The term “content marketing” has been the focus of most marketers at some point in 2013. Whether you think content marketing and its various offshoots—native advertising, videos, infographics, etc.—are the savior for what ails advertising, or if you staunchly believe it’s all hype, it’s hard to deny that it has the attention and advertising dollars of some of the world’s biggest brands.
Content marketing’s benefits are numerous. At the very end of the spectrum, there is clear data to show that having a strong content marketing strategy will increase leads for your business and improve sales. Further up the sales funnel, content marketing helps increase awareness and affinity of your brand, two factors that are crucial to building a strong sales pipeline.
Content marketing also creates a path for your brand’s customers and prospects that delivers information that is educational, entertaining, and relevant to their respective tastes. It’s a welcomed pull philosophy at a time when push marketing is considered outdated.
Something must be working. American companies now spend approximately 26 percent of their annual advertising budgets on content marketing, with the average company of more than 1,000 employees spending in excess of $1 million a year.
Despite those impressive statistics, 53 percent of marketers feel they are failing to create content that resonates with readers. Part of the problem, I believe, is that most marketers aren’t employing an effective content distribution and promotion strategy. Without effective distribution and promotion, all of that clever branded content you produce will be a waste of time and money.
That’s why it’s time to take this proven market strategy to the next level by implementing a smart, strategic content distribution and promotion strategy.
Here is a three-part plan for building an effective content distribution and promotion strategy.
1. Every piece of content should contain an “ask”: Effective content marketing isn’t just about having a smart content creation and distribution strategy. It also involves promoting your own brand within your content. Despite being in the business of increasing sales and customer actions for their companies, many marketers get squeamish when it comes to making an “ask” in their content marketing. As noted marketer Chris Brogan has said, “If you’re not putting some kind of hook to future business into your efforts, you’re not content marketing.” Place your “ask” prominently, yet strategically, within your branded content to increase leads.
2. Bridge the gap between appeal and consumer action: Before creating your content, ask yourself three important questions: Where is my audience and where does it typically find relevant content? What triggered my audience’s interest in this content? What will trigger an action (lead, download, sale, etc.) from my audience? Answering these three questions is crucial to developing a sound content distribution and promotion strategy. Each will help you formulate a specific audience network or platform (e.g., a set of trade publications within a specific industry or a social network that is closely followed by one or more of your target markets) that you will need to tap into to give your content the necessary breadth of distribution options.
3. Appeal to a broad audience: Don’t just sell to your specific niche audience or vertical. Remember that your audience is your buyers. This may seem obvious, but it’s crucial. If your content is created only for the purpose of educating your specific niche or vertical, then it is unlikely to attract many new prospects. That will make it difficult to gain a broad enough distribution network in order to seed the content with a range of relevant audiences, which are critical to ensuring your content ranks well for a relevant set of search keywords.
Content marketing has reshaped the digital marketing and advertising landscape—for the better. Many brands have grown accustomed and quite successful at producing content. Now, the marketing community needs to grasp the intricacies and benefits of using an effective content distribution and promotion strategy. That is the next big hurdle in the content marketing evolution.