Improve content marketing effectiveness with the 4MAT method

4MAT – Why?

You don’t do content marketing because it’s a fun way to pass time. If you’re like most businesses and organizations, you write to share ideas and add value to your prospects. You write so they will view you as a thought leader – so they’ll be more apt to turn to you when they’re ready to buy the product or service you offer. To be more effective, try the 4MAT method.

If you begin each piece of content by answering the question “Why?”, more of your readers will stick around to learn about the “What”, the “How” and the “If”. Answering the “why” question is an important, but overlooked step in developing a connection with your readers. It is also critically important to answer the other three questions as well. When done, you’ve provided relevant content which can be easily absorbed by the most common learning styles.

4MAT Method

4MAT – What?

This methodology comes from an educator, Bernice McCarthy, who developed the 4MAT system in the 1970s to accommodate the four major learning styles. We leverage it for content marketing.

  1. Imaginative Learning–Feeling and watching, seeking personal associations, meaning, involvement. This type of learner must know “why” they should consider your content.
  2. Analytic Learning–Listening to and thinking about information; seeking facts, thinking through ideas; learning what the experts think. These people will formulate ideas based on your content and need to understand the “what”.
  3. Common Sense Learning–Thinking and doing. Experimenting, building, creating usability. Tinkering. These people need to apply what they’ve learned and respond will to how-based content.
  4. Dynamic Learning–Doing and feeling. Seeking hidden possibilities, exploring, learning by trial and error, self-discovery. This group will look for ways to adapt what they’ve learned and appreciate “what-if” content.

This component of content is about examining expert knowledge.

4MAT – How?

As a professional editor, I constantly find the answer to the “why” question in the very last paragraph. It’s like the author is building to a crescendo! Unfortunately, a large group of their readers will never make it to the final paragraph.

The first thing you must do is take a step back. How does the piece you’re writing reinforce your content marketing strategy? If you’ve done it right, your content plan is about adding value to prospects. Think about the core value for each piece of content. That is typically the answer to the “why” question. It helps the reader connect to the content – it makes it relevant. Go back to the beginning paragraph for this post. Did I answer the “why” question? Is that why you’ve traveled this deep with me?

The “how” component is about the reader using what they’ve learned to solve their issues. Both the “what” and the “how” components are fairly straightforward. The final component – “what if” is best handled by an example – read on…

4MAT – What if?

Imagine adapting this learning construct to your content marketing efforts. Not only should you work to ensure each piece of original content supports your marketing strategy, but that it is delivered in a way which almost all people can absorb. As marketers, we work way too hard to get our content noticed – what a shame if our prospects aren’t motivated to read it, or worse, have difficulty making use of it.

This component is about coming up with new ways to apply the learning.

Here’s to better content!


If you need help implementing the concepts discussed within this blog post – as always you can reach out to us at marketing@aidantaylor.com. The SEO keyword for this post is: 4MAT.
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Creative Commons License
Improve content marketing effectiveness with the 4MAT method by John-Scott Dixon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

2017-11-29T08:37:01+00:00 By |Content Development|0 Comments

About the Author:

He has over 20 years of experience managing and leading the Ecommerce efforts of small, medium and large companies. He has held sales, sales management, marketing, operations, IS/IT, legal and executive management positions in start-up to multi-billion dollar organizations. He has also served as an adjunct professor of Ecommerce for the MBA program of the University of Missouri (where he received an MBA concentrated in Direct Marketing in 1989). He led the Ecommerce initiative for Sprint PCS (PCS) and Sprint (FON) as Vice President of Ecommerce. He led the integrated marketing efforts for Insight (NSIT) as Senior Vice President of Marketing and Ecommerce. Today, he is the CEO and Founder of Aidan Taylor Marketing – a marketing agency for small businesses (between $1 million and $20 million in annual revenue).

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