TJ37 – Content: Distribution To Shock With Chad Pollitt

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From owned media to earned media, from distribution to “shock” Traffic Jam 37 is packed full of all things content. Joining James on this week’s episode is inbound marketing specialist Chad Pollitt from content promotion agency Digital Relevance.

We discuss how to avoid content shock and where it’s problem really lies, how to get your content syndicated by others and much more. So tune in now and discover the keys to effective research, creative, promotion, and conversion using content.

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Content Marketing Now
  • Content Shock – What is it?
  • Content Problem or Audience Problem?
  • Getting Your Content Posted on Sites.
  • Getting Your Audience’s Attention.
  • The Right Promotion Strategy.
  • Earned Media.
  • Digital Relevance’s Biggest Pay Off.

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“Produce content to drive business and create owned media to earn media.” @ChadPollitt
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Hey! What’s up listener? You’re tuned in to the Traffic Jam podcast I’m your host, James Reynolds, and this is episode #37. If you are a first time listener to the show, the podcast is all about building and growing a profitable audience for your website, and on today’s episode we’re going to be helping you do that using inbound marketing specifically, using content distribution to amplify the content on your website. Plus we’ll be talking a little known concept called content shock which you’ll hear all about the upcoming interview. But don’t go anywhere after the interview because we’ll have our regular segments which are the One Minute Traffic tip, This Week’s News in traffic and then to play out the show the traffic jam, which is a musical jam chosen by my guest today who is Chad Pollit.

Let me introduce Chad Pollit. He’s a former US Army commander and professional at foosball which is kind of incidental because Eric Enge is also a former champion foosball player. So I guess we should probably have a Traffic Jam foosball head to head right? Episode 37 vs. 34, it would be kind of fun! Anyway, aside from foosball, Chad Pollit is an authority on inbound marketing and has produced some really awesome content around the topic and specifically his 51 Things Your Mother Taught You About Inbound Marketing, which is an e-book available on Amazon and some real authoritative piece from Social Media Today, which he’s a contributor. He’s the director at Digital Relevance which is www.relevance.com and he’s a really sound guy as well so I’m going to leave it at that for the introduction and let’s get straight in to the content so without any further ado, let’s welcome Chad Pollit from relevance.com.

James: So this is the interview for session#38 and at the end of several wires running underneath the ocean between Dubai and Indiana is Chad Pollit. Chad, welcome to Traffic Jam!

Chad: Thanks James! I appreciate it, it’s great to be here.

James: So I have asked you on today to talk a little bit about content marketing. Of course it’s been a topic that’s widely covered in this show and it’s an explosive trend and shows no signs of slowing down, at least imminently, how long Chad before this bubble bursts on content marketing?

Chad: Well, James, it is funny you say that because there is a lot of people with varying opinions on whether it will ever burst or what are some of the nuances around that concept of content shock, what those nuance are. I believe that we’re there now in some industries. I think that if you wanted to open a brand new marketing agency tomorrow and you started from scratch on a website and all you did was focus on owned media, and that’s your own blog and your infographics and things like that, it would take you years upon years if ever, to build a significant audience and to drive a massive business growth in your company. So I see that in our own industry today. In fact, Marcus Sheridan, many people know him as the sales lion, he developed a concept he calls digital sooners and he discussed a digital land grab and he attaches some dates to 2007 to about 2012 I believe, and what he said was in that time frame there was not a lot of industries publishing lots of helpful information so that the companies and the brands that did that in that time frame are the ones that ate being highly rewarded today with massive audiences. Brands like Moz and HubSpot. Now being very specific and talking about this niche but what we found there across other industries, this is happening as well. So for example, maybe HVAC, maybe they have not hit the red line yet on when they are going to experience this content edge but eventually they will, if they have not had already.

James: Well, it is interesting, we’ve had Marcus on the show, I’d have to dig back the episode number and he was a classic example himself of gaining real traction with content but you so rightly put it, he was doing it with river pools and spas in the very early days of content marketing when there was less competition and less people doing this stuff. It would be very interesting case study to see if he can achieve similar results now, right?

Chad: Yeah, exactly. And he may be able to, it depends on what’s happening content-wise in that particular industry, I don’t follow it regularly so I normally don’t have an input but I do know that content is being produced at a much faster clip than what it has in the past.

