“Content Marketing is all the Marketing that’s left.”

Seth Godin

It’s true. In the age of nearly unlimited options, consumers have the unprecedented ability to choose what information and entertainment they consume.

With this ability to be really selective came the outright rejection of bland, generalized advertising. Once consumers had the choice to ignore anything uninteresting to them, the marketing game changed.

Now, it’s about content, and not just any content: it’s about content that is actually interesting to the target consumer. And there are three core components for nailing content marketing.

The 3 Pillars of Effective Content Marketing

  • Branding
  • Visuals
  • Copy
Mini infographic 3 pillars of content marketing

The content and information that we once had to pay for are now free and widely available, and any business that fails to generate content that genuinely appeals to their target consumer will find it much, much harder to be successful.

This is probably why we see a lot of businesses fail. Simply being unable to transition from old advertising concepts and tactics has been the downfall of genuinely good companies.

Adapt or perish.

Adapt or Perish


“Your brand is not what you sell.”

John Iwata

This is the first pillar for a reason. Everything else in business marketing stems from the brand, and if a business doesn’t have a brand, then it’s marketing will likely fail.

There are tons and tons of articles and how-to guides on branding a company, and lots of expert advice. The reason for this glut of information? Because branding is so extremely important.

Yet, it often gets neglected or underdeveloped in the rush to get something into marketing so that business and dollars can start rolling in.

And that’s a mistake.

I've made a huge mistake GIF

Without branding, the marketing message is either boring or unclear. It amounts to just shouting into the void and the void isn’t interested.

If you’re unsure where to start, begin by thinking about the client you would absolutely love to work with. And then go deeper. Write down every detail you can think of:

  • age range
  • marital status
  • how many children they have
  • what kind of car they drive
  • what industry do they work in
  • income range
  • the amount of education they have
  • what are their hobbies
  • what political convictions do they have
  • what is their favorite kind of restaurant
  • are they very religious
  • what kind of clothes do they wear
  • what is their health like
  • which type of movies do they prefer
  • what books do they like to read
  • how do they like to travel
Wordcloud of demographics and psychographics

In fact, this resembles a list of a teenager’s dream date.

And the point is to know this ideal customer inside and out. To know how they think, what they care about, how they act. Because then you can craft your brand to be exactly what they would love. And since this ideal client is someone you know you’d love to work with, you’ll end up loving your brand as well.

Remember: you don’t need everyone to love your brand. You only need the people who you would genuinely love to work with. You want your brand to attract the right people and repel the ones that aren’t a good fit.

(Seriously, if you’re brand isn’t actively pushing at least some people away, it probably means your brand needs some work.)


Don’t judge a book by its cover. Good advice that no one follows, because as humans, we are hard-wired to make a visual assessment of anything presented to us.

And it’s images that do all the heavy lifting. Marketers have 50 milliseconds to make a first impression.

speed reading gif

Since no one can read quite that fast, what you’ve written isn’t the thing that stops someone from scrolling further. It all comes down to whether the image paired with the text gives the right visual cues to your ideal customer to make them stop and start reading your ad’s headline.

Thus, content marketing must contain visuals if you want it to be effective. And not just any visuals. Photos and videos that you know your ideal client would stop and look at.

Photos, videos, infographics, screenshots, memes, GIFs – all are loved and shared by the online masses because they are visual.

Hence using fantastic photos and video is a must-have, and absolutely worth the investment.

And it can be an investment. So, before you sign on the dotted line, consider the previous work of the person or company you hire to create your visual content. Ensure that the work already matches the feel and flavor of your brand, so that you can be confident that the final product will be something you will happily use to market your business.

And have a conversation about marketing. If the person you’re talking with isn’t marketing savvy, then it’s likely they aren’t going to create visual content that works for marketing.

i have no idea what im doing marketing visuals

Honestly, there are a lot of photographers and videographers out there. For your business, do you want someone who makes great wedding videos, or someone who knows what drives engagement for your demographic? Do you want some pretty pictures or photographs that capture the experience your buyers can have when they purchase your product or service?

Related article: 4 Reasons to Hire a Marketing Videographer for Visual Content

Before you pay for your visuals, seriously consider what your goals are for your marketing, and discuss them. Look at past work, and listen to the advice given. Marketing is always a gamble because nothing can be guaranteed. But, some research and pointed questions can help you hedge your bet.


Never underestimate the power of words.

Once your picture or video captures that initial attention, it’s the copywriting that will move the viewer forward.

At this stage, you have a few seconds to compel someone to read further or watch more of the video.

And this is where the copywriting takes over some of the heavy lifting required to turn views into clicks.

Good copywriting pulls your audience in

Good copy entertains the target audience. But, ‘entertainment’ can vary depending on who your ideal customer is. Sarcasm, dad jokes, statistics, quotes, emojis, melodrama: whether you use one theme or all of them (don’t use all of them) in your copy is part of knowing your brand, and your viewers.

Copyblogger put together a fantastic list of the 10 Ways to Write Damn Good Copy, and it’s a great place to start exploring which is best for your brand.

Keep in mind that while writing copy is a creative enterprise, we can still apply the scientific method. Writing copy in two different ways, and then using the same visual creative in an ad can give you valuable data about what your audience really responds to. You can also take a piece of copy you love and create two ads, each with a different visual. For example, launch one ad with a video and one with a static image. Again, you can see from your clicks and conversions which visual might be the best fit.

“Marketing is experimentation. But, experimentation without the scientific method gives you zero results you can learn from.”

Melissa Summers
science science science!

The 3 Pillars of Effective Content Marketing

“Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make.”

Bill Bernbach

Your content is what will make an impression on your target audience. How that content takes shape and where it finds consumers is determined by three main things: your brand, your visuals, and your copy. Missing just one of the components means the entire enterprise is faulty and won’t get your business to where you want it to be.

Start with branding and nail it down. Change it only when data indicates it needs some tweaking.

From there, you’ll use your brand to determine the best visuals and copy for your content and advertising.

And don’t forget that you aren’t working in a vacuum. Talk with experienced business owners, seek lots of advice, and read whatever you can. Not all directions you get will be 100% correct for your vision, but the more you know the easier it is to find what will work best.

GoBig Creative is a national visual marketing agency based in Utah. We are passionate about video ad creatives, branding, small business, digital marketing, social media marketing, and helping brands scale.

3 pillars of content marketing infographic