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5 Steps to Mobilize Your Content Efforts With an Integrated Approach

5 Steps to Mobilize Your Content Efforts With an Integrated Approach 

With the Internet at their fingertips, your buyers are more empowered than ever. In fact, research from CEB suggests that consumers are 57 percent of the way through their purchase decision before they even call a supplier.

As a marketer, you can’t rely on the same stale outbound marketing tactics to attract customers; they’re too smart for that. Brian Halligan, co-founder of HubSpot, put this idea into perspective. Instead of using outbound tactics to reach people trying to “block you out,” he suggests implementing inbound marketing to “‘get found’ by people already learning about and shopping in your industry.” 

Many companies have begun deploying content marketing initiatives to draw customers back to their sites. A problem we often see is that companies push their message out in publications or blogs, but they fail to use it as a sales tool or to enhance relationships with existing customers.

An integrated strategy means the difference between content that sparks engagement with the right people and initiatives that quickly fizzle out. To take an integrated approach, you have to be proactive with distributing relevant information that will pique consumers’ interest and guide them back to your company. 

Switch Your Mindset to ‘Distribution First’ 

Although content marketing is one aspect of inbound marketing, you can’t simply create content, get it published, and call it a day.

Integrated content marketing requires planning for distribution up-front instead of creating engaging content and then strategizing potential verticals. With this strategy, you take specific content ideas, look at all the channels you have available, and keep those channels in mind throughout the content creation process.

As we strategize whitepapers, we sit down and think about the ideal reader of the content, then think through potential distribution channels to specifically reach that reader, including social, paid advertising, our publication relationships, and other influencers. We then combine all those channels into a cohesive strategy and begin fleshing out the content. After the content is written and polished, we don’t need to bother asking, “What now?” We’ve already devised a detailed distribution plan.

Implement a Successful Integrated Approach

Taking an integrated content marketing approach demands a specific mindset. If you don’t work with an agency or vendor, determining your next steps can be overwhelming. To help guide you in the right direction, prioritize these five steps:

1. Work cross-functionally. Many marketing departments are still victims of silos. Each aspect of marketing is managed independently, relies on different KPIs, and often has poor communication with other teams. Bring in the right people from across your organization — sales, social, PR, and digital media — to actually support and amplify your content once it’s developed.

2. Harness the knowledge of people working in the trenches. Your social media staff is on the frontline; they know what’s going on in real time and understand what their audience wants to see. People in PR likely have ideas for using content to promote their initiatives and vice versa. Keeping these people informed and engaged with your content efforts and harnessing their unique perspectives will make content creation and distribution a more strategic, collaborative process.

3. Utilize every channel and resource. Leverage every resource or channel you have to inform content creation and effectively distribute to and engage your audience. Without taking full advantage of the resources at your disposal, you’re wasting the valuable time and effort your team put into creating content that sticks.

4. Get buy-in from the right people. Transitioning to more of an integrated approach will never be successful if the C-suite doesn’t understand what it is, why it’s important, and how it can benefit the company. Before you put a team together and get the right structures in place, you have to educate up the chain and make sure everyone understands the importance of an integrated approach. This can often be one of the largest hurdles at the beginning.

5. Aim for education. When marketers write content, it’s natural for them to put a marketing spin on it; that’s what we’re trained to do. However, you’re creating content for readers, and they can easily spot gimmicks and flimsy promotional plugs. Your goal has to be to create compelling content that educates consumers, or they’ll reject your message and have a negative association with your brand.

Many companies don’t have the resources to implement an effective integrated content marketing plan yet. You don’t only need writers; you also need content strategists, copy editors, and a team to manage publication relations. If your team is new to content marketing, bringing in outside experts can help steer your efforts in the right direction and scale content production. 

If you want to be the first point of contact with your customers, you have to educate the masses about your product or service before your competitors beat you to it. Content marketing isn’t just a commodity anymore; it’s critical to remaining competitive and relevant in the new economy where customers call the shots.