Content Marketing PlacementYou’ve probably heard the old philosophical question, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Like that tree, your brand’s content needs an audience to be heard. If your company is looking to reach more readers or establish itself as a thought leader, you should be thinking about content marketing placement.

How content marketing placement grows your audience

You probably already know that the right content marketing strategy generates new leads and enables your company to grow your revenue. When you consider that 70 percent of consumers prefer to learn about brands from articles rather than ads, it makes sense to tell your company’s story with content. The goal of content marketing placement is to get your ideas in front of the appropriate audience.

When done successfully, it can help your company increase its brand reputation, present itself as a leader in your industry and introduce you to more prospective customers. Imagine if you could speak directly to the readers of a major publisher such as the Business Insider, Forbes, Inc., or Fast Company?

Placing content on a general news site increases your brand recognition, while getting published on a more targeted site such as TechCrunch helps to establish your credibility. By leveraging earned and sponsored posts on premium sites, your company can drive more traffic to your own website. These steps will help you figure out where to pitch your content, what types of articles are most successful and how to increase your chances of getting published.

Choose the right site

Rather than spending hours submitting content to all sorts of sites, consider the audience that you’re trying to target. What are your customers and prospective customers like, and what sites do they visit? Similarly, you should also consider your brand’s image. Who are you as a company? How would you describe your brand’s personality and values?

While you may be tempted to base this decision solely on a site’s traffic, considering compatibility will increase the chances that your content will be published and reach the right readers. Look for a site that is a good fit for your company’s target demographics and branding.

Research their requirements

Each site has their own submission process and guidelines. Some, such as Forbes and Entrepreneur, have a process for prospective writers to register as contributors. To be accepted as a contributor, you will need to demonstrate that you’re an expert in your field who can produce content that will appeal to their readers. These sites require links to your social media profiles, details on your expertise, a few ideas for articles and samples of your previous work.

Other sites such as Inc. allow potential writers to pitch a story or apply to be a contributor. To pitch an idea, submit a short, straightforward summary of a specific article that you believe they would be interested in featuring.

Most commonly, however, sites such as the Huffington PostFast Company and Business Insider require that you submit a completed article. Before submitting to these sites, you should carefully review their guidelines and select a polished, original article.

Tell a compelling story

As with all content marketing, the originality and quality of your work make all the difference. Major publications each have their own unique brand and style. Before you attempt to submit an article, browse the site to take note of what types of stories are currently featured.

Creating a unique article that represents the site’s tone will work better than trying to repackage content that you already have. Remember that the vast majority of sites require that content be entirely original, so they will reject submissions that mirror content posted on your website or blog. To increase the likelihood that your article will be published, choose a topic that is timely and relevant for the audience.

Expertise and credibility matter a lot to major publishers. Your work will be better received if the attributed author is a senior leader in your company. Don’t worry if this person doesn’t have the time or writing experience to draft an article. Many top contributors outline their ideas and hand them over to a professional writer to create the finished product.

Promote your brand subtly

While your first instinct may be to mention your company’s name as frequently as possible, it pays to adopt a more objective tone. Focus on providing value to your readers. Articles that read like new stories are published much more frequently than those that read like a brand’s press release.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t incorporate your marketing objectives. Choose a topic that’s relevant to your target demographic and industry to demonstrate your brand’s thought leadership. To drive traffic to your website, link to research that your company has conducted or related content on your blog. Mention something innovative that your brand is doing that pertains to the topic.

Consider sponsored content

If you want to market your brand more directly, sponsored content services may be a better fit than earned media. Forbes BrandVoice offers marketers an opportunity to publish “advertorials” alongside their editorial content. As part of this service, advertisers receive native ad placement, social media promotion and reporting data from Forbes.

Of course, this premium service comes at a premium price. Packages start at $50,000 and cost much more if you want to add real-time analytics and content creation services. Paid content is also clearly labeled, so most readers can quickly distinguish it from the site’s editorial content.

A less costly way to get your sponsored content published is to partner with an industry blog or influencer. Some blogs will allow brands to pay to feature a post on their site. To get started, check to see if the blog posts content labeled “sponsored” or “presented by” or has a “partner with us” page.

Explore alternatives

So what can you do if your article isn’t a good fit for the big sites and paid content isn’t in your budget? Consider self-publishing on a popular open platform.

If you have a large professional network, you should be sharing content on LinkedIn Pulse. The platform provides a simple, free way to publish text, images and videos. While you can use LinkedIn Pulse to share almost any content you want, you need to do the work to promote your piece.

A quick look at the trending stories will give you an idea of what types of content perform well on LinkedIn. Whatever your topic, start with an engaging headline; it’s all your contacts will see when your post appears in their feeds. Be sure to also add the appropriate content tags to help more readers find you.

You could also post your article on Medium. Like LinkedIn, the platform allows anyone to publish their content for free, and it boasts 60 million readers a month. You can also cross-post content from your company’s blog to expand your audience. By using Medium’s official tools to import your article, the site will add a link to the original.

Some argue that cross-posting content hurts your website’s SEO, but publishing in multiple locations places your ideas in front of more potential readers, which is the main objective of SEO. However, third-party platforms can change or be shut down with little or no notice, so smart brands don’t publish all of their content on one site.

Use content placement to expand your reach

Creating engaging, high-quality content is always the first step to connecting with your audience. Publishing on a major site such as Forbes or Fast Company can help your work to reach more readers and position your company as an industry leader. To increase your chances for publication, follow the site’s guidelines carefully and submit original content that appeals to their readers.

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