My journey into content marketing actually started in 2004 when I left The Nielsen Company after nine years to work for a local firm.
They hired me as their first VP of Marketing. My team of one (me) had absolutely zero budget to start. My first boss there wanted me to cold call to drive leads.
That didn’t work out so well. But then the CEO of the holding company fired him and asked me to run marketing like a marketing person would.
How do you execute a marketing strategy for a company with no budget?
The answer is what we now call content marketing.
The company I worked for was a nationally-ranked market research firm that very few people had actually ever heard of. So I took our greatest asset: survey research and used it to continuously update our newly revamped website to drive inbound leads for our sales team. I taught myself SEO basics and used a list of target keywords to create and distribute stories on our latest research.
Traffic on our website grew exponentially. Inbound leads started coming in to the company on a consistent basis for the first time. I even spent some time teaching the CEO of our holding company (the guy who saved my job) about digital marketing and how to do paid search.
Growth Hacker Content Marketing
When I initially proposed content marketing at SAP, many people asked, “How much software you gonna sell with blog posts?”
Luckily I had a direct manager who saw the declining effectiveness of traditional advertising. She knew that the digital age demanded more engaging and continuous content marketing.
At the time, we were spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising landing pages. These destinations had 99% bounce rates, no organic search traffic, and zero social engagement. I asked for a fraction of that cost to build our thought leadership content hub.
So for a third of the cost of a throwaway landing page, I built a branded content marketing hub to serve as the landing destination for advertising, and to reach new people with great content marketing.
Once we started publishing, we saw a 20% lower bounce rate, almost immediate organic search traffic and a growing level of social engagement.
That is growth hacker content marketing. The site basically funded itself – it had a return on investment from day one! And we were continuously testing, iterating and improving our results.
Guerilla Content: How To Growth Hack Your Way To Content Marketing Success On A Limited Budget
OK, so now you have a site built. But how do you produce enough and a consistent volume of content, at an acceptable level of quality, to stay relevant to your audience?
This is where you can turn to what I call Guerilla Content:
Guerilla Content: content created with almost no budget, simply be re-purposing things your organization already produces.
For example, people ask me all the time how do you find to time to create and share content? The answer: I re-purpose stuff I already create. I look at my email outbox. Each one is an answer to a question!
In many cases, it is a few paragraphs and detailed enough to turn into a blog post. I turn my powerpoints into slideshares.
Why keep content created for a few dozen people from reaching hundreds or thousands?
The first 24 blog posts I wrote on SAP’s Business Innovation were all white paper summaries I wrote from content that was sitting in a campaign library.
So if you are looking for your own Guerilla Content, here are some ideas I’ve used along with some examples:
30 Growth Hacks To Content Marketing Success
- Gather executive or customer insights on top issues, or
- Top challenges, or
- Biggest mistakes via simple email questions. And turn them into blog posts.
- Profile your executives and customers by asking Who are you? Greatest challenge? How you solved? + Profile photo and turn it into a blog post.
- Ask multiple experts “what is the future of, biggest challenge,” or
- “worst mistakes,” or
- “Best examples of [your topic]?” And turn them into blog posts.
- Answer the simplest questions about your solution category: What is [your topic]? Such as “What is content marketing?“
- Use Klout, Buzzsumo, Topsy, YouTube, Slideshare to identify “best of” lists like this, this or this.
- Highlight content you love from others (OPC = other people’s content): Infographics
- People to follow
- Blogs to read
- Linkedin Pulse articles
- Facts, etc.
- Define the terms You Need To Know on [your topic]
- 8 Steps To Success In [your topic]
- Best Practices For [Topic]
- What [Hot Topic] Means for [Your Issue]. My Example: What Google’s New Algorithm Means For You
- Re-purpose content from your own campaign material, or
- Cover research reports, or
- Highlight analyst reports
- Turn executive Slideshares + Speaker notes into articles
- Customer service people are a great resource. Ask them to identify your customers’ biggest questions or FAQs.
- Turn customer testimonials (talking head videos) into “customer profile videos” by just taking out the promotional parts.
- Ask your employees who attend events to provide you with their notes.
I also suggest teams sit in a room once a quarter and bang out lists of content ideas. Here are a few resources to help you with brainstorming your own list of Guerilla Content marketing ideas:
- Neil Patel on How To Come Up With 50 Topic Ideas In 30 Minutes
- 101+ Blog Post Ideas
- The Ultimate List of Blog Post Ideas
Michael Brenner is the Head of Strategy for NewsCred. He is also the author of B2B Marketing Insider, a contributor to Forbes and a frequent speaker at industry events covering topics such as marketing strategy, social business, content marketing, digital marketing, social media and personal branding. Follow Michael on Twitter(@BrennerMichael), LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.