I know a lot of content marketing experts.
Most of them run (or work on) content marketing programs for companies and collect a paycheck for their efforts. Some focus on speaking or hosting events. Many work for software companies in the space. Some specialize in web development, search, social media, or research. A few sell online training programs. A few others own, run or work for digital agencies.
I probably haven’t covered all of their roles, but my point is this:
Though the experts I know have the know-how required to help get content marketing programs cranking, they’re not available to you. They’re not consultants.
The few I know that are consultants are hired by large enterprises, through large consultancies, largely to assess and refine strategic initiatives.
I’m none of the above.
I’m an independent content marketing consultant focused on helping small and mid-sized business—those that are getting started or struggling with content marketing—realize the benefits of the booming discipline.
Given the immense demand for building and practicing content marketing programs, I suspect I’ll soon be joined by a lot people that call themselves consultants. Today, I can honestly say, I don’t know anyone that does what I’m doing.
In recent months, almost daily, I’m asked, “What can you do for me as a content marketing consultant?” I want to answer the question—honestly—and thoroughly. It’s incumbent on content marketers to answer questions from prospects and customers.
So, fair warning: if you’re to continue with this post, you’ll have to tolerate my supreme subjectivity. I don’t mean to be writing an ad or brochure here, but I’m going to tell you—in detail—what I do for clients as a content marketing consultant (and can do for you, if you believe my services address your current needs).
I focus on four areas.
- Teach content marketing tactics
- Assess content marketing efforts
- Plan content marketing programs to support inbound marketing initiatives
- Execute content marketing and related online marketing programs to generate qualified leads
I’ll expand on each. Grab a beverage.
The teaching part of content marketing consulting
A lot of companies want to become self-sufficient or more self-sufficient than they are in content marketing. I teach them how. I’ve found the need extends into related disciplines too, especially social media.
You might call it training and it comes in a variety of forms, such as:
- One-on-one consultations
- How to materials
I relish these tasks. I should have saw it coming. When I was a pup working in the advertising agency business, I spoke a few times to college students. I loved it.
I now find myself gladly taking requests to create teaching programs for specific groups on specific topics. Generally, the training focuses on the following topics:
- How inbound marketing works and where content fits in
- Writing for the web
- Email marketing
- Social media, especially Twitter and LinkedIn
The assessment part of content marketing consulting
Most clients are doing some form of content marketing. They often fall short of creating strategic content developed to educate prospects, but they have websites and often, white papers, collateral, case studies, presentations and such.
If they have no website, or a badly outdated website, the assessment is quite simple and we forge a plan to start there. Sometimes the obvious void is a blog, which provides another logical starting point.
However, for companies that are plodding along with websites and blogs, but seeing little to no results, the assessment process is broader and deeper in scope. The assessments aim to draw conclusions regarding:
- The existence (or lack of) various components
- The quality of the components
- The integration of the components
- The effectiveness of the components
What might these components be? The list can be long and not all will apply universally, however, to help you wrap your head around the audit that’s critical to assessing components of a content marketing program, I’ll list the most common ones:
- Guest blogging
- Landing pages
- Email marketing
- Video and podcasts
- Webinars and events
- Social media
I should add a thorough assessment also focuses on reviewing processes and resources, including
- Staff roles and responsibilities
- Vendors and contractors
- Strengths and weaknesses
- Marketing and sales cycles
- Analytical tools and know-how
- Content management systems (CMS)
- Collaboration platforms and processes
- Marketing automation platforms
- Search strategies
- Influencer marketing programs
- Public relations and outreach
The planning part of content marketing consulting
Perhaps the planning part should be the easiest to describe, but it’s actually the hardest. I tell you this because generally gears begin to turn along the way. The net of what I’m saying is it’s uncommon that a lengthy macro-plan is documented.
