I began my fitness journey the same way many leaders begin content marketing: with a freelancer. I paid a low cost for the occasional workout plan, and it worked for a while. But when it was time to get serious about my goals, I needed more.
Although the interwebs are teeming with resources on everything from meal prep advice to building the perfect blog post, I'm not a certified nutritionist, and I couldn't build (and execute) a plan on my own. When companies get real about content, I see the same thing. Surely with a few freelance writers and a makeshift editorial calendar, your team can tackle this, right?
But one does not simply "write an article for Inc." and expect it to "go viral" and achieve all your goals. That's the equivalent of me telling my trainer that I'd like to be at 10 percent body fat but also eat tacos exclusively and never do cardio.
Wouldn't we all?
5 Principles to Achieve Your #Goals
Whether it's an internal team or an outsourced one, your company needs an expert behind it to help you truly execute effective content. That is, you need a content personal trainer — and that's where Influence & Co. comes in.
Here's how a content personal trainer can help you get started, push you when you need it, and meet your goals by your next weigh-in:
1. Practice proper form.
American powerlifter Louie Simmons famously said, "Don't have $100 shoes and a 10-cent squat," meaning don't invest in the aesthetic and skimp out on the technique. In the gym, rounding your back while attempting a deadlift could get you seriously injured; in content, cranking out a haphazard article with promotional links and submitting it to Forbes could get you seriously rejected.
Your content trainer cares about the technique: publication guidelines, word count, grammar, proper backlinks, SEO, and editorial relationships. Your trainer is there to ensure your form sets you up for long-term success.
Securing a placement in a major publication or appearing on the front page of Google for your keywords is exciting, but it doesn't happen overnight (and neither does bench-pressing your body weight). You need to log high-quality bylined articles, legitimate and unique takeaways, and a strong social media presence over time. Let your content team help you begin working the muscles you need in order to handle the heavy weights the right way.
When I'm training for a fitness competition, my coach provides me with 16 weeks' worth of nutrition and workout plans. In some sections, I'm executing intense cardio and have a high carb count; closer to the competition, I'm leaning out and isolating muscle groups with specific workouts.
Your content team does the same. Strategists know what types of content you need to create, publish, and distribute at various times based on what you want to accomplish. They select off-site opportunities, blog content, gated content projects, and nurture efforts like newsletters to align your tactics and metrics with your marketing goals.
For example, a promotional mention of your company in a far-reaching publication during a product launch can give you a boost in visibility, SEO, and referral traffic. To accomplish your lead generation goals, though, you'll need something totally different: gated content that captures leads to get them on the phone with your sales team.
The same way my coach drafts a schedule for my entire training season, we compose content blueprints that break down audience, goals, topics, and tactics to provide direction for each client to achieve the specific goals they want.
3. Challenge yourself.
Leg days are the Ross Geller of workouts: No one likes them, but they're vital to the plot. If I were working out on my own, I'd likely pick the weights that were most comfortable, and I'd see zero #gains. Having a content team in your corner means having someone you can trust actually push you at each stage of your journey:
- Beginner: At Influence & Co, we've worked with clients who are convinced they don't have much to contribute to the conversations in their industries or paralyzed by a perceived inability to write. Having a team that's a step removed from you and your company allows for unbiased, informed content decisions. It means you've got experts there to push you to take a stance in your space, and you've got a team to help you write and polish those ideas for publication.
- Intermediate: You also have a team dedicated to securing opportunities you may have once thought were out of reach. We've had clients begin their relationships with us by saying, "We'd love to be in Entrepreneur someday, but we know we're not writing at that caliber yet." After diligently following our suggested strategy for niche publications, we built our way up and secured them regular columns in their dream publications.
- Profesh: We also engage with clients after they've hit a plateau in their marketing. While I've been competing for years and am certified as a trainer myself, I still need an outside perspective to create new workouts that are going to challenge my muscles and shake things up. You might have years of marketing experience, but it's worth having a team dedicated to looking at a stale strategy from new angles.
The reason people don't work out or execute on content isn't necessarily because they lack the ability; it's because they can't make the time.
The only reason I make it to the gym and eat clean is because I pay someone to develop the plans so I don't have to think about it. A content team is focused on the same thing: How do we create the best possible content to save our clients time and reach their goals?
Your content team eats, sleeps, and breathes trending topics in your space, what's resonating with your desired audience, the Oxford comma — all so you can go on keeping your own clients happy. Unlike an internal team, your trainers aren't pulled in a million different directions. We have the time and know-how to research, plan, and guide you through exactly what you need to focus on.
A good content team understands your schedule and maximizes your time together. It interviews your thought leaders while they're in transit between meetings because that's the only time they have available this week. It develops an editorial workflow that saves you time in review. It gives you the tools and coaching you need to get the most out of your content.
Content is our lifestyle. We don't expect it to be your top priority, which is why we make it ours.
5. Hold yourself accountable.
Unfortunately, life doesn't accommodate my workout goals. Someone always wants to grab drinks; a co-worker brings donuts to the office; I have a long day and don't make it to the gym.
My trainer can send me workouts and meal plans all day, but she can't make me go to the gym or choose turkey over a juicy burger. In the same way, your content team can help you create incredible content, but it can't make you use it in your social media channels, marketing newsletters, or speaking engagement applications.
It would be wonderful if content fell from the sky and generated, nurtured, and closed all your leads while you were in that budget meeting, but sadly, that technology doesn't exist yet. A content team holds you to a set strategy and reminds you of your goals.
So while you might love the idea of writing a company culture piece this month, your last tech trend listicle got incredible engagement, and your content team knows you need to focus on that subject to see those results again. Content isn't always the sexiest part of your marketing mix, but just like my egg white omelettes, it provides fuel and longevity. A team whose sole focus is content is going to keep you on track and hold you to the goals you set while pushing through the lulls.
Flex Your Content Muscles
Now that you know the content principles to train by, it's time to start flexing. Here's a nifty graphic that indicates your various "content muscles" and how each contributes to your strategy:
Personal trainers and content marketers aren't so different. We both have clients who wanted results yesterday even though the strategy is long term. We're both trying to convince our audience that this small move — be it a burpee or a blog post — plays an important part in a larger strategy.
I face this daily conundrum in which I want to have a six pack but also very much want pizza, and you want the same thing — not the six pack but a flourishing content marketing strategy (maybe the abs, too, IDK your life). Trust your content team to work alongside your marketing efforts and help you build and execute a strategy that'll make all the other companies in your space go, "Damn, their content marketing is yoked."