It’s cliché, but “if you build it, they will come” has been around for so long that people have probably forgotten where that quote came from. (It’s from Field of Dreams — a movie about baseball in the Iowa cornfields. And yes, the field really does exist — I’ve been there. #IowaGirl)
Unfortunately, in the world of content marketing, your customers and potential buyers can’t find your content unless you help them find it, which means you need to promote and/or amplify your efforts through merchandising strategies. Building it is just not enough. You need to use various tactics to make sure your customers get the message.
One mistake I see clients and companies making is that they think promotion and amplification are the same. But they’re not.
So what’s the difference? Easy — one is paid and the other is more organic. One is like a megaphone and the other is like an intimate conversation. One isn’t better than the other, but they’re two very effective methods that in most cases should be used together.
Best content practices
Paid promotions have traditionally been used to broadcast a single message to a large audience, usually to build awareness and lure people into the top part of the sales funnel. But it’s still a less direct path to customers than amplification.
Promotional messaging is integral in building your brand identity and establishing your presence in the marketplace. It’s the first impression, it’s how you advertise a new app, how you promote a big event, or drive awareness of services. It’s the display ad and the email blast.
The success of Google and Facebook shows that paid advertising is still big business, and it still has the ability to reach and influence the masses. And with segmentation, it’s possible to effectively drive your message to the most suitable audiences.
Amplification strategies aim to draw eyeballs from specific destinations. For example, if your target audience is browsing content on LinkedIn’s IT groups, that’s where you should focus your efforts.
The key is to know your audience, go where they are, and give them something they want they way they want it. There are numerous ways to amplify your message:
- Identify a key influencer and invite that person to write a guest post on your blog. You’ll gain an educated perspective, a host of followers, and opportunities for promotion across social media channels (yours and theirs).
- Look for ways to reuse your content, even content made for paid promotions. Turn it into a video, a slideshow, and a PDF.
- Reward loyal customers — this is where you cultivate deep roots with them. Offer inside information, exclusive content, premium seats at your next event, or kickbacks for sharing links.
- Expand your brand identity by sharing philanthropy or goodwill stories, offering tips or how-to videos, featuring seasonal content, or relating to current events in real time.
A hybrid of both strategies is to find influencers and pay them to promote your content. You might lose some control of the messaging, but in return you’ll gain that coveted outsider endorsement from a trusted source within your industry.
The digital marketing landscape is littered with rabbit holes to explore, but don’t lose sight of the strategic marketing goals that are driving your efforts. Viral shares are great, “likes” make you feel good, but in the end, you should be focused on your key performance indicators — whether that’s conversions, sales, leads, or increased awareness.
In other words, if you build it and market it effectively, they will come.