Content marketing has become a scary place. We’re creating all this content to educate and engage our audiences, but behind the scenes, it’s duct-taped together. Teams are disorganized, and the high-volume workload is hard to manage. Your content strategy might not make a whole lot of sense, or you might not have a clear idea of performance. And considering how much time, money, and faith you're investing in your content, it’s terrifying.
Creativity and authenticity have always been the best way to connect with an audience, but it requires time and resources that many content marketers don’t have.
For most of us, building connections and trust between audiences and brands is why we got into marketing. That’s why organizations nurture and build brands — and create content — to develop dependable, meaningful relationships by delivering value creatively and authentically. Human to human.
But there are obstacles that slow content marketers down and impact the quality of both content and the relationship with the audience — not to mention putting an incredible amount of pressure on the content creators themselves.
Traditional Content Marketing — The Way We Weren’t Supposed to Be
When content marketing as we know it emerged two decades ago — along with a wide array of channels and formats for delivery — marketers had a way to communicate authentically with our audiences in real time, for the first time. The internet exploded, offering a new generation of branded websites built around a new content marketing phenomenon: the blog. Suddenly, with this new approachable, conversational format, we could share ideas, let experts share their insights, and publish thoughts without having to pitch them to newspapers. Over time, social media gained popularity, everyone bought a mobile phone, and eventually, more media-rich channels like video and podcasting opened up. Creative thinking was rewarded for a while, even though we couldn’t really measure how that creativity was actually working.
“Over time, social media gained popularity, everyone bought a mobile phone, and eventually, more media-rich channels like video and podcasting opened up.”
All that digital marketing created a wealth of data, and soon, ways to measure all that creativity emerged. Search engines arrived on the scene to help us get that creative output in front of our beloved audiences — hello, SEO! Then tools emerged to measure our effectiveness in getting in front of those search engines that get us in front of those audiences — welcome to the party, SEM! More and more channels, formats, and media emerged. And more tools to measure the crumbs of our chaos. Marketers were soon under more and more pressure to produce content for every format, channel, and audience EN MASSE — and in a way that would out-rank, out-perform, and out-convert the competition.
Super-Size Marketing — Making More Content for More’s Sake
A lot of the job of today’s content marketer is to ghost-write on behalf of thought leaders and subject matter experts that have a decade or two more experience in the space than they do — and likely from an entirely different angle.
Not only must content marketers pose as experts, but they are supposed to create LOTS of compelling, ranking, and converting expert content at a breakneck pace.
“Not only must content marketers pose as experts, but they are supposed to create LOTS of compelling, ranking, and converting expert content at a breakneck pace.”
What started as a way to creatively connect with audiences in meaningful ways has turned into a high-pressure, high-stakes, formulaic mess. It’s an endless production line of net-new content created more to serve search engines and shill product than to connect with the audiences who consume the content. It looks something like this.
The blog-centric content marketing tangle.
The result was that we made a TON of content — mostly written — for a tangled pool of purposes to meet different long-term and short-term goals. A lot of this content was not built around a subject matter expert sharing innovative insights, unique experiences, or valuable observations. This is the content void. The marketing twilight zone. And it’s a mess.
Conversion over Connection, Building Pressure over Trust, Leads over Humans
The result of all this pressure forces marketers to feel like they have to convert connections at all costs into qualified, ready-to-buy leads over truly connecting or building trust with the humans in their audience.
If you’re a marketer, you’re likely living in a tangled ball of strategy right now. It’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of stress, it’s hard to measure, and it leaves a lot of value behind as we’re constantly working to create the next new thing, instead of looking for ways to be more creative with what we’ve already made.
“It leaves a lot of value behind as we’re constantly working to create the next new thing, instead of looking for ways to be more creative with what we’ve already made.”
In Casted’s recent The State of the Content Marketer Report, content marketers told us they spend an average of 33 hours a week just creating content, leaving little time for all the other responsibilities they have, like strategy and planning.
The pressure is intense. Burnout is real. And high-volume environments don’t allow for much creativity. And when we don’t have creativity, we don’t have a whole lot of connection. We aren’t aligned internally, and we aren’t getting a maximum return on our efforts.
But worst of all for content marketers, we are missing opportunities to creatively nurture relationships with our audience, the whole reason we’re here in the first place.
Introducing Amplified Marketing
Let’s be done with building content factories where we manufacture ghost-written SEO-optimized articles that serve algorithms and call it thought leadership. It’s time for a whole new era of content marketing, one that serves both the audience craving valuable content and the marketer who’s creating it.
How will we get there, you might ask? Enter stage left, amplified marketing.
