In my last column, I wrote about creating link bait with compelling content. This time, I'll talk more about promoting your content and creating the buzz. As in the brick-and-mortar world, just because you build something amazing, it doesn't mean people will come.
Having a background in brick-and-mortar retail, I found one of the most effective methods to increase sales and gain new customers was to get the right people to talk about the products. Often, this involved existing customers or people of influence I could utilize as brand advocates.
The idea was to gain the attention and trust of people who could start the conversation with prospective new customers. The same holds true for promoting content for links.
Below are seven ways to promote content while stimulating conversation. Some are focused on your most important brand advocates – your current customers. Other methods are about getting the attention of influential and trusted individuals who can help spread the word.
1. Hire a Consultant with Influence
From the start of the project, hire a consultant or company that shows off and promotes its creative projects. Examples of this could range from cartoonists to designers to ad agencies. Getting them involved in your content creation will ensure your project gets promoted on the consultant's Web site, blog, column or newsletter, creating word-of-mouth (WOM). The added benefit is you can use the consultant's name and reputation in your press releases and other promotional activities. This will draw more attention and credibility to your project.
2. Mailing List – Email and Postal
Send an email or direct mail to people on your mailing list letting them know about your new content. One never knows whom your current customers have connections with. It could be a major publication, blog, or even Web site they may manage. To increase the results, offer an incentive enticing people to view the content. One way to persuade people is with a discount coupon code.
Hilarious Gardening Cartoons
"Save 20% Off Your Next Order"
Coupon Code: www.example.com/Cartoons
3. Tagline All Communication
Add a tagline promoting your new content on all external communications. This includes emails, letters, packages, packing slips, invoices, faxes and newsletters. Get more creative by having stickers printed and placed on all shipments.
Offer to sponsor a worthy cause in your industry, or in an area of interest to your customers. This is a great way to give back and gain great public exposure at the same time. Plus, your site may even get initial links from the beneficiary. Keep in mind the goal is to get the most exposure as possible. A little extra publicity can often be easily negotiated with most non-profits or local groups.
5. Targeted Banners
Purchase online advertising space on niche Web sites to help spread the word. The more targeted the audience, the higher likelihood it will lead to links and, of course, direct sales. Such sites can range from a community-based site for your industry to a topical blog with high readership. The idea is to promote your content to people who are already interested in the topic and will promote it to like-minded people.
6. Traditional Media
Make contact with people in traditional media such as newspapers, business journals, radio, and television. Depending on your particular business type this could range from national outlets to industry journals to local media. While a traditional press release will work, an introduction from a colleague or friend will go a long way toward gaining attention. Also consider hiring a public relations firm. These firms already have established relationships with people in the media.
7. Solicit Advice from Experts
During the creation process, or afterward, seek out advice, input, or reviews from influential people in your industry. This could range from journalists focused on your industry to college professors. The idea is to flatter them by asking for their input while raising their awareness of the project at the same time. If your content is noteworthy and impressive, they will naturally promote it.
These are just a few ways to promote your content to increase links and exposure. While the goal is to use these methods for content promotions, some methods will provide initial links. If your site is well established, those few links could help raise your rankings into the top ten for your new content. These high rankings will help drive traffic and exposure, thereby increasing the results of your campaign.