The Seven Elements of Smart Content


By Robert Dempsey, Contributing {grow} Columnist

Despite the huge growth of eCommerce, most business is done by people, with people and for people … and is therefore built on relationships. You have relatively few options when it comes to building a relationship with new customers:

  1. Meet them in person
  2. Meet them over the phone
  3. Meet them online using proactive contact on social media
  4. Provide helpful, informative and entertaining content that will bring them to YOU

The first 3 out of 4 items on that list are scalable only by adding people to your team, requires constant personal attention, and are time-intensive.

Now here’s a question for you: how many people can you talk with on the phone in a given day? If a phone call with a potential customer takes one hour, at most you could do perhaps 8 calls a day if you break for lunch and do nothing else. So you can start to form relationships with 8 people a day.

Option four seems like a really good idea, doesn’t it?  That’s called inbound marketing. A single blog post, for example, has the potential to reach hundreds, thousands and beyond. And what’s even better, you don’t have to be the one doing all of that sharing.

The bottom line is that inbound marketing through smart content allows you to build relationships with more people than ever before possible.  It allows you to possibly connect with people around the world that were unavailable by any other means.  And it works to build those relationships for you 24×7 – without adding people. That my friend is awesome.

So what is this “smart content?”  A blog post is just a blog post, but smart content can take many forms as long it is a targeted, mindful attempt to connect with the needs and wants of high potential customers.

I think smart content must cover seven different bases to be effective. Let’s see if you agree …

  1. It must be created for your ideal customer and use their language
  2. It should be helpful, informative, entertaining, or some combination
  3. It must be created on a consistent basis
  4. It should be able to be spread quickly and easily via sharing and syndication
  5. Every piece of content should be linked to at least one of your products and services
  6. Direct marketing 101 – always include a call to action
  7. It must be measurable and produce a return on investment

Well, that’s a lot isn’t it?  But it takes a lot to cut through the clutter these days and it’s probably going to be worth it for your sales effort. Do you agree?

Robert Dempsey is the Itinerant Entrepreneur. He combines technology, psychology, and marketing to help his clients build their empires using strategic marketing. You can find him at

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  • Robert

    I completly aggreed with you. I am blogging now for nearly 7 months and I never met so many people within the last months in such an easy way compared to the classic ways you mentioned in your post.

    It is a great opportunity!

    Kind regards from Germany


  • Point 5 is the only one I am not sure about. (I hope I haven’t misunderstood it)

    The problem with linking every piece of content with your product or service is that it can sway your ability to remain impartial on a topic or lead you into writing articles that are a “pitch” each time.

    Sometimes you need to write about things that are related to what you do but not necessarily something you sell, this keeps your content more rounded.

    For example let’s take wine. If I sold wine and all I ever did was talk about the wines I sold this would lead to very narrow content. Now I can’t sell every wine but I do need to have an awareness of the market to be seen as a professional. Therefore if I write, say, about the current Bordeaux vintages and I have an opinion, this is a chance to demonstrate my expertise. If I then link this to the Bordeaux wines I do stock it could feel a bit contrived.

    On the other hand, if I wrote about a wine buying trip to Bordeaux where I selected a wine, why I selected and I now stock it, this is valid and feels much more genuine.

    Can I add another thought?

    Point 1, I agree. Tip: Create a Persona, this is a description of your ideal customer. What they do for a living, where they live, car they drive, places they eat, films they watch, books they read, Mac or PC, iPhone or Blackberry. You get the idea. Even grab an image off the web to represent them.

    When you sit down to write, write it for them every time.


  • Hi Robert,
    Thanks for a clear and helpful breakdown of this. I also had a question about number 5 that is similar to Sean’s post so I won’t repeat.  Thanks again, David

  • Hi Sean. To your first point I would say that if you are talking about the wine industry and you sell wine then it links back. If you started talking about a completely different topic like robots that’s another matter. Yes that’s a contrived example but it makes the point.

    To your second point, personas are a fantastic way to always have your ideal customer in mind as you write. Great add thanks!

  • And hello from Thailand Hansjörg! Thank you for adding your experience. Keep on going – it only gets better both personally and professionally.

  • Hi Robert, great insights as usual! I like how you always emphasize on the importance of a call to action. That cannot be substituted for anything else. Sharing this article for sure.

  • Hi David – that’s two strikes for me for not being clear. I’ll make sure that I better explain things next time. Glad this can help.

  • Hi Jan great to see you hear. I can’t stress enough the importance of a call to action. It’s the best way I see to be salesy without being pushy. It’s how content sells for you. Without it you just have content, and for most businesses that doesn’t go far enough.

  • Robert,

    Reading this reminds me that I need to go back and listen to my interview with you, especially about the call to action stuff :). But for me the the point that really hit home is how easy it is to meet people and connect with people today. Actually you inspired an idea for my next blog post with this one 🙂

  • You’re proof positive of the ability to meet a ton of people online Srini and turning it into a great business as well. Thanks for your comment.

  • I found your post really helpful. Thanks for posting such informative content. Keep posting.

  • With the spread of personalization – we should be able to soon develop smart content not just to ‘ideal’ customer, but to every individual customer.  Work to be done to ensure you have good info on each individual – but that has to be the future…

  • That’s an interesting statement Nic. I can deliver targeted opt-in offers to specific readers on my blog, but taking content to that level requires some serious tracking of the person as well. Privacy buffs might be a bit antsy about that one.

    I’m interested to hear how that might work as well. Can you give a high-level overview of how you would deliver content in that manner on a blog? We can do it via email or Facebook as they (and we) have more information on someone and know more of what they like.

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