This new approach challenges marketers to rethink how they create marketing materials, but we don’t need to replace traditional content marketing with some new monstrous philosophical monolith from the ground up. No, the methodology behind amplified marketing is simple and summed up in three clear, concise stages: Identify, Create, and Amplify.
When you take the amplified marketing approach, you define a repeatable, creative process that can be measured and optimized to drive growth. It starts where all marketing should: with your audience. They help you identify what your content should cover, and that tells you who your experts should be. Creation can be as simple as pressing “record.” Once you’ve captured the foundation content, amplifying it through other formats — by embedding audio and video into all the content types your audience wants — is a quick and efficient process that gets more streamlined as you go.
Identify Your Audience, Experts, and Assets
Content creation begins with the question: WHO is the content for? So, amplified marketing begins with identifying your audience. You want to know who these humans are and their preferences well enough to understand the content they find most valuable.
“Everything starts with the reader… I believe that knowing your audience deeply is the superpower for marketing teams… Really understanding your audience deeply, and then prioritizing them, ruthlessly prioritizing them. Providing value over and over and over again because what it does is it builds credibility. If they see your name or your company name on an email, they're going to open it. If they see that you're hosting an event, they're going to sign up for it because they trust you.” — Devin Reed, Head of Content Strategy, Gong
Once you know WHAT your audience is interested in, you focus next on your subject matter sources, the experts and thought leaders who can speak to your audience. They can either be an internal colleague down the hall or a recognized leader outside of your organization.
“For the strategy that we have here at Planful of why we have a podcast, it's an opportunity for us to talk to like-minded — again, voice of customer. It's not just for our customers, it's for any audience. And really bring on experts to help facilitate conversations. That makes us, in turn, better marketers. It helps us understand the challenges that our customers are facing, and it helps us use the CFO’s words to help our team work better with them and help demonstrate what our platform can do.” — Rowan Tonkin, Chief Marketing Officer, Planful
With the 360-degree view of your existing content, you can also resurface and repurpose the ASSETS and resources you already have available that will help connect with your audience. A core capability of a true Amplified Marketing Platform is the ability to see exactly what content you have AND the topics covered so you can quickly search and promote items, collections, and themes using titles, clips, keywords, key phrases, and content tags.
Create Audio, Video and Written Content
Next, you harness the power of those expert perspectives and capture conversations with audio and video. You’ll then use this content to create podcasts, video series, webinars, brand videos, internal content, and events. At this stage, you can repurpose your existing content and find new creative ways to connect with your audience even more deeply.
“So I like to talk to people, sometimes at walls, but mostly people. And I had been doing a personal show for a long time and got an itch to try to start something in SEP. I thought we could use it as a way to connect with folks in a different way, and just sit down and have a conversation. You get so much more context in the conversation versus things like a blog post, or even just a conference talk.” — Zac Darnell, Host of Behind the Product, Corporate VC, Product Development Leader, SEP
This is where the marketer SHINES. Amplified marketing gives them the tools — like transcription, key takeaways, and the ability to easily create audio- and videograms — to reuse and repurpose recorded conversations to create new assets and to amplify existing content with very little effort.
“As we are amplifying the voices of creators, we're also able to amplify our brand message. That's a win-win. That's great. We love that.” — Alanah Joseph, Senior Marketing Manager, HubSpot Podcast Network, HubSpot
Amplify Your Content Across Channels, Formats, and Teams
Now with your audience and opportunities identified and your foundation material created, we turn to the final stage where you maximize the return on that creative energy and investment by AMPLIFYING your content. Don’t stop with that single episode or event. Keep the conversation going.
“Trying to write 15-20 great social media posts for different personas for different messaging, some product marketing, some thought-... it can take a lot of time, and it's not that fun. It's much more, you know, much easier, more fun to have a waterfall from the podcast, a waterfall from a webinar. Now you've got three to five posts you can write, and then you're like, ‘Okay, I can really have some fun, be creative here, and fill the gaps’ versus trying to, you know, I don't know, carry water up the... up the cliff to build the waterfall.” — Devin Reed, Head of Content Strategy, Gong
Pull your content apart into various formats. Atomize it. Wring out that content across various channels. Get it into the hands and heads of Sales, Customer Success, the C-Suite, and other teams throughout your organization. Maximize your reach — and see the effect it has on your revenue!
