As summer approaches, many of us will hit the gym in the hopes of being swimsuit-ready by Memorial Day. While dragging ourselves out of bed for a 5-mile run before that 9am meeting isn't much fun at first, the more we exercise, the easier it becomes. That’s because we're building up our endurance and creating a habit of early-morning runs. In fact, over time, our bodies even start to wake up naturally in anticipation of that runner’s high each morning and we start to miss it on days when we skip our workout.
Content marketing is no different. Committing to a regular schedule of writing blog posts and other content can be challenging at first, but the more we practice it, the more easily the words flow.
In talking to B2B marketing professionals, we typically hear that their biggest pain points are limited budget or staff. They want to create killer content that builds awareness of their products and positions their company as an industry thought leader, but great content takes time and other resources that are often in short supply.
Fortunately, there are ways to streamline your content marketing so that each deliverable you create serves double or even triple duty, saving money and staff time. For that we turn to the Content Marketing Pyramid, a framework for mixing short, low-effort content with longer, more time-intensive content.
In this model, content curation -- where you find, organize and share relevant online content--forms the base of the pyramid. Since curated content often comes from outside sources, it provides an avenue for being part of the larger online community and positioning your company as an authority without creating all that content yourself. Annotating content, meaning adding your own commentary, allows brands to pull in third-party content and provide perspective on why it’s relevant to their audience.
To continue the workout analogy, content curation is like interval training, where you complete short bursts of high-energy exertion with periods of rest in between. Curated content is typically lower effort than original content created from scratch, so it’s possible to share high volumes of curated content without exhausting money or staff time.
The middle of the pyramid includes short form content like infographics, blog posts and e-Books, which might be analogous to a 7K. White papers and print books are the top of the pyramid. Since these longer pieces require more time and effort than curated content or blog posts, they can be used less frequently. Athletes might do interval training several times per week, but they don't typically run a marathon every week, because it would take its toll on their joints and energy levels.
Many athletes use cross-training to ensure that they’re strengthening every muscle group. Using a variety of content formats and lengths ensures that your content is balanced enough to reach readers across multiple mediums.
Writing those shorter pieces could as a warm-up for longer ones (after all, you wouldn't run a marathon without training and stretching first, would you?). It could also help you develop a more integrated content strategy that will help inform each piece of content your create. Research for an infographic might uncover material that would make a great sidebar for an e-Book. Or questions asked during a webinar might serve as inspiration for a blog post or chapter in a book.
Here’s a look at how you might use the Content Marketing Pyramid to inform all types of content marketing:
- Start by curating content in your area of interest and sharing it on social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. You could also share links through your blog or email newsletter. Tracking click rates, shares, and RTs could help you decide which topics to explore in your own content.
- If commenters ask questions that aren't answered in the original piece, you could fill that void by turning the answer into a blog post and linking back to the original piece. You could also add your own analysis on a trend or topic in an article blog post.
- Once you see which blog posts generate a high volume of comments, consider exploring those topics further with a webinar. The beauty of webinars is that they help generate email signups and leads.
- During or after the webinar, you might conduct a poll and use that data as part of an infographic or ebook via an email nurture campaign. You might also expand on blog posts or combine several related blog posts to create an ebook. The ebook could be used as a freebie for people who sign up for your email newsletter or as a companion piece for webinar attendees.
- Another way to repurpose an ebook would be to publish a print version using print on demand (POD) services such as Lulu.com.
We can’t help you fit for summer, but hopefully these tips will help you whip your content marketing into shape!
Title image courtesy of Stefan Schurr (Shutterstock)
Editor's Note: Looking for more tips on content marketing? Read Carla Johnson's What the Right Brain Brings to Content Marketing