Content Is King, But Distribution Is Queen and She Wears the Pants

chadpollitt
Chad Pollitt VP of Audience, Relevance

Posted on October 24th 2013

Content Is King, But Distribution Is Queen and She Wears the Pants

The title of this article is a direct quote from Jonathan Perelman of BuzzFeed and was featured in Ryan Skinner’s article, “Great Content Is Not Enough,” on the Forrester blog. The article features takeaways from Ryan’s most recent Forrester report, called “Put Distribution at the Heart of Content Marketing.” The report is a great read for today’s marketing and public relations professionals and explains why only 36 percent of marketers who use content feel they use it effectively. content-distribution

The False Debate

This year has seen many thought leaders chime in on the quantity versus quality content argument. Marketers are trying to find the right balance. The more time they spend on quality, the less time they have for production. Seems like a fair concern, right?

Here’s the problem: 64 percent of content marketers feel they don’t use content effectively. That represents a whole lot of campaigns. It’s likely that some of them are focusing on quality while others are primarily focused on quantity. Neither approach guarantees results. However, the end goal is the same: publishing great content that gets shared on social media and ranks high in the search engines.

The amount of content being published online is growing exponentially and content marketers are partially to blame. In June of 2000, there were fewer than eight million websites. Today that number is greater than 750 million, according to Netcraft.com, and shows no signs of slowing down. This means that it will be harder and harder for marketers to cut through the noise in order to get their content read. Great content goes unread everyday on the Internet.

Google is helping to fuel this debate, too. With its Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird algorithm updates and the “Freshness” indexing update to Caffeine, Google is essentially telling marketers to publish as much content as possible and to make sure it’s extremely helpful to the people that read it if they want to do well on the search engine.

Unfortunately, the debate itself blinds content marketers to why their campaigns are performing poorly. Some may add another layer of editing and/or ideation in an attempt to boost the quality of their campaigns. Others may decide to ramp up production to get the results they’re lacking. Neither of the two tackles the real problem—lack of a distribution strategy.

The Right Debate

Rather than trying to produce more or better content, marketers should focus on their distribution plans. It should be part of their overall strategy. However, it’s likely just an afterthought for most of the 64 percent of marketers who feel they’re not using their content effectively. So rather than debating quality versus quantity, marketers should be debating on how much to spend on promotion.

Here are a few remarkable findings featured in Ryan Skinner’s article:

  • Brands can actually step down content production and step up distribution to get better results.
  • An ecosystem of vendors have cropped up to help marketers drive distribution of branded content.
  • The most effective promotions often come from doubling-down on past successes.
  • Better distribution improves content’s quality, as the feedback cycle accelerates.

By focusing on distribution using paid and earned channels, content marketers can hasten their traffic, conversions, subscribership and regular readership.

Paid Content Distribution

There are many services available to help marketers with their content distribution endeavors. Companies like Outbrain, Adblade, aNEWSme and OneSpot are all paid services that distribute content in a native or advertorial manner. These services can place a company’s content in front of millions of eyeballs.

Earned Content Distribution

Content marketers can take a page from traditional public relations by reaching out to the media in order to earn coverage which will assist with distribution. The alternative is to rely on luck. Unfortunately, luck isn’t very predictable. This article itself is earned media for Forrester’s blog post and report earned via luck.

By proactively reaching out and pitching influencers, editors and journalists, marketers can get their content organically featured in some of the most populous corners of the Internet. This one example shows how earned media coverage from one popular online media outlet drove over 1,200 business leads in just a few weeks.  The Inbound Marketer’s Guide to Earned Mediatakes a deep dive into how to use the media to help with content promotion.

If 2013 is the year of content marketing, let’s hope that 2014 will be the year of content promotion. Too many marketers are forgetting about promotion; instead, they believe the answers to their content marketing woes are to produce more and better content. As mentioned above, every day great content goes unread. Without a promotion strategy like the ones previously described, the vast majority of content being created and published by the brands across this country will continue to go unread.

Image credit: Marc Falardeau

The Number One Content Marketing Post of 2013

 

 

 

 

 

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chadpollitt

Chad Pollitt

VP of Audience, Relevance

Chad is a decorated veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and former Army Commander; a member of a Forbes Top 100 list and the VP of Marketing at DigitalRelevance. He authored "51 Things Your Mother Taught You About Inbound Marketing" in 2014 and is a contributor to the GuardianHuffington Post and LinkedIn Pulse.

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Comments

I really appreciated this thoughtful blog post. I would also like to chime in with my own 2 cents on interweaving cause marketing into your larger marketing strategy - whether on- or off-line - but particularly in content creation, fostering social media engagement and client retention and loyalty. I also believe that cause marketing is going to be the next big think is creating content that resonnates with those that matter most to your bottom line.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Is your voice resonating above the increasing volume of our virtually vocal society? To be heard, you must truly understand those who really matter to your success and what matters most to them. And, to entice those that matter to connect and buy from you, you have to really care in order for them to really care about you. (We've coined this way of increasing revenue as 'growing with a cause the apical way with caring relevance.')

