Mind Readings: Advanced Questions

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Mind Readings: Advanced Questions

At a recent event, one of the speakers talked about answering the advanced questions. That got me wondering… what exactly are the advanced questions, anyway?


In this episode, the speaker talks about how to create content for key stakeholders, instead of commodity content that search engines would find. He talks about how there are two or three different models and frameworks for getting to things like advanced questions or to any advanced topic. The first framework he talks about is the “how, what, why” framework. The second framework is the Google “hero, hub, help” model. He talks about how research is a big part in finding these advanced questions. He talks about how to create hero content, and how it takes a lot of time and effort to create truly original and unique content.

Mind Readings: Advanced Questions

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Christopher Penn 0:15

In this episode, let’s talk about the advanced questions.

At a recent event, I was at Content Marketing World, Drew Davis did a great keynote talking about rarely answered questions on how we can create content for key stakeholders instead of commodity content that search engines would find.

And I got me wondering, what exactly are the advanced questions anyway? There’s two or three different models and frameworks for getting to things like advanced questions or to any advanced topic.

So the, the, the premise of Drew’s talk was that the Frequently Asked Questions are very often tactical questions that have a gazillion answers, right.

They’re frequently asked questions.

How do you do this? How do you do that? And if we think about the types of questions people will ask, How was a very common question, how do you do this thing? Right? How do you get more followers on Instagram or something along those lines? The second tier up sort of goes slightly more advanced would be a what question, what is Instagram? Right? What is the purpose of having followers and so on and so forth? And then the highest tier would be the why questions? Why would you even do this? And why do you care about this thing? In his talk, he mentions, one of the rarely answered asked questions is, why does content marketing take so long to work? Right? There’s plenty of questions on how long it takes to work, but very few pieces of content a why it takes so long to work.

So that how what, why framework is very useful for trying to determine what those more advanced questions are.

At the higher levels.

I mean, Simon Sinek has been talking about this for a number of years, the whole start with why premise of asking really challenging questions about your brand, why do you show up to work? Why does your company exist? And so on and so forth? These are questions that you’re not going to Google and answer for.

Right? There’s no, there’s no way to Google what is my company about? That is something that you have to answer.

But that is absolutely something that a CEO or CMO will be interested in.

The second framework, which mirrors the how what why framework very closely is Google’s hero hub help model and they use this for content marketing, specifically, they advise creators that there’s there should be a large pyramid of at the bottom of the pyramid sort of help content? How do you do things right how to make bearnaise sauce.

Then there’s hub content, which is sort of monthly, bigger pieces that you promote more that you spend more money on that are more, they’re less execution more tactical.

And then of course, there’s the Hero Pieces, the once a quarter big splash pieces of content that you roll out big premieres, for example, on your YouTube channel.

And this hero hub helped model is there a suggestion for making content that does well, now, the hero hub help model sort of goes against what Drew was talking about in the sense that Google advises you create a lot of help content, relatively frequent hub content, and then relatively infrequent help a hero content because the hero content takes a lot longer to create, requires more investment of resources, more promotion, and requires really having these big ideas on a fairly frequent basis, some kind of big idea or big concept.

For folks who have written books or given conference talks, you know, that big ideas are tough to create, right? truly original, unique, big ideas.

They take a lot of effort, creating help content, tactical how to content.

That’s easy.

That’s that’s straightforward.

Here’s the difference between that the strategy that drew presented and the strategy that that Google presents, Google is trying to get you traffic, right.

Regardless of quality, they just want eyeballs on your content, because that benefits them.

The more eyeballs that they have on YouTube, the more ads they can sell.

But it does also jumpstart your community right because of your can attract a lot of people who are very tactically minded, that can create a community for you.

Now, one of the things you have to do is if you’re going to take that approach out, you have to approach it for a long period of time, because if you want those people and your audience to be strategists and sees We,

Christopher Penn 5:01

you could be dealing with people, you know, in your audience for 10 to 15 years, right, as they ascend the hierarchies in their organizations, they naturally become more senior over time.

And you’re able to take those relationships and work with them.

But it takes 10 to 15 years, right? If you’re trying to get results, sooner rather than later, you might be better off flipping that and going for as much hero content as you can afford, targeted at the highest levels of a company.

How else do you get advanced questions? Well, a big part is research.

There is no substitute for going out to your target audience, people you really want to talk to? And asking them, what are the tough questions that you have? What are the questions that you’ve not been able to find the answers to? What are the challenges that are taking longer than you think.

And this because your audience at those highest levels is not going to be huge, you’re not going to be rolling out a massive survey, you’re probably going to be bending someone’s ear at a conference, right? Maybe scheduling a one on one call if you can get onto somebody’s calendar, things like that looking at aggregating research done by other research firms that do have that level of access, if you don’t, to put together what those questions are.

That’s challenging for a lot of organizations, right? And that’s challenging for any kind of research.

Because if you want to talk to the fortune 50 CMOS, well guess what everybody else does, too.

And it can be very tricky to get a hold of them.

So you might have to look at people that level of seniority, but maybe not at the biggest companies with the understanding that a lot of the challenges that maybe someone in the Fortune 1000 is facing, probably at least some of them, there’s some overlap with challenges of the Fortune 50.


Think about ROI and marketing.

We know what ROI is, you know, that’s that’s an easy question.

It’s earned minus spent divided by spent, it’s a very common financial formula.

We know less about what are the best ways to calculate ROI.

And one of the challenging questions is why is ROI so difficult to compute? And why is this seemingly simple formulas? So out of reach for a lot of people? Why do consulting firms get paid millions of dollars to get that answer? That would be that sort of hero level content, and you’d have to invest some time in it.

Think about hero content, like writing a book, right? When you write a book, this thing probably has a big idea in some kind.

And it’s going to take you a long time, anywhere from six to 18 months to crank this out.

So if you want a cadence of hero content, you’re going to need to have essentially, four books in progress at any given time throughout the year to crank out one per quarter.

That should help you calibrate level of investment, you need to create those advanced questions to create the hero content that would answer those advanced questions.

So that’s some thinking about how we can extrapolate from that particular talk into something we can do.

Right? Your first step is going to be doing the research and then figuring out how you’re going to create the content about those multiple big ideas at the same time.

So that’s today’s mind readings.

Thanks for tuning in.

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