Lots of smart people have tackled this question. THIS WILL BE DULL AND REPETITIVE FOR ADVANCED USERS, but I’ve been asked about it twice in the last 48 hours, so here are my thoughts in as succinct a form as possible.
1. Define Your Business Objectives
This has been well covered to the point of cliche, but start by figuring out what, exactly, you want to accomplish.
2. Choose Your Target Audience
Next figure out who you need to be talking to in order to achieve those objectives. Get someone specific in your mind, a real person as opposed to just a demographic segment.
3. Identify Your Destination Content
David Meerman Scott has covered this extensively, and his book is a great intro to this approach. But if I had to explain it to a 12-year old in an elevator, I’d say this boils down to sorting out the intersection between the information you have, and information the target you identified above really wants.
The operative words here are really wants. Not brochure-ware, not marketing materials that promote rather than inform. Not content they might tolerate if locked in a dentist office waiting room for 24 hours with nothing but it on a Kindle. Ideally this is information they will actually search for in Google at just the time you want them to become aware of you. It doesn’t always work that way, but that’s the goal.
Also – It’s important to start with a strategy for content here, and let the tactics follow. Don’t worry about podcasts vs. YouTube, blogging vs. vlogging, creating an eBook vs. hosting a Webinar. All of those things and more (Peter Kim’s comprehensive list, with case studies for each) are great, but choose from among them come AFTER you’ve sorted out the point-of-view you have to share with the world.
4. Set Up Your Inbound Promotion
Having identified that, you need to turn your attention to getting the word out that these things exist. For that there are two tracks…
4a. SRM (Social Relationship Management)
Here again, thinkers of great thoughts have covered this extensively. The most accessible communication of this concept I’ve come across is Perry Belcher’s awesome video about how smart people use social networking to advance thier business interests. Bottom line: Tools like Twitter and facebook are like cocktail parties. Be genuine, get to know people, have fun, and hand out your business card when and where it’s appropriate to do so. The bigger you make the resultant circle of “friends,” the more likely the people who need what you have to sell will find thier way to you.
4b. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Some people think a single provider can handle both of these activities, but others don’t. I am in the latter camp.
5. Execute Like A Mofo
Now go do it. If you’re even close on the above, and really focus on producing great content for the people you want to find you, then promoting it by investing in your network and in basic SEO, you’re going to be fine.
Listen carefully, do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t.
That’s it. Honest.
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