When it comes to planning a content checklist, we marketers are in love with the latest shiny new thing. That’s not a dig – testing new things is the only way to stay relevant and ahead of the crowd. But that doesn’t mean we should forget about the tried-and-true techniques that continue to perform. Following are four traditional tactics that should be at the top of your content checklist.
Earned Media Tops the Content Checklist
Earned media is making a comeback, after about a decade where marketers focused primarily on paid ad campaigns and blog-based inbound programs. Between ad blockers and online ad fatigue, people are looking for authentic, knowledgeable content from a trusted source.
As PR service firm Cision notes:
“When a well-respected journalist or blogger writes about your brand, that single article has the potential to reach thousands of potential customers, some of whom will end up buying your product.”
Earned media is at the top of our content checklist for this very reason.
A little bit of homework can turn up a lot of possibilities. Research the publications that cover your market, and find out if they publish an editorial calendar. If so, look for the opportunities that are a fit for you and pin them on the appropriate date on your content calendar. Identify opportunities in advance to avoid missing out – it just stinks when your competitor is quoted in an article when it should have been you.
Look for opportunities where you can contribute a byline or a column. Many publications have downsized teams and rely on contributed content to make up the gap. These are wins for your brand – just make sure that you follow all of the rules. In general, publications want original content and where you do not sell or overtly promote your brand. Find out any other specifications – word count, image requirements, etc. – and follow them. Find more tips on generating earned media here.
Earned media also provides that most delicious benefit of all: link love. While links from low-value websites don’t help your site rank (and can even hurt your site), links from credible sites such as industry publications are very, very good. Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media points out that links are Google’s most important factor when ranking a website.
If you don’t have this on your content checklist, add it today.
Get Out to Events
This is an often-overlooked area for opportunities and one that should be high on any content checklist. Events give you a natural and authentic reason to reach out to customers and prospects. It’s easy to send simple email saying, “Hey, we’re going to be at Event World next month in Chicago – do you plan to go? Let’s meet up for coffee.” But if they’re not on your content calendar, they’re easy to forget.
Events are also terrific sources for follow-on content. Craft a blog post or record a podcast about things you learned, people you met, and products you discovered. Share it with your prospects and customers via an email campaign.
We like to pin events to a content calendar in three categories: Events we’re attending, events we’re exhibiting at, and events we’re considering. There’s a fourth iteration that deserves its own bullet point…
Speaking – and Hearing – the Truth
Every executive should make it a goal to deliver at least one presentation a year. As you research events, look for opportunities to submit a speaking proposal. Why? There is nothing like sharing a well-thought-out idea in front of a crowd, if only to hear from that one person who raises their hand to say, “I don’t understand,” “That goes counter to what we have found,” or “This will not solve my problem.”
We get caught up in our own bubble of thought. This is a particularly common scenario among teams that are super close. The term “epistemic closure” describes the phenomenon of ignoring information because it does not fit into a belief system. Getting out in front of a real audience is the best way to learn whether your concepts and ideas are valid or need some work.
If the thought of delivering a presentation is too daunting, become a panelist. You will have the protection of the group, and will start to feel more confident about being in front of a crowd.
Speaking at events can lend credence to a thought leader. It also can be a fantastic way to meet prospects and people adjacent to your industry. Pin these events on your content calendar to remind you to promote them widely through your channels: email newsletter announcing a speech, social media posts, blog mentions, and more.
Email is Gold
Once derided as for the olds, email is another traditional tactic making a comeback, and is a must for any content checklist. Why? Most forms of marketing focus on the top of the funnel – finding prospects and driving them to you. Once you have someone’s email address, you have a direct connection. Moral of the story: build, nurture, and maintain your email list. It is gold.
There are many ways to lose that connection, and email abuse is a very fast way to turn a prospect off. But email is an excellent way to share content with your prospects and customers.
Email can be a powerful tool for closing customers. Share new products, share ideas, share links to helpful sources. All of these can earn trust and sales. For more ideas on how to make email work for you, check out our Q&A with Seth Rasmussen of Small Biz Triage.
Hey, if Instagram influencer campaigns are driving business your way, by all means keep at it. But don’t forget about the traditional stuff as you build your content planner. You just might find they perform better than you remembered.