“I think it's just the smart framework, right? We've talked so much about, I think maybe attention that we all feel. It's like, how many new things are we going to make versus having a strategy that really does amplify that content and ensure that it's... Not just that it's seen — in that, it potentially gets someone to do something with it that first time.” — Stephen Hunton, VP Social Strategy & Content Experiences, IBM
A Strategy That Amplifies Your Reach and Revenue
You might have read up to this point and be asking yourself, that’s all well and good, but what about the bottom line? How does amplified marketing help me achieve my business objectives?
Build Trust with Your Audience
The best way a brand can build engagement and trust is by placing audiences before algorithms and prioritizing human connection. Amplified marketing rejects the model where marketers struggle to ghost-write on behalf of thought leaders when they could be getting creative with the actual thoughts of those experts. This authenticity and facilitation of a direct connection between the human audience, the human experts, and the humans within the brand breed trust like nothing else can.
“Building audience trust is an ongoing process, but you have to give before
you get — trust requires authenticity and vulnerability.”
”It's this trust, confidence, familiarity, a sense of personality. I think the corporate brand, if it hasn't completely faded in importance, at a minimum, it's being dramatically informed by the personal brand.” — Ethan Beute, Chief Evangelist, BombBomb
Building audience trust is an ongoing process, but you have to give before you get — trust requires authenticity and vulnerability.
“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we should be and embracing who we truly are… The best way to build authenticity for your brand or your personal brand is to focus on what people are most excited to talk about. Harnessing that enthusiasm is the best way to get engaging content. Like I said, people care about what other people care about… Your audience should feel like you are best friends with them without even ever having to meet you. That's the beauty of the internet and content.
“The key part of any friendship is trust. Trust is choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else. I want to zoom in on that word, vulnerable, because vulnerability is the biggest pillar of trust and of building an effective, authentic relationship.” — Meg Johnson, Multimedia Marketer, OpenView
Create Alignment Across the Organization
Marketing often gets accused of being disconnected from the rest of the company. As we have discussed, marketing teams are under pressure to produce a magical blend of what the company wants to say, what algorithms will reward, what the product actually does, and what will help drive sales. It’s easy for one of the parties served here to feel like Marketing isn’t aligned.
BUT when Marketing starts with an expert voice INSTEAD of trying to BE that expert voice — these should be your customers, prospects, partners, and internal thought leaders — and simply serves as the conduit that naturally amplifies that voice, the resulting content will align with Sales, Product, Customer Success, and leadership. Then comes the truly magical part when all those parties can access the same content and use it however they need to. In short, amplified marketing aligns your teams and strategy.
“I think it's the show owners who really are accessing the platform and using it primarily. Yeah, we like to set it up in a way where everybody can use the platform as they want to use it. So, they can post shows, they can pull clips, they can look at measurement, et cetera. So, it's pretty open… But yeah, it's pretty much just the podcast group that's looking at those metrics, and then we're pulling them out of there and communicating those to the larger organization from there.” — Michael Rivo, Director, Salesforce Studio Team, Salesforce
“I think, for me, like I love getting to see how it helps us work together as an actual team… It's helping us work and align better with new people… like it's helping us, like, all talk to each other more and get excited about the content we're working on because it's not just something, like, we're doing in a silo. We're involving people, they’re involving us, and I think that, just like when a team is aligned, that always means good things.” — Molly Sloan, Content Marketing Manager, Drift
When you amplify your reach, you amplify your revenue. But that takes time and effort. Trying to create new content at that level and at a breakneck pace will, well, break the necks (and spirits) of your team. Plus, you’ll lose the attention of your audience.
“When you amplify your reach, you amplify your revenue.”
What makes more sense? Investing budget, time, effort, and creativity into building a lower quantity of higher-quality content to act as your foundation pieces. Then, you wring out all that content to maximize the return on that investment — and the return on all that creative effort.
It’s not about creating MORE content. More isn’t better. Better is better. And when you amplify that rich, high-quality content across multiple channels, you’ll amplify your reach, and when you reach more people in the way they want to engage with your brand and measure that engagement in a way that Sales AND Marketing AND Customer Success can act on — THAT also amplifies your revenue.
“We expect our content to generate leads and drive sales, first and foremost… We're really going to start focusing on brand building and just brand recognition, too. Yes, it might take years to see results from this rather than a few months. But I think it's really going to ultimately increase our sales in the long run, in our leads in the long run, especially for, again, like I mentioned previously, the next generation of consumers who are ultimately going to be the ones making company decisions and buying our products and services in the next 10 to 15 years.” — Hailey Wheeler, Services Marketing Communications Consultant, Caterpillar Oil & Gas and Marine
Amplified marketing ultimately drives revenue by helping you create relevant, meaningful content for your audience, but like many great marketing strategies, it’s not an Easy button that you can push to automatically generate more leads or immediate revenue. Brands are focused on using content to build awareness, community, and urgency, which drives revenue down the road.