James: Yeah, good. Well of course I was in my opening question there usher towards the whole content of content shock and I think if I am right in saying, it was first coined by Mark Shaffer who guested on episode 18 and of course it is a concept that you have yourself talked about quite extensively. I think the idea is the best of my understanding is that sometimes my supply of content with outweigh demand and us marketers essentially are faced with a scenarios where, one, our content simply goes unconsumed, we lose the battle for attention as better content, perhaps more well-funded content emerges. Now what’s the answer, how do we actually battle against this ensuing scenario?

Chad: Well, that’s an excellent question and I think about this a little differently than most. Most people believe that this is apparently a content problem. I don’t believe it is. I believe it is an audience problem so that’s an important distinction to make between content and audience because this is why – audiences out there today, for the most part, they have their trusted sources for the information that they consume on a regular basis. Just look at your own habits. I have very specific websites that I go to, every morning, to consume my marketing content- the content that I need to read to stay up to date on what’s happening, and that does not waver very often. Occasionally I will see something on Twitter that I click on, but other than that, I go to LinkedIn today and I go to share blog to get a lot of my content. I also use Klout Now because Klout is now curating content. To get me away in the morning from those websites is going to be very, very, very difficult. But I say this, if you as a brand, can figure out how to get your content where I go already within the content that’s created and published, you have a much better chance and a higher likelihood of getting my attention. And what I mean specifically, is earned media. And that is earning coverage from an influencer or a journalist on one of those trusted websites that I go to on a regular basis.

James: Okay, this is good stuff, I guess we should perhaps explore how this might come about because I am sure there are listeners out there going right, I can establish a few sites in my market where my potential audience will be, I understand where those watering holes are. What’s the process of kind of approaching these sites, these journals, whatever they might be, to actually get your content placed there?

Chad: So we have a 4-step process that we use here. We earn media for clients on a regular basis since that’s what we do. We do some paid media but mostly earned. It all starts with research. In fact, I’ll spell out the process: research, creative, promotion, and conversion. Those are the four steps of our process. And before we even consider what e-book or what guide or what widget we want to create to pitch to the media, we do thorough, thorough research and we identify what our client’s personas online actually look like. Because they are going to look different, their digital signals will be different than their offsite signals or their offline signals for example. So it’s not – I am going to term up – traditional persona development. I am talking about what websites do they go to? How long do they stay there? Where were they before they went to that website? Where were we after they went to that website? Oh, and by the way, what articles and what types of content are the most shared and are the most popular on this particular website that your target demographic consumes on a regular basis? I want to know those questions, I want to know the answers to them. I want to do a media assessment. I want to do an influencer assessment. I want to know who those journalists are and those influencers who are creating this content that’s popular. I want to figure out what problems they’re solving on these online destinations. These are very, very important data points to gather. I am also going to do keyword research as well and figure out what buzz is happening on the search engines and how that relates to these particular websites and media outlets. And once I have all that, then I decide what guide, e-book, or widget I am going to build or create. It’s not until have that research because what I want to do, ultimately content marketers they want to create helpful content for the consumer of their content. But we approach it a little different. We want to create content for the media outlet. Ultimately, the media outlet prefers to launch or to publish content that their audience is going to love. But we focus more on the media because if we can pitch them appropriately, we can make this content say hey, would you cover this in an article? They are much more likely to do so.

James: Got it, and in reading up in our interview a few days ago, you’ve published a couple of articles which you’ve actually pinned on to me as resources and most of those had links off to a pdf guide or perhaps a downloadable e-book or something to that extent. For those particular content pieces in mind to what you actually want to send people off to afterwards?

Chad: Yes, yes. Those are what I call mini versions of what we do for our clients for example. It really is trying to – it’s distribution and promotion as an industry, it is very young, it is emerging. I’d say last year was the year of content marketing, this year is the year of distribution and promotion. And what I am trying to do is develop some thought leadership in bits and pieces, in cheat sheets and things like that and get them out there for people to consume so they can start thinking about content distribution and promotion. Because we all know that depending on – I think 2013’s state of B2B marketing study said that I think 64% of marketers were not confident that their content is delivering the results that it should. So that tells me right there that the industry is not embracing distribution and promotion like they should be.

James: Yeah, we’ll come back to that topic in a short while but I want to ask you a little bit about content creation itself and the life cycle of it. I mean, I know certainly in the past there was real benefits to producing regular content, it was something that Google rewarded in terms of its algorithms. That however, putting out consistently delivered content that perhaps isn’t of the highest quality level, probably doesn’t weigh up so well does it? With so much more content online. You probably have to raise the bar a little bit on the kind of quality that you put out. Where do you sit in that kind of whole seesaw between that quality content versus quality of content?

