Three Ways To Optimize Your Content Marketing Program

Are you happy with your content marketing efforts? In a recent survey of thousands of marketing leaders, less than 30% said “yes.” But the surprising follow up to this question? Over 90% said they planned to continue their efforts!

It’s clear there’s a desire to utilize content marketing to support brand and sales goals. But inefficiencies and confusion are causing many to waste money on content marketing efforts that just don’t work.

The Content Distribution Ecosystem is a process I’ve developed over the years to address these inefficiencies and bring greater value to the content marketing landscape for companies. The Content Distribution Ecosystem, or CDE for short, does this by focusing on three core principles in content development — Content Mining, Content Recycling, and Content Association.

Content Mining

Movie production is famous for it’s cutting room floor – the place where scenes that were shot but deemed to not be relevant or contribute much to the story get discarded. Directors shoot a lot more content than they need knowing that much of it will not be used. From a content perspective, this is a very inefficient way to produce material because of the enormous amount of time, effort and money that gets wasted on content that will not get used.

Judging from the survey results, this same process tends to happen in many content marketing programs, and it’s generally due to lack of strategic planning and foresight as well as inefficient processes. For example, in writing a press release let’s say you want to have a customer quote included as a third-party endorsement component. So you contact a brand advocate, and in a 15- or 20-minute phone call acquire a two-sentence quote that you can use in the release.

Related Link: Content Marketing in the Age of the Disloyal Customer

But what about the rest of that conversation? Even though it’s likely that the influencer shared many great points about your brand or product, and probably with strong emotional appeal, most of that content (and the emotional edge) goes on the cutting room floor because your mindset was focused on looking for a 2-sentence written quote.

The process of content mining leverages the impact of this type of call by capturing all of the content the customer shares, weeding through those quotes, and finding ways — beyond the 2-sentence press release quote — to utilize the interview assets. This can be done in the form of an audio podcast (you need to record the call obviously), video soundbites, a transcribed Q&A document, to name a few.

Content mining optimizes the time and effort spent in creating content and digs around to find many different ways to maximize the value of the third-party content you acquire.

Content Recycling

We’re all familiar with the broad concept of recycling. The dictionary defines recycling as “…the process of converting wasted material into usable material.” Content Recycling is an extension of the concept of Content Mining and reinforces the efficiencies that an approach like the Content Distribution Ecosystem addresses.

Content Recycling is the re-use of material in other components in a content marketing campaign. It is the primary driver for optimizing efforts beyond a one-dimensional content marketing approach. For example, that quote that you got for the press release can now become the trigger for a second (or third) related content companion to the press release.

For example, let’s say you recorded the call or in-person interview with your customer-brand advocate. You used a small written soundbite from that interview as a quote in the press release, but the rest of the interview is also probably full of great content in support of your brand and/or product.

Click the play button below to listen to a podcast version of this blog post.

Why not recycle that quote and the interview into other content assets, such as a podcast, a customer profile blog post (using many more quotes from the interview), a Facebook post featuring the customer and their business and use of your product?

The concept of Content Recycling focuses on optimizing efforts spent in creating content, bringing more value and efficiencies to your content marketing program in the process.

Content Association

Content Association relates to leveraging one core asset — such as an interview with a customer-influencer — across multiple components of the content campaign. This process essentially creates the “Ecosystem” foundation of the Content Distribution Ecosystem.

For example, after the influencer interview you’ve done, you create a press release, a podcast, a blog post, a Q&A PDF and a video profile on the influencer’s business. This is what I call a Content Cluster with regards to the Content Distribution Ecosystem, and as more of these clusters are built around a customer-brand advocate interview, you will begin to build an extended ecosystem of connected content.

The content is connected because each component in the cluster is cross-linked via hyperlinks or URL references. For example, in the press release (with the single short quote) you could add a line such as, “To check out more of our interview with [Influencer], click this link. And that link could be a PDF with a transcribed version of the interview. And, from that PDF, you could offer a link to a podcast version of the interview. And so on across the cluster of content.

This cross-association between content components increases impact because, since all of the cluster content came from a singular interview, there is consistency and repetition (two very important concepts needed in persuasion or awareness-building) integrated across the campaign.

In summary, most content marketing programs are ineffective due to inefficiencies in content creation, waste in the overall process, and lack of strategic vision and direction from the outset. The Content Distribution Ecosystem concept uses the principles of Content Mining, Content Recycling and Content Association to address these deficiencies in a measurable and impactful way.

If you’d like to learn more about how the Content Distribution Ecosystem could enhance your content marketing efforts, please send me an email. I’d be happy to speak with you further about this unique approach to content marketing.

Bill Threlkeld is president of Threlkeld Communications, a content digital marketing and public relations advisory based in Santa Monica, California. Threlkeld Communications specializes in content ecosystem campaigns, also known as the Content Distribution Ecosystem, a unique content approach that synchronizes and integrates PR, Social Media, Blogs, Audio, Video, Email Marketing and other content marketing components for systematic distribution and measurable results.

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