Content Marketing, Earned Media, Influencer Outreach, Owned Media, Paid Media, Shared Media
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I’m a big fan of a slow-growth strategy for content marketing. Slowly growing a small community of customers can be a powerful strategy over a long period of time. It takes longer, but over time you’ll be building deeper relationships with a smaller, more meaningful group of people.

And while it’s appealing to think about you and your customers all sitting around a campfire singing “Kumbaya,” the reality is that you’re still in business to make money. For that reason, slow-growth strategy isn’t the most appealing concept to managers & executives who need to see results in the short-term.

Even if you’ve already embarked on a long-term relationship building strategy, it’s important to consider how you’re going to ignite your fire and get people’s attention in the first place. Whether you’re starting from scratch or starting over, here are 5 steps to help your content spread faster:

Understand Your Buyers’ Pain

Understanding what your buyers want may be the most important part of your entire marketing strategy. You can design a perfect product, price it competitively, and use the flashiest advertising, but it will all miss the mark if you don’t first understand why people will care about it in the first place.

It isn’t enough to segment your marketing strategies based on buyer personas or demographics. You must also understand what problem you’re solving for people. Consider the needs and desires of your buyers in addition to the more general demographics like age, location and income.

For example, if you’re selling employee benefits, your target market might be decision makers in a small company of at least 20 employees with one million dollars or more in annual revenue.

Is that enough information? Not a chance.

This description tells you nothing about what they want or need. A more effective approach is to dig deeper into your target demographics and psychographics. Think about what their pain is around your product or service, and design your content to help them solve it.

4 questions you need to ask yourself about your buyers:

  1. Who are they? (demographics)
  2. Where are they? (where they are geographically and where they spend their time)
  3. What do they care about? (psychographics)
  4. What is the pain you’re solving for them?

Create Something Valuable

There are several ways to convey value to your prospective buyers.

As we just discussed, you can help them solve their problem. By providing a solution to some of the pain they’re experiencing, you give them a tremendous amount of value in exchange for their patronage.

Value can also be expressed through your content. You can educate someone, make them think, make them laugh, or pull at their heartstrings. The best content marketers are able to create a shared experience around their stories, appealing to both the head and the heart of their audience along the way.

Another way to create value is in your customer service. You can make people feel valuable by building the relationship far beyond the sale. This is often overlooked, but it’s a necessity if you hope to generate referrals from your existing customers.

Creating a high-value, gated piece of content like an e-book, webinar, or downloadable template is a perfect way to grab people’s attention, educate them, entertain them, and even help to solve their problems.

And, if your message is relevant, valuable, and entertaining, your audience will be quick to share it across their own social channels.

4 questions you need to ask yourself about your content:

  1. Is it relevant? (your message is on target for your audience)
  2. Is it valuable? (this resource solves a problem)
  3. Is it different? (the offering is unique within your industry)
  4. Is it sharable?

Tell a Story Around It

Once you have a high-value offering for your prospective buyers, it’s time to find ways to promote it. This isn’t as easy or straightforward as it sounds. You might be tempted to just pay for ads across the web to lead people to your landing page, but that may not be the most effective way to promote your offering to your audience.

Here’s the tricky thing about your prospective buyers: they want to learn more about you and your offerings, but they don’t want to be sold to. These days, people are less responsive to direct advertising and pushy sales. As an alternative, think about ways to break up your content and repackage it into a variety of sizes and formats.

For example:

  • Plan a webinar that relates to a problem your services solve. Let’s say it’s about “5 ways to save for your child’s college tuition.”
  • Create a landing page that describes what you’re offering with a strong call to action and a registration form.
  • Write a series of blog posts in the weeks leading up to your webinar that relate to the topic. You might talk about saving your latte money, or the power of compounding interest in a college savings plan. Each of these blog posts has a bold CTA to register for the webinar at the end.
  • Break up your blog posts into a series of 20+ pieces of micro content to be shared across your social channels. These can be quotes, stats, photos, infographics and direct headlines with links.
  • Record your webinar and offer it to people as another gated piece of content.
  • After your webinar, put your slide deck on SlideShare and share that out to your network.

Now, instead of just one webinar, you have a library of 30 pieces of content to use around one single idea.

