A few years ago, I came across an idea called 'pay it forward'. If you are unfamiliar with it, it's actually rather a nice idea that simply promotes the notion that if everyone does something to help someone else, then, in the long run, we all benefit. The same concept of collaboration to make things better for everyone underpins the value of content contribution, in that your brand will feel the benefit of helping another business build theirs.
Paying your content forward
Content contribution is a win-win situation if you get the formula right. Not only will you be promoting your brand, but you will also be enhancing the perception of it in the market place. A good content contribution strategy should result in dividends, such as:
- Increased brand visibility
- Raised perception of your brand quality
- Higher regard for your business and brand as a thought leader and influencer.
It is really all about making a useful and targeted contribution that will reach your required customer base, as well as that of the business asking you to contribute to their content. The person hosting your contribution could be content-hungry and trying to fill space or overflowing with support already. They may be building an audience, or already well established, but while these things are certainly considerations, they are not really enough motivation for your needs. Regardless of how many people want to contribute or not, or how many regular visitors they have, contribution, as with every marketing function, is about bringing something needed to your target market. If the content you create is not reaching the right people, then it is not going to be worth it. You can spend a great deal of time on contribution, so it needs to be appropriately controlled and targeted effectively.
Getting it right
The manner you contribute and who creates the contribution can vary, so there are some ideas below:
- Blog writing. This is probably the most commonly requested contribution and often the most difficult to obtain. This is because it is highly effective, but it requires consistency. The chances are you already have an internal blog strategy, so you may well have an existing article that can be re-written to contribute elsewhere.
- Video content. Most of us have video content these days, in which we are focusing on a particular subject. If you have one that is relevant, you have a ready-made contribution. Often video content will link nicely to a blog.
- Podcasts and vlogs. Appearing as a guest expert on an existing podcast or vlog by an influencer is an excellent way to build your personal and business brand.
- Magazines, trade guides and news items. Look for short contributions to focused areas.
Content contribution vs. marketing
A key difference between content contribution and other marketing is that your influence over the end product finishes at some point before publication. Another is that you are 'branding by association' by allowing your content to be used. These are often areas of concern and rightly so. Before you decide on your contribution strategy, the best option (isn't it always?) is to go back to basics. A few simple questions will help you define your approach. Can you answer "yes" to the following?Are you able to contribute something genuinely useful to the end-user?
Are you contributing to an associated business that you are confident has the same standards as yours?
Do you have a clear understanding of who the end-users will be?
It is unlikely that there will be an immediate financial reward, so can you justify the potential delayed and often unmeasurable ROI in terms of your time?
To ask yourself if the contribution you are making is worth the effort is not unjustified or selfish, it is common sense. It will also help you avoid the vanity trap where you find yourself contributing because, while it is nice to see your work in the public domain, that isn't a good justification.
Contributing content to other businesses can also be an opportunity for a quid pro quo agreement. Just as contributing to other sites can raise your profile, others contributing to yours can do the same. Ask for them to return the favour, and set up your own guest blog policy, and then you, and the others in your network, could see a real return in brand awareness as a result.
Guest blog from Darren Harding of Boomerang Funding