You’ve just created the Mona Lisa of content. It’s beautiful, it’s one of a kind, it has metaphors. You’ve proofread it 14 times.
Now, where is everybody?
Unfortunately, great content is worthless if nobody ever sees it. And posting your Mona Lisa to some random blog won’t bring hoards of readers to your website who are dying to peruse your products and services.
Companies should be thinking just as creatively about their distribution strategies as they are about their content strategies. They need to be savvy enough to target the right audiences who crave their material.
Ninety percent of marketers say they use content marketing in their strategies, but only 26 percent actually invest in their distribution plans. You need to beat this sorry crowd.
In many cases, your content will introduce readers to your brand. You have to make this first impression count and lead those consumers to your salespeople. The best way to achieve this is by offering custom content – something that’s favored by up to 68 percent of consumers.
Begin by determining which demographic group (i.e. age, location, income, industry) cares most about your product. Then identify how and where this audience consumes content. Are your ideal buyers watching TV, on their desktops seeking professional advice on LinkedIn or using their phones to browse Facebook?
Create meaningful relationships by tailoring your messages to their tastes and channels. This will optimize your website traffic, create informed buyers and deliver a whole lot of bang for your content-marketing buck.
Hone your distributions strategy
Now that you’ve identified your ideal audience, here’s how to catch their eye:
1. Become your audience: In The Art of War, Sun Tzu wrote, “To know your enemy, you must become your enemy.” Substitute the word “audience” for “enemy,” and you’ve got a winning strategy. Ask your clients about the hot-button issues plaguing their day-to-day lives. Browse social media to see what your target audience is talking and complaining about.
2. Don’t go a day without testing: Do people learn how to cook by thinking about recipes, or do they try different techniques until something tastes delicious? The best way to discover if your content is resonating is by trying different methods. Experiment with various voices, formats and channels. Then assess, reassess, re-strategize and keep experimenting until you find the combinations to reach the right people.
Make decisions based on data, not just a hunch. Any decent publishing or creation platform can generate the numbers that show what your audience is – isn’t – responding to.
3. Keep your eye on your competitors: This isn’t high school anymore; peek at your peers’ work. If the infographics they tweet out every month are shared like crazy, consider making some as well. If your biggest competitor is writing 2,000-word opuses nobody reads, don’t waste your time on verbose, long-form content. Constantly check on the places your target audience hangs out, see what’s performing well there and craft your content accordingly.
Consider using Google Alerts to receive notifications of your competitors’ new content. Use listening platforms to track their activity on social media. Try using tools like Meltwater to track PR and news mentions.
4. Don’t overlook those closest to you: Your employees and their thousands of social media connections can be incredibly helpful. Peer recommendations are the most trusted form of marketing, so encourage your employees to share and discuss content on their social accounts. Build and nurture an employee advocacy program.
Fostering a culture of more informed employees will not only ensure that your company is more engaged, but also it will provide key insight. Employees will share what interests them most, providing honest feedback that likely matches you’re your customers and prospects think.
Smart companies are getting savvy with their distribution strategies, including SAP, Cathay Pacific and Humana. Rely on data, get familiar with trial and error, know your competition and integrate your employees from the start.
Get inside your customer’s world, understand what resonates and create content that makes the client say, “Wow, this company really gets me.”
Let your Mona Lisa’s smile shine.
Russ Fradin is a digital media industry veteran and an angel investor with more than 15 years of experience in online marketing. He is founder and CEO of Dynamic Signal. A version of this article first appeared on Convince & Convert.