great. It isn’t even good – on a good day, it’s mediocre. And despite how much I love artificial intelligence, what AI spits out is equally mediocre, creating a tsunami of underwhelming.

How do we fix this? How do we create better content?

What Audiences Want

Let’s start with our audience. Broadly speaking, when it comes to any kind of content, our audience has three basic wants:

  1. We want to be entertained. There’s a reason streaming services have exploded in the last decade. We love to be entertained, to have anything we want at our fingertips.
  2. We want to be educated. In an increasingly complex world, anything that effectively teaches and simplifies tends to do well.
  3. We want to be emotionally engaged. We love content that engages our emotions, positive or negative. Social networking companies have made bank with algorithms that incite us to be angry and afraid.

Entertain. Educate. Engage. That’s what our audiences want.


The 3L Content Marketing Quality Test

Here’s the quality test you can apply to your content as you’re creating it. I do this with my content.

Does your content make you:

  • Laugh
  • Learn
  • Love

That’s the test, what I call the 3L test of content value.

Did you laugh? Was it so entertaining that you literally laughed out loud? That’s some good content.

Did you learn something while you were putting it together? You’re the subject matter expert. If you learned something while you were creating your content, then your audience will learn something as well.

Did you love your content so much that you can’t stop talking about it to you significant other, partner, or friends? Are people outside of your place of work tired of hearing you gush about your content?

Here’s the hard part. No, creating great content isn’t the hard part.

Post Frequency

This is a quick chart of how often I post per month, along with the average number of business days in a month. You can see that since I stopped doing a daily video, the number of posts I’ve created has dropped off significantly for most of 2021 except for the last two months – and that’s mainly because I’m now posting my newsletter issues to the blog.

Why? Why such a dramatic decline? Because I have a folder of more than 50 blog post ideas and half-done posts…

… and in their current form they all fail the 3L test.

The hard part about the 3L content value test is that your quantity of published content may decline if you want to maintain quality. That’s always the tradeoff; good quality takes longer to produce than poor quality. Valuable content takes longer to produce than valueless marketing drivel.

In my case, it cut my cadence almost by half.

But as we’ve seen and heard from places like Google, quality matters more than ever. The old adage “fast, cheap, good, choose any two” applies here. If we agree that we want our content to be good, then we can either create good content quickly that’s expensive (by hiring lots of people to generate quality content), or we can create good content slowly on a restricted budget. But we can’t have it all.

Apply the 3L test to your content and flag any content pieces that don’t pass the test. Make them a priority for improvement. Measure the conversion efficiency of your content to help prioritize content that works for you.

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7 responses to “The 3L Content Marketing Quality Test”

  1. Indeed, you can bat .333 the rest of your life, and make the hall of fame, however, I always try to bat a thousand 😉

  2. Laugh. Learn. Love. Very very well said, Mr. Penn. You and I (often) think alike. Scary, huh?

  3. You nailed it. Incredibly simple test — but actually creating that content is so much more complex.

  4. Thanks, I learned something…

  5. […] talked about content value tests before, but there’s an even simpler, one-question test that will tell you whether your content […]

  6. […] Get ready by committing not to send another crappy, pointless, useless email to your customers. Be willing and eager to invest the time to make your newsletter not just good, but great enough that people look forward to it. Remember the 3L test, and apply it rigorously to your next email piece. […]

  7. […] down little words and phrases that I want to save for the purposes of recalling later. I write ideas down that I eventually want to incorporate into talks and presentations. Yes, I could do this in […]

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