You’ve been developing your content for a few years now and, slowly but surely, an audience has started to build around it.
Now’s the time to scale. Now’s the time to take what you’ve developed, and propel it to the next level.
How do you approach major content publishers and get them to share your ideas?
How do you reinvigorate the content you’ve already created to keep it engaging and relevant?
And how can strategic promotion support the broader goals you have for your work?
Gregory Ciotti has a few interesting ideas about how to help you there. The Content Marketing Lead at Shopify, and former Marketing Manager for Help Scout, Ciotti has first-hand experience in developing significant audiences for brands in need.
In a post to his website published mid-2017, Ciotti lamented the popularity of “low-effort promotional tips and tricks”, while providing his own advice.
It’s advice that aligns neatly with the strategies we teach 8 Percenters, so with that in mind, we decided to take a look at three of Ciotti’s most useful suggestions, and expand upon them.
What we’ll be talking about here is only a fragment of what Ciotti reveals in his post, so be sure to check it out via the link at the end of this article.
1. How to Increase the Chance of Getting Your Work Shared
Most of the people we work with tend not to think too highly of their writing skills.
That’s a real problem. Finding the confidence and discipline to produce written content for your own platforms is a great way to build an audience. What’s even better is having the confidence and discipline to produce written content that has identifiable value beyond your own tribe.
Syndication through major content publishers is a promotional strategy that requires nothing from you but the work you were going to create anyway. That’s the easy part. The hard part is convincing the publication that your content is worth their time.
Anyone who’s gone through the process knows that it’s tough. Editors, in general, are obsessed with discovering their next viral hit, and unless they think you’re capable of giving it to them, you probably won’t get the yes you’re looking for.
Ciotti has a suggestion to make the process easier:
Appeal to their audience, while positioning yourself against what they publish.
Don’t try to explain that your work is valuable by comparing it against what other creators are already giving them. Prove its valuable by making them realise why it’s a problem they aren’t publishing anything quite like what you’re offering.
This works well when pitching to publications in your field, and even better to those outside it.
Ciotti uses an example from his time at Help Scout. As a customer support business, they might not have looked like a perfect fit for a tech news site like The Next Web. However, by submitting an article about on-boarding clients, they “focused on what (The Next Web’s) audience would naturally amplify”.
Think about how your ideas can expand beyond their original intent, and get them into the hands of those who can use them. Trust us – they’ll be coming back for more.
2. How to Reinvigorate Your Content
It might seem lazy to pull up a piece of content you created a year or two ago, tweak it, and re-publish it. You might feel like you’re avoiding doing the ‘real’ work of making something new.
Here’s the thing to remember though: perspectives shift. A year of education, of experience, of change, can result in a tremendous new approach to ideas and discussions. So when you realise that an old article doesn’t align to your values as truly as it did originally, don’t delete it. Not every piece will prove evergreen. Instead, renew it.
Make it more concise. More accurate. Add references. Keep it fresh.
At Help Scout, this process proved highly beneficial. 92% of leads came off the back of older content, and were responsible for 76% of views.
If you’re worried about what your existing audience will think, don’t be. As Ciotti notes, “every content team vastly overestimates the percentage of their total readership that has read, applied, or even remembered any individual article”.
3. How to Structure Content Promotion to Benefit Big Projects
“Content blurs the line between customer acquisition and education”, says Ciotti, and he’s absolutely right.
Content should act as an introduction to the broader product. It’s not the product itself.
For instance, say you are developing a book.
Feeling the pressure to both write for their blog and a book, many look for the easy way out. They write a bunch of articles on the topics they want to cover, pull a few more from the archives, and bind them together.
And so they’ve killed two birds with one stone, right?
Where’s the flow? Where’s the structure? Each of those articles was designed as an individual entity. They can’t just be bunched together!
As Ciotti shows, there’s a more efficient way to go about it.
“…outline a new handbook you’re going to publish for readers, decide you need six chapters (or sections) to give the topic fair coverage, work on said chapters one at a time in the upcoming quarter, and release a few of them as blog posts.
You can then take the posts you’ve published, edit them together in a cohesive fashion with the material you kept unpublished, and launch the whole project as a full-length guide.”
Readers who engaged with the articles will therefore be more likely to pick up the book, as they already know they like it.
Be sure to check out Gregory Ciotti’s article Content Promotion is About Meeting Your Readers Where They Live for more fantastic tips.