Sociologists define propinquity as the human phenomenon that close proximity (physical or psychological) will greatly increase the likelihood of developing friendships. Friendships are crucial to sales, since we must earn our prospect's trust to move forward with a partnership.

Tom Martin, author of The Invisible Sale, recently gave a presentation that explains how organizations can use propinquity in content marketing to drive more sales. Businesses that do this effectively are able to place a high volume of branded content in strategic positions that develop brand propinquity in your marketplace. In other words, your prospects run into your branded content more often than your competitors.

This increased proximity of branded content increases the probability that your brand will gain favor with your target audience. However, there is one caveat--this brand preference only applies to high quality and helpful content. Bad content in close proximity to your target audience can have the reverse effect.

If your organization is willing to develop high quality content and build strategic PR relationships, then your brand can develop propinquity in your marketplace that will develop lead generation and sales online. Here's how to do it:

Define Your Propinquity (P) Points

The first step to developing propinquity in your marketplace is to define your propinquity points. These can be media outlets, blogs, news aggregators and social networks that are core to your industry. It is also worthwhile to dig deep into your buyer personae and target niche communities or groups of buyers. Tying niche interests together in ways that your competition has not yet discovered can uncover fresh sales opportunities. These niche interests can be discovered through a process called Keyword Mapping.

Keyword Mapping

Discovery requires the ability to truly listen and 'learn your prospect's language' to find keywords that lead to P-points. Dig deep into conversations happening on blogs, forums and social networks. Tools like Experian Hitwise, and others can give great data and insight to help keyword mapping, but the qualitative aspects of the online conversations must be understood to communicate in a way that will be receptive among your target audience. Use these keywords to discover the best P-point opportunities.

Social Listening

Social listening tools give insight into historical and real-time conversations that are happening in your marketplace, and are another great way to discover P-points. Use one of the many free social listening tools to understand the topics and influencers in your industry. Build lists on Twitter to follow these influencers and understand what is important to them. Research the most shared URLs to understand what content is 'sticky' with your target audience. All of these are great ways to discover P-points.

Classify Your P-Points

Divide your P-points into one of two categories: Embassies and Outposts.

Embassies are the high quality niche communities that might not have the largest audience, but most likely have the highest concentration of your buyer personae. This is the best place to drive referral traffic, authoritative branded content endorsements and really increase brand propinquity among your target audience. Put your efforts here first.

The second category is outposts. These are more broad audiences, such as a general news website or social network. These broad audiences are not as targeted as embassies and the lead generation and referral traffic will not be as rich. However, outposts are very effective in scaling digital brand endorsements via audience syndication, which is extremely valuable to SEO objectives. Be sure to mix in a few outposts when placing content on P-points.

Develop Brand Propinquity in Your Marketplace

Content marketing and digital PR is an effective way to drive genuine trust in your marketplace through higher brand propinquity. High quality content on relevant embassies and outposts will drive trust among visitors and search engines alike, which ultimately turn into sales for your business. If you are new to content marketing, then kick-off 2014 with a robust content marketing campaign to develop online leads & sales through high quality brand propinquity.