Over the past several years, I’ve spent a good amount of time working with thought leaders to hone their ideas into distinctive content aimed at a well-defined audience. Regardless of the communications channel—white papers, print brochures, blogs, website copy, direct mail, print brochures—the challenge was always the same: deliver insight and value or grab the audience’s attention with a particularly stimulating idea.
In many cases, once the content was approved my job was over. On other engagements, however, I collaborated on marketing and distribution strategies to make sure that the target audience was sure to notice what we’d produced. With the exponential rise of online information, this challenge matches or exceeds creating the content in the first place. I became convinced of a few basic rules:
- Distinctive content is more important than ever; those who can produce it will naturally separate themselves from the pack
- Any piece of collateral needs to have a defined audience and directly support sales or marketing
- Online distribution, when well executed, can give your audience a much greater chance of finding your content
On this last point, technology and search engine optimization are evolving fast enough that it’s very difficult for the average person to keep pace, let alone understand the basics. How many times have you heard someone talk about “search engine optimization” and nodded your head without having any idea what makes a website or piece of content more likely to be ranked highly? I admit I’ve been that guy before.
However, earlier this year I had a “you got your chocolate in my peanut butter” moment. I was on a project where I worked with Rod Holmes and Ben Robinson from Chicago Style SEO. In learning more about what they did for clients, it struck me that we were working opposite sides of the same street. How much more effective could online marketing be when the content and distribution were managed in a strategic and coordinated way? The answer: substantially more effective.
As the current crop of white papers demonstrates, people either spend the bulk of their time on creating the content (much of it middling) or distributing it. Most B2B companies aren’t publishing or marketing firms, so when they have a need they bring in the necessary resources and attempt to coordinate a mini-campaign around a project. It’s not surprising that a good chunk of these efforts fall short.
Imagine conducting initial research to determine what the market is most interested in and then developing content to address this specific need. Similarly, when a white paper is written with a defined audience in mind, it’s that much easier to market online—and that much easier for the right people to find it.
As a result of my discussions with Rod and Ben, we developed a white paper to address this very problem. Click here to read “How B2B companies can unlock the value of online marketing” to find out how these two areas can complement each other.