Every business goes through a content teething period. From scrappy first versions to overly ambitious content plans, it takes some time to hit your stride. Meanwhile, truly excellent examples of the content you wish you were behind are popping up left, right, and center.
Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Influencers, journalists, bloggers, podcast hosts, Youtubers, hosts of private groups, and non-competitive businesses in your space all present an opportunity to reach new audiences with your message. You should know who many of these folk already are from your customer interview work.
Because they’re on a never-ending hunt for content their audience will find interesting, they’ll likely respond well to your offer to talk about something they won’t be able to hear about from anyone else.
Although your content pillars will offer a choice of talking points, your business will only become famous for one thing, so you should prioritize whichever pillar you could talk about forever. If you’ve already read into the first campaign I recommended in this chapter, ‘The guide only you can write’, then you’ll already know what that talking point should be.
How to pitch
I started my career cold-calling impatient, unenthusiastic, and chronically sarcastic editors at tech magazines. My job was to convince them to publish something positive about my client, and their job was to convince me to convince my client to pay to support the magazines that struggled to pay their editors each month. For every 50 PRs like me, there was one editor.
The journalists were sick to death of thoughtless mail merge pitches from grads that didn’t know the industry, so I tried all sorts of things to convince them I was different. From firing them music recommendations on Twitter to sharing absurdist fake news about my client I hoped they would find funny (and not publish), I wanted to build goodwill and be remembered.
This should be your goal too (but without my desperate PR tactics). Successful content creators have inboxes full of poor pitches from agencies representing clients that aren’t relevant to what they do. Start by telling the creator what the opportunity means to you, demonstrate you know their audience, pitch a point of view that you’re uniquely positioned to talk about, and share proof of your authority on the topic, along with your experience producing similar content.
I was about to share an email template you can use here, but that kind of contradicts what I’m trying to say. Make your approach unique.
Focus on the content opportunities that your customers say they read, watch, or listen to. Start with the easiest, lowest-risk opportunities and move on to the more challenging opportunities when you feel more confident. Here are some of the most common opportunities:
- Guest on podcasts
- Guest on webinars
- Guest on streams
- Write for other people's newsletters
- Write for other people's blogs
- Submit commentary to be featured in other people's social posts
- Speak at industry events
- Ask your clients to speak at industry events (and mention your product)
- Write for industry blogs
- Write comment for national newspapers
- Offer journalists access to customers
- Build landing pages that offer discounts to customers of your partners
These are just a collection of earned opportunities you could explore. By turning some of this list into a list of owned opportunities, it’s easier to imagine what an enormous time-sink each of these content types would be to establish as your own.
- Start a podcast
- Start a webinar series
- Start a newsletter
- Start a blog
- Start an industry event
- Start an industry roundtable
- Start a networking event
I’m not suggesting here that you don’t develop your own content formats, just that you shouldn’t underestimate the work that goes into setting up, building an audience for, and growing a successful ongoing content format.
That’s also why you should be prepared to part ways with some of your marketing budget if you want to share commercial messages with these creators’ hard-earned audiences. Parting ways with a little marketing budget and seeing no return is much less demoralizing than parting ways with a lot of your own time and seeing no return.
Make the opportunity your own
After a few guest appearances, you’ll have a feel for what would be involved if you were to launch the content format yourself. You’ll have a better idea of where your strengths lie, the time and resource demands of each format, and whether you’ll enjoy committing to growing it long-term.
Most importantly, you’ll also have an idea about the impressions and leads each format is likely to generate, and whether there’s a strong commercial case for investing your time there.
Whatever you choose to do, commit to producing quality content and thoroughly repackaging and redistributing that content to other relevant channels. It’s so easy to underestimate the time it takes to produce and repurpose content. Many early-stage content teams either produce high-quality content they don’t have time to promote or produce low-quality content that’s not worth promoting.
Don’t be like them. Instead, bite off less than you can chew when you’re producing content, and ignore channels that aren’t important to your audience when you’re distributing it.
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