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Pivot Your Content Mindset: From Marketing to Distribution

Date published: December 12, 2013
Last updated: December 12, 2013

According to Forrester Research, more than 85 percent of businesses publish content, but only 35 percent feel they’re doing it effectively. Part of the problem is that most businesses aren’t utilizing a content distribution and promotion strategy. Without effective distribution, all that helpful and entertaining content can become a waste of time and money. Unless the content reaches the intended audience, its true value remains hidden.

American companies now spend approximately 26 percent of their annual advertising budgets on content marketing. Today, people are dealing with a content surplus and an attention deficit, as Michael Brito discusses in his book Your Brand: The Next Media Company. There is an abundance of content available, but the hard truth is that even when content is superb, it isn't getting to the right people.

One thing is clear: businesses underestimate the importance of distribution for their content. To harness the power of content distribution, brands need to shift from serving internal executives with branded key messages to serving journalists and influencers with relevant information focused on the end reader.

Content distribution takes hold

Through strategic content distribution, brands can connect with people through helpful content in the places they're already going to discover information. Brands who wait for the right people to discover their content through social sharing and search rankings alone don't always reach their target audiences as quickly or reliably as they would like. Businesses must incorporate plans for content distribution and earned media amplification from the initial planning of every content strategy.

Each phase of the content marketing process should include an emphasis on distribution. Businesses should consider the earned media potential of content throughout the entire content development lifecycle, including research, planning, production, promotion and measurement.

In many cases, content creation overshadows the importance of content distribution. It’s a huge misconception that simply increasing content production will improve its reach. Unfortunately, in content marketing, a failure to reach audiences is viewed as a failure to produce enough content. This echoes back to the common content quality vs. content quantity debate.

But the true answer lies a step beyond quality and quantity. It’s about distribution. Go beyond increased quantity and quality. Don’t just ask how to make more content, ask how to get your content in front of the right people.

Prioritizing content distribution around people, not organizations

It’s vital to prioritize the end reader above all else during content distribution planning. Journalists place a strong value on their readers and aim to serve the needs of their readers. Pivot into the content mindset of creating and distributing content to serve the readers of your target media outlets. In this process, your business and your brand will need to take a back seat.

During the content planning stage, several key aspects of the distribution strategy require examination. Consider target audiences for this specific piece of content and learn about their interests, concerns, demographics, and psychographics. Determine where your audience lives online and where they typically find relevant content and news. Most importantly, once you’ve thoroughly uncovered the core personas of your target audiences, align these with media outlets.

Research and prepare a targeted media distribution list that includes media outlets that will reach a very targeted niche portion of your audience. In preparing the list, consider the impact of site visitors, social followers, content engagement data and any conversion rates from previously earned media from that outlet. Prioritize media outlets and digital platforms that have the greatest potential to reach the largest blocks of your target audience with a wide variety of distribution options.

With your targeted media list prepared, you can then weigh in on content development throughout research, planning, and production to ensure it is something worthy of publication in your targeted media outlets. Harness this audience research and deep media distribution planning to guide the development of your content so that it meets the needs of your audiences and to set media distribution priorities that are most aligned with reaching your core audiences.

Developing content goals using an audience-centric framework

Goals are another key consideration when planning a distribution strategy. It’s vital to shift goals from organization-centric content goals to audience-centric goals. Companies that want to drive business from their content distribution should have a clear measurement strategy in place. Many businesses get tripped up in content marketing by merely working toward internal activity metrics like posts per month or content campaigns per quarter. Although editorial calendars are important, measuring content performance based on success reaching the desired audience is crucial. Set reach metrics based on unique visitors and conversion rates for each predefined audience to more accurately measure the success of your content.

Tracking the success of your content through an audience-centric lens will lead to more strategic, insightful decisions regarding how distribution and promotion can incorporate converged media. As you learn which content and earned media are performing best with your target audience, you can amplify content reach through paid promotion. Investments to increase the reach of your earned media will pay back in multiples as they also build organic distribution simultaneously.

Even a small content marketing program can see remarkable results by shifting focus to distribution. Until content actually reaches the target audience, its true value remains blocked. Review The Inbound Marketer’s Guide to Earned Media for a deeper look at how to use the media to help with content distribution and promotion.

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