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A Christmas Wish: that marketers ‘get’ the need for content promotion

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Imagine you had asked your ad agency to create a TV commercial for your latest product. But you hadn’t allocated funds for actually airing the commercial on the right TV channels. Would you expect your campaign to be the talk of the town? No, right? Then why should corporate marketers expect they can create great content and the world will just sort of, well, see it and engage with it? Content promotion is key in today’s communication landscape.

Right now, it’s the biggest challenge my agency faces: getting our clients to understand that creating content and placing it in an online context is just the beginning of thought leadership-style marketing. Because without proper content promotion your efforts are highly unlikely to pay off – and you may be left with a well-designed, but seldom-visited failure.

The corporate websites most traditional marketers have been working with during their careers, beyond “how should it look” and “what should we write”, have required heavy investment to build and populate with content pieces. But that’s where the work pretty much stopped. Promoting such sites has been largely about SEO/SEM techniques requiring a relatively low level of investment.

Stop right there. When it comes to content marketing, particularly for arms-length Voice of Industry (VOI) sites, the same mindset cannot be applied. Instead, VOI activities need to be viewed as a campaign designed to connect the market to you (and you to the market) – and campaigns require a decent promotional budget and on-going content creation resources or nothing will ever happen.

The positive difference between media spend on content marketing and media spend in connection with traditional advertising campaigns is the fact that, with content marketing, you’re building up a lasting asset that will continue to connect people to you for years to come. But you have to actively spend on content promotion for this to happen. If you don’t, you’re unlikely to tap the potential of this powerful new marketing approach.

Here’s a rule of thumb based purely on a few years of experience with Voice of Industry sites: For every dollar (choose your currency) spent creating a site and its launch-point collection of content such as articles and videos, you need to spend an additional dollar on promotion activities (media spend) during the first year of operation.

You can spend less on content promotion, of course, but expect that to make a difference to the achievement of your KPIs. You might even get lucky and find that, due to the enthusiasm a VOI site can generate internally, your own sales force, email database and similar channels can create a decent level of success. But it would hardly be wise to count on that as a strategy. To stick with my opening analogy, would you expect your own people to promote a TV commercial to success just by sending it around their network?

What exactly does “media spend” or “promotional activities” encompass in a content marketing context? That’s the subject of my next blog but weigh in now with your comments – I’d love to hear your point of view.

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Jonathan Winch

Jonathan Winch

I’m Jonathan Winch, a partner at Copenhagen-based advertising agency Eye for Image and co-author of the book "The Death of Propaganda - B2B Buyer Behavior Has Changed. Now it's Your Turn". I've participated as a strategic and creative resource in the marketing and communication sphere for over 25 years, making contributions to the strategies and communications of companies of all sizes, the best known of which include Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Danisco, GN ReSound, Hempel, Nokia Siemens Networks, LEGO, Coloplast, and Johnson & Johnson.

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