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Demand Generation: The Cure for the Content Slump?

By Carrie DagenhardDec 11, 2015

Content SlumpI’m going to share a little secret: I became a marketer by accident.

It’s true. Like many content professionals, I started as a writer in the journalism field. But, after taking on a few freelance content marketing gigs, I was hooked. Chasing down a story, researching new concepts, finding a fresh angle—it combined so much of what I loved about journalism, but with a strategic twist. It was fun and the demand, it seemed, was never-ending. I dove headfirst into the marketing world and never looked back.

Then, earlier this year, I attended a SXSW session with educator, consultant and best-selling author Mark Schaefer. He presented some disturbing news: Content marketing is reaching a tipping point in which the amount of content produced far outweighs the demand. The content space was becoming so cluttered and saturated that engagement was dropping at an alarming rate.

As you can imagine, this was terrifying news. Was my job going to become obsolete? Was I going to have to go back to eating Ramen for every meal? Would I have to become an Excel jockey to stay in the biz? I felt something like this:

Content Marketing Bubble BurstVia swaggernewyork.com
 

But Schaefer didn’t share this information to break the spirit of a room full of content marketers. He did it to get us thinking about the next step.

While Schaefer’s predictions have certainly panned out (Buzzumo recently reported content engagement has taken a nosedive with 50 percent of posts receiving eight shares or less), content isn’t dead. Storytelling will never, ever die. But with so much great content being pumped into the World Wide Web every day, how can businesses ensure their messages reach their targets? The answer, it seems, is in demand generation.

Today we’re going to take a look at what that means and how content fits in.

How Does Demand Generation Work?

mark schaefer content value

Despite the dismal outlook of content engagement, here at Kuno we’ve managed to keep our clients’ traffic trending upward through a healthy mix of well-researched, personalized content, seamless UX and sophisticated social strategies. But we know better than to become complacent. Through constant education, we’ve spent 2015 adding to our arsenal—especially by beefing up our demand generation strategy. So, what does that mean?

Here’s HubSpot’s definition of demand generation:



Ultimately, demand generation captures the umbrella of marketing programs that get customers excited about your company’s product and services. Demand generation programs can help your organization reach new markets, promote new product features, build consumer buzz, generate PR, and re-engage existing customers.

But wait—creating buzz, generating PR, re-engaging customers … isn’t that what content marketing does, already? Yep!

The thing to understand here is that demand generation and content marketing are not different strategies. Content marketing (and inbound marketing as a whole) is just a piece of the overall demand generation puzzle. From the content you build to the space in which you promote your content, all of this is part of demand generation. Any owned, earned and paid media that increases a demand in your offerings falls under the demand generation umbrella.

How Will Demand Generation Fix Content Shock?

mark schaefer epic content

Demand generation is nothing new, but the way in which we work to influence customers is always evolving. The fear I felt after hearing about the pending content bubble burst is the same fear a traditional advertising professional probably felt when display ads took off, or the fear PPC pros feel when they hear about banner ad fatigue. You don’t throw in the towel, you start working strategically and looking for ways to evolve faster than your competitors.

Here are a few ways we’re helping clients reach success with better demand generation strategy.

  • Using data to drive content decisions. Content marketing has never been about tossing a bunch of ideas against a wall to see what sticks—not unless you have an unlimited budget. To break through the noise, it’s important to dive into the data in your marketing automation platform, paid search platforms, social media analytics, etc. Determine what increases engagement and, more importantly, which channels perform best.



  • Going offline. Before the Internet, people shared ideas by ... talking. Crazy, right? Even crazier, a good old-fashioned conversation IRL still drives brand engagement. Have an especially charismatic and eloquent employee at your company? Start sending them to speaking engagements. Loop it back around online with a well-promoted webinar.



  • Making use of trade publications. I spent a lot of time reading blog posts on sites like MarketingProfs, Relevance, Newscred, Content Marketing Institute (and several more). I love these publications so much that I subscribe to their emails. Because I trust these sites, I’m going to open their emails. So if a brand sent a relevant and useful email through one of these brands, I’d likely engage. Find the equivalent of these publications for your personas.



  • Paying to play on social. Remember when brands could rack up thousands of likes, comments and interactions on Facebook and Twitter for free? Those were the days—but they are long gone. Luckily, by putting even a small budget to promote content on social channels, you can enjoy heaps of engagement and drive plenty of quality traffic.



  • Getting granular in paid search efforts. I’ll be the first to admit: Running a successful PPC campaign on AdWords, Bing, Yahoo! or any other search engine takes a lot of time and effort. The payoff can be huge—if you’re smart about it and, more importantly, know how to get granular. That is, zeroing in on an audience with highly specific parameters. Much like social advertising, it’s all about targeting by the right demographics, experimenting and making reports your BFF.



  • Guest blogging. If you’re looking to expand reach, it’s time to start leveraging your contacts in the industry. Writing a guest post for a highly ranked site is a great opportunity to broaden your audience. Make it a symbiotic relationship by asking other thought leaders to guest post on your blog, too.



  • Tapping into the power of social influencers. After creating fresh content, ask industry influencers to share with their followers. Reach out to them personally, or tag them in your posts. Once you’ve built a relationship, consider asking them to contribute a guest blog post or sit down for a Q&A podcast.


Conclusion

Content marketing, the way we know it, is changing. It’s not enough to build great blog posts, eBooks and videos—you have to support these efforts with demand generation. The good news is, while content saturation is very real, content marketing is far from over. By seeking new ways to amplify content, breaking out of the traditional content box and continually looking for new methods for your strategy, you can overcome the slump and begin driving highly qualified leads directly into your sales funnel.

The New Demand Generation

Additional Topics: Content and Design
The Author

Carrie Dagenhard

Carrie is a seasoned content strategist who worked as a department editor and music journalist before making her foray into inbound marketing as a content analyst for a web development and SEO company. Carrie works hard at crafting the perfect content strategy for clients and using her hard-hitting journalism skills to tell your brand’s unique story. Outside of the office, Carrie enjoys live music, Tex-Mex, exploring the city with her husband and attempting to win the affections of her two terrible cats.
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