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Finding Your Content Marketing Hedgehog

content-marketing-hedgehog9-600x588If you’ve read anything from Jim Collins, most notably the author of Good to Great, you know about the hedgehog.

The hedgehog, in business, is that thing your business can be the best at…that combines your unique talents and passion into something you can make money doing.

I believe the hedgehog exists in content marketing as well.

The Move to the Hedgehog

A few weeks back, I was on #atomicchat as the guest for the day, answering various questions about content marketing (with some really good discussion).

One of my tips that drummed up discussion was this:

Do one thing really well…be the best at one thing…you don’t have to focus on every channel.

There was some backlash to this. As content marketers, we have to understand the stories we tell in all platforms, and leverage as many channels that make sense. We can’t just focus on one thing, can we?

Yes, but not at the expense of the hedgehog.

The Content Marketing Hedgehog

When we start scattering our content strategy too thin, I always go back to read this article from Jeff Jarvis on how newspapers (specifically) should cover what they are best at and link to the rest.

Cover what you do best.  Link to the rest.

In expanding on this topic for us content marketers, I believe we have some flexibility to look at our hedgehog in a couple different ways.

  1. The Hedgehog as what we cover: In your niche, maybe you produce the best research, or the best how-to information, or the best investigative journalism.
  2. The Hedgehog as how we cover it: This is channel specific.  You possibly have a winning podcast like Content Marketing 360 or video series formula like Will It Blend?.  Perhaps a webinar or daily blog series.
  3. The Hedgehog as why we cover it: This is your higher purpose. Your content marketing mission statement. To be truly effective content marketers, we have to be creating and distributing content for, primarily, the betterment of your customer.  Once you find that, then you can look for where your product or service fits in. The matching of our customers’ informational or entertainment needs and what we sell is the content marketing sweet spot.
  4. The Hedgehog as who we cover it for: Are there groups of people that are not getting the information they need to do their jobs better, or live their lives to the fullest extent?  Your hedgehog might be covering a piece of information for that niche group, and then do it better than anyone else.

The most successful companies in content marketing have found their hedgehogs.  I think of IBM and their amazing white paper research.  P&G and their informational microsite home tips. KLM and their digital magazine of world travel. Copyblogger and their daily, how-to post on writing best practices (JP – expanded on this per Ardath Albee’s comments below).

What’s your content marketing hedgehog?