Hero-content is awesome but aren’t we forgetting something?

Mark Schoones
Sep 5 · 3 min read

The hygiene-hub-hero model. Once developed by Google to help YouTubers create wholesome channel strategies. But soon the HHH-model proved to also be applicable to many channels outside of YouTube. Marketers have Sinek’s Why, content marketers have Google’s HHH-model. But are brands using the model properly? No. This is why we suck at the HHH-model. And how to fix that.

The HHH-model quickly gained traction in the world of content marketing. If you’ve ever witnessed a keynote on content, there’s a huge chance that you’ve seen this triangle fly by. For those unaware of this holy grail of the content marketing world, this is the breakdown:

I know it says ‘Help’. We’ll get to that later.

In the top layer of the pyramid, we find Hero-content; content meant to lure people from outside of your brand’s realm to your channel. This is the Red Bull Throws Skydiving Austrian Out Of A Space Plane-kind of stuff.

Spoiler: He lives.

In the middle layer, there’s good old ‘Hub-content’. Hub-content is supposed to keep your channel and brand relevant. Blasting out regular bleeps to your audience telling them you’re still there. “Don’t go anywhere; we got new shit coming out and you might miss it.” That sort of stuff.

The last of the three Hs stands for Hygiene. Well, originally it did, anyway. Google now uses Help-content. Nobody knows why. Nobody cares, really. So let’s stick to Hygiene for now. Hygiene-content offers answers to existing questions. Search queries, frequently asked questions from your customer service department. Whatever.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right? No. Because while self-proclaimed content gurus spread this thought through model across the corporate world, and seminar visiting marketers shit-photograph and tweet HHH-slides like docile content apostles, truly integrating the HHH-model into your content strategy apparently isn’t that easy.

Yes. Brands tend to create beautiful Hero-content. Awareness driving monsters of stories that, with an occasional gentle paid push, boost attention, traffic and subscribers towards the appropriate channels. And yes; brands keep their channels alive with creative recurring formats, social content and, the true comeback kid of content, newsletters.

But where is the hygiene-content? The factual stuff. The basics. The answers to the questions consumers truly have? That information is often hidden on hideous service pages or user-unfriendly PDF-esque manuals. Why?

Finding the answer to that question isn’t that hard. See; traditionally marketers aren’t used to answering exact consumer questions. That was always a customer service thing. And Mister Customer Service doesn’t tend to have the same deep pockets Mister Marketing has. And so consumers are condemned to cheap ugly ass product descriptions and coma-inducing FAQ-pages.

Pity. Because answering existing questions in a consumer-friendly manner pushes basically every single KPI-button a marketer could aim for. The Samsung-campaign Android & You, a campaign launched three years (!!!) ago in the Netherlands, proved to increase NPS-scores, purchase intent ánd brand consideration. Just by offering answers to existing consumer questions. Transforming customer service into a branding tool. And decreasing the number of incoming service calls at the same time. Win-win.

Case video for Android & You; a hygiene-content campaign by Samsung.

So, how do you start? Simple. Just find out which questions your target audience has. Tinker with the Google-machine, ask your customer service department, look at user behavior on your website. Construct and test the perfect answers. In video. In written form. Whatever works best. And publish. This approach will work. Whether you sell phones, send packages or fly blue airplanes.

And before the Byron Sharp brigade starts off a collective rant in the comments; I’m not claiming awareness-fueling hero-content is obsolete. But there’s something valuable lying on the bottom of the pyramid. Let’s not forget that. Because sometimes satisfying your customer is as easy as just answering a question.

Mark Schoones

Written by

Creative director at content marketing agency Wayne Parker Kent in Amsterdam. Sharing thoughts on media, marketing and work culture.

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