peak_contentSo here’s a story.

My wife runs a design company. She has a fax (still). Years ago, she would walk into the office every morning and there would be a pile of junk faxes waiting for her. One morning she grabbed the pile of faxes off the machine and started running around the office, screaming about the morons who have nothing better to do than to send all this useless material to people like her who don’t want it.

Then she stopped dead in her tracks.

The top fax in her hands was a service offering training in QuickBooks. “Oh,” she said, “we really need this.” She actually engaged the company behind the “junk” fax.

It’s all junk unless it addresses a burning pain that we have — then it’s not.

The same is true of the huge volume of digital content that we’re being buried under today. Have we reached the point where there’s too much content, so all content becomes bad content? Again, I’d say, it’s all junk until it’s not.

As long as prospects have burning needs that they want solved, they will welcome content that helps to ease the decision process they’re going through.

Information loses its power to inform and persuade unless it’s relevant and timely. The trick is to develop and organize your content, and then time its delivery to make it as relevant as possible to your prospects, based on where they are in their Decision Cycle.

One simple way to do this is to create what I call an “Engagement Ladder”, which is simply a series of escalating offers that are developed to address the different needs your prospect has along her Decision Cycle, and makes an effort to “engage” her each step along the way. The content your prospect expresses interest in can often give you a clue as to where they are in their decision cycle.

This approach can be a very effective overlay if you use a marketing automation system, and a great content organizer if you don’t.


Climbing the Ladder

Each “rung” of the Ladder, working from the bottom up, contains high-value content that matches the needs of a given Decision Cycle stage. Whether your prospect finds you (inbound marketing like social media and SEO) or you find them (outbound marketing like email), you want to have a full Engagement Ladder of content ready before the two of you interact.

That way, if one of the shiny objects on your Ladder captures their attention, you’re immediately ready to tempt them up your Ladder with the shiny object on the next rung up.

When you’re trying to build a new relationship, responsiveness is everything, and your pre-built Engagement Ladder gives you the ability to be very responsive.

Relevant, high-quality content will always find an audience. Everything else is just junk.

Drew Williams is a serial marketing entrepreneur and co-author of “Feed the Startup Beast: A 7 Step Guide to Big, Hairy, Outrageous Sales Growth” (McGraw-Hill 2013). Drew shares his beast-building ideas at and @FeedYourBeast.

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Originally published Nov 18, 2013 8:00:00 AM, updated January 18 2023