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BtoB

Your hidden content engine

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I recently checked my channel on SlideShare.net, a site where people swap PowerPoints and webinars to reap bonus visibility years after a presentation has ended. I found that my 58 slide decks have collectively been viewed more than 95,000 times and logged more than 5,000 downloads. One presentation from three years ago to an audience of about 100 people has been viewed nearly 10,000 times. Total cost to me: zero. I tell you this because of an objection I often hear from b-to-b marketers. They want to join the content marketing craze but they don't have any content to market. I submit that the problem isn't content but culture. Most organizations produce far more content than they think. Sales reps prepare presentations; engineers craft papers for industry conferences; customer support reps answer the same questions every day; the accounting department builds spreadsheet templates; and the marketing department distributes a list of media coverage of your industry. In most companies, this content is never seen by more than a few people. Documents and emails are discarded or archived. But today this content can find new life and audiences using simple online tools. Customer testimonials, instructional videos and webinars can be posted to YouTube. Spreadsheet templates, RFPs and catalogs can live on Scribd.com. Frequently asked questions can become short blog entries. An engineer can be debriefed about a conference in an audio interview that becomes a podcast. Properly titled, tagged and branded, this content can become the bait that lures passers-by who would never otherwise have heard of you. And most of these services are free. Why don't more organizations take advantage of these channels? Fear of disclosing trade secrets is a common concern, but I suggest much of the content most companies create would be of more value if disclosed than kept secret. The bigger reason we don't share is that we either aren't aware of the options or we assume others wouldn't be interested in what we have. Marketers can address the first concern by familiarizing themselves and their colleagues with the many sites that permit almost any kind of digital content to be shared. As far as who's interested, let the crowd decide. One of the joys of sharing content is the surprise of discovering what others find valuable. Last year, Corning Inc. prepared a 5½ minute video called “A Day Made of Glass.” Originally intended as a conversation starter for a few design and R&D organizations, the video went viral on YouTube, where it has racked up almost 18 million views. Corning, which fights the same name recognition battles as any other large OEM, is reaping visibility and lead-generation benefits from the video's surprising success. That's leverage.
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