What is Hero-Hub-Help - and why is it suitable for B2B tech?
Producing B2B content at scale can be overwhelming. You’re working with multiple assets—articles, case studies, videos— stakeholders, formats, and demands. Without a way to prioritize and approach your content strategically, you wonder what goes where. How do they all fit together? And what’s going to be the order of creation?
One thing's for sure. Cranking out random content with a “spray and pray” approach won't work. What you need is a well-thought-out content creation strategy to make execution straightforward.
Planning content for different stages of the customer journey is a good start, as we have previously discussed in this post: Funnel versus flywheel for content marketing: why not both?
But there is more than one way you can create messaging for a series of different levels, from being introduced to an idea through purchase.
The Hero-Hub-Help framework
Google introduced the Hero-Hub-Help (aka Hero-Hub-Hygiene) framework in October 2015 for YouTube creators. Since it is based on the solid foundation of Google's own advice, the Hero-Hub-Help model has the potential to hold up (and even excel) outside of YouTube, too. In fact, is a framework that aligns well with the content needs and goals of many B2B tech businesses. With Hero-Hub-Help you have a framework that can assist you to:
Build awareness and get to new audiences.
Establish a relationship with the right people.
Produce content that describes, explains, and answers.
Hero, Hub, and Help are three main categories of content. Combining all three can help you put relevant content in front of your target audience. Importantly, you’ll be able to help buyers along their entire journey.
Hero-Hub-Help introduces a way of thinking beyond the all-or-nothing push of conventional content strategies. It can be used as a jumping-off point for most B2B companies—something you can refine over time. Let’s look at the content framework section by section.
Google defines hero content as "the big, tent-pole events that are designed to provide a massive step-change to your audience growth."
In a B2B tech content marketing context, that sounds a lot like a white paper, major webinar with industry experts, or groundbreaking product launch - something where you go deep or big to get a unique angle or insights that no one else has.
These kinds of marketing collateral are your chance to establish your brand as an authority in the industry. Don’t forget about the timing aspect since you need an active audience for success (so releasing it during the holiday season is not the best idea.) It should be released around major events, like business conferences, so readers know when to expect new content from you.
In the B2B context, the most basic hero content can be a well-crafted ultimate guide that explains your why. It makes the audience realize that you’ve been in the trenches quietly doing the work. To meet the high standard, you should dedicate more production effort and budget to make it shine. Ensure that the final piece is polished and professional and aligns with your brand.
Google defines Hub content as "regular, scheduled content that provides a reason to subscribe to a channel and return on a regular basis."
Hub content is episodic to make sure your audience keeps coming back for more. Consistent Hub content invokes response and, therefore, creates a relationship.
For many B2B tech companies, this probably sounds a lot like your good ole' blog and newsletter content - thought leadership, product updates, and case studies that go out once a month or quarter where you try to optimize your content for CTR.
But for those organizations which are more forward-looking, it could be a little more out-of-the-box. A managing director of a creative video agency who was a recent guest on this blog noted that many B2b tech companies are already half-doing video podcasts on a semi-regular basis, but they could establish much greater authority and credibility by formalizing these as video podcasts, with a regular host, a planned series, and proper distribution.
But whatever formats or tactics you choose, you can think of Hub content as being like scheduled programming, and make your content regular and compelling enough for your audience that they choose to engage.
Google defines Help as content that captures your audience's intent. Google advises Youtube creators to use Google or YouTube Trends to determine high-volume searches for their targeted category, create help videos that address these queries, and "keep the sales pitch to a minimum."
Through building targeted ongoing search traffic, Help pulls new people into your world over time consistently. Once they are in your world, you can ask them to provide permission for you to engage further, through social or email, clicking through to other content, retargeting, or any of your other usual tactics.
The core idea behind Help content is to know what the audience is searching for and then capture the user intent. This is usually executed by making strategic content to address the most common pain points. So Help content is more about the traditional SEO with the “they ask, you answer approach.”
The key to success with this type of content is tailoring it for your audience’s wants and giving them just that. If possible, you should aim to create Help content around the higher-volume and lower-competition search queries.
In the B2B context, Help content represents the foundational marketing principles that involve answering specific audience questions. This is the content they discover when they search for a solution. The common examples include how-to’s, product tutorials, FAQs, information on regulations, and so on.
How it fits in with your flywheel or funnel approach
The key thing that is interesting to me from a B2B tech perspective with the Hero-Hub-Help framework is that it assumes you attract your audience in two very separate ways.
The first is through Hero content - your interruptive, show-stopping content that has ad spend and promotion behind it. And the second way is through Help - SEO optimized content to capture audience intent - probably, unless you are very well-resourced, in the long tail of very specific search queries.
This is distinct from the flywheel approach, in which attracting your target audience is simply the first stage of the flywheel, and whether you attract them through Hero or Help-type content is not really important. So where the flywheel focuses on the stage of the customer journey, but is neutral on content types, the Hero-Hub-Help framework has the goal of each type of content as its focus.
What is best for me?
Hero-Hub-Help is designed for Youtube, but the framework can help many B2B tech content marketers to categorize and prioritize how they create content. But as for whether it is better than a flywheel or funnel approach, that is less clear.
It seems to me that if in your organization content is a critical part of the lead generation and nurturing efforts, a flywheel or funnel approach can help you really focus on how prospects move through the customer journey. However, if you are in more of a sales-driven organization, in which content plays more of a supporting role, the Hero-Hub-Help framework offers a perfectly good alternative to help you plan, prioritize, and categorize your content efforts.