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Why you need a content base

The single most valuable content asset you can create for a brand is your content base.

A content base is a piece of content that dominates your market landscape, towering above competitors to make your brand stand out.

Create a content base

A content base consists of one content type, built on one main platform, consistently delivered over a long period of time, says the Content Marketing Institute (CMI).

Here’s our blog on how to create your content base. You can borrow ideas from these four examples of content bases:

  • The Michelin Guide
  • The Guinness Book of Records
  • The Furrow, John Deere’s worldwide agricultural magazine
  • The Red Bulletin.

Ladder up content to stand out 

A content base consistently delivers content that’s so distinctive, it makes your brand stand out in your market landscape. Your content base towers above competitors, gathering more light and gaining more attention than competitors’ content.

In the examples above, the brands elevated the topics of their content above the usual topics of products, categories, and users. By doing so, they address their higher purpose.

Michelin climbed a ladder of aspiration to arrive at The Michelin Guide.

Why you need a content base
The Michelin Guide laddered up its content to focus on mobility and exploring new places.

Michelin didn’t write about tires, cars, or drivers (boring!). Instead, they laddered up their content base by writing about new places to explore.

People are willing to pay for a great content base: a copy of the 2023 Michelin Guide, the Bible for foodies, costs about $30. And a new one gets published every year.

Similarly, Guinness climbed a ladder of content topics.

Why you need a content base
Ladder up beyond your product, category, and users to a higher purpose, like Guinness.

Guinness did not write content about beer, pubs, or pubkeepers – they wrote as the world authority on world records B.G. (before Google).

By becoming an authority on world records, Guinness empowered the brand as a peacemaker. The Guinness Book helps drinking buddies settle arguments, so Guinness keeps flowing freely all night. The Guinness Book has become the best-selling copyrighted book of all time.

John Deere’s magazine, The Furrow, is not a catalog of tractors, plows, and farm equipment. Instead, it’s a guide to help farmers run their businesses better, so they make money at farming.

In its first 100 years, the John Deere brand was mentioned in The Furrow’s editorial section only about 20 times.

John Deere The Furrow
The first edition of John Deere’s magazine, The Furrow, which targets content marketing effectively. It’s still the world’s

The Red Bulletin magazine is not about the energy drink Red Bull. Instead, it’s all about attitude, demonstrated by extreme athletes, extreme artists, and extreme experiences.

A content base serves your audience

As you plan your content base, ladder up from topics such as your product, category, and users to your brand’s higher purpose. Ask your team:

  • What do your customers care about and aspire to?
  • What does your brand stand for?
  • How does your purpose differentiate your brand?
  • How can you bring your purpose to life by building a content base?

When to build your content base? 

The answer: It’s exactly like the best time to plant a tree.

“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now,” a Chinese saying goes.

cherry tree with ripe red fruit
Just as a cherry tree brings a fruitful harvest, so does a content base.

Almost 20 years ago, I planted fruit trees in my yard. Each started out as a stick, 2 to 4 feet tall. Over the years, they’ve grown about 20 feet tall.

Among my most successful trees is this cherry tree, which brings us flowers in the spring and fruit in the summer.

Despite this year’s drought, the branches of our cherry tree hang heavy with tart cherries (perfect for cherry pie).

We’re picking, pitting, and freezing all we can. Just one tree produces far more than we can harvest, so some will be left for wildlife.

A content base works just like a cherry tree: Start soon, start small, and nurture it consistently. You’ll be amazed at how an idea can take root, grow and build bonds with your audiences year after year.

Build a content base you can be proud of, one that draws people to build connections with your brand. Your content base will bring you years and years of growth and harvests – just like a cherry tree.

Life is a bowl of cherries, for marketers who've built a content base.
Life is a bowl of cherries, for marketers who’ve built a content base.