3 questions you need to ask yourself about your content promotion strategy:

  1. Does it tell a consistent story?
  2. Is there a clear call to action?
  3. Is the content appropriate for each channel?

Leverage Your Network

If you use a strategy like the one I outlined above, there are a couple ways to leverage your existing network to help promote it.

Relevant influencers in your industry may be willing to help you get the word out to their network by sharing your content across their social channels. These influencers likely get a lot of requests like yours every day, so make sure you’re providing them some value in return.

Whether you collaborate, co-brand, or cross-promote their content in return, find ways to bring them some value from your relationship, too. Make it as easy as possible for them to share your content by pre-populating tweets and posts into the tools they use most.

Don’t forget about your existing customers, either. Email them your content and invite them to refer their networks to you as well. If you’re hosting an offline event, provide them with extra tickets to bring a friend.

You can even surprise some of them by featuring their testimonials, quotes, and/or their own content throughout your campaign. They’ll be more likely to share it if it’s bringing them value, too.

4 questions you need to ask yourself about your influencer strategy:

  1. Are you providing them with value, too?
  2. Is your content in an easily shareable format?
  3. Is there a way to collaborate with them?
  4. How can you thank them in a meaningful way?

Use Paid Channels Wisely

As your only promotion channel, I don’t believe digital advertising is effective. It can be costly, and as time goes on, more and more people are becoming blind to banner ads on the sites they frequent. Still, it might make sense for you as part of a larger, holistic content marketing strategy. The right digital advertising channels can help you drive a significant amount of traffic to your site, especially when you consider some of the overlooked ad services.

Here are a few to consider:

  • Sponsored Social Media:  A highly targeted series of promoted posts on networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can help your business get the attention of people you aren’t already connected to.
  • Outbrain/nRelate: Content recommendation platforms can be helpful to drive targeted traffic to your relevant articles. When someone reads one article on their favorite website, your article is recommended as another piece of relevant content that they might like.
  • AdRoll/Retargeting: As long as you’re generating a decent amount of traffic to your site, a retargeting campaign through a service like AdRoll can help recapture some of your traffic that didn’t convert on your landing page. For previous visitors to your site, your ad will show up across the web, including Facebook and Twitter.

The key with any of these channels is to make sure they are relevant to your message and your audience. Create a budget, allocate a small portion of it, and test each one. As you measure your results, you can adjust your course of action to gain a lot more traction from the same amount of ad spend. To learn more about these and other types of paid promotion, check out this post that puts the top 10 content distribution platforms up against each other.

3 questions you need to ask yourself about paid promotion:

  1. Are the channels I’m using relevant to my audience?
  2. Is the design of my ad native to the platform it’s on?
  3. Do I have a plan to measure the performance?

In today’s wild world of digital marketing, there is a surplus of exceptionally great content. It takes work and a lot of planning to tell a great story around the pain points that your audience feels. If you’ve truly created value for them, don’t squander your efforts by overlooking promotional steps like leveraging influencers in your network and investing in paid media. The diffusion of your ideas – and success of your campaign – depends on it.

This post originally appeared on More Than Metrics.

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Contributors

Our publication contributors combine decades of experience with unique insights into the content promotion and distribution industry.
Chad Pollitt Partner, VP of Audience Native Advertising Institute
Jay Baer Marketing Strategist, Speaker and Author
Gini Dietrich CEO Arment Dietrich
Jason Falls Social Media & Public Relations Thought Leader
Jayson DeMers Founder & CEO AudienceBloom
Ann Smarty Brand & Community Manager
Janine Popick Co-founder & CMO Dasheroo
Brianne Carlon Rush Content Director Kuno Creative
Arnie Kuenn CEO Vertical Measures
Pam Didner Global Content Marketing Strategist & Author
Kelsey Libert Marketing VP & Partner Frac.tl
Chirag Ahuja Head of Marketing WorkflowMax
Erik Deckers Professional Writer Pro Blog Service
Jessica Stephenson VP Marketing ExactHire
Bernie Borges CEO Find and Convert
Michael Ferrari Online Marketing Consultant Pen Cap Online Marketing
Larry Alton Freelance Writer and Editor
David Tile Founder & Director Nimble Media
Dan Steiner Co-Founder & CEO Elite Legal Marketing
Jonah Bliss Founder CMO ContentIntent

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