How to Execute Amplified Marketing
The great news is that you can already do amplified marketing with the team you have in place. You don’t have to hire new team members with some magical skill set. In fact, if your team is small, amplified marketing actually helps them work more efficiently. All it takes to mature your marketing efforts is a little rearranging of your approach.
Amplified marketing allows teams to utilize the team, talent, skills, and assets you already have. Instead of immediately focusing on all the net-new content you’re going to create, let’s think strategically about how you can meet your audience where they are with content they actually want.
How does this happen?
Identify your audience.
Before you jump into content creation, please please please spend time identifying who the people are that you’re creating content for.
“If people are showing how an engine works, or maybe like demonstrating how the oil and gas train works, things like that, that gets a lot of engagement on our end. I think anything audio and video content is always going to be some of the most effective content marketing that we have, especially things that are demonstrating things. People also really like seeing other people in videos.”— Hailey Wheeler, Services Marketing Communications Consultant, Caterpillar Oil & Gas and Marine
What does your audience want to hear about? Instead of pure keyword research, identify topics that resonate with your audience by reviewing content performance. Then you can marry keyword and search intent data with the themes and topics you know resonate with your audience.
Identify existing assets.
Instead of net-new everything, let’s actually identify the content that already exists that can be reused, repurposed, and repromoted as part of a campaign. How do you know what content can be utilized? We call this opportunistic content. Content that has high traffic but low conversion, or low traffic but high conversion. These types of content indicate two things: topics people are interested in and topics that compel them. Both are useful, and both can be reused, repurposed, and optimized to drive more opportunities within your campaigns.
“So it's really just like… wringing the value out of one piece of content and then refreshing it or reusing it or finding new ways to reinvent it, as opposed to recreating the wheel and being like, ‘Oh shoot. We have to create a brand new offer.’ We don't have to create a brand new offer every time. That's not the goal of content marketing. We have a limited amount of resources on every team, a limited amount of time. People like to sleep.” — Molly Sloan, Content Marketing Manager, Drift
Identify content gaps.
What are you missing that your audience wants to learn about? Instead of a manual search through your hub, find a solution that can identify the themes you’ve covered, and determine what’s missing.
Seek out the best authorities to speak about the topics you’ve identified. While their knowledge is the most important thing, you may need to consider how well they speak in a live setting and prep them if necessary before recording.
“Most of our podcast guests, webinar hosts, our voices, rather, are Caterpillar employees who are our subject matter experts on a particular product or service, who can provide as much knowledge to both our team and also to our audience as well. But recently, some of our other voices are external people that have relationships with Caterpillar one way or the other who are able to share their own experiences and expertise from an outside perspective… These are all personal stories that keep our audience invested.” — Hailey Wheeler, Services Marketing Communications Consultant with Caterpillar Oil & Gas and Marine
Now that you know who your content is for and what you need to create, the real fun begins.
When you understand who you’re creating content for and what you’re going to communicate, you can focus on content creation. Every podcast, video, webinar, event, and written piece of content comes from the creative mind of a marketer, albeit with a little of the legwork and research that we chatted about earlier.
But creation can feel burdensome when there is so much to create all the time. This is where amplified marketing can really help a team do more with less. With amplified marketing, the content marketer doesn’t have to create net-new content, not when there may be existing content you can reuse or repurpose. The content marketer also doesn’t have to be the sole creator. They can lean on other voices to be the experts and capture their insights through conversations, interviews, and events to help create a plethora of valuable content.
Here’s how that can work for any brand — whether you’re a large enterprise business, a small to mid-size company, or even a single content marketer.
Record conversations with experts.
You don’t need a fancy studio for this. You just need something that can capture audio and/or video. A smartphone will do just fine — remember that not all recordings have to be used as is, you just need a way to capture the expertise.
“When I went to Drift, I had a really cool opportunity to work with David Cancel, and I was the first marketing person at Drift, and I just needed to get marketing content out of him. And so I just started interviewing him with my podcast gear that I had, and I was just going to ghost-write for him, and that transformed into us... He wasn't very good at just being interviewed and then just having to talk for 30 minutes. And so it became more of, I had to do an interview back and forth with him to get more stuff out of him, and that morphed into this really cool conversation about these two people at completely different ends of their spectrum. And from a career, you have this proven CEO and this like no name, up-and-coming marketing person. And we ended up turning [it] into a podcast called Seeking Wisdom. And so really quickly over the course of a year and a half, I had launched three podcasts, and now it's just become like a pillar of anything that I do in marketing.” — Dave Gerhardt, former VP of Marketing, Drift
Create various formats of conversations.
