Key strategies for creating a profitable content ecosystem
If you’ve been following “Marketing AV” over the past year, you know that I’m a steward of brand. I believe in the power of why and purpose…in the power of an aligned internal and external culture to transform organizations, increase sales and create tribes of customers.
I call it “weaponizing the brand,” and it’s like pouring gasoline on a fire. No matter if you’re an integrator, content creator or manufacturer, and no matter the industry or vertical market, weaponizing your brand has to top your priority list in 2021. It’s truly what I’m betting on for next year.
If you think about it, marketing is like investing: It’s all about mitigating risk while upping the chances of reward. When you invest, you study the market and the players and then place bets; when you market, you study your audience, platforms and content and then place bets with advertising. Similar concepts with similar rewards—return on investment (ROI) versus return on ad spend (ROAS).
The other day, I was asked where I’m placing my bets in 2021. That got me thinking about all the great Las Vegas NV nights with my fellow #AVTweeps and how I long for those days again. Although it’ll never be as it once was, I’m confident that, when what comes next arrives, it’ll be equally impactful and awesome.
As the calendar year winds down and we all look optimistically toward next year, I wanted to share the marketing bets that I’m placing.
Thought Leadership & Authority
Building thought leadership and authority should be high on the list of 2021 priorities; after all, these are increasingly becoming major conversion drivers with any audience group. This is especially true within the business-to-business (B2B) space, in which, according to a 2019 Edelman study, an astonishing 89 percent of decision-makers attest that thought leadership is effective in enhancing an organization’s brand perception. Thought leadership should not just be reserved for the C-suite; rather, it should be a focal point of any marketing strategy. Moreover, every willing employee should look to incorporate and leverage thought leadership within his or her personal brand. Indeed, Venngage reports1 content that employees share gets eight times more engagement than content from brand accounts. That just proves how effective it can be to leverage your team as a marketing asset.
I’m asked all the time where organizations can start with building thought leadership. Although there’s no single entry point, I want to offer a simple strategy to jumpstart your efforts and maximize your expenditure.
- First, identify and interview 10 of your ideal customers. In talking with them, work to gain a clear understanding of their problems and pain points. Document this information, and then take those pain points and publish in-depth blog posts. Go deep and really work to convey the lessons you learned. Be sure to make the posts as rich with content, facts and links as possible.
- Second, promote those blog posts via your social networks. How do the posts perform? What do people learn from them? What’s the chatter?
- Third, compile all the interviews and create a branded PDF. This is now your new ebook. Create a landing page with an email-subscribe box as a gate to the ebook. Then, I would suggest an email nurturing funnel talking about the content of the ebook; now, we have ourselves a digital funnel.
- Finally, if you want to take things a step further, set up ads on Google and LinkedIn to promote your brand positioning by leveraging your ebook. You can use the ebook to help nurture your current clients, as well. It’s also a great asset for your sales team to use—but more on that later.
When it comes to marketing within the AV industry, you have to market more than just features and benefits. Your audience has to have a story to attach to…a narrative that grips. The best brands understand and embrace that fact.
Content marketing in 2021 is completely different from what it was a few years ago. It’s no longer just as simple as writing a blog post; so much more goes into it than that. Yes, blog posts are still important, but so are all the other tentacles of content marketing. Marketing encompasses an ecosystem that includes search engine optimization (SEO), social media, outreach, podcasts, distribution, case studies, landing pages, email marketing, YouTube optimization, etc. I could go on and on. The goal is to understand your content’s objective and goals, and then work to put together a tactical plan to achieve those objectives by leveraging the platforms your audience values most.
A big miss for some organizations with which I consult centers on the distribution of said content to their sales team. Remember that every piece of content you create can also act as an incredible tool for your sales team. If you consistently arm the team with assets that can nurture leads and help close prospects, your organization will win and be unstoppable. You’ll be the market leader, having truly aligned sales and marketing offerings that complement each other and create a tribe out of users.
By contrast, if the content your organization creates stops with marketing, thus never completing the sales/marketing ecosystem, you could be leaving precious revenue and brand affinity on the table.
Create Once, Share Forever
Share and tweet—simple as that. That’s where most content promotion starts and ends in our industry. Since the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a greater need for connection has arisen; our AV industry is no exception. One piece of content in the ecosystem outlined earlier can help create connections across time zones and platforms.
Instead of simply sharing a blog post on Twitter and LinkedIn, consider the multiple ways to give your content legs. These include republishing it on your Instagram story, creating engaging carousels, strategically spreading it in LinkedIn and Facebook groups, getting it published on guest blogs, plugging it on Reddit, including it in your email marketing, talking about it on your YouTube channel, publishing it on Medium, creating Quora posts, etc. Again, I could go on and on. Ultimately, the goal is to create it once and distribute it forever.
How do I plan to diversify my bets next year? It’s pretty basic. I’m focusing on creating one to two rich pieces of content per month, and then breaking them down into 10 pieces of micro-content across multiple platforms and channels. I’ll look at the data to understand which bets are paying off, and I’ll begin to focus my efforts there.
It’s not foolproof, but nothing in marketing is. My goal, once again, is to create an ecosystem that I can control and with which I can add the most value.
That should be your goal, too.
Originally posted December 2020 issue of Sound & Communications Magazine