Article Marketing – Securing Your Content Marketing Beachhead Using Cannon Fodder And Special Forces

[Note for readers: This is the last post in a three-part series on how content marketing (particularly article writing) can play a strategic role in your online sales campaigns.

Part 1 is here: Invasion! Your Customers Are Coming!

Part 2 here: Some Email Landing Craft Won’t Make It]

In this post you’ll discover more about how marketers drive targeted traffic to an offer or landing page by using articles. (Press releases and blogging will get their own posts, as this one is already too long!)

These three content marketing formats act as the ‘silent reconnaissance’ pathfinders of an online marketing strategy by encouraging visitors to come closer and check out what’s been stashed away in the digital command post (i.e. those web pages you want them to see.)

Staying with the military metaphors for a while, it’s clear that some marketers have recruited (in many cases, “press ganged” would be a more appropriate phrase) two types of articles into their line up. These are:

  1. Cannon Fodder (commodity articles)
  2. Special Forces (premium articles)

1. Cannon Fodder Articles

Individually, these types of articles may have very limited firepower and range but collectively they add up to a formidable and automated traffic-referring force over time.

One well-known approach is to write (or outsource the writing of) a continuous stream of articles which, although usually readable to humans, are mainly for the search engine spiders to find and follow the keyword links back to specific (and related) pages on your own site.

This continues to work because Google and the other search engines still take into consideration the number and type of links in their index ranking algorithms – although, it should be pointed out, the details of these algorithms are as secret as the Coca Cola formula, and a lot more complex!

Alas, the problem with cannon fodder material is that lots of people are doing it.

And a sizable minority abuse the process by publishing unreadable garbage. This junk is often derived from legitimate articles and ‘spun’ in software so that multiple variants of the original article are produced.

“Article spinning! For what purpose?”, you might be thinking.

The perceived wisdom among some marketers is that Google ‘penalizes’ articles if they are distributed across multiple websites – the so-called “duplicate content” filter.

I guess it’s never crossed their minds how do the big news media sites survive unscathed with all that syndicated content they publish each day?

Anyhow, the main point is that well-written and SEO-aware content articles are out there competing for ‘link attention’ from the search engines in a sea of ever-replicating garbage.

2. Special Forces Articles – ‘Who Dares Writes’

Here’s where a premium article writing approach can come into its own simply by the exclusivity gained from having your work published on authority sites.

Of course, this is easier said than done and definitely a lot harder than churning out ‘content canon fodder.’ In many cases these articles will be of print magazine quality and are probably written by a professional freelance writer.

Getting published online requires persistence and patience in finding important and high traffic web sites that will accept them.

Do whatever you can to get noticed by these site owners in a positive sense. A good way to do this is to show genuine interest in their site by commenting on their blog, following their Tweets (and tweeting with them) and, once known, offering to guest write some posts or articles.

I definitely do NOT recommend that you fake an interest in what they’re doing because this will almost certainly backfire on you when you least expect it – a case of believing and drowning in your own hype is the probable outcome.


Most B2B information technology companies are unlikely to get sucked into the quagmire of writing and publishing poor quality ‘cannon fodder articles.’

They’ve invested too much in building a reputation for useful and top class content to have it trashed (probably by their competitors!) with GIGO content.

Namely, ‘Garbage-In-Garbage-Out’.

Much better to focus on the problems their prospects and customers – real, live human beings – want to know more about solving. That’s why a sustained strategy of publishing high quality content over time can deliver great results – leading to more click throughs, more signups and more customers.

Could you see yourself benefiting from a content marketing strategy that makes sense for your information technology business?

If ‘yes’, then get in contact today and we’ll pull up a couple of deck chairs and put a plan in place for you over a cool digital drink or two of ideas and brainstorming!

– Mark McClure

PS – Oct 2011 Update:
I now specialize in writing b2b case studies and white papers for clients in the computer networking industry. You can gain extra mileage from these marketing pieces by converting them into articles and blog posts. Contact me for details.

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About the Author

Author: Mark McClure – A freelance b2b case study and white paper writer to the computer networking industry. Based in Tokyo, Japan. About the ‘Samurai Writer’.

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