Casting a Wider Net: Getting Your Branded Content to the Masses

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THE DANGERS OF SELF-PROMOTION

Pfluger agrees that too much content marketing today is a blatant push of product. "Users can see a disingenuous strategy quickly, and, when they do, it will encourage them to dismiss your brand," Pfluger says. "Instead, get inside the head of your audience. Understand their needs and struggles. Then, offer advice and guidance they can use-advice that implies the use of your product/brand is the one and only solution."

Case in point, an engine oil manufacturer can create a video demonstrating how to conduct a do-it-yourself oil change that features its brand in the video. "Your audience is much more likely to find value in this than watching a commercial video. If it's good, they'll save the information and come back to it every time they embark on an oil change," says Pfluger.

Remember that customers are not interested in reading purely self-promotional content. "Create editorial maps that reflect content relevant to your brand but are not specifically about your products or services. Tie your products/services in, of course, but in a natural way," says Katie Mayberry, principal with Spyglass Digital in Tustin, Calif. "You want to stay top of mind for your customer, so you need to provide value in a broad reaching way that keeps them coming back for more."

Brendan Cournoyer, director of content marketing for Waltham, Mass.-based Brainshark, says it's also vital to understand that broader audiences aren't seeking you out specifically; instead, "they're searching for a solution to a problem. It's your job to develop content that answers those questions, so when they find the answer, they also find your business."

TACKING ON OTHER TACTICS

While the destination-reaching the maximum audience possible-may be the same, there are many different routes to get there. Richardson says the key to effective reach is engaging with your audience on a consistent basis. Your goal is to remain relevant among current and potential customers and inspire an almost subconscious loyalty. Employing effective SEO and conducting audience research are among the best ways to engage new visitors and drive more organic traffic.

"First, learn and understand what your audience is looking for, then provide that information in an optimized way that's easy to find," says Cournoyer. "There's also content syndication, guest posting, and, of course, influencer marketing strategies to consider. By building relationships with other thought leaders and experts in your field, you can leverage their expertise to develop higher-quality content," Cournoyer adds. "Those experts are then likely to share that content with their own followers, exposing you to even more of the right types of audiences."

Indeed, it's essential to know who your industry influencers are, insists Theresa Regli, managing partner and principal analyst with Real Story Group in Philadelphia. "If there are famous bloggers or tweeters in your industry, know who they are, send them samples of what you have to offer, and get them talking about it," says Regli.

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