It hit me last night while I was brushing my teeth.
It slapped me in the face. That big, fat lie that is being told over and over again in inbound marketing circles:
CREATING content attracts strangers to your website
To be precise: creating unique, buyer-persona targeted amazing quality content will attract interested searchers to your website and eventually turn them into leads.
Okay, maybe it is not a direct lie, but a very convenient omission of a key fact: content creating is not content marketing.
For example, HubSpot's definition of Inbound Marketing states:
By creating content specifically designed to appeal to your dream customers, inbound attracts qualified prospects to your business and keeps them coming back for more. [...] and you share that content far and wide. - HubSpot
This makes it sound so easy, right?
I will get tons of traffic to my new website if I am creating awesome buyer persona targeted content. I will share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and make my mom share it too. Done.
Wait, not so fast.
But Content Creation Is Just The Tip Of The Iceberg
Unless you have a well-established website and a huge loyal audience or you are dealing with fabric addicts (building up a following for Sew Adorable Fabrics, my creative sidekick, was so much fun since quilters and sewers love fabric and cannot get enough of it, believe me I know what I am talking about, ahem... back to the topic.)
Now, this is all nice ... but creating awesome content and sharing it around is not enough.
Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that HubSpot is lying. I know the company is a big supporter of doing things right and SEO as well as content marketing are an integral part of Inbound Marketing.
But the way it is presented in many blog posts, web pages, infographics, slideshares and presentations is that creating awesome content and sharing it on social media is all you have to do.
Content Marketing Takes A Lot of Hard Work & Patience
Content is like a plant. You need to evaluate the soil, the moisture, the sun, temperature, etc. To thrive it needs nutritious soil, plenty (or little) of sun, water and air. Amazing content will not thrive if it sits on brand-new website with no back links, and is being shared on average with 22 1/2 social media followers.
True eventually, Google and people will catch on. But hope it never a good strategy.
You need to market your content.
And here is how you do it.
#1 Define & Build Your Audience
Think about who should read and share your content?
You can go through the buyer persona definition and research process to accomplish that. What is their problem that they are trying to solve? Are they researching, comparing or deciding on a solution?
#2 Get Great Multipliers In Your Boat
Then think about who could act as a multiplier for you. Seek out bloggers, social media power users, journalists, and others with the audience you’re looking for.
If you are still taking baby steps don't approach the big gorillas, but stick with similar minded buddies who you are sharing an audience with. For Sew Adorable Fabrics, just to stay with the example, other quilters, pattern makers and sewists love to blog, share, host linkie parties and giveaways. Reach out and offer to run a giveaway together with them or collaborate on contests to grow each other's audience.
#3 Build Lasting Relationships
It is very important to cultivate those relationships over time to build up rapport. Stay in touch, provide value and engage with your audience on social media. Make sure you reply to comments on your website. Use email marketing to keep a conversation with your subscribers.
#4 Create Awesome Content
Create outstanding content. Include visuals, infographics, videos, images, slide shares, sub-headers and bullet points. Make it easily shareable by including social media sharing buttons. Write a great headline and include a meta title and meta description.
#5 Reach Out
Share your absolutely best content with your relevant multipliers and ask them to in a personal well-written email. They might want to share it with their audiences as everyone is always looking for great content to share and ask them for a back link. Find outdated content and ask the owners of the sites that link to that content to consider using your content instead as it is better, more up-to-date and longer.
#6 Follow Up & Analyze
Every week or month - depending on how much content you write, check back and see who shared it, who opened your email but did not respond or link back to you. What was the most shared, most talked about content this month? What did not work so well? Which blog posts converted into organic leads? And which got a lot of traffic but no leads?
Image Credit: Canva, used under license.