How to create more attractive paid content opportunities that really work.

By Gretchen Kast

As many companies struggle to make an impact in today’s crowded advertising landscape, content marketing has become an increasingly popular option. It is a valuable opportunity for companies to break through the noise and stand out from their competition. And, when done well, content marketing is a chance to reinforce key branding attributes, expand visibility and foster stronger connections with potential customers.

But just like any other advertising program, it’s not enough to simply offer a one-size-fits-all paid content opportunity. To really help advertisers maximize the benefits of this type of marketing, it’s important for associations and publishers to offer a strategically built content program that is both comprehensive in scope and flexible enough to fulfill each company’s unique needs.

How to build a better content marketing program:


Pinpoint Different Types Of Marketing Goals

Whenever you set out to develop any new kind of marketing program, it’s best to start from a goal-oriented standpoint. What are your potential advertisers looking to achieve? What kinds of solutions can you provide them through content marketing?

While increased sales is usually the ultimate goal, there are plenty of different ways to get there. Customer awareness is a great first step. Some companies are looking to increase their visibility as a “thought leader” in their industry, while others are simply looking to align themselves with certain topics or niche categories. For others, they’re really looking to reinforce a particular narrative about their brand: a unique backstory or a new change in focus.

By understanding the different goals your potential advertisers are looking to achieve, you can start building the templates for different content opportunities that will fulfill those needs.

Offer An Array Of Content Options

Take a look at your editorial spread. How many different ways are you reaching people? Through a print magazine? A website and social media presence? Email newsletters?

All of these different editorial platforms offer a chance to create a new paid content opportunity. And each of these platforms should feature stories that are curated to its unique space. What works for a print magazine may not be the best kind of content for an eNews outlet. By offering more choice when it comes to platforms and story types, advertisers can better connect their message with a targeted audience.

You can also create different kinds of content options across price points. Shorter “product showcase” features are a great opportunity for smaller or newer companies with minimal budgets—while a long-form, in-depth profile may be the centerpiece of a much larger and more costly annual marketing program.

Understand That Content Marketing Isn’t For Everyone

Though it may be a buzzed about concept, not every company is prepared for a content marketing program. They may not have the staff to help create the marketing collateral—or they might simply not have a clear leadership path quite yet. While these companies could still be a great fit for a smaller placement, you may want to steer them away from larger, in-depth pieces for the time being. Focus on brands that have an interesting point of view that you think would make for a compelling, informative story for your readers.

Head Into The Sales Pitch With Ideas

Before you make that call or send that email, do a little bit of brainstorming. Having a clear idea of potential topics or themes can make it easier for the prospective advertiser to envision the value of such a program—which is especially important, as many larger content marketing packages often come with a higher price tag. 

Make sure you not only have a good understanding of this particular company’s strengths, but a clear idea of what’s happening in the wider industry as well. The best kinds of paid content pieces are those that can logically and effectively build upon timely or trending topics.

Be Clear About Guidelines And Expectations

When it comes to paid content, it’s important that both the publisher and the advertiser is clear about what is expected from them. Will the company be submitting a full draft of a contributed story—or will the publisher’s editorial team be interviewing and writing an original article? Is there original photography to use or just stock imagery? When will the story be shared? All of these details should be clearly outlined from the moment the proposal is sent, so that everyone is on the same page about who’s responsible for what. This prevents the risk of someone scrambling to throw something together at the last minute—and ensures the best possible content is going out into the world.

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