Chad: So that is another great question. I am going to say something that’s probably new to a lot of your listeners because a lot of people don’t talk about this. Ultimately, the reason why we’re producing this content is to drive business, right? But if you take a step back from that and ask yourself – why are we creating this content? Why do we create owned media? We create owned media to earn media. If you really think about it, that’s what we’re doing. We want to get covered. We want the media to cover our content, we want people talking about it, and we want people sharing it all throughout social media. We are creating it to earn media. So what I say is, the quality bar is established by those websites that we have audiences that we want to tap in to. For example, if you are in the PR industry, having your content featured on PR Daily, or syndicated on PR Daily, that’s a good place because there is an audience there that you might want to speak to. That being said, I would not say PR Daily publishes the highest quality content. They publish content that their audience likes. So if you take their content and pair it up against the Harvard Business Review, maybe the Harvard Business Review has “higher quality” content but the audience for PR Daily prefers their quality level of content so what I am saying is, we produce owned media to earn media and the quality bar is based on where you want to earn that media. So go to their website and look at the content that they publish and that should be your measuring stick.

James: Yeah and I guess this all comes back as well to understanding what that ideal person that you want your content to be consumed by because if you are not tailoring it to them which ultimately is the audience that exists on these places, you’re getting it all wrong, right?

Chad: Yeah, exactly. And that’s why that research phase in our process is critical. Lots of content marketers do some sort of research to write their piece or to create their video or whatever that is but it is the media assessment piece that most people don’t do because after all, we create owned media to gain media, that’s the real reason we’re doing it.

James: Yeah, so let’s talk now a little bit about promotion. In your opinion, what is the ideal balance between time and energy spent in creating content and time and energy spent promoting content?

Chad: That’s a great question. In fact, I had been doing a lot of research on this. I spoke to Ryan Forster over at skinner not too long ago about paid media specifically and he was leaning towards the 12-15% mark; that 12-15% of your time and your budget should be spent on promotion activities. And then I did some more research and I found a thought leader and I can’t remember his name, he’s in Ohio, if it pops in to my head, I will let you know, he recommended investing 45% of your marketing investment in to distribution and promotion so that’s a big, big gap between recommendations. So this is what I did. I went back to our client base and I went to our service side and I had them dig through and really pick apart our campaigns to see how much we are actually spending on promotion and distribution activities. And that number, when you include paid, came out to 29%. So that’s the rule of thumb or benchmark that we are sharing publicly now after doing that research.

James: Yeah, it’s interesting stuff. I mean I have heard numbers as high as 70% of your time, energy and budget should be spent of distribution. That kind of leaves a bit of a void for me; if so much of your budget is spent on distribution, I mean really what is left for creating stuff that is going to be consumed and shared in the first place? But it is an interesting conversation and I guess if we were to establish some numbers for more businesses out there I am sure they will be leaning far lower down in the scale in terms of time spent on creation as opposed to distribution.

Chad: Right, right. And Ryan Skinner for Forster for his own research showed that you can actually step down content creation and step up promotion and distribution and get much better results. One of the cool things about that is we always talk about quality content; what makes quality content is the feedback we get, right- that feedback loop. And what happens when you invest in content promotion and distribution, you accelerate loop so you are getting much more feedback because you are getting your content in front of thousands and thousands of eyeballs rather than the few hundred that you might get on your website in a day.

James: Yeah, well let’s talk a little bit more about distribution. We’ve spoken about this concept of earning distribution, but where else can our listeners potentially be distributing to that might not involve this earned sort of silo?

Chad: Okay, so well, first of all. When I say earned media, it could be news coverage, it could be editorial coverage, and it could be influencer coverage and one of the influencers write about something that you did. It could be a syndication relationships so for example I syndicate my content to LinkedIn and to the Huffington Post and to a couple other places like social media today. So syndication is a big one and curation is another form of earned media so if your content is being curated somewhere that’s another form. Now on the paid side, what I am really talking about is native advertising and that comes in several different flavors. So you’ve got your advertorials, so for example Forbes is a big name out there and they are making some decent revenue and selling basically contracts to companies and allowing to write articles within their paid promotion area. So it looks natural and native so to speak. There’s lots of other websites that offer advertorial contracts and relationships. There’s plenty of them out there. It’s kind of the wild, Wild West with prices all over the place from six figures down to a couple hundred dollars. So advertorials are one and then you have what I call more like your flat-line native advertising which are things like outbrain and adblade and taboola and companies like that where if you go to Huffington post and you scroll down to the bottom of the article, you’ll see there sponsored suggestions for other articles for you to read and if you click one of those it will go offsite to another website. That’s the native advertising that I am talking about in this example. So there are plenty of those opportunities as well. And then you could always do social promotion in the native feeds. That’s another big one. I have been experimenting with that a lot lately so that’s another opportunity for paid native promotion.

