The easiest way to build a loyal audience is to become the leading informational expert in your industry niche.
This, by the way, is really hard to do.
It takes years, sometimes decades, to publish enough consistently amazing information to build a loyal and trusting audience.
How can you shorten the time in making this happen?
Create a category.
If you are a long-time subscriber to The Random, you know the story.
I started in the custom publishing industry in 2000 and began selling custom publishing services to marketers the next year. I found out, very quickly, that the term “custom publishing” didn’t resonate with my prospects, which were senior-level marketers.
The truth is, when I would open my mouth and say “custom publishing” they would pretty much fall asleep.
And yet, this was a really important area of marketing. I believed that all innovative companies would need to create consistent and valuable information for their customers as publishing channels like blogs and social media opened up, and that search engines like Google would be incredibly important.
I believed the industry term was the problem.
I tested out terms like “custom content” and “branded content” and “custom media.” Nope, nope and nope. Then I realized that all major marketing categories have the word marketing in it (I know, I’m brilliant). Direct marketing. Search engine marketing. Email marketing. So, I thought, why not content marketing?
When I would mention content marketing in sales pitches with marketers, it immediately resonated. Mind you, they didn’t know what it was, but it had marketing in it, so it must be for them. 🙂
I tested the term for years, and ultimately believed it would become the industry term in this fast-growing area of marketing.
I left my job to create what became the Content Marketing Institute, and published my very first blog post on April 26, 2007 called Why Content Marketing? It’s a horrible post, but it was me telling the world and the three readers of my blog that I was committing to the term.
But me believing that content marketing would be the term was not enough. In order to create a category, there has to be little to no competition for that term in the marketplace. So, I went over to Google Trends to check. I found good news. The term was barely being used.
This meant that if I could create a solid content strategy and get people to start using the term, we could become THE resource for those people when they were ready.
There were three steps to the process.
The base…a place on the web where we could create valuable information over a long-period of time to start building an audience. We chose a blog.
Tent-pole piece…a huge piece of content that the industry could not ignore. We created the Content Marketing State of the Industry Report. Original research is so underused and underrated.
Influencer support…we needed to find smart people with audiences to help carry the term forward. To do this, we created the Top Content Marketing Blogs (which didn’t include our own blog) that highlighted websites we thought were content marketing focused but maybe those influencers weren’t using the term just yet.
We put our heads down, did the work, and by the beginning of 2010, content marketing was starting to become the industry term. Anytime anyone searched for anything content marketing on the web, our information would show up. It was amazing.
By 2011, it WAS the industry term. Today, it IS the term.
We are working on doing the same thing at The Tilt, focusing on the term content entrepreneur instead of content creator or the creator economy. We believe content entrepreneur should be the term for content creators working to build a financially sustainable business.
We created the base (the newsletter) and our original research on content entrepreneurs launches at the end of this month. The influencer plan is in the works.
Developing an audience is challenging at best. Building a category makes that process easier. Hubspot did it with inbound marketing, and today they are worth over $30 billion. My friend Paul Roetzer is doing it with Marketing AI (artificial intelligence). It’s a thing.