English: White hat seo symbolizes good ethic t...
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In last month’s post, I took a look at why search results don’t always align with business results, noting that aligning search results and business results often boils down to connecting two questions: What do you want your customers to do? and What do your customers want to do? This month, I’d like to expand the discussion into content marketing overall because the differences between content marketing and SEO aren’t all that huge. In fact, while different schools of thought exist on what content marketing actually is, I think there’s a pretty simple definition.

What is that definition?

Content marketing, simply, is the act of creating, curating, and sharing content to attract awareness, interest, desire, and action among a target set of customers.

But getting content marketing in front of your friends, fans, and followers often depends on attracting the attention of key influencers within a given community. And accomplishing that goal isn’t always easy. How can you succeed at getting that attention? Well, read on and see.

Much like my point about search last month, creating, curating, and sharing content depends first on understanding your customers’ desires, only this time with a little hitch: Content marketing always has at least two customers.

The first consumer of your content marketing efforts isn’t your end-customer (though you’ve absolutely got to keep them top of mind). Instead, it’s the journalist or blogger or social media influencer—the Key Influencer, as I call ‘em—who’s going to help you promote your created/curated content.

Because, content marketing isn’t just “build it and hope somebody comes.”

As my Biznology colleague Jon Greer pointed out in a brilliant post a couple of weeks ago, you have to “…know how to craft press releases and pitches, schmooze with journalists, provide information and graphics that journalists can use to supplement their stories, and maintain positive relationships over time to ensure future coverage.”

Only you’re not just looking for journalists.

Successful content marketing depends on getting your story told as much by folks on Facebook and Twitter as it does coverage in the New York Times (not that that’s such a bad thing). So one of the biggest keys to content marketing is building relationships with the people already engaged with your customers. And as you’re working towards those relationships, consider the following questions:

  • How much does this person influence the community I’m looking to engage? Sure, getting Kim Kardashian to retweet your latest blog post might be a good thing. But does she talk with your customers regularly? Or would you be better off getting that same retweet from an influential technology product manager or certified financial planner? It’s not just “who you know.” It’s who that person is, too.True Key Influencers have strong relationships within your customers’ communities and will create greater benefit than just some “very important” person.
  • Do I have any relationship at all with this Key Influencer? If the answer to this question is “no,” don’t give up. But you might want to look for ways to engage with them first before dropping your pitch in their lap. Comment on their posts, ideally with something more than “Good post”. Reply to their tweets (Ditto). Start a dialogue so they’ll know who you are before you pitch your first idea. Remember the old saying, “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is today.” If you don’t have a relationship already, start building one.
  • What’s in it for the Key Influencer? I don’t want to sound cynical, but some people need an incentive to promote your content. That’s OK. Ask yourself how your content improves your influencer’s standing in the community. Influencers love sharing ideas that help their friends, fans, and followers because those ideas make them look good, too. Help them do that and you’re well on your way to content sharing success.
  • Did you make it easy for the Key Influencer to say “yes”? This is a personal favorite of mine. I can’t tell you the number of pitches I get that start, “I write all kinds of content about a wide variety of subjects. Just let me know if you’re interested and I’ll send you some examples of my past work.” Um… no. I’m a busy guy. And most influential types are much busier still. Don’t make them work to find out whether your content’s worth sharing. When you’re ready to pitch, send your whole post or at least a “TL;DR” (too long; didn’t read) summary suitable for posting on Facebook, Google+ or Tumblr. Also consider offering potential tweets including hashtags and shortened links (and make sure it’s fewer than 140 characters). The harder your influencer has to work to share your content with their community, the less likely they are to do just that.

Content marketing depends on the kindness of a community. And communities are built upon interdependent relationships. To get the most of your relationships with Key Influencers, don’t just take. Give. And then watch your stature in the community grow.

Do you want to learn more about how to improve sales, increase conversions, and reduce the costs from your search marketing? Then take a moment to check out our Biznology Jumpstart Workshop: On-site Search Marketing Training. Taught by three Biznology search marketing experts, you’ll learn how to make your search marketing work for your business. Interested in learning more? Check it out.