Content Marketing Deserves Paid Support

Websites.  Facebook pages.  YouTube channels.  Mobile apps.  What do they all have in common?

They all represent investments made by brands over the years that had the tendency to be unsupported and thus never saw the light of day.

In the mid-1990s, as many brands and companies established their first websites, agencies and web developers skewered a line from the Kevin Costner movie “Field of Dreams.”  Companies that were new to the space often thought that their consumers would flock to their shiny new websites, and they’d do it unprompted.  “If you build it, they will come” was the line from the movie, and early web developers made sure they warned companies coming to the web that nothing could be further from the truth when it came to their websites.

Personally, I like to learn lessons once and then make sure I never make the same mistake again.

Yet, countless brands still believe in “If you build it, they will come.”

Unless a brand or company has significant earned media assets, usually in the form of millions of Twitter followers or Facebook likes, new endeavors need paid media support.  And often, even if a brand has an enviable army of social media fans, the platforms they’re using to express their fandom often set up paid media toll bridges along the way, in order to earn money from brands that want to reach their own enthusiasts with new content.

Whether it’s a new YouTube channel or a shiny new mobile app, it doesn’t matter when it comes to discovery by enthusiasts.  “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t work.  And it appears that brands need to learn the lesson a fourth or fifth time when it comes to new Content Marketing initiatives.

Marketing departments are all a-twitter with talk of developing content for various audience constituencies, but an overlooked aspect of those plans is how the content will actually end up in front of people the brand wants to talk to.  Organic discovery won’t cut it, and we know from several past waves of initiatives that it can’t be relied upon.

That’s why every such initiative needs to be accompanied by adequate paid media support.  Relying solely on organic discovery represents a huge risk, and if a brand wants to invest in a new channel, a new app, or new content that it hopes can live in places other than its brand website, the people managing that brand will eventually have to defend those investments to senior management.  Guess who will angrily demand answers if those assets don’t get traction in the marketplace?

So far, paid media support is the most predictable marketing channel when it comes to connecting your target audience with your content.  As you’re looking at new initiatives, particularly in Content Marketing, ensure you’re supporting those initiatives with paid media, and not just SEO and social.