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Successfully Branding a Blog with Cornerstone Content

PyramidImagine this: You have a client who wants a website/blog. And he wants you to brand the design of the website/blog.

Easy enough. That’s what you get paid to do.

You then discuss the look, the feel, the tone of the site/blog. You feel like you’re getting somewhere. You even sketch out some designs on the whiteboard.

It’s looking good.

Then he pauses and asks: “What should I write about?”

Good question, right? Well, if you don’t have a clue about web writing, keep reading and I’ll give you the answer.

Why Cornerstone Content Is Important

Here’s the deal: you could design the best looking site or blog anyone has ever seen. In fact, it could be so great that everyone who sees it wishes they’d designed it.

But will it be a successful blog? The answer is no.

A blog lives or dies based upon its content. No content, no blog. Bad content, bad blog. Good content. Good blog. Great content equals great blog.

No ifs, ands or buts.

See, in the end, your client wins–and you win–when he reaches that last level because he is now in the upper echelons of his world.

But how do you get there? And, can you, as a branding professional coach your client to achieve this goal? Should you even care?

The answer is easy, yes and yes. Keep reading to learn how.

What Is Cornerstone Content?

Every successful blog–Copyblogger, Zen Habits, Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish, Huffington Post, Boing Boing–publishes content that is core to their mission. Core to who they are. Core to what their audience wants to hear.

That’s cornerstone content. It’s foundational. It buttresses everything else they do.

It’s the content that defines the blogger, and it’s typically the subject matter upon which he or she is an expert.

They’ve mastered a subject and are now sharing that knowledge on a site/blog. Let me share with you a few case studies to explain what I mean.

3 Cornerstone Content Case Studies

Nationally recognized lawyer Jeffery Killino was one of my clients. On a national level, his firm specializes in birth and child injury. In Miami and Philadelphia, their speciality is auto, truck and personal injury cases.

What do you think his core content might look like?

Well, for the birth injury site the content includes posts on cerebral palsy and twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome. The child injury site focuses on playground safety and choking prevention. The Philadelphia and Miami sites focus on common causes of truck crashes and construction site safety.

That’s case study one. Here’s number 2.

Anchor Associates is a real estate broker in Manhattan. They specialize in furnished apartments in NYC. What do you think their cornerstone content looks like? If you said “how to find furnished apartments in NYC” or “tips on relocating to Manhattan,” you’d be on the money.

The last case study is for my client Dr. Rick Lehman.

Lehman is an orthopedic surgeon who’s pioneered an ACL reconstruction procedure that speeds recovery. Got any guesses on his core content? Yep, just about anything that deals with sports injury and prevention, particularly torn ACLs.

Should You Care about Cornerstone Content?

Listen: I understand once you hand over the reigns to a newly designed site/blog, you’re job is in a sense finished.

You get paid for building a brand–not babysitting a blogger.

True.

But what’s your brand worth to you?

And is it important to you to differentiate your brand from other professionals?

I mean, are you the type of brand professional who seeks to add value to clients in perceivable and profitable ways that makes you stand out in the crowd?

I’m guessing since you are part of the Brands That Defy Gravity group AND you are still reading this then you’d answer “yes” to all the above.

If that’s the case, the next time you are in the early talks with a potential client who wants you to brand a site/blog, ask him if he plans to promote his blog with cornerstone content.

When he flinches and says, “Cornerstone, what?” then you can settle into your chair and demonstrate to him why you are the superior choice in a crowded field.

And if you need any advice or have any questions or comments, shoot me an email. I’d love to chat.

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Comments

  1. Way to outline and give a name to something I try to explain to clients. Now I will just send them a link to this post.

  2. Glad to hear it’s useful Michael!

  3. Sven Markert says:

    Great job on this post. Very relevant to all copywriters. I was unsure how to label this very important content. “Cornerstone Content” does the trick. Thank you for your great advice.

  4. Great article :) I’ve been subscribed to your blog now for a week, Demian. I not only read your blog but also I read as many of your guest posts on other blogs as I can find. Your content is always epic! First thing I do every morning when I wake up is to eagerly bounce out of bed, rush over to the computer and check out Copybot and all the other blogs you post in for your next epic post!!

    • JD, that’s truly a beautiful comment to get. I wish I had time to write more. I should probably put together a post that gathers all of my guest posts out there.

      Anyway, thank you again for the encouragement. You rock.

  5. Hey Demian,
    The trick is getting to a place where your client can even understand the point of cornerstone content. And instead of just giving another warmed over pass on the importance of content marketing, I think it’s important to note that cornerstone content doesn’t just come from a writer hammering a keyboard. It comes from discernment of brand and position. It comes from questions that help reveal the greatest area of opportunity that business has of breaking through noise and serving customers. You said it in this article, but that’s the pivot we must use to get business to understand how brand swings into action through great content. Would love to see you expand on that point – the bridge between brand and cornerstone content. The writing must be great – but it must also be on purpose.

    I love your Lawyer example because it includes three sites serving three distinctly different topics – amateurs would try to accomplish all that on the primary branded law firm site.

    Kudos for such a wide range of difficult clients to learn, understand, and be a voice for. It takes real commitment, skill, and professionalism to be a chameleon in so many topics and do it well. Just one reason you’re a world-class copywriter.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Justin. So you are looking for a “how brands identify cornerstone content”? Love to hear your thoughts.

      • I’m speaking more to the place of how we bring businesses to see where there brand needs cornerstone content in order to break-through and further distinguish themselves. So, beyond a case for blogging, but into the content marketing arena where a business fully embraces cornerstone content as key to their business.

        I say this, because most businesses do not understand this depth of focus on content creation.

        It’s our job to educate, persuade and execute. Sometimes easier said than done!

  6. Having a blog without an idea of what to write is terrible but it happens to many web designers. Content is the primary thing that is important in a blog cos that’s where your visitors come. Your design will become less important if you doesn’t have a high quality content. If you’re content is good, your site will be more reliable to readers and eventually increase your ranking, generate leads and more sales.

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