Blue Ocean Global Technology interviews John Hall, Keynote Speaker and CEO of Influence & Co.
Blue Ocean: Tell us about Influence & Co. — how the company came to be, how you help your clients, and your area of specialty.
John: Influence & Co. came to be how most businesses come to be — we saw a need in the market. We noticed that thought leadership was becoming something many business leaders wanted, but they didn’t have the connections or the resources to do it themselves. The publications we were building relationships with at the time needed more content, so we brought these two ideas together, and Influence & Co. was born.
Now, Influence & Co. does more than just help our clients get published in online publications. We provide fully fleshed-out content marketing strategies, made with our clients’ primary goal in mind, be it thought leadership, SEO, lead generation, or brand awareness. We offer a variety of services, including guest-contributed content, website audits, blog articles, PR, and white papers.
Blue Ocean: What have you learned by starting and growing a business?
John: I learned pretty quickly that it isn’t all fun and games. A growing company can definitely have its fun moments, especially when you genuinely like your employees, but being a leader of a growing company means that you are also responsible for your employees on a serious level. You’re employing them and helping them steer their career paths, and it’s very important that you understand that, respect it, and take it very seriously.
Another thing I learned is that your company is only as good as the people who work for it. That’s why it is so important to ensure everyone you bring on fits with the company, believes in its mission, and is dedicated to achieving its goals.
Blue Ocean: What do you value most about the culture of Influence & Co.?
John: We have a really great time together and genuinely enjoy each other’s company. I can honestly say that I don’t dislike anybody on the team, and I look forward to working with them
Blue Ocean: When interacting with potential clients, what is the most common misunderstanding that you see regarding content? In addition, what can content do for a brand?
John: I’d say that the most common obstacle we encounter is leaders and brands not fully understanding that content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Seeing results from a content strategy is something you have to be patient with because the model itself is built that way. The longer you’re creating consistent content, then the more results you’ll realize. Once your audience sees that you’re out there, creating content and doing so frequently, they’re going to start to trust you and rely on you — you’ll become someone they think of when they need something related to your industry. However, if you’re looking for quick wins, then content marketing is not for you.
Blue Ocean: Why do brands and leaders need to implement content marketing to stay competitive and spread their influence?
John: Content is incredibly scalable. Investing in it is really a no-brainer, especially because it can help you achieve so much. It not only helps establish and spread the credibility of a brand or a business leader, but it can also help in your hiring process, internal education, and applying for awards and speaking engagements. Just having content in your back pocket can be so useful and help you pursue various opportunities aimed at extending your brand. We’ve also reached a point where most brands are already creating some form of content, so if you aren’t already, you’re behind the industry norm, and that’s a big no-no for any competitive brand.
Blue Ocean: Describe your content strategy? How do you use your own content?
John: Currently, we implement a diverse strategy made up of guest-contributed content, blog content, white papers, and webinars. Each of these elements serves a purpose, and when used together, they comprise a well-rounded content strategy that allows us to engage new audiences, lead them to and capture them on our site, and provide them with ongoing education. Our guest-contributed content is targeted toward the online publications our audience of B2B marketers and leaders read, while our own blog posts, white papers, and website content provide educational resources for our on-site visitors and fuel our email drip campaigns. Finally, our monthly webinars help us provide tips and education to new and existing leads.
All in all, our content strategy strives to achieve a healthy balance between capturing new leads and educating existing ones so that when it comes time to make a decision, our leads are as informed as possible about what we can do for them.
Distribution is key for content success, so as I mentioned, we utilize content in our email drip campaigns and weekly newsletters, we share it on our social media channels, and use it to help us apply for speaking events and awards. We also use our content in our hiring process, during internal training courses, and during the sales process to help members of our sales team work through hurdles or questions they experience with leads.
Blue Ocean: What do you think is on the horizon for content marketing?
John: This is a hard question because the content industry is always changing. The best way to anticipate what will be next for content is to keep a close eye on social media changes. Social media platforms are becoming more enabled for sharing and publishing content, which means reaching your audience members where they’re engaged most is becoming easier. It’s crucial now, more than ever, to know what social platforms are doing, how they’re enabling marketers, and what you can be doing to optimize and utilize your content on social media.