Leverage Your Network to Help Drive Your Own Branded Content written by Guest Post read more at Duct Tape Marketing
The Content Creation Conundrum
If you’re looking to grow your business’s online presence, original branded content is the way to go. According to a Forrester study, 74% of business buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making a purchase. Original branded content allows you to: proactively engage with these prospective customers, establish your organization’s credibility, and increase the chances that prospects find you in the first place.
The problem is that creating this content can turn out to be very time-consuming. And if you want to maximize the return you see on this content, the majority of the work actually occurs AFTER your content is published (if you’re interested in learning more about content promotion tactics, this blog post by Ameer Rosic is a great place to start). So what’s a business owner or time-constricted marketer to do?! Start here:
Interview people who are a part of your professional network.
In my experience, leveraging your network in this manner will reduce the time you spend on content creation AND increase the impact of whatever it is that you create. Furthermore, if done properly, this tactic results in content that is both compelling and truly unique to you and your organization. What follows is a 5 step guide that will show you how to: 1) create high-quality content in less time, and 2) increase your overall reach with less energy.
5 Steps for Creating a Better Engine
One of the most powerful takeaways I’ve gained in my time as an entrepreneur is that creating a written process for every repeatable activity that occurs in your business will help you grow faster and smarter. (credit goes to the amazing Dan Martell for that one!) With that said, if you have limited time/resources, here is a simply written process you can follow to improve your content marketing efforts:
To help ground this, I’m going to share an example from my current venture, Shelf.io. At the time we employed this process, we had zero individuals dedicated to marketing in our company and were in the midst of a fundraising campaign that took a significant amount of the founding team’s time and energy. So if we could pull it off, so can you!
Step #1: Decide on 1-2 Key Themes:
I don’t think I need to go into detail on why it’s a bad idea to create content in a haphazard manner, so I won’t. But I will say that entrepreneurs (myself included) have a bad habit of biting off more than they can chew. Resist the urge to whiteboard out a content strategy that consists of a variety of different topics. Not only is this approach overwhelming, but it makes it harder for you to achieve a critical mass of material on the topics that matter most to you (and by extension) your customers. In our case we settled on:
These key themes served us well because we were a brand new company with a brand new product. So the most important things for us were to establish credibility and help early adopters understand our value proposition. Your key themes will be different based on your industry, your company’s stage of maturity, the problem you exist to solve, etc.
Step #2 – Identify People Who Will Want to Help:
Once the foundation for your content has been set, head on over to LinkedIn to identify people within your network that share an interest in your topic(s). Depending on the number of connections you have, this could take an hour or two, but the chances are good that you’ll come away with a solid list of people who are knowledgeable on one of your key themes. Then, block off another hour or two for online research to identify thought leaders who have the same interests. Make sure to create the list using Excel, Google Sheets, a CRM or other tool so you can refer back to it at a glance and track your outreach activities.
If you go through this exercise and come away with too big of a list, the next thing to do is prioritize. Some criteria to consider are:
This exercise left me with a strong list of people to contact and a better understanding of who I was going to reach out to first, and why.
Step #3: Personalize The Ask to Increase Your “Yes” Rate:
It goes without saying that contacting people you know well will increase your (positive) response rate. But sticking within your comfort zone may not produce the best possible results. The good news? Spending a few minutes on a brief, yet personalized cold email can go a long way. Here’s a slightly modified version of an email I sent to a prolific author I wanted to interview:
You won’t hear back from everyone, but you WILL hear from plenty of people who would jump at the chance to be interviewed by you. And guess what?
I’ve found that people with large followings and major credibility are actually more likely to respond than the 2nd or 3rd tier experts on your list. So aim high for a better response rate! Plus, this will put you in a much better position to get the most out of your branded content when you’re ready to promote it.
In this example, I heard back from the author within a few hours and I went about setting up a time for our video interview.
Step #4: Create Content in a Way That is Easily Repurposed:
In my opinion, this is the most crucial step in the entire process. Each of these tasks on their own doesn’t sound like much, but checking off each To Do will ensure that you can get the most out of your branded content in the future:
Once you’ve made any necessary edits to your video and received your transcript back (often within 24 hours) you’ll have some assets to work with. Now it’s time to repurpose! In the past, these are some of the ways in which we’ve turned one interview into multiple pieces of marketing collateral:
And just like that, you take a single piece of content and turn it into 40-50 digital touch points where your customer can find you! It’s also worth mentioning that over time this effort will accumulate and translate to your content organically appearing on Page 1 of Google for the keyword terms that are important to your business.
Step #5: Offer to Assist Your People With Their Promotional Efforts
This final step is an easy one to overlook but do so at your own risk. The goal of creating compelling original content is to get it in front of as many prospective customers of yours as possible. And if you’ve chosen your interviewees wisely, there should be plenty of prospective customers of yours in their online follower base.
So don’t leave it to chance – if they’re happy with the content of the interview (and I’m sure they will be) – then a simple offer to assist them in their own promotional efforts can go a long way. Why bother? Because people are busy and often times “best intentions” fall short of reality. The interviewee may be more swamped with work than usual and they might appreciate a bit of support in promoting this content to their network. Support can come in many forms but here are a few things you can do:
Not everyone will accept your offer, but those that do will provide you with an opportunity to amplify your reach…and in an exponential way in some cases. Others will decline…due to the fact that they already have a process in place that works. Take this opportunity to share notes! The process I’ve just outlined is just a starting point to build from. By exchanging notes with these individuals you’re likely to come away with some other great ideas and tactics for continuing to improve your marketing reach.
Colin Kennedy is a 2X software entrepreneur with ten years of experience in the industry. Currently, Colin is the COO of Shelf.io, a venture-backed SaaS company in the enterprise content management space. Shelf.io has been featured multiple times by Google in their Chrome Store for its solution to easily capture, organize, and find web content across an organization.
Bio: John Jantsch is a marketing consultant and author of Duct Tape Marketing[www.ducttapemarketing.com] and The Referral Engine[www.referralenginebook.com] and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.[www.ducttapemarketingconsultant.com]