Great, you have a blog or a Twitter handle or a Constant Contact account.
You’ve developed a distinct voice and determined what message matters most
You’re churning out the content on a regular basis. Clear, concise and clever.
But does it ever get to the right audience? Does it GROW your audience?
If you prefer advertising over organic content, you may assume you’re in better shape. After all, you’re PAYING to put that message on very public platforms with the intent of getting customers.
And, all conventional ad campaigns (outdoor, print, broadcast or digital) boast some capacity to target a certain demographic. The ad agency will report on the number of “impressions” your ad received based on the audience which that media platform generally reaches.
Sounds kinda “1990s,” right? Something Chandler Bing might recommend?
But seriously, are any of those impressions meaningful? Do they engage your prospect? Do they get shared? Do people “like” impressions? Do they make the phone ring?
Sometimes, but the impact of paid ads fades more with each passing second.
Instead, today’s leading brands understand that today’s media consumer has to SELECT your content and CHOOSE to consume it. Unwanted messaging is usually avoided or ignored.
According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, 70% of people say they’d rather learn about a product or service through original content than via advertising.
So, your obligation as a responsible brand steward is to CREATE a great message, and then pro-actively PLACE it in front of the appropriate audience. But how?
Most Content Marketing plans lack the single most critical element of success: DISTRIBUTION. Posting even a well-written piece on the URLs and social media sites that you control is basic.
But beyond that, where do we place the bait to get a bite?
That’s the secret sauce of a powerful content campaign. Time-consuming, yes, but effective.
Four Steps for a Successful Content Distribution Campaign:
1. Develop a SPECIFIC Plan.
Each piece of content deserves it’s own distribution strategy, to find its own audience. Don’t create one ‘blanket’ distribution plan and assume it will work for all of your content, all the time. Maybe one piece is a better fit for certain trade associations accessible through LinkedIn. Maybe another story could attract a robust presence on Instagram. If so, can you include a photo? What sort of earned media pitch would be appropriate? It should be different for each piece of content you develop. Customize.
2. Dial in the SPECIFIC Addresses.
Once you have the specific plan, go to work getting the specific connections for THAT audience.
How can you best reach THOSE PEOPE, who are most likely to be interested in THIS topic?
LinkedIn is a fantastic tool. Just use the search box at the top of any page. Find the drop-down tab on the left and search for groups related to the specific topic of your piece of content. Simple. For earned media pitches, we use a Cision database to find the precise journalists who would be most likely to have an interest in THAT specific story or topic. The more generalized the pitch, the weaker and less effective.
3. Deliver a SPECIFIC Pitch.
Just like a tailor-made suit, your presentation should be tailored to each audience. Try different headlines that tout distinct aspects of the content you’re presenting. The lead paragraph or images or take-away bullet points may need tweaking, depending on the interest of the recipient. One trade industry publication may be interested in a professional aspect of the story, but a Mom blogger or a local radio host may be drawn to the human interest or neighborhood element. Think it through. Of course it takes more time. But – do you want to be efficient, or effective? Sometimes the two don’t align.
4. Do It Again.
Persevere. Don’t expect one piece, or even a half-dozen, to be the key to success. This is a marathon endeavor, not a sprint. Thought leadership, visibility and marketing success in this convoluted media landscape require a long-term commitment. Watch the metrics of each story to see what topics and tactics generate the best response. Seek out the smaller groups, influencers and less-prominent media outlets. You are sometimes more likely to get traction in those arenas first. Then, when those media “hubs” pick up your story, use their platforms to help pitch larger targets. It works.
Great content deserves great distribution.