There he goes again, creating all that helpful and compelling content and publishing it on his company's rarely visited blog. It's not that the content is bad or that he's not publishing enough of it - his employer has 10 other writers just like him. The problem is that there are over 1,000 other blogs just like his company's, and they're publishing the same stuff. Some of them have robust, established and loyal audiences already, too.
Now what's he doing? Look - he's sharing his blog posts on his personal and company social media accounts again. That's where he's getting the few tweets, likes and shares he always gets for his articles. There's nothing wrong with broadcasting owned content, but he's been doing it for 13 months and it's barely moved the needle.
You'd think after all this time that either his boss would pull the plug on his efforts or his ego would be so shattered he'd quit.
What's he thinking?
Does he think that if he keeps doing the same thing over and over again, Google, Bing and Yahoo will suddenly believe his brand is relevant and usher people en masse to his blog? Does he think the appreciative users of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn will be so enamored of his helpful content that it will spread virally and get the attention it deserves?
The good ol' days of industry content deficits
His way of thinking was quite popular three or four years ago. In fact, it worked for a lot of industries - specifically those with an online content deficit. For companies in those industries, creating and publishing problem-solving content in their niche helped span a content chasm that historically underserved interested consumers.
Businesses are in the business of solving people's problems. That's what they inherently do and why they exist. It makes sense that their online brand personas do the same thing. If no one publishes an answer to a person's problem online, then marketers have an opportunity. Typically, the first one to answer those questions builds an audience the fastest, and he keeps it, too.
Today's content surpluses
However, if everyone is answering the same problems online, there isn't much opportunity for marketers to gain and grow a new audience. People online are already committed to the websites that have solved their problems or entertained them in the past.
It's clear that many industries today face not an online content deficit, but a surplus. The example marketer above is in one of these industries and doesn't understand that the content marketing landscape has changed in his own backyard.
If someone with little or no personal brand decided to start a marketing company today and market exclusively with owned and shared media from scratch, it would take years, if it happened at all, to drive returns. The reason is simple - marketing as an industry is mired in an online content surplus.
On the other hand, if a person were to decide to start a company today that caters to, say, beekeepers, there's a higher probability that there's an online content deficit waiting to be filled. For this to happen, there must be an underserved market for problem solving-content in the beekeeping space.
In this example, the owned and shared media approach used by the weary marketer has a much better chance of generating some buzz (ha!) and finding success. Just like it did in 2008 for marketing as an industry.
What brands should do when faced with a content surplus in their industry
As mentioned above, the execution of owned and shared media for marketing has worked for some in the past and may work for a much smaller number of industries today. However, as time progresses, fewer and fewer companies will succeed with such a build-it-and-they-will-come approach to content marketing.
Finding content marketing success in an industry with a content surplus requires the convergence of owned and shared media with earned and/or paid media. Both paid and earned media channels allow brands to get their content in front of the people who have already committed to websites that built large audiences back when there was a content deficit.
Here are some ways to take advantage of paid and earned channels:
- Advertorials (sponsored content)
- Native Social Promotion (featured in-feed)
- Native Advertising (sponsored content recommendation)
- Native Newsletter (sponsored content in third-party email)
- News Coverage (pitching the media to cover owned content)
- Editorial Coverage (pitching editorial writers to cover owned content)
- Bylined Article or Column (writing for an online publication)
- Syndication (pitching other sites to syndicate the brand's owned content)
- Guest Blogging (submitting blog posts for publication on other blogs)
- Influencer Advocacy (pitching industry influencers to cover, share or talk about the brand's owned media)
The Content Promotion and Distribution Cheat Sheet takes a deep dive into the channels outlined above. Download it for it for tactical guidance and instruction.
Both channels help drive more eyeballs to branded content. However, according to a recent Nielsen report commissioned by inPowered, media coverage from subject matter experts increases brand familiarity 88 percent more than owned media alone across all stages of the buyer's journey. In other words, the opinions of third-party experts are the most trustworthy content a prospective customer can consume.
Landing expert coverage that cites and covers a brand's owned content (ebooks, guides, studies and blog posts) is a recipe for fast audience growth and quicker returns in industries experiencing a content surplus.
What our lowly marketer above should be doing to drive content marketing returns is asking for some budget to do paid content distribution and reaching out to media outlets and influencers within his industry to start building real relationships and collaborating. It's these relationships marketers and PR folks can tap into to earn the coverage, citations and audience their content deserves.
Join Chad Pollitt and Kevin Bailey on May 15th to learn how to use content marketing with content promotion to drive substantive leads on this free webinar.