This sounds like a question without a clear answer, but in reality, there's actually a pretty consistent rule of thumb that you should follow when creating and promoting a content piece. And that is that you should spend at least as much time and budget promoting a piece as you do creating it. Though this rule of thumb tends to hold true pretty consistently, brands and agencies still tend to overspend on content creation relative to actually marketing their content. There are two main reasons agencies lose the balance of content creation and outreach. Let’s examine these reasons.
Reason 1: Good Content Takes Care of Itself
This is occasionally true, where a blogger or a business will publish a piece, and it will go viral. But it's the exception rather than the rule. There are over 60,000 blog posts published every hour on Wordpress alone, so promoting your content through effective outreach gives it a fighting chance to actually be seen. Think of it this way. When a studio makes a big budget movie, they promote it as aggressively as they can, from paid media like billboards, bus benches and pre-roll ads on YouTube to earned media like interviews on Conan and Jimmy Fallon. Does the fact that the studio is promoting the movie make the actual film "bad content"? Not necessarily, they're just acknowledging that there's a huge oversupply of content in the world, and good content needs to be promoted to succeed.
Reason 2: We Spent All Our Money on Design and Development
In part, because there's so much content already out there in the world, it can be tempting to spend all your budget on developing the most amazing content piece you can. Maybe you add some interactivity or pay an amazing researcher to pull together the ultimate guide to ultimate guides. But if you overspend on content creation, and fail to leave enough budget to actually promote it, you'll rarely make the most of your resources for the project. Think of the relationship between content creation and content promotion as one of multiplication, rather than one of addition.
When you are planning a strategic content marketing campaign, spend the same amount of budget on promotion as you spend on content creation. Any piece of quality content will benefit from time spent on outreach to authoritative, relevant sites and individuals. In a content marketing education workshop, Vertical Measures and content veteran Arnie Kuenn points out that TV and radio advertising campaigns often spend 20% of their budget on production and 80% on promotion. Traditional advertising and owned media campaigns are very different, but his point that content promotion should be a significant part of any campaign budget holds true for owned media campaigns.
When to Ignore This Rule
This rule isn't hard and fast, and you may want to ignore it in certain situations, such as:
- If you've developed a seasonal piece, and the window has closed, or;
- If you've spent enough time on outreach to identify that it's not really working.
- If promotion the piece is getting a lot of traction, you might want to spend more time on the piece and push back the start of the next campaign to accommodate.
Nobody likes to take a content piece they've created and acknowledged that it's a flop, but it occasionally happens. One way to reduce your strike-out rate is to do exploratory outreach before you actually spend the time and budget to create a piece. Share your ideas for content strategies and outreach with us too!