By Pam Kozelka published October 13, 2011

Content Marketers: Leverage Those Relationships!

One of the thousands of things we learned at Content Marketing World is that people still want (or you could even say need) in-person events. The event itself took the efforts of 100 people, from the staff to speakers to the event team and sponsors. The response from so many of you on the success of the event has been  overwhelming and has prompted many questions on how we managed to put it all together.

One specific question that kept coming up was, “How did you get the word out there?”  Well, I can tell you, a great deal of our success can be attributed to the content produced on the Content Marketing Institute, as well as on Joe Pulizzi’s blog, CCO magazine, and on our social media platforms. But the biggest asset we had was recognizing how important it was to leverage our relationships.

What does that mean, really? You need to ask! You may see this a lot on Facebook — a friend asking if any of their friends has something they need, knows some key information or, most importantly, has experience with something they are looking to do. People trust the answers that come from their friends.

Can this be applied to business? Certainly, but only if you are ready to take advantage of it.

Many companies are already doing this. For example, this screen shot from Eloqua shows how they leverage their relationships to search for potential employees:

And here’s a shot from NPR’s request for new content:

And, this picture shows how Junta42 reached out for suggestions for naming the official drink of Content Marketing World 2011:

There are a lot of people producing a lot of content.  Over 11 billion web pages currently exist with thousands of new pages of content being created every day.  What is as important as producing quality content relevant to your audience is that you engage with your audience to ensure they understand the fundamentals of what you are sharing and want to learn more from you, the expert.

Here are some tips that we use to do this in our regular content efforts, as well as for Content Marketing World:

1) Initiate a conversation by commenting on blogs

There is no better way for people to get to know you and that you are an expert than by commenting on their content. Tell them what you like, what you don’t like, what you learned, what you agree with (or disagree with). Or, you can ask a follow-up question. The choices are endless.

2) Reply to other people’s blog comments

If someone takes the time to comment on your blog, show them your appreciation by thanking them, answering their questions, or sharing an additional insight. So many opportunities exist to build and extend your relationships with fans and followers, so try to take advantage of any opportunity to make an additional connection.

 3) Participate in social media

Spend at least five minutes every day commenting on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, About.me, or other relevant social sites. For Content Marketing World, here are the major things we did:

  • Members of our team personally reached out to each of their LinkedIn contacts and asked them if they were attending the event. When someone replied for more information it was sent to them or when they replied no, we asked why.  Every response gave valuable information for our planning.
  • We personally direct messaged (not auto replied) any new followers on Twitter to see if they were planning to attend.  As with LinkedIn, any time a follower replied with an answer or a question a follow up direct message was sent.
  • We leveraged the networks we already had. Many of our contacts have asked us to promote their great events, which we are always eager to do. In exchange, we asked if they would be willing to help us promote our event.  We gave each of these partners a unique coupon code for registration to use with their audience so we could track which of these were most beneficial for us.

4) Engage across multiple platforms

Use whatever media you can to get the word out there. For instance:

  • Put your thoughts in print
  • Share them on social media sites
  • Write regular blog posts
  • Create a white paper
  • Guest post on other blogs
  • Write a book
  • Attend events
  • Make videos.

Want more ideas? Here are 42 ways you can use content to connect with your audience.

5) Ask your friends and followers when you want information or feedback

If you have a great idea, need a question answered, need some advice… whatever it is, ask. You may never find the answer otherwise, and people like to feel like they are being helpful or influential.

6) Take advantage of in-person events

If you want to host an event, that’s great. For us, the experience of Content Marketing World validated our hopes that our audience wanted to be there. But it’s important to attend events too, and make sure you participate not only in the sessions but also in the networking events. These are priceless opportunities to ask your questions, learn something new, and meet really cool people.

At Content Marketing World, Jim Kukral got on his knees to ask the audience to produce exciting content.

Jim Kukral at Content Marketing World

I would like to do the same. I ask you to continue to build amazing relationships, but make sure you leverage those relationships in as many ways as you can.

Just look what it has done for us!

CMI Contributors at Content Marketing World

Author: Pam Kozelka

Pam Kozelka is the VP of operations for the Content Marketing Institute. She has been with the company since its inception and is excited to see the growth in the industry that has occurred in such a short period of time. She is often heard telling people she has the best job in the world because of the amazing team @CMIContent and #CMWorld. You can follow her on twitter @PamKozelka.

Other posts by Pam Kozelka

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  • http://www.marketingtrenches.com Tracy Gold

    Pam, excellent lessons learned from an excellent events. Your team was absolutely stellar throughout the entire process, and again and again, I heard people amazed that this was an inaugural event. Your brownie delivery, as Ahava wrote about here (http://bit.ly/rfWdCM), was particularly memorable! 

  • Pam Kozelka

    Thanks Tracy!  You are actually one of the people that inspired me to write on CMI.  I like being behind the scenes and making sure things go smoothly but I read your Food Pyramid post (http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/2011/09/food-pyramid-for-content-marketing/) and every piece of it was part of Content Marketing World. Plus so many great things have come out of the relationship with CMI and Right Source!  It was great to meet you there by the way!  Looking forward to lots more adventures!

    • http://www.marketingtrenches.com Tracy Gold

      Hahaha great! I remember Mike, Will and I bugging you about not being a CMI blog contributor yet. Sometimes the behind the scenes stuff is the most interesting to read about. And of course it was great to meet you as well–I’m always game for adventures!

  • http://www.globalcopywriting.com/ globalcopywrite

    Pam! 

    I so agree with #5 – ask for help. In fact, it’s why I’m here. I’m doing a presentation in Melbourne in February to professional conference people. They’re MOST interested in advanced techniques for using social media to plan events. I thought of CMW and asked for your help. You already had the post. Now I’m going to retweet this terrific piece of content and hope you get a little more mileage out of it all these months later.

    Last week I asked on Twitter if anyone wanted to guest post on a client’s blog. Within 2 days, I had a new blog post in my inbox from someone on Twitter I had never heard of before. If I hadn’t asked, I never would have received it. 

    Thanks so much. 

  • http://twitter.com/TashWord Tash Hughes

    Thanks for a great summary, Pam. It shouldn’t be so hard for us to ask for help, but it is a huge thing for so many people – great to get a reminder that it works and that most people actually are willing to help (especially with things like sharing anything valuable in social media as it is so easy to do).
    I agree that being personal and connecting with people is the best foundation for business growth and success – I know I have had most of my clients that way rather than through any traditional advertising or static web pages.

    • Pam

      Thanks Tash! Hope we can meet at Content Marketing World 2012 – let me know if I can “help’ you get there!!!

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