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How to Use a ‘Big Rock’ Content Marketing Strategy

We know that content is king—but what kind of content? 

People gravitate to brands that offer something new or different. According to a BuzzSumo study, original research is one of the best ways to drive search traffic and social sharing. 

When you produce content that people want to consume and share, you build your brand’s reputation as a thought leader—and you may see the impact on your bottom line. That’s a marketer’s dream.

But how do you generate, present, and leverage something new and original to your business? One way is with a “big rock” content marketing strategy.

Big rock content is a large piece of content, like an ebook, webinar, or long-form guide, that you can then break into additional pieces and remarket in other ways. For instance, if your business produced an ebook called “The Definitive Guide to Selling Socks Online,” you may break the chapters down into YouTube videos and infographics or create a separate but connected series of blog posts about the differences between selling different types of socks.

Illustration by Matthew Speiser/Fundera

Yes, that’s a silly example, but big rock content is an excellent way to create content that lasts and keeps on giving. Creating a big rock content marketing strategy takes some work, but the ROI is well worth the trouble.

Here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Identify Your Rock

Your big rock content should be substantial enough to build an entire marketing ecosystem around. NewsCred imagines the big rock as a Thanksgiving turkey (not to mix metaphors) from which you can take slices to make sandwiches over the following week. It’s big enough to produce leftovers for the whole family, but it comes out of the oven fresh and hot:

(Image Source: NewsCred)

This tentpole piece should emphasize something new.

Whether an ebook, report, white paper, or something else entirely is up to you, but your central content asset should offer something that you’ve never given your audience before. Giuseppe Caltabiano, Head of Content Strategy at Contently, points to Marketo’s definitive guide as a great example.

Marketo created a series of ebooks, each about 100 pages. Out of each book, they carved 15 blogs, two infographics, two webinars, two videos, two SlideShare presentations, some cheat sheets, and more. That’s a ton of content, all of which will reach different people at different points in the sales funnel.

Gather your team and brainstorm a list of ideas from all corners of the company — sales, marketing, IT, product, etc. Some things your big rock might cover:

  • A major industry topic that your company is an expert in.
  • An SEO opportunity.
  • An upcoming event you wish to promote.

Step 2: Establish Goals

You’ve got your big rock, but what, specifically, do you want to accomplish? As with any project, you should establish clear, quantifiable goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) for a big rock campaign. Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals and determine the metrics you’ll use to gauge success.

Step 3: Set Your Timeframe and Budget

Your goals, in turn, will help dictate your timeframe and budget for this project. Do you want to double traffic on your company blog by next month? Next year? Think realistically about how long it will take and what it will cost to achieve your objectives.

Consider the larger picture around this marketing campaign, too. Will you have to hire somebody to manage paid spend behind this campaign? How does this campaign fit within your company’s other major initiatives and overall mission? If you base your big rock around an event, for instance, you’re obviously on a time crunch, but you also know exactly how long you’ll need to allocate resources to this project.

After the launch, your KPIs should indicate if your timeframe and budget were realistic.

Step 4: Plan Your Launch

Once you’ve set your goals and budget, come up with a distribution plan. Will you add a link to your big rock under every additional piece of content you produce? Create a dedicated email campaign? Figure out exactly how you want to introduce your big rock to the world and start brainstorming ideas for those additional pieces of content.

Here’s an example of how to start letting visitors know that you have a mighty piece of content for them—in this case, using in-page pop-ups

(Image Source: PhotoWorkout)

A great big rock content marketing strategy is an omnichannel one—integrating email, social, SEM, in-person, and any other marketing channels your business uses. If your brand is present somewhere, use that platform to promote your rock. 

Step 5: Start Slicing

While you and your team create the big rock, you should also parse out additional pieces of content. You don’t need to create them right away, but by the time you’re ready to launch, you should have a comprehensive list of potentially related blogs, videos, infographics, etc. that you can use across your marketing ecosystem.

Begin scheduling these pieces of content before you launch so you have a clear vision of how and when you’ll retarget back to your big rock. If you need to create evergreen content, acquire licensing, produce multimedia content, or anything else related to the project. Plan out how you’ll accomplish these objectives before the launch. If you want to write a new blog each month connecting back to the big rock, don’t worry about writing that content now—but incorporate the content on your schedule, so it’s on your radar.

No two big rock content strategies will be the same. That’s part of the fun: Once you’ve created your big rock, you’ll have a unique implementation and plan for incorporating it into your overall business strategy. This guide, however, should serve as your jumping-off point.

Matthew Speiser is a staff writer at Fundera, a marketplace for small business financial solutions such as small business loans. Matthew specializes in merchant services and also writes extensively on marketing, ecommerce, payroll, and HR solutions.

Last modified:  February 20th, 2020