The Content Path To Credibility

I was recently asked by the good folks over at MarketingProfs to offer my thoughts on the subject of leveraging a content strategy for marketing. Obviously I'm very interested in this subject, considering I've based my entire self-promotion efforts on the approach. So I was only too happy to contribute.

They took my thoughts and put together an awesome interview piece, which you can read here. But in the meantime, I thought I'd share the entirety of the email I provided them in case BeanCast listeners can benefit from these expanded thoughts.

The Dilemma of The Start-Up

One of the disadvantages any startup finds itself saddled with is lack of a track record. Sure, you can point to your past experience elsewhere or even the past experiences of your employees, but essentially you are an unknown quantity.

In starting up The Cool Beans Group, I faced this dilemma. I needed instant credibility for this fledgling marketing consultancy. I needed to establish that I knew what I was talking about. I needed to somehow distinguish the name, without having completed any projects.

Tall order, right?

A Route of Engagement

Now, I could have easily filled my website with photos of my past projects and taken full credit for these efforts created with my past agency-employers. But I hated that option. I did it with a couple projects admittedly, but I'd spent too much time being critical in the past of others who adopted the practice. Plus, I've always been of the mind that an agency's past work tells a client nothing about who they are and what they can do today. It's like reading a history book and calling it cutting edge thinking.

So I took a different route. Instead of looking at the past, I decided that my brand would always be looking at the future. That meant not resting on the laurels of past achievement, and instead filling my brand with a constant stream of new and fresh content. For me that included the start of The BeanCast, a weekly marketing podcast that brings together the smartest minds in marketing to discuss the issues facing the industry. I also started an accompanying blog that focused on best practices for marketers, created short audio clips expressing my opinions on marketing subjects, a best-of show to give people a sampling of the deeper content and even made some video clips to augment the conversations on the blog.

I also went where the marketers were hanging out. I posted on the blogs of others and on the professional magazine web sites. I became a Twitter user and started a Facebook group for the show. I participated in online forums. There's even a Wikipedia page for The BeanCast. And everything is optimized for certain relevant marketing keywords.

The Benefits

The point of all this was three-fold:

First, it established me among the experts. Notice I didn't say "made me an expert." By being seen with the experts in online debate and through my show, I establish that I am an equal with these people. I make them look good and they make me look good in return. And thus I am among the experts and share in their credibility.

Second, it provides context for clients. My content depth has now been built to such a level that there is rarely a discussion or new business pitch conversation that doesn't involve me referencing a particular show or posting. This showcases a depth of thinking and credibility that no past work could prove. It's an amazing tool that over time continues to add value to my business.

Third, it makes me better at my job. Part of credibility is living up to the promise. By constantly engaging in debate on marketing subjects in all these different venues, I avoid stagnating. I am always engaged with the latest best practices, which in turn offers obvious benefits to my clients. The value of this cannot be overstated.

I know not all businesses are alike and copying my strategy exactly won't yield the same results for every organization. But I'd be hard-pressed to name a business that couldn't benefit from a portion of the strategies I'm applying. Having your customers engage with a growing body of content is one of the surest ways to raise the perception that you are expert in your given field, as well as create a path toward ongoing loyalty and advocacy with your brand.

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