From PDF to Topic Microsite: The New Home for Thought-Leading Content

It’s amazing just how ingrained old techniques and old ways of thinking can be.  Especially mine (as my kids often remind me).  But the reason old habits are ingrained is that they work – at least for a long time. Then they begin working less well.  And at some point they don’t work. 

Here’s what I’m getting at: I believe we are on the cusp of seeing the longstanding way in which a subject expert or team of experts and their marketing colleagues produce and market a compelling piece of content become obsolete.  

By that “way,” I mean the process all of us have accepted fully as the only way to create and market thought-leading ideas: first, develop the ideas. Then write them (in a white paper, book, op-ed, presentation and so on).  Then market them (email, seminars, face-to-face meetings, etc.).

It can be a long process.  It's always a sequential process.  But it doesn’t have to be anymore. I'm convinced we've been trained to think this way because of the print publishing process.  You had to get the white paper, book, presentation or other written product absolutely right before you could distribute it because you couldn’t take it back.  What's more, the high cost of publishing and mailing it meant doing it only once.

But the sequential process of developing a point of view, capturing it and then marketing it is antiquated.  It takes too long for one thing.  More important, it doesn’t have to be this way any longer.  Why? Because the Web and social media have changed the game.

How can we do it any differently?  Consider this: Instead of taking weeks with your subject experts to capture their ideas and put them in a document (paper or PDF), create a landing page on your website about the topic at hand. Videotape your experts about the issue and why it’s a big problem for your target audience.  Post a short videoclip on that web page.

Then start a blog where your experts can impart snippets of their expertise on the issue. Soon afterwards, let your target audience know about the blog and the landing page it is on.  Make that landing page even more informative on your topic by adding a section that summarizes and provides links to important articles that journalists have written on the topic. That will also drive your target audience to your web page and keep them returning -- if you continually add new articles, and summarize and post links to them.

And yes – work on that white paper, and publish it on that page (not as a PDF) in Month 2 or 3. By that time, if you have helped your experts blog frequently, collected many useful news articles, conducted polls, and provided other pertinent information on your topic, you may collect dozens or even hundreds of readers to your microsite, people who are now primed to view your white paper.

By doing this, you will have conducted the sequential process in parallel – developing content while marketing it at the same time. Months later, if you’ve continually refreshed your microsite with new content – new white papers, more blog posts, more summaries and links to external articles – and you’ve let the world know about the site (social media can help a lot here), you’ll have a go-to site for executives who want to learn about the topic. That means a much bigger audience that is more interested in your ideas and services.

How many of you are already doing something like this?  Planning to do something like it? Interested in it? Let me know your thoughts and experiences.

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