I believe a fundamental growth stage in building a sustainable business is to allow it to organically grow with heart-centered apical dominance. In plant physiology, apical dominance is the phenomenon whereby the main central stem of the plant is dominant over and grows more strongly than other side stems. The apically dominant stem is also the one that grows vibrantly towards the sunlight.

In my personal philosophy, apical dominance is the phenomenon whereby the heart-centered part of yourself is dominant over – or plays a dominant role – in crafting your uniquely meaningful voice thereby empowering you to cultivate life long relationships with those that matter most.

I know that you can grow a healthy and vibrant business when you cultivate with a cause. You can do better by doing good.

Read more @ http://apicalmarketing.com.

When content is created, it now needs to be used. It has to replicate. It has to grow. A buried content is a dead content. On a relative note, a new content made by someone else that basically shares the same idea but distributed effectively gains readers and attention.

That’s how powerful the “queen” is.

I agree, there are a lot of great blog posts left unread every day because no one knows that they exist. We have to exert more effort on how to promote our posts if we want to have more readers.

I wish I could read this report. Ryan Skinner's a sharp dude and this sounds like it'd be very useful. But Forrester charges hundreds of dollars for their reports. Does anyone actuallu buy them?

Barry:

I actually bought it and it was worth it to me. The $500 price tag was hefty, but it allowed me to back up this article with some good research. So far over 60 people have clicked through this article and converted on my website so if you look at it that way I'm spending just under eight bucks per top of the funnel lead. When it's all said and done it'll probably be around six bucks per lead.

@ChadPollitt

Awesome article!

Distribution is absolutely crucial to success in content marketing. I am loving the stuff that you and Digital Relevance are publishing on earned media marketing, keep it up!

Engaging the prospect specifically where they hang out online to discuss the issues you can "suggest" ways to help solve them in a way that says "Hey, that's me! I need to call these folks" Is really what makes the difference re acquiring paying customers online.

I find Its not quality nor quantity, its knowing where to say your message so you get that result.

Its especially true if you want to do so without facing competition and get to your natural prospects before they Google search so they call you and or, because they know and respect you, take your call.

OK, so "how do you get paying customers via social media and do so without facing competition?"

Lets start with this - Where are my customer opportunities and how do I go get them?

Before you begin your journey to gain a "go to" position, lots of prospects and lots of loyal repeat business customers, you need to do some homework first:

Look at these key issues in strategic positioning, messaging, understanding your target audiences and actual selling approaches that need to be addressed to get YOU sales:

 

• Where is my target audience? Who are they? Where do they “hang out” on line?

• What do they care about?

• How do they source?

• Where do they go for industry updates and information and how do you get featured "there"?

• How do I think from the point of view of my target audiences so I can relate and connect?

• What do I specifically "say" that can instantly capture the targeted audiences, prospects so they want to talk

• How do I differentiate myself from the pack so i get called?

• How does my target audience evaluate issues and solutions?

• How can I define my key audiences and position to be of service to each audience so they want what I offer?

• How do I become a featured speaker at events and establish my position as a go to expert?

 That reveals where target audiences are, where their "influencers" are and where you should be active via articles, social media, blogs, email, newsletters to create a "go to" national presence and reputation.

Next, using what you found, apply 2 key sales axioms as the road map for tapping into what you learned, using/leveraging each identified path and for messaging accordingly in each avenue you found that can create calls, buyers, get attention and position you as the go to source:

* Axiom #1: People do things for their reasons, not yours.

* Axiom #2: Imagine the prospect has a sign on his forehead that says “so what?”

These two principles guide the selling process and the content used whether in letters, emails, your web page, blog or in person.

 

If you remember these two axioms, your sales reach outs and what you say in them will come out as grabbers and connectors with issues and concerns that prospects interested buyers have, not as product pitches and then link/position what you "offer" as a way to solve those issues.

Understanding this thinking in target markets and constructing your reach outs based on the 2 sales axioms can get you the desired national presence and reach that you want plus the all important "Hey thats me! I am calling these folks" response from interested "real" prospects that you want.

Regards, Neil Licht, CallHereWeAre info@how2acquirecustomersonline.com

Neil Licht, CEO-Chief Adviser, HereWeAre 

I love your insight, Chad. I completely agree that a lot of great content goes unread because there is simply too much out there that many don't have time to read! Distribution and the right combination of paid and earned media is the natural next step to ensure content is seen. 

I read an article recently, which I also found incredibly relevant to this topic, promoting the practice of repurposing the same quality content into different formats, eg: white paper, blog, infographic, video. The time you spend producing quality content is more valuable when offered in multiple formats, as long as it is branded similarly. Hope to see this as another 2014 best practice! 

You add some great color here, Chad! The distribution message is one that needs to go far and wide. (And I'm very happy to hear you got value out of the report.)

Barry: First, thanks. Second, I know how you feel. A paywall will never win a customer experience award. As a paid content company, Forrester has to strike a delicate balance here. Hopefully you got some value out of the free blog post, in any event.

Thanks Chad for an eye opening article. Certainly has changed my approach to marketing.