James: And what would you suggest is the right balance now and perhaps going forward as more competition starts to exist?

Chad: Well, on the paid side you really need to experiment because you can blow through a lot of money quickly if you’re not careful. So depending on the media research that you do, and the audience assessment that you do, depending on where they hang out what type of native relationships are established with the ad networks, you’re going to want to get your foot wet before you dive in. We spend about 5% of what we do in terms of time and budget on paid media to include social promotion as well as some of your native advertising. The advertorials that we focus on are more one offs. We establish those relationships in addition to the work that we do for our clients so that can really very. Like I said, advertorials are the wild, Wild West right now. Pricing is all over the map. You’ll have to determine if that value proposition is worth your budget.

James: Yeah! I know that you do a lot of different strategies in terms of syndication over at Digital Relevance, if you’d have to pick one from those that you’ve described, what’s been giving the biggest payoff for you recently?

Chad: I’d say the biggest payoff for me is the columns that I earn so for example, I have my own column at Social Media today. They do syndicate some of my content, but for the most part what I publish on Social Media today is original and exclusive to them. They go out of their way to promote that content. And their audience is the perfect audience for me to get my message out to so when we do our media assessment, they’re definitely one of those top websites! The content that we publish there tends to get a lot of traction and lots of conversions. I can get conversion rates over 30% from that website for one article when I link back to a landing page so it has been a great relationship with them. The other side of that is I also publish on Huffington post and LinkedIn. Those audiences are completely different than the audience over at Social Media today. Something that might go crazy at Social Media today might not get but 500 views on LinkedIn or on Huffington Post so where LinkedIn and Huffington Post have larger audiences, there is only a small subset of their audiences that are interested in the problem solving that we produce as a company.

James: Yeah, and I am sure you are tracking all of these. I’d be quite interested to know whether this content that you place especially to this social media site has diminishing returns because you’d expect that perhaps over time as that audience get used to you a little bit more that perhaps the return from that time invested there would be less fulfilling for. Has that been the case?

Chad: You know, I can’t say for certain that that’s the case because probably every four months the general topics of what I tend to write about change with the even flow nature of our industry so in that regard, as long as I am writing something that’s fresh on all of it, it tends to give the same conversion rate and the same amount of traffic back to our website. But I can see where if you are industry like maybe, nuclear engineering, that maybe you can only write so much about nuclear engineering without it getting boring, but I am sure there are some media outlets somewhere that love writing about nuclear engineering, but yeah, I can see that being an issue.

James: Well, if we can find any we’ll make sure we’ll link off to our show notes just to reference for our Traffic Jam listeners today. Now, a bit of a curve ball question as we kind of get towards closing out Chad, what has your m other told you about marketing?

Chad: Well I wrote a book about 51 Things Your Mother Taught You About Inbound Marketing and what I wanted to do – I wanted to have fun and really talk about some of those sayings that your mom used to say to you as a child like don’t jump on the bed or close the door you weren’t raised in a barn and really analogize those to principles of best practices in inbound marketing and I came up with 51 of them. The last one, spoiler alert – the last one is I love you. The idea is that if you get inbound marketing right and you create great content, your audience and your prospects and your customers and your community will show you brand love and will evangelize what you do and what you and what you produce. So that’s the moral of the story but I highly recommend giving it a download, I am sure there will be a link to it 27:29 and it’s a quick read, it’s just under a hundred pages.

James: Yeah, I had a quick check out of it earlier and I love the graphics and the imagery that comes with it. It is very cool! It is beautifully branded content as well which I am sure that Traffic Jam listeners thinking about their own stuff as well. So Chad, just before we close out, have you got any other parting pieces of advice for our traffic jam listeners that you’d like to share?

Chad: Yeah, I just want to reiterate, if you are just doing owned media and you don’t have a content distribution promotion planned, I highly recommend you do some research on it because it can give awesome returns. One link on Link Magazine last year has driven over nine thousand conversions on my website and we earned that mention and you can earn them too and you can get those leads and those conversions for your website.

James:

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