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Be an Inbound Magnet: Takeaways for Every Marketer

Written by Mary Catharine Grau

The terms “earned media” – publicity grown naturally – and “paid media” – attention from paid digital or traditional advertising – are heard frequently in marketing circles. However, “owned media,” the topic of IndyAMA’s October luncheon, and the concept behind inbound marketing and content marketing, is certainly top of mind for marketing professionals. Unlike earned or paid media that rely on distribution by others, owned media is the equivalent of developing a channel that your brand can own through your website, social media channels, and more.

At the October luncheon, Dodge Lile, Raidious, and Lori Phillips, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, shared four straight-forward steps to becoming an inbound magnet. Raidious, a branded content agency, works with The Children’s Museum and other clients to generate owned media through the generation of content, management of distribution, monitoring of audience response, moderating its dialogue, and measuring the performance. For The Children’s Museum this means generating content and discussion that helps it achieve its mission to create extraordinary learning experiences across the arts, sciences, and humanities that have the power to transform the lives of children and families.

While the breakdown of owning a channel is simple and the activities are rather straight-forward, achieving success requires a thoughtful strategy and creative execution. It also requires willingness to measure in order to find opportunities for improvement rather than simply measuring to share success. Dodge and Lori shared the four steps that have been instrumental in growing The Children’s Museum’s engaged audience and, when executed well, are key for any organization to become an inbound magnet:

1. Create a plan: For The Children’s Museum this meant first deciding what was the overall goal: attendance, engagement, memberships, etc. Then determining which audiences would help them to achieve that goal and where to find them. Ultimately it resulted in a plan with measurable goals and the flexibility to adjust as TCM decided what was working and what had the potential for greater effectiveness.

2. Make it come to life: Activating the plan doesn’t necessarily mean developing every piece of content internally. While TCM is lucky to have engaged audiences willing and able to share photos, stories, and videos for them, Lori had to decide what made sense with the overall plan, and what helped them achieve the goal of providing educational content for the family. This has included consistent weekly content like the weekly “Why” question (linking to a blog post sharing an expert’s answer to the question), the use of internal and external experts, the opportunity for members to share their stories, and heavy interaction with the #atTCM across social channels.

(Lori noted that one of the keys to the success of her program has been the willingness to adjust content based on engagement. For instance, the Why questions have evolved over the life of the program to be driven by questions children actually ask rather than information The Children’s Museum wants to share.)

3. Reach your audience: Reaching your audience isn’t as easy as one-size-fits all. Sharing a blog post on Twitter will use a different message than the message on Facebook. And, likely, a completely different message across LinkedIn (see example posts ). It’s not simply a matter of knowing which audience is where and writing to them, you also have to follow the rules of each outlet and adjust your content accordingly. Developing it in multiple ways for multiple audiences, allows you to use of the channels at your disposal.

As marketers know well, social media isn’t free and simply creating content doesn’t mean that someone will read—or even see—it. (Facebook posts by organizations are seen by 1% of the audience, or less.) Consider using paid opportunities to share content through designated channels as well.

4. Measurement of Success: While it may be easy to focus all of your energy on executing a plan, if measurement isn’t involved there’s no way to know whether or not it is successful – or to share that success with organization decision makers. Worse, you’ll be guessing at what works and where the execution may be improved.

Weekly measurement reports are shared with The Children’s Museum to track results. These results include easy dashboard visuals, as well as narratives, accommodating learning styles of every team member. The weekly reports are helpful to understand what’s happening now, however changes to the plan happens as a result of monthly and quarterly discussions. Letting content and programs run their course has been a better indicator of success than the weekly snapshots.

Admittedly, not all of us have the rich, exceedingly visual content that the world’s largest children’s museum has. However, for individual audiences, anyone can be that audience’s Children’s Museum and own their channel by determining what inspires and engages the audience and providing it in a strategic, thoughtful, and creative execution. Following these broad directions and doing so in a manner that fits your brand, audience, and overall goals, Dodge contends that any organization may be an inbound magnet.

View the full Be an Inbound Magnet presentation.

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