It can be, but more often, a series of micro-plans take shape… a new website is developed… a blog… a series of eBooks or slide decks, etc. Much of the strategy takes the form of conversation and consultation instead of strategy documents. The strategy documents that are developed tend to apply to specific projects, such as a creative platform for a new website or an editorial calendar for a blog
I’m not saying I can’t deliver a master plan, but I’m conceding the need for action often supersedes it. I don’t fight it. In fact, I believe master plans are a dying breed. Marketing’s more dynamic than ever. In digital, everything’s experimental, fluid, and easily changed.
The most productive companies act, assess, and refine perpetually. Therefore, clients understand the need to get going, because while you’re polishing plans the competition may race right by you.
You’ve probably read about “lean marketing.” It’s how things are being done. The idea is to fail fast. That may not sound real appealing, but the goal is to avoid failing slowly because it’s the painfully expensive alternative.
Macro or micro, the content marketing plans I help you with generally address:
- Defining objectives
- Creating customer personas
- Defining the sales cycle and aligning content for its key phases
- Auditing the market including competitors, trends and influencers
- Identifying the most important media
- Developing a clear and concise value proposition
- Developing the brand’s personality
- Determining key performance indicators
- Gathering and using “social proof”
- Blog strategies
- Lead capture
- Lead nurturing
- Increasing reach by expanding your digital footprint
The execution part of content marketing consulting (which really isn’t consulting)
Executing content marketing programs calls on the role I’ve played for 25 years. I do the following:
- Write original content
- Edit existing content
- Design eBooks and SlideShare presentations
- Research topics
- Assemble creative and editorial teams
Though I can’t claim to have done all things digital for 25 years, the execution part of programs I manage now commonly include:
- Setting up email marketing programs
- Optimizing website and blogs for search
- Securing guest blogging opportunities
- Assisting with social media marketing
- Helping put marketing automation tools in place
- Analyzing metrics
That’s it, almost
This is the role of content marketing consultant, or at least it’s my role. As you can see, there’s a lot to it. I covered most of what I do, but it’s a dynamic field and things change fast, so I try to be flexible and responsive.
My dedication to keeping up with what’s going on in the field of content marketing, or online marketing at large, benefits my clients. To do so, I:
- Read a massive variety of blogs
- Devour marketing books
- Attend numerous new media conferences
- Confer with the top practitioners in the business
- Develop strategic relationships with marketing leaders
- Seek emerging talent
- Ask questions, listen and learn
You did a good bit of reading just now. Perhaps you’ve made an important decision.
You don’t need a content marketing consultant.
Fair enough. It’s not for everybody. Content marketing requires a long-term commitment. If you’re investing in traditional media, you’re bound to lower your marketing costs over time, but content marketing is far from free.
You do need a content marketing consultant.
Good for you. You can’t go it alone. Even if you have strong grasp of content marketing, you’ll benefit from the objectivity I can bring and become more strategic and productive when we collaborate.
You want to know even more.
I’m glad to help. Though I’m very busy in my content marketing consultant capacity, I’m open to taking on new clients when we have a good fit. To assess this, I offer a free 30-minute consultation. We won’t map out a plan of attack in such a short time, we will determine if the type of consulting I can offer you will help grow your business.
I have the perfect starting point for you too.
I have created two resources I’m confident will help you get started.
The Plan—This is an eBook that provides a general introduction to the many elements of online marketing and explains how they fit together in successful plans.
The Planner—This is an interactive strategic workbook, the most comprehensive one of it’s kind. You can help yourself to it and use it free or hire me to assist you with it. When it’s complete, we’ll be ready to get started.
I knew you’d ask. What are the consulting fees? How much will I need to budget? What are the deliverables? How long will it take to get rolling? To get results? To cover the costs and reap a sizable ROI?
For now, we’ll need to hash these things out in conversation. However, I want to tackle these questions to the degree I can in another post. So stay tuned for that one.
Download these free resources:
The Planner is offered as an interactive tool here, a strategic workbook you fill out to get started with content marketing.