You don’t just put content up in one format and call it a day. Instead, you take that blog, video, or podcast episode and repurpose it for all the channels and formats your audience prefers.
Utilize transcripts for content creation.
Having a transcription of every conversation you record makes it easier and faster to cut up your foundational content into smaller bite-size clips that you can embed in social media, blogs, and email to promote your content.
Refresh, repurpose, and reuse existing assets.
Always go back to your content well and look for the topics that are relevant to your present content marketing. Not only will this save you time and effort, but it will strengthen your content, your value to your audience, and your overall marketing strategy.
“I would echo the volume issue. I think that's a huge challenge just because it's such a large business, and it always seems like a great idea to make a new thing, and it's fun to do new creative. But have we really leveraged the other stuff that we've made? We have so much content that we could be reusing, and in some cases, for me, it's not even about reusing. It's about the right promotional strategy of that content across channels in a way that drives you back to the original, the asset. Right? So we've done this a few times really well, but often I think the biggest challenge is the amount of time to properly coordinate that promotional strategy.” — Stephen Hunton, VP Social Strategy & Content Experiences, IBM
Once you have different formats ready for your audience, you can start to pull it apart and focus on the heart of amplified marketing.
It should come as no surprise that amplification is an important part of the amplified marketing strategy. Marketers spend so much time creating content, yet our promotional plans around content never seem to match the intensity of the creation process. Too often, content is released in a singular format, promoted once, and then pushed aside to focus on the next thing.
But what if you spent more time wringing out your content? Turning that content into more valuable bites of content in different formats and continuing to revisit the topics and content that resonate best with your audience? I’d say you have a pretty good model for content utilization.
Here’s how your team can better amplify your content today.
“Too often, content is released in a singular format, promoted once, and then pushed aside to focus on the next thing.”
Itemize content into various formats.
The most powerful way to amplify your content is to make it available in the widest number of formats and channels. Each time you create a foundation piece, you should also make a list of the other formats where your audience can find it and tailor the repurposed versions to each specific channel.
“If you have a particular video, you can turn that into a blog post, you can run it as an audio piece, you run it as a video, you do clips, you do social... I used to work with a great marketer who would call it, you know, the Thanksgiving Dinner, where you made all that food, and then, you know, for the week after, you've got your turkey sandwiches and your turkey soup, and you know everything that you could make with Thanksgiving Dinner, so I think that's a big part of our strategy, and it's something that really if you just look at each piece of content that you're making, you can get a lot of mileage out it.” — Michael Rivo, Director, Salesforce Studio Team, Salesforce
Wring out content across channels.
Once you have your amplification plan ironed out, start sharing all these new places your audience can find your content, both internally and outside your organization.
“What I've learned is that if you can do an hour-long's worth of content, you can break it apart into multiple different segments of learnings and apply it to different contexts… And you can start to take that big piece of content that you created and start to dissect it. And now you have lots of different pieces that the rest of my content team can really throw out there into blocks. They can throw it out there into social media posts as quick learnings and teachings. So I know if people aren't going to listen to the podcast, we can break it apart into smaller segments, that's truly just a way to get in front of people.” — Ryan Cramer, Partnership Marketing Manager, PingPong
Give your team access to content.
Share content across your organization by announcing each piece that goes live, sharing results, and surfacing content that's working well so each team can use it in their roles.
Continue sharing content that performs.
Just because you promoted your latest ebook last week doesn’t mean you’re done with it. You may not have reached your entire audience in that time frame or in the channels you originally promoted them through. Keep looking for ways to reshare, whether you’re tying an older topic to something current or just coming up with a new angle to reintroduce your content.
The benefits of amplified marketing cannot be overstated. Not only does this unique and innovative approach enable your brand to streamline the content creation process for your content marketers, but you’re also able to create engaging content for your audience that works across all formats and channels. What other marketing strategy creates these efficiencies for your employees AND customers?
If you are tired of the churn-and-burn cycle that prizes quantity while sacrificing quality and are sick of putting forth so much effort for little to no tangible, measurable ROI, amplified marketing has the cure for what ails you. By bringing your outdated content marketing playbook into the present, placing the focus back where it belongs — on the audience — and empowering you with the tools and strategies you need to create and share content that is relevant and brings real results.
Ready to get started on the next exciting chapter of your content marketing journey? Reach out to us for more information on how exactly we can help you take that first step into the amplified marketing realm. You can also schedule a demo with us to discuss how you can specifically implement our strategy on your audio, video and written content.