In the last few years, there’s been a rush by marketers and marketing product creators alike to tell people that it’s gotten a lot easier. Just launch a blog! Post to social media every day! Give people real value and they’ll find you!

It’s a compelling message. If you shift gears from sell, sell, sell to help, help, help, people will find you instead of you having to track them down. And it works. Inbound marketing and content-driven campaigns based on helping people solve problems rather than selling them on features and scarcity is both a cost effective and efficient way to improve sales in most industries.

But what the excited marketing crowd doesn’t always mention is that creating the content, building the blog, and posting to the major social media channels is not enough on its own. In fact, by itself, content production can be a black hole into which you throw your marketing budget. Without promotion of that content, it won’t do a whole heck of a lot unless you get lucky. And the last thing you want as a business owner is to rely on luck.

So once you get past what seems like the hard part – actually sitting down and writing all that content or hiring someone to do it at exorbitant expense – how do you get people to read it, click, and interact with it so you can get your money’s worth out of it?

The Three Fundamentals of Content Promotion

When it comes to inbound marketing, a lot of the most effective tactics come back to things you’ve been doing for years. The difference now is that instead of publishing an ad that touts the newest features of your software, you’re writing an article about software selection and publishing ads to promote that article. It’s only a slight paradigm shift, but it trips up a lot of people.

Here are three fundamentals of content promotion for an inbound campaign and why they differ so much from what you may already be doing:

  1. Where Is Your Audience? – Your audience is different from most other companies. So you need to evaluate target personas and determine exactly where they spend time, what type of content they consume, and then focus your energies there. Why invest time and money in Facebook as a software company targeting accountants if your target audience spends no time on Facebook during work hours?
  2. Where are Your Influencers? – Every industry has a number of key influencers. These are the men and women who know their stuff inside and out and speak out on it. They are the speakers at your industry conferences, the by-lines on industry think pieces, and the people whose books you have on your shelves. Find them and do your best to engage with them. By engaging with people who the industry respects, you can grow your audience as they help to share your content.
  3. Are You Distributing? – Finally, there is the very real, somewhat tedious, and incredibly effective process of distributing content. A brilliant blog post remains anonymous until people can actually find it, and Google won’t help unless there are other sites linking to it and readers engaging with it. Create a list of viable channels through which to syndicate your content, blogs where you can ask for links, and people who can share on your behalf. This is a time consuming process – usually about twice as long per piece as it takes to produce that piece. Budget for it in advance.

Content marketing isn’t quite as easy as some make it out to be. But here’s the good part – where you can rest easier to some degree. 

Once you’ve done the three things above – identified your audience, thought leaders, competitors, and distribution channels – you can create a system to automate a lot of this. A good promotion checklist with a list of everything that needs to be done as soon as a new blog post goes up, for example, can be executed by a marketing coordinator or intern instead of a high priced marketing agency or the writer.

The key is to take the necessary time to build out the information you need, build a pipeline for promoting your content, and then ensure you do it every single time. Only then will you start to see maximum return on your content marketing investment