Is Your Content Marketing Dickinsonian?

Consider the life of poet Emily Dickinson. With the exception of brief stints at those well-known party schools Amherst Academy and Holyoke Female Seminary, Emily secluded herself in the house where she was born. Her poetry was witty, fresh, and inventive in its turn of phrase. She was also prolific, writing more than 1,700 poems in her lifetime, sometimes more than 300 per year. Yet, for all of her work, only seven of Emily Dickinson’s poems were ever published while she was alive.

Do your content writers and editors sometimes feel like Emily Dickinson? I’m suspecting they do. Day in and day out they are secluded in some cramped cubicle, churning out fresh and inventive turns of phrase. And where does it all go? Yes, it’s posted on your Web site, but what about real visibility for the things they write?

Emily Dickinson didn’t have a great sense of marketing. But you should. Why not find ways to use your meaty, provocative, and creative content to enhance your marketing efforts? All kidding aside, it’s not about getting recognition for your writers and editors. It’s about getting more visibility for your site. Think of your great content as your branding mechanism.

How do you get mileage by using content as a marketing vehicle? Here are several possibilities.

Syndication

Syndication is one possibility, but the results are mixed. Even Salon.com doesn’t make much revenue through this model. But if you’re willing to give it a try, check out iSyndicate.com. It’s free to apply, and there may be some revenue generation. iSyndicate is looking for quality, reliability (no one-trick ponies who can’t stick with a schedule), and content that “fits the catalog of topics.”

Dissemination

Perhaps an easier way to venture into content marketing is to recognize that you’re not going for revenue right away. The real name of the game is disseminating the message and driving Web site traffic.

Niche Search Engines

Consider some of the “nichier” possibilities. If your content is business-related, take a look at the efforts of law librarian Steven Matthews. He’s set up a content engine called BPubs.com that may not exactly be making waves but is certainly an interesting approach. Matthews will index your business-related content — if it meets his standards. BPubs.com’s submission requirements clearly state that he’s looking only for quality content. URLs are rejected if they link to home pages, indexes, personal profiles, sales information, or anything that is not deemed to be a business publication by its editors.

Matthews also says he reserves the right to refuse any material deemed to be of “low value” to his target audience of business researchers and corporate users. (And, yes, Steve, I did notice that none of my articles are indexed. Hmm?) Right now, there isn’t a whole lot of content on BPubs.com, and it gets about 35,000 visits per month; but reviews of the site seem to applaud Matthews for “being headed in the right direction.”

Beyond BPubs.com are hundreds of other niche search engine possibilities. There’s everything from SnowBot.com to Business.com to Disinformation (for all you conspiracy aficionados) to MyBlackWeb.com (“Your Starting Point to Black Culture”).

I’m not going to go into the complex world of optimizing your site for a major search engine. Just beware of the garage-based marketing companies that think they know more than you. However, Google.com’s announcement that it is “venturing into the invisible Web” and now has the ability to index PDF files is a positive step toward prioritizing content over cheap tricks in the great game of search engine ranking. Clearly, more work needs to done by all the major search engines to increase access to worthy content.

The bottom line is that even the best content isn’t so great when it’s not widely disseminated and read. So, don’t lock your content (and your writers) up on your Web site. Find creative marketing uses for your wonderful prose. And, although I admire Emily Dickinson, as a marketer, I have to disagree with her distinctly antimarketing turn of phrase…

    I’m nobody! Who are you?
    Are you nobody, too?
    Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell!
    They’d advertise — you know!

    How dreary to be somebody!
    How public like a frog
    To tell one’s name the livelong day
    To an admiring bog!

Thanks, Em. We’ll take it under advisement.

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