How to Transform Your Content from Education to Inspiration

How to Transform Your Content from Education to Inspiration


For years, there has been one style of blog at the heart of B2B content marketing: the how–to. And that’s for good reason. How–to articles drive clicks, provide value for readers, and reframe complex problems with step–by–step solutions.

As the old saying goes, knowledge is power. And by definition, education is the transfer of knowledge. The better a B2B brand is at that transfer, the more power they get. Good how–to guides position them as industry authorities. Being an authority, in turn, accomplishes a lot:

  • It builds an audience by offering solutions

  • It positions your brand as a thought leader

  • It gives you the credibility you need to sell

When I was at Gainsight, many folks in our audience came to view us as the go–to destination for Customer Success best practices and thought leadership. Some weren’t in the market to buy technology – at least yet. But because of the strength of our content and community initiatives, they still saw us as the market leader, and many eventually became customers.

Then—cue the dramatic music—something changed.

Everyone started releasing how–to content. Software vendors saturated search engines with countless options to find answers. Nowadays, thousands of how–tos explain different solutions to the same problems. SEO now feels like an insurmountable challenge for vendors.

That’s not the only problem. The formats of how–to content have completely changed. People don’t just seek out blog posts. They seek out videos. They seek out podcasts. They join live webinars.

But according to SEMRush, only 19% of brands rated their content marketing as “very successful” in 2021. What’s going wrong? Brands need a better approach to creating content in the first place.

In short, education–oriented content alone falls apart. If everyone is writing how–to posts, how do you stand out? And if you can’t drive a reader to action, what is that content worth, anyway?

It all comes back to the goal behind what you post. As Jay Acunzo says, most content addresses an audience’s informational needs. There’s too little inspirational content focusing on their emotional needs.

Education is great. But search brand content these days, and you won’t find a lack of it. To meet the moment, you need to shift editorial focus from education to inspiration.

Your job as a brand is to forge an emotional connection with the audience. That’s the difference between your content’s success and failure. It’s not whether you can create a meaningful how–to—as great as that might be. Education is all about answering a simple question: how? But inspiration can answer all sorts of questions. It can answer “how,” but it can also answer why.

There’s a reason it’s called thought leadership, after all. It’s not just about having the answers. It’s also about influencing where the thought goes. Thought leaders inspire action among their audience and followers. You should aspire to win minds, sure. But if you can win hearts, you’re really a thought leader.

Examples of Content that Inspires


The marketing team at Gong are masters of inspiring their audience into action. Just look at their most recent post, where they tackle the challenge of making sales in a lagging economy.

But pay attention to the way it’s framed. “Change is here,” the post concludes, “but you’re ready for it.” What could be more aspirational than that?

Gong’s approach is brilliant. They win the hearts and minds of sales professionals first, then crafted content up the org chart by focusing on “Revenue Intelligence.” The trust they’ve developed through content and community efforts has “greased the wheels” for software adoption once they reach the CRO. They do it all while informing and inspiring.


Gainsight’s key: being the champion for Customer Success Managers. When we started out at Gainsight, many CSMs didn’t have a brand in the marketplace fighting for them.

What did we do? Developed plenty of how–to educational content on the blog while leveraging virtual and in–person events to inspire action. When CSMs came to our programs, they had a cathartic experience. They experienced other CSMs who understood their specific problems.

We also created aspirational content, advancing the idea that CCOs were the next CEOs. Then when that happened, we celebrated the success of those who pulled it off. Gainsight became synonymous with the idea of Customer Success.

Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek of “The Optimism Company” focuses on one key idea: start with why. Sinek’s mantra is that you have to inspire someone to get them to go from A to B. And he proves that inspirational content works whether you’re an individual or a brand. Even his TED Talk was about how great leaders inspire action.

Brene Brown

Brown’s focus is on belonging and vulnerability. Brown’s idea? Vulnerability isn’t weakness—in fact, it’s a measure of courage. Her goal: inspire followers to vulnerability in both work and personal settings. The how–tos come from her experience and research, validating her ideas and inspiring people to action.

Seth Godin

Godin’s big idea: online communities, dubbed “tribes,” are just waiting to turn into movements. Tribes can start through a shared idea, but work up to a common goal. Godin believes brands should build tribes and turn that tribe into an aspirational movement by centering around a rallying cry.

What do all of these examples have in common? They use inspirational content to create a sense of belonging. When your brand can tap into that sense within your audience, you’ll go beyond education. You’ll move into the realm of inspiration.

Great—So How Do You Do It?

  • Define your “why.” Go a level up with your content by asking how what you do can create a sense of belonging. Airbnb is about more than vacation rentals—it’s about finding belonging anywhere. Gainsight is about more than customer success—it’s about forging human connections.

  • Use storytelling techniques. In Simon Sinek’s TED Talk on inspiration, he uses real–world examples: Martin Luther King, Jr., Apple, and the Wright Brothers. Don’t just tell people what’s possible—show them through stories.

  • Reframe your audience as the hero. Movies, books, TV shows—we don’t feel something unless we relate to the hero. The beauty of inspirational content? It frames the reader as the hero. Frame your brand as the guide instead. You’ll find it’s much easier for readers to feel inspired if the content is all about them.

  • Create actionable takeaways. You haven’t inspired anyone until you’ve gotten them from A to B. A: reading. B: doing. To get them to do something, give them concrete steps at the end of every piece of media you create.


How to Transform Your Content from Education to Inspiration

Your job as a brand is to forge an emotional connection with the audience. That's the difference between your content's success and failure. It's not whether you can create a meaningful how-to—as great as that might be. Education is all about answering a simple question: how? But inspiration can answer all sorts of questions. It can answer “how,” but it can also answer why.

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