Tom Elgar

Quality vs. Quantity: Hero, Hub, and Hygiene Content

By: Tom Elgar | September 8, 2015 | 
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Quality vs. Quantity: Hero, Hub, and Hygiene ContentBy Tom Elgar

I often read about the question of “quality vs. quantity” in content marketing and clearly there is a point at which publishing endless posts of no real value becomes link baiting and—at the other extreme—getting stuck writing a magnum opus that will deliver no return on the time invested.

However, in our market, that of B2B marketing for knowledge businesses, that simplistic argument, looking for a “sweet spot,” rather misses the point. In this market, the simple fact is that there are different kinds of content with different roles.

The YouTube Hero, Hub, Hygiene model is a helpful framework that lays out different classes of content and provides a useful analytic tool to review your content strategy.

During the last couple of years it has been adapted from video to a broader audience.

I came across the concept at a seminar at the University of Oxford’s Said Business School and realized it can be of great use in the context of content marketing for knowledge businesses.

Quality vs. Quantity

Hero Content

To those who are not familiar with it and in the context of knowledge businesses, Hero content is the big projects: The once or twice-yearly budget seminars, white papers, or big research pieces.

A good example of this is the Deloitte Football Money League, which provides financial research on the world’s richest football clubs and their relative rises and falls. It is a once a year publication that is anticipated, pored over, and reported by newspapers and websites the world around.

It is a brilliantly successful “hero” piece.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content, by contrast, is always there. It is “always on.”

In a knowledge business, it will largely equate to the brochure website, professional profiles, service descriptions, and about us.

Hygiene content is designed for search (“environmental consultants Columbus, Georgia”) and closes the deal.

The website needs to be rigorously tested, optimized, and analyzed regularly with tools such as Lucky Orange, Crazy Egg and, of course, Google Analytics, but it should not need to change radically from one year to the next.

Hub Content

However, the meat in the sandwich is the Hub. Hub content is different again; particularly in knowledge businesses.

What defines Hub content and makes it good is that it is relevant and timely. It quickly tells another overstretched professional something they didn’t know or gives them an expert perspective.

In doing so you:

  • Educate the prospect/ client in a way that is beneficial and interesting to them;
  • Remind them the author is an expert in this field; and
  • Remind them your firm exists.

In practice, that means that good Hub content in this market should to be expert-led (they know what is relevant) and regular (daily posts to the social channels and weekly newsletters).

As Brooks Gibbins (co-founder of NYC venture fund, Fintech Collective) points out, the need is:

…to strike a balance between Twitter (high noise/signal ratio) and long-form blogging (who has time to write, or read, those?).

Their weekly newsletter has an average of 20-25 posts per week focused entirely on the New York Fintech investment scene.

The posts are short and commentary is written by the founders and their team.

Crucially, though, they are highly relevant and timely.

To someone interested in that niche it is, probably, the best news service globally.

One of our prospective clients recently used a nice turn of phrase about their existing content, “Our content is too long and too late.”

The bad news for Hub content—unlike both Hero and Hygiene—is it cannot be easily outsourced.

It’s almost an oxymoron to have “authentic” content written by a third-party and the expertise is also best found in-house. That is, after all, the thing that is being demonstrated.

The good news is that Hub content doesn’t need to be overworked, indeed it will become less valuable the more “by committee” it becomes—less authentic and too slow.

Quality vs. Quantity Content

So, the question is not of quality vs. quantity it is about fitting content to a need.

Your Hero content needs to be of high quality, it demonstrates your firm’s brand values and positions you in the market.

Hub content establishes a direct connection between the professional and the client. It should be expert-led, timely and relevant.

And finally there’s your “brochure” website, the Hygiene content, well-designed, helpful, and easy-to-find.

About Tom Elgar


Tom Elgar is co-founder and CEO of Passle. Passle is a digital marketing platform designed around the needs of the busy experts at the heart of knowledge businesses. We enable time-pressured specialists to create online content that demonstrates their expertise and then we make it easy to publish and share with clients and prospects. Prior to Passle, Tom co-founded Serverside Group, the custom payment cards company. The company sold in 2012 to Gemalto, a French multi-national. Over 100 million card designs have been created through their systems so far.