Good Content Speaks for Itself, but Promotion Gets People Listening

If I received a dollar for every time I’ve heard the phrase “Content is king” repeated in the past year, I’d have enough for a nice weekend getaway. Our industry has seen and heard that phrase so much that I think most of us have become blind to the fact that getting people to watch is not simply about offering fresh and new content – you also need to know how to effectively promote those offerings.

I received a promotional mailing from Cox last week, informing me of its newest channel— TV5Monde— an international French-language television network. On top of that, Cox kindly let me know that if I chose to subscribe, I would be given a $50 Williams-Sonoma gift card. Even though I wouldn’t consider subscribing to this channel simply because I don’t speak French, I applaud the effort Cox has taken to promote its content. Cox was smart to market its new content to a current customer who likely wouldn’t have known about this new channel. I hope Cox considers doing this in the future with other new channels and features. They have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. Unless they tell me about their content, it’s likely that I’ll miss it. I don’t personally spend a lot of time channel surfing. Most of the programming I watch is already set up to record to my DVR (plus, I really want that Williams-Sonoma gift card). Furthermore, I didn’t feel inconvenienced by receiving this type of promotion in the mail. I was appreciative, even though it was an offer I declined. Sometimes simply publishing great content isn’t enough to get people’s attention; you need to put it in front of them.

There’s certainly no shortage of quality content out there today. Netflix, Hulu, and Yahoo! have been aggressive in expanding their original content offerings, and Amazon is ready to debut its original content, Alpha House. But I must admit that for those who aren’t following the digital video industry, it might be difficult to find out just exactly what new channels and programs brands and publishers are offering today.

Brands shouldn’t just rely on industry publications and traditional press releases for all of their promotion. They need to take advantage of all of their channels for cross promotion to get people talking about it, liking it, and sharing it among social networks. Yes, the industry is fragmented, but there are steps they can take to increase awareness of their content. Here are just a few ideas off the top of my head:

  • Send out promo e-mails for those who subscribe to your newsletter.
  • Use display and video advertising when audiences go to your website.
  • Partner with sister publishers on cross promotional campaigns for your content.
  • Run and promote social media campaigns, including Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube for those who don’t normally visit your web destinations.
  • Offer features like free episodes, exclusive trailers, interviews, and behind-the-scenes footage to further audience interest.

Side Note: Adaptive Media is actively working to build a network where it will be much easier to search for, discover, and promote new content offerings and connect with other publishers who can increase exposure for this content. We will be announcing more news on this in the coming months.

Yahoo! announced its original content lineup a few months back and is a great example content brands can look to for ideas on how to raise awareness for new content. Some of the shows included big name actors – Ed Helms, Zachary Levi star in “Tiny Commando,” a comedy series that follows a four-inch-tall private investigator to fight crime; and John Stamos’ “Losing Your Virginity with John Stamos” features the actor interviewing celebrities about their first times, life before fame, and insecurities they faced during their teens. Yahoo! not only announced these shows in traditional press releases but also blogged about them on its website and released the trailers on its Tumblr page. Yahoo also promoted the shows on its YouTube channel and ran video and display banners throughout its web properties.

With “House of Cards,” Netflix benefited from word of mouth, which is a huge reason for its success. But Netflix also took advantage of its own platform to promote the show by recommending “House of Cards” to all Netflix subscribers who watched similar types of movies and TV shows. I also remember a large block ad for the show before and after the show’s initial launch that lived at the top of my Netflix account whenever I logged in, and also made offer the first episode free for nonsubscribers before the release.

If brands are going to take the time and effort to offer great content to audiences, they should put in an equal amount of effort to promote their offerings. As with every marketing campaign, it’s not guaranteed that everyone’s interests will be piqued. However, there’s likely a solid number of people you can attract who wouldn’t have found out about your latest and greatest without a head’s up.