TL; DR: In a world where content is king, possessing a credible degree of clout is imperative to building business success. When it’s time to call in the content marketing experts, Influence & Co. assembles a team to meet the unique needs of each client. By creating full-service, industry-tested content distribution and engagement strategies, Influence & Co. ensures that every client’s expertise is showcased before those who need to see it — helping thought leaders build trust and credibility within their industry and expand their audience.
Content marketing is a full-time job for any company serious about building a dedicated audience — and it’s work that too many stressed-out business and marketing leaders are drowning in, according to Influence & Co. Marketing Director Taylor Oster and Director of Content and Social Media Natalie Slyman.
Rather than spending hours attempting to create, publish, and promote content on their own, CEOs should focus their energy on the products and services that make their company a leader in its industry, Taylor said. Instead of worrying about punctuation and spelling, they should leave the content marketing to the pros.
“We can make that process more streamlined,” Taylor said. “Customers will know that they’re getting content published, they’re getting their name out there, and they’re building their thought leadership, but they’re not having to worry about all the aspects of content creation.”
A Holistic Approach to Thought Leadership and Content Distribution
When Influence & Co. first came into existence in 2011, it operated on a much smaller scale than most traditional marketing agencies: a small team of salespeople, account managers, and editors helped clients secure bylined content in leading online publications to build their business clout.
As the landscape began to shift to a content-is-king culture where digital link-building reigned supreme, the company recalibrated its structure and strategies, transitioning to a more holistic approach.
“We now help companies run their blog,” Taylor said. “We help them create white papers, and we coach them on how to create a lead-generation funnel on their site. Thought leadership is still at the core of our business and is still something that we’re really focused on, but it’s not just in those online publications anymore. It’s really everywhere.”
Today, Influence & Co. employs a team for each client — an account strategist, a content strategist, multiple editors, and a publication strategist — to ensure the client builds an audience by creating unique, consistent, and meaningful content.
“We’ve really branched off to become more of a PR firm, where we help identify people who should be writing about client companies, help pitch their stories, and get them published and mentioned in the press,” Taylor said.
It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint: Longevity is Key to Content Marketing
It takes more than one well-placed guest-contributed blog post or press mention to capture attention, Natalie said. Success requires stamina, endurance, and consistency.
“More traditional marketing is about impressing people with advertisements or just sort of putting your brand out there, hoping people come to you if they like what they see,” she said. “Content marketing is about placing the power in the audience’s hands and giving them the tools they need to make educated decisions.”
Thought leaders who seek to earn trust and influence potential customer decisions can use a variety of tools and resources to build an audience in which your messages resonate. Guest-contributed articles and posts cast a wide net and gain a broader readership, Natalie said, but in-house content should have a large impact.
“The whole point is to lead people back to your site, where you have a whole bunch of resources,” she said. “You can provide education for them and hopefully get them engaged within your newsletters and your marketing funnel so that you can continue to nurture them. The more content you have out there, and the more that you’re consistently publishing content, the more you’re going to be seen as a resource, and the more you’ll build possibilities.”
Common Mistakes to Avoid in the Content Marketing Marathon
Perhaps the biggest mistake in the content marketing marathon is to enter the race without a strategy that supports the long haul — from start to finish.
“Going out there and publishing one piece is not going to do much for you,” Taylor said. “It’s all about creating that cohesive strategy and knowing that it’s a long-term play. It’s the same for thought leadership: you’re not going to automatically be a thought leader by publishing one article. You’ve got to publish a lot and really build credibility.”
Instead of reading like an ad or being overly promotional, good content should be educational and strategically aligned to serve audience’s needs by offering helpful and empowering tools or advice. Thought leaders seeking to strengthen their content marketing efforts must be aware of the legwork that goes into a successful campaign, Natalie said. Success is rarely instantaneous.
“A big misconception is that clients expect immediate returns,” she said. “They expect to place an article in one of the bigger, more noted publications and think they’re going to get tons of calls or people coming to their site from just one piece of content. While that would be wonderful and amazing, that’s not how content works.”
In the well-known proverb of the tortoise and the hare, the tortoise wins the marathon by maintaining a slow and steady pace while the rabbit wears himself out by sprinting the first leg of the race. In the digital age, when content can sprint across the web with the click of a mouse, anyone can match the speed of the hare — but it’s the patience and dedication the tortoise exerts to meet her end goal that defines the attributes of a winner.
Influence & Co. Pros Share the Secret to Successful Partnerships
Natalie and Taylor told us that the best client partnerships occur with customers who understand the marathon mindset and are committed to hands-on engagement with the content marketing project.
“Knowledge extraction is a huge part of our process,” Natalie said. “Getting those insights from our thought leaders is really key, so we can make sure that every piece of content we’re creating for them aligns with their direction, what they think on every topic, and their tone — to produce content that is truly unique.”
A common mistake is to disengage from the project once content is delivered, Taylor said. It’s important to keep content fresh, thus keeping audiences returning to the company’s website — another angle where Influence & Co. takes the lead in adapting to meet clients’ changing needs.
“Some of our really longstanding and great clients have given us feedback about where we can grow, and what they would like to be able to see us do for them,” she said. “On the other side, though, it’s about us seeing the potential in what they could be doing, and us making sure that we’re able to do that for them.”