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From the Trenches

Distribution is King

Mike Sweeney | September 22, 2011

Authors work with publishers to gain access to cash, connections, and blueprints for distribution and marketing. Choose the right publisher, and the chances of commercial success are increased, although not guaranteed. Choose the wrong publisher, and even a brilliant novel or biography may never make the Amazon Best Seller list.

Publishers add tremendous value to the production, packaging and promotion of a book. For decades, publishers have taken original content, put a nice wrapper on it and distribution plan around it, and helped sell more books than an author could ever dream of selling on his or her own. In fact, publishers are our first real example of what we now call “content marketers.”

That’s why it surprised me that I didn’t hear discussion about the heavy details – or really any details – about effective content distribution planning at Content Marketing World. That is, until I stepped into sessions hosted by Todd Wheatland of Kelly Services and Jonathan Byerly of Dell.

It’s people like Todd and Jonathan – not the consultants – who we need to hear more stories from, and that’s coming straight from a consultant. In different ways, both laid out what a corporate content marketing program can and should look like, and in the process included some very concrete examples. Slides are just slides, but Jonathan in particular showed some slides that proved that content distribution at Dell is handled thoroughly and with consideration for whether the prospect is in the awareness, consideration, decision or action phase of the buying cycle. (Content Marketing World attendees can view the presentations here.)

Here’s the only problem. Dell is Dell. The average organization is simply not this far along with its content marketing strategy, and does not possess the resources Dell does.

So what can a small business, or even a large business just putting a comprehensive content marketing strategy in place, do to kick start its distribution program? Follow these 5 tips:

1. Activate employees.

You may not have 1,000+ Linked In connections, 10,000+ Twitter followers, or 5,000+ Facebook fans. That’s ok. If you have employees, you have people that can act as ambassadors for your company and distributors of your content.

One tip: Be very specific about what and how you want your employees to share content. Give them the links, the headlines and some suggested copy they can use in sharing. Below is an example of how specific you should get when asking employees to share content.

Be very specific about what and how you want your employees to share content.

2. Ask “friendlies” to share.

People and companies like you, whether you know it or not. Partners like you, clients like you, “fans” like you, vendors like you.

Any good salesperson knows you have to ask for the referral. In content marketing, you have to ask for the share.

3. Use your email newsletter.

You likely have some type of email newsletter, or at least a list of people who have expressed interest in receiving email from your company. Now is the time to use it. If you are producing targeted, valuable content, include it in your email newsletter and then keep an eye on the open and click rates. Chances are that your original content will perform far better than your monthly message about “What’s New at ABC Widget Company.”

4. Syndicate your content.

If you’re having trouble building your own audience, put your content in front of someone else’s audience. Most will get scared off by the seemingly complex word “syndication,” but let me offer two quick tips to simplify your thinking:

  • You know your industry, and you know the web and print publications that matter to your industry. Sometimes it’s as simple as reaching out to those publications, showing them your content, and asking if they want to include it in their website or print editions. Frankly, sometimes it’s even easier than that.
  • Go through Alexa’s Top 500 Sites, and ask yourself the following questions for each site:
    • Does this site accept relevant, valuable content?
    • Do I have content that is already formatted for this site?
    • Does my content belong on this site?

If you answered yes to those 3 questions, then make your tracking spreadsheet and start your submission engine.

5. Comment on similar blog posts.

You may think you have just written a blog post about a topic that has never been covered before. Think again. It’s likely that dozens if not hundreds of blog posts have been written on the same or at least a similar topic.

Find those blog posts or articles, and begin leaving insightful comments for the authors. This may just be the missing ingredient in your blog strategy.

You don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company to implement a content distribution strategy. Start simple, monitor what works, and keep building.

Learn more about creating a content distribution plan in our recent webinar, What if You Build It and They Still Don’t Come? – The Anatomy of a Content Marketing Strategy

Related Resources

About Mike Sweeney:

As Right Source’s co-founder and CEO, Mike Sweeney creates, plans, and implements our vision, mission, culture, and strategic direction as well as serving as an advisor to our clients. Mike received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in marketing from the University of Notre Dame and has more than 20 years of experience in B2B marketing strategy, including digital, content, and marketing technology. You can find Mike on LinkedIn.