There are always two ways I know it's October. The first is that my NFL Team (the Cowboys) always have a losing record. The second, and one of my absolute favorite things in the entire world, is the warm aroma of cinnamon apples being baked. I was just walking through the mall over the weekend and that smell hit me and, literally, stopped me in my tracks.
The smell was emanating from a Williams Sonoma store where the free cooking classes were in full swing. As I walked into the store I couldn’t help but notice two small fans pointed out of the store. They were actually helping the smell go out into the mall.
Now, of course, Williams Sonoma doesn’t give free cooking classes out of the goodness of its heart. This is content marketing at its finest. Wouldn’t you like to purchase the special maple rolling pin? You know, the one that transforms the dough of your Apple Tartin into a thin disk of delectable pastry without stretching, tearing or overworking it. Oh, that’s right – I thought you might.
But here they were actually blowing the smell out into the mall. Helping it out.
Marketing The Marketing
I’ve been working with a number of clients on content marketing projects recently – and I’ve been finding myself saying this quite a bit. What I mean by it is that in any successful content marketing strategy – it’s not enough to just create compelling, creative and thought provoking content – you have to market it as well.
Interestingly, PR Firm Vocus, and Brian Solis just released a pretty robust research study examining how marketing execs perceive “online influence”. From a content marketing perspective, three things struck me most about the results:
- When asked to rank “why they follow a person or organization” – more than 60% claimed “because they share relevant content” as the primary or secondary reason.
- Respondents were then asked to choose a single action which would be the most important action a person or brand could take to increase their influence online. Again, “create compelling content” ranks right at the top. And, notably, this wasn’t even close. Half of all the respondents said this.
- Then (and very interestingly) almost two thirds (57%) of those polled said they would “pay an influencer” to help drive actions or outcomes. And of those, maybe not so surprisingly, the biggest group were “advertisers” and those responsible for “search or SEO”.
Write It And They Will Find It?
Content Marketing expert, Joe Pulizzi, also looked at this research and asked in a blog post “is quality content enough?” His conclusion was that compelling content is NOT enough; you have to SHARE it as well. You should “find out where your customers are hanging out and be there”.
While that is certainly sage advice, I think there’s even more here. And, one of the things that I’ve seen success with is to “market the marketing”.
Sometimes it’s easy for us to forget that one of the things we can utilize paid media for is to drive engagement into our content. We get wrapped up, and so focused on the “acquisition” metric that we only use paid media to drive people to something that immediately can be translated into dollars.
Quick example: I was working with a B2B software company recently, and one of the things that they found was that while using PPC advertising to drive people to a personal demo provided a lot of conversions – those conversions didn’t ever convert into customers. They were simply tire-kickers looking to demo software. Instead, we switched to a PPC campaign that drove people to engage with content. We used keyword strategies to drive people to important blog posts, to white papers, to Webinars etc...
Now, each piece of content had a call to action itself – whether that was engaging in similar content – or requesting the demo at that point. The result was (as you might expect) lower conversion rates for some content, and higher for others. But the proof in the pudding was in the total sales. Total sales went up, because we started attracting more serious buyers. That, of course, drove the CPA for PPC down, and as a result search engine marketing was more effective. Additionally, we started to get better insight into which content resonated the best with which type of buyer – and it helped direct our Editorial Calendar for additional content marketing.
The results of the study, combined with my experience tell me that today, if you’re driving your organization toward that “thought leader” brand status. It not only makes sense to create compelling, thought provoking content – you’ve got to share it extensively – and advertise it as well.
In short – you need to buy a couple of fans to make sure the wonderful smell of what you’re cookin’ makes it out into the mall.