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Content marketing and the value of relationships

Content marketing is getting more and more attention. It’s not entirely a new concept – its roots are in search marketing and social media marketing – but more marketers are looking closely at a holistic approach that puts content at the center. Content marketing holds a lot of advantages (and differences) when compared to traditional marketing. One of them – building lasting relationships – is too often overlooked and underutilized.

Relationships Beyond Your Audience
Obviously, the number one relationship to develop and nurture is with your audience. That’s a given, but it’s not what I’m talking about here. You should also be seeking out ways to build relationships with industry colleagues and professionals in other fields who want to attract the same audience. Let’s look at a few of the reasons this can strengthen you content marketing effectiveness.

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The Network Effect
Top of the list of benefits for relationship building is the network effect. 1 + 1 = 3. In other words, getting your content in front of a colleague’s network and vice versa can grow your reach much more quickly than either of you could working alone. (It also adds value for your audience by adding variety, further strengthening your relationship with them.)

That kind of networking is more easily done when you have solid rapport with your colleagues. Who would you be more comfortable associating yourself with: someone you’ve gotten to know through industry events, face-to-face meetings or even email exchanges or someone who has called you out of the blue to propose a guest post or webinar collaboration? The last thing you want to do is risk your audience’s trust by associating your blog/newsletter/webinar with a stranger who has a bad rap you don’t know about.

Promotional Considerations
As I mentioned above, adding value for your audience by adding a wider variety of content is a win-win. That value-add is at the heart of the “content” side of content marketing. Introducing your audience to a colleague who can help their business more broadly provides them with value, positions you has a great connector, and wins the love and affection of the partner you’re recommending. Pure content marketing karma.

The same holds true for introductions between colleagues themselves. In addition to building many-to-one relationships between your audience and a trusted colleague, you should also work to build one-to-one relationships between individual colleagues. Again, you’re positioned as a great connector and valued resource.

How To Build Relationships
So how do we build these relationships? Here are the approaches we’ve found most effective. Bottom line: you can’t beat the human touch.

  • Reach out to folks when you’ve seen them at live events or attended webinars where they’ve spoken. Connect their expertise to something you’re working on. Offer help more often than you ask for assistance.
  • Send a note – and a link – if a piece of their content inspired a piece of yours. Thank them.
  • Clipping service – when you see something that you feel will interest them, forward it.
  • Make further connections. Not just opportunity referrals but mutually beneficial introductions.

You might feel that we’ve veered into a discussion of networking rather than content marketing, but effective content marketing still requires some good old fashioned interpersonal skills to expand your reach and keep your marketing efforts humming along. Don’t discount the human factor. It can make the difference between playing to an empty hall and seeing a standing ovation.


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Andrew Schulkind

Since 1996, Andrew Schulkind has asked clients one simple question: what does digital marketing success look like, and how can marketing progress be measured? A veteran content marketer, web developer, and digital strategist, Andrew founded Andigo New Media to help firms find a more strategic and productive mix of tools that genuinely support online brand goals over time. With a passion for true collaboration and meaningful consensus, his work touches social media, search-engine optimization, and email marketing, among other components. He views is primary goal as encouraging engagement. Getting an audience involved in your story requires solid information architecture, a great user experience, and compelling content. A dash of common sense doesn’t hurt, either. Andrew has presented at Social Media Week NY and WordCampNYC, among other events, on content marketing and web-development topics. His technology writing appears on the Andigo blog, in a monthly column on, and for print and online publications like The New York Enterprise Report, Social Media Today, and GSG Worldwide’s publications LinkedIn & Business, Facebook & Business, and Tweeting & Business. Andrew graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Bucknell University. He engages in a range of community volunteer work and is an avid fly fisherman and cyclist. He also loves collecting meaningless trivia. (Did you know the Lone Ranger made his mask from the cloth of his brother's vest after his brother was killed by "the bad guys?")

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