A good marketer knows when his idea sucks.
Yet many marketers I come across relentlessly push their content without thought for one fundamental influencing factor of its likely success: appeal.
You have all been involved, at some stage in your careers in a flawed attempt to be creative. You’ve had a “great” idea, everyone in the room agreed to it, you got the research done, you hired a designer, you hired a developer and everything looks great.
The big day comes, it’s time to go live, to publish your work. You click “publish”, and, nothing. Sorry folks, you had an ugly baby. Your content marketing looks like a dog chewing a wasp. The humiliation of your total failure is compounded by coverage in a compendium of uselessness. Unfortunately there are lot of examples just like this, polluting the internet one horrible failure at a time.
Even for the creatively challenged, it does not have to be this way. We have a little secret at Builtvisible that we use to help the success of our content marketing campaigns.
Decide why you’re creating content?
Laura recently challenged our industry to Think Bigger, challenging us to think before we churn out content for the sake of churning out content, instead considering how these initial questions can help your content strategy in the long term:
- We do something awesome. Who is it for?
- What gets those people excited?
- How do we help them be cooler, smarter, richer, happier?
- Where are these people hanging out online or offline (so we know where to get in front of them)?
Laura has very clearly pointed out that you need to know who you’re targeting, with an understanding of what makes them tick and quite vitally, in what (content) format you should be conveying your message. When you’re happy you’ve got those ideas, you need to have a plan to get coverage, or how to get in front of them.
Second: Get really targeted.
We’ve been solving content marketing targeting problems one by one for some time now. And for really good reason. I just hate the idea of a piece of hard earned content going down the toilet simply because there was a step missing in the plan. Since Mozcon earlier this year, I’ve been talking a lot about Really Targeted Outreach, a process that involves collecting Twitter data from a representative sample group of your target audience (found on tools like Follower-wonk) to see what content resonates with that audience and what sites are engaging people.
Great data strategy leads to a well set, sturdy targeting plan. You don’t *have* to use Twitter, or a Google Docs spreadsheet, of course. Living and breathing a niche will quickly lead to a better understanding of who the influential people in that space are, what the most popular sites are called, and so on.
Third: Execute “Never Fail”, do the due diligence ahead of time.
What’s “Never Fail Content Outreach”? Let’s remember the scenario:
You’ve had that “great” idea, everyone in the room agreed to it, you got the research done, you hired a designer, you hired a developer and everything looks great. The big day comes, it’s time to go live, to publish your work. You click “publish”, and, nothing.
Never fail outreach is part of our DNA.
As marketers we get so caught up and connected to our idea, we forget to do the due diligence on the potential appeal of the idea itself. We’ve had clients who, in the dim and distant past, have absolutely insisted their idea is best (so why did you hire us?!) and no amount of preaching or evangelizing on our part could change their minds. We learned to tackle that most infuriating of objections with data, and therefore, overcoming subjectivity with reason.
When we’re executing a creative planning session for a client, the first thing we do after coming up with the core creative ideas is the initial outreach. That’s right – we’re pitching the ideas to publishers *way* before a piece of design work, or research work has been carried out.
Here’s the process from an internal on-boarding document:
Once those initial ideas have been pitched to potential publishers, we head back to our client with an update. We present the pitches with a quantitative view on the number of people, editors, journalists, whoever, that got interested and gave their feedback and agreement in principle to run with a story. You can’t argue with popularity.
Are we sounding like a PR agency?
Fourth: Recruit the help of an expert
We call this stage, “Stakeholder Recruitment”. You simply can’t go and produce a piece of expert editorial or research without the input of someone who knows what they’re doing. The real trick is to find someone with big presence.
Building an interactive on the history of the VW? Find out who’s in charge of sites like this, and ask if they’d like to contribute. What about Porsche? Find writers and enthusiasts on Followerwonk. Find clever ways to find the contact details of your experts, make friends, get them involved and make them stakeholders.
Whatever happens, if you know you have demand for your idea ahead of time, and the support of the people who live and breath that vertical, you’ll have a much easier time at launch.
Thinking back to the initial outreach, we almost always tend to choose the publication with the biggest audience to launch a piece of our marketing for us. Usually, with a reasonable period of exclusivity before we offer up variations of the piece to other publishers. The real trick is to get everyone who contributed and (of course) the publisher’s own audience to do the social sharing for you. We tend to consider a piece of marketing conducted for a client that needed tweets or social interference from our own SEOs to get it started a failure.
This stuff has to have organic reach to spread on its own. When you see a bunch of profiles in the wrong target audience sharing something, by request of the originator, in a tool like Topsy, you’re in trouble. When the thing you’ve created gets traction on its own, seeded by an authority in the space, you can sit back, relax and treat yourself to a Mojito.