I’ve struggled a lot lately with how to effectively promote online content. This blog aside (except that I sometimes use it as an experimental proving ground for the work stuff), the online toolbox of resources for my industry just isn’t getting much attention. And as part of my 9-5 job, I can’t just put it out there and hope for the best. Time has proven that an if-you-write-it-they-will-come strategy is more effective in someone else’s field of dreams.

The way I see it, I have a couple of big hurdles to overcome. First, there’s just so much content out there that it’s hard for anyone–especially novice users of the medium–to get to the really good stuff. (I define really good stuff, by the way, as the information that is relevant. What’s good for me, for example, may not be good for you.) Second, my industry boasts a lot of so-called novice users; whether they’re slow adopters of electronic technology or they just don’t have time because they’re in the field all day, these guys don’t spend a lot of time on the computer. Don’t get me wrong, I know some really savvy users in this business, but most of these guys spend their time operating complicated drill rigs and keeping people in water, not surfing the internet.

It would be easy to just give up, but I can’t. The industry won’t always be this way, and I can already see shifts in the demographic of the audience, slowly but surely. Besides that, we’re putting out a lot of good stuff that can really help. I know it can help, because we’re answering questions people ask at trade shows, on our hotline, on customer visits. We’re not just making this stuff up.

So back to the issue at hand: how to get people to read. I think it comes down to these things which, when I think about them, really just represent sound marketing principles, regardless of whether the medium is electronic or traditional.

  1. Make it worthwhile. If the content doesn’t live up to the hype, people won’t come back.
  2. Put it someplace where the right people–your desired audience–will see it. Actually, put it in LOTS of places where your audience will see it.
  3. Get your own people to talk about it. This works best if they can use it as a resource of their own.
  4. Get your customers (and theirs) to talk about it. (To do this, you have to nail #1.)
  5. Keep at it. Sometimes it takes awhile.

Ultimately, if the content is good, the real issue is making sure people know that it exists and where to find it. Tell them, over and over. It usually takes several “hits” to make it stick. The hardest part is not giving up. When other people start talking about it, you’ll know you’re on your way.

Okay, self-directed pep talk over. I’ve got some promotion to do.

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