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Great Industrial Content Doesn’t Follow the 80/20 Rule

You may have heard of the 80/20 rule of content marketing – that you need to spend 20% of your time creating great content and 80% of your time promoting it?

Well, that sounds like BS to me.

I agree that too many content marketers spend all of their time (and budget) on creating content and then overlook the critical component of distribution.  That approach to content has led to the industrial wasteland of Youtube, littered with marketing videos with less than 100 views. 

So I agree with the spirit of directing some attention to content distribution.  But 80%?

No way. 

There is another often overlooked aspect of the time spent on content marketing and that is in the research of what to write about.

Here’s our take on it.

The argument for the 80/20 rule

Many corporate blog posts and videos fail to find their target audience.  While creating strong content is a necessary first step for succcessful content marketing, there is no value in creating content that nobody sees.  One way to address that is with paid content promotion as offered in this post, A Simple Formula for Budgeting Content Promotion

Or in the words of Derek Halpern of Social Triggers,

“It’s smarter to find another 10,000 people to consume what you’ve already created as opposed to creating more. Or, in other words, create content 20% of the time. Spend the other 80% of the time promoting what you created,”

But spending only 20% of your content time on content creation simply will not work in the crowded industrial Internet of 2015.  Your content has to be excellent in order to garner views, shares and comments. 


Research is the often-missing piece of the industrial content puzzle

What are you going to write about?  Well, you might answer, “our products, of course”.  And many times that would be a mistake. 

Research is a necessary first step, although many marketers consider it to be the boring part.  The research stage is when you study who your target customers are, create personas for them, and identify the search terms that lead them to understand that they need your product or service.  Your boss may be breathing fire down your neck while you are doing this work, because it doesn’t result in an immediate piece of content.  However, without this effort, you can write content that everyone in your office loves, but that goes nowhere.

Our suggestion is that you really need a 30/30/40 rule for content marketing. 

What we mean is that you ideally allocate your time and budget for content with:

  • 30% on researching what to write
  • 30% creating great content
  • 40% on promotion

The great thing about doing the research is that you can create a truly outstanding piece of content.  We measure the quality of content by views, but also by shares and comments.  In fact, if a piece of content gets shared on Twitter or Linkedin, we view that as an endorsement by our target audience to other members of that audience.  (so please share this if you deem it worthy.)

There are more details here if you would like to read more about creating the actual piece of content


Once you have created that piece of marketing content for engineers, it’s time to promote it

There are lots of ways to distribute your content.  Of course you will post it on your own site and distribute it through your newsletter.  Putting the little share buttons on your posts is a good idea too, if you haven’t already.

Pushing your stories out through social media is key, but of course, the most important part of social media is in building a following.  This is an area where many marketers, including me, fall short.  So when your brand doesn’t have enough followers, (What am I saying?  There’s no such thing as “enough followers”!) it makes a ton of sense to use paid promotion. 

We have seen paid promotion grow in a big way in 2015. Marketers are using paid promotion because it allows them to leverage the audience that publishers have already created.  For example and Eng-Tips reach ~1.8M unique engineers every month.  Marketers are leveraging those audiences to distribute their stories.

In summary, we think that research is a critical part of generating content that engineers will read and share.  In fact, we start every conversation about sponsored posts with the questions:

  • Who do you want this post to reach?
  • What problem are they trying to solve?
  • What do you want them to do after they read it?

If you answer those questions first, you’ll have a lot more success with your content marketing.

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