Want your content marketing to succeed? Think like a publisher.

1st, Dec 2014

media signpost imageThanks to social media and technology developments, professional service firms can publish their own content and attract and build their own audiences to grow their business. But to really be successful, they need to think of content the way publishers do. What does that mean?

Understand your target audience.

Publishers understand their readers. They develop profiles and gather information about who they are, what they read, how they read, their interests, concerns, etc. They also survey their audience periodically. The better you understand your own audience, the easier it is to attract and retain them.

Deliver relevant content for your audience.

Both content marketing and publishing are about providing useful and practical information targeted to a particular audience. Make sure your content is not about you. It’s about what will help readers and keep their attention.

Be reliable and consistent.

Publishers publish on a schedule. They also maintain certain standards for everything they produce. Readers develop expectations and if you want to be a trusted resource, then you need to consistently meet those expectations. Establish an editorial calendar to make sure responsibilities are assigned to specific individuals and publication deadlines are met. Create an editorial style guide to ensure there is a consistent writing style and voice.

Allocate sufficient resources.

Make sure you understand what is required to get the work done and set aside appropriate resources. You don’t want to start a content marketing campaign and find you have to abandon it because you don’t have the staff, money or other resources to continue. Even if you aren’t making money directly from your content the way a publisher might, you are looking to build your business and that means you need to make a real investment in content marketing.

Don’t skimp on editorial and design work.

You want to produce high-quality material. That means making sure your content is well-written and edited and is visually attractive. Bring in professionals to help if you don’t have internal resources.

Promote and leverage it.

Have a plan for how you will get your content in front of your audience. Publishers use multiple marketing channels including direct mail, email, web and social media to drive registrations, subscriptions and readership. They also repurpose content and look for opportunities to get more value out of it. When I worked in publishing, I would identify ways to use existing content to cross-promote, repackage or up-sell related content. Showing related content is valued by the reader and good for the publisher’s business. The same is true of your content. Linking to other relevant material keeps readers engaged and can encourage other actions – like getting them to give you their contact information. Remember to think about different formats for your content. Interesting content can be developed into a wide-range of formats including articles, blog posts, newsletters, whitepapers, webinars, video, live events and books. Different formats will appeal to different audiences.

Test and track results.

In both your marketing and your publishing, you want to know what is working. Publishers develop metrics to measure their marketing efforts against specific goals. They test constantly. On the content side, they also track what stories resonate better than others so they can deliver what the audience wants.

Develop your own distribution channels.

Publishers have a lot of control over how their content is distributed. Some license their content to third parties or use distribution partners, but they also make sure they have their own significant channels where they can build relationships directly with their readers. So make sure your content is always available on your site and that you drive traffic there. If you use content syndicators to increase your exposure, also invest in developing your own channels and compare results. What methods get you the most eyeballs on your content, the most visits to your website, or the higher quantity and quality of leads? Understand the pros and cons of each distribution channel in achieving your goals.

Have a strategy (really multiple strategies).

Creating, publishing and promoting content regularly is a significant effort and should be planned out. What kind of content should you produce? For what purpose? For what audience? How will it be promoted and distributed? What resources do you need? You’ll want an editorial strategy as well as a marketing strategy for each audience you want to target.

Thinking like a publisher in your content marketing will help you stay focused on delivering content that brings results.

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