Shift Your Thinking About Content Marketing

For B2B marketers, there’s no question that content marketing is a key initiative. And these days, it seems everyone is sharing his or her content marketing best practices, promising marketers that if they could simply do X, Y and Z, then success is all but assured.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret: you can never win at content marketing using best practices alone.

That being said, best practices do have one big advantage: they will help you notfail. Odds are good that if you take the time to learn from others’ successes and failures, you’ll sidestep some of the traps that snared those who went before you. And when you’re asking for budget or headcount or agency support, you’ll be able to point to how all of your competitors are doing exactly what you’re trying to do.

Wait…. That’s not exactly a recipe for taking the pole position in a highly competitive market, now is it?

Create a Winning Strategy

It’s time to shift your thinking about how to create a winning content marketing strategy. Where can you focus today that will allow you to leapfrog your competitors tomorrow?

Say hello to content distribution and content syndication.

Why distribution and syndication? Because there’s way too much content being created by publications, vendors, thought leaders and consultants, and you can’t rely on SEO alone to get your brand’s content found. The onus is now on you — not Google — to get your content out there and into the hands of your target audience.

Build an Audience

Content distribution is all about using the marketing channels you directly influence (sometimes called “owned media”) to reach your target buyers. That includes assets like your website, email database and social media properties.

For example, have you made your website content easily shareable? Does your blog actively encourage visitors to become subscribers? Are you building social media channels that are chock-full of customers, prospects and influencers?

Now think about all the people who are already rooting for your company. This is where your brand’s relationship with employees, customers, consultants, vendors and channel partners can really pay off.

Are your employees and brand advocates following your company page on LinkedIn and Twitter? Which of your consultants and vendors are active on social media? Are your channel partners looking for more content? Simply put, how easy are you making it for anyone with a vested interest in your brand’s success to share and recommend your content? And are you asking them to do so?

Focus more time and energy on building robust, high-quality channels and you’ll have a large, ready-made audience for your brand’s content.

Tap Other People’s Audiences

Content syndication is just a fancy way to describe the process of tapping into other people’s audiences. This includes both “paid media” (i.e., advertising and sponsorships) and “earned media” that results from other people finding your content valuable enough to pass it on to their audience.

On the paid media side, lead generation networks and ad tech platforms can extend the reach of your content. Have you placed your content on syndication networks like Quinstreet, TechTarget and NetLine? Or how about testing new content syndication platforms such as Outbrain, Zemanta and Taboola?

When it comes to “earned media”, this is where PR typically helps out – often focusing on media pickups, speaking opportunities and guest blog posts. But this is another area where adopting the content syndication mindset can add some juice to your content marketing efforts.

For instance, do you know which online publications your target audience reads most? What about the types of content and story lines those publications are interested in covering? Have you researched which LinkedIn groups and online communities are popular with your buyers? Which ones make sense for you to participate in to build visibility and credibility so your content is consumed and shared?

Earned media also includes building relationships with industry influencers who will amplify your brand’s content via social media. Do you know which influencers should you focus on? And are you following and engaging them on social media?

Who Can Handle This?

As with every important marketing initiative, you won’t succeed with content distribution and content syndication unless you have someone on your team focused on these areas. That means making it someone’s job to measure and optimize the distribution and syndication of your brand’s content.

Yes, that’s more resources that you’ll need to commit to content marketing. But you’ll finally be playing to win — and perhaps blazing the trail to the new “best practices” that we’ll all be talking about a few years from now.

Now you’re ready to put your content marketing to work to achieve your social media goals.

(Note: This article first appeared in CMSWire)