To hear content expert Andy Crestodina espouse the advantages of content collaboration is to hear the question go from "Why should I do this?" to "Why am I not doing this?"

Compared with the early days of the Web, Andy explains, content marketing has become incredibly competitive. The perspective of a single writer giving a single point of view is no longer viable for the long term.

Instead, as in news reporting, effective content often needs the perspectives of multiple people.

And those people certainly don't have to be celebrities. Experts with experience will do nicely.

"All of these people wake up in the morning hoping to be interviewed," Andy says. "People love being interviewed!"

You can also just ask a question on social media and see who engages. Chances are people will. Then you can move those conversations into email, develop them further, and create a piece of content out of it! You can even make friends in the process. Win-win!

Don't slug it out by yourself, he says. Why would you? "It's harder. It's boring. It's lonely."

Who can argue with that?

Check out the Live Show video for more great insights on collaborative content tips and tactics:

Make sure you don't miss any future episodes: Subscribe to the Marketing Smarts Live Show on YouTube. And to catch up on all previous episodes, check out the full playlist on YouTube.


Episode Details, Guest Information, and Referenced Links

Episode No. 8

Guest's social media profiles:

MarketingProfs resources referenced in the show:

"In B2B News" article referenced in the show:


Full Transcript | Marketing Smarts Live Show Episode 8 | The Power of a Collaborative Content Strategy

This rough transcript is machine-generated. It's been only minimally edited by humans.

George B. Thomas: All right. I'm excited because we are live and it is time to rock and roll. I can't believe it. The day is flying, but like they say, time flies when you're having fun. Let me go ahead and make sure I can see comments as people may comment as we're going through this. Anyway, today, the power of a collaborative content strategy with Andy Crestodina, and it's hard to believe, but we are on episode eight of the Marketing Smarts Live Show.

Man. I love it. I love it. So welcome to the Marketing Smarts Live show by Marketing Profs and the Marketing Smarts podcast, where we dive into B2B news, resources, valuable guest content, and much more each and every week. If you are a B2B marketer looking for a place to learn, keep up to date, and have some fun along the way, I'm your guy. Grab a beverage and a notepad, and welcome to the show.

Now hello to all of my Marketing Smarts Live viewers. Today I'm super excited to bring you an episode eight of the Marketing Smarts Live Show on a topic that every b2b, b2c, every marketer heck should be learning or leaning into. And that is, this idea of a collaborative content strategy.

What do we mean? Well, we'll get into that. I'm your boy, George B. Thomas, speaker, trainer, catalyst, and host of this here show the Marketing Smarts YouTube live show, as well as the Marketing Smarts Podcast found on your favorite podcast app.

Now, our guest clips today are brought to you by Andy Crestodina. Andy has been in the Web design and interactive marketing space since January of 2000, and in that time he's helped thousands of people do a better job getting results online, and he's a true evangelist for content marketing and--I love this--ethical digital marketing.

Together with the team at Orbit Media, Andy has put out some of the best digital marketing advice available in hundreds of practical articles, including posts on virtually all of the top marketing websites. Then, of course, you can't forge: There's the book Content Chemistry, which is currently in its fifth edition.

Andy is also a regular speaker, both locally and nationally. Not only is Andy a founder of Content Jam, Chicago's largest content marketing conference, but he's also a regular face on the national circuit.

Now remember, the clips of Andy today are pulled from the full Marketing Smarts podcast episode. And if you wanna listen to the full interview with Andy and myself, make sure to tune in to the Marketing Smarts Podcast. Link to the full show will be in the description below after the live show ends.

You know what? I'm gonna say all the right links in all the right places at the right time. That's all right. Also, a big thanks to Mountain and Semrush for sponsoring the original podcast episode. Yes, they did. And so we get to mention them here. Moving on.

When you think about content and content creation, what do you think, I really wanna know. Do you think it's hard? So who wants to do what's hard? Or do you want it, but you are super busy with everything else and you just can't seem to get to it. Or maybe historically you have created content, but you know, in the world that you sent it out to, it just landed or fell flat with any of those thoughts.

We're going to try and help you with content efforts, your content efforts, with the conversation around collaborative content. But let's start from the start. What if you're not doing content? Anyway, that could be a true thing. What if you're not doing content or don't have a content strategy in place? Why is it vitally important that you do this?

Well, that's actually the first clip that I wanna pull out. So let's see what Andy has to say about the importance of having a content strategy and content in place out in the world today.

Andy Crestodina: A website without a content program is an online brochure. Tha's literally what it is. You've produced nothing that gives anybody a reason to share, to subscribe to, to visit twice.

Uh, your website is 100% sales content, which is pretty boring. It's like, I remember back in the days when the content program kind of made your site give you like a little bit of an edge. Now it's just like about not having a disadvantage. It's sort of expected that you at least at some point, stake a claim to something like put your neck out, like just, just offer some bit of helpful, useful advice.

Without a content program, your site is a hundred percent hype and 0% help.

George B. Thomas: All hype and not help. Woo, man, that one hits hard. Considering to build trust you need to add value. And adding value on the Internet is many times linked back to your website and the content you create on the website and then distribute other places on the Internet from hopefully that website that you have.

So the fact that it's all hype and no help is not a good thing. Now we're gonna get back to Andy and his thoughts on collaborative content. But I have to ask, are you part of the MarketingProfs community? If not, become part of the MarketingProfs community by heading over to That's

Now it's time for our in the B2B news where we talk about breaking B2B news or really important tips we find on the Google News tab related to you and your B2B business. Today in the new section using B2B marketing strategies to grow your business. That's right. You probably have heard all of them, but maybe not.

I like this article because it's pretty robust and might help you think about things out of your normal day-to-day B2B strategies. It sets a baseline with the buyer's journey and the four Ps, but moves quickly into a ton of strategy ideas you may or may not be implementing to grow your business. To read the full article and learn about all about B2B marketing strategies, check out the link in the description below after the live broadcast. I'll spare you this time, I won't say all the links in all the right places at the right time. Oh, did I just say it? Anyway, let's get back to Andy and his conversation around collaborative content.

I wanted to ask Andy what superpowers does collaborative content versus normal content enable versus, again, what you might be doing right now, or not at all, but when you think of is it stale or lackluster content?

What superpowers does collaborative content give you? And this is what Andy had to say..

Andy Crestodina: Content that's more visual has an advantage at keeping the visitor engaged. Let's be honest, our visitors are scanning a lot of the time, and so you're trying to find ways to add something of visual interest at every scroll depth.

Formatting can do that. Images also do that, so when I add a contributor quote to a piece, I've got the face, the name, the link, the title, the company, the quotes. So you're, you're making the content just more engaging visually to the scan reader. That's, that's one.

Another thing is everything that you say as a marketer is automatically marketing, but as soon as you put quotes around it, it becomes a third party, it becomes an additional perspective. It's like, you know, I'm not an attorney, but lawyers go to court; they put a witness in the witness box. Why? Because you need to create a case here. You're, you're looking for, you know, other voices. So the quotes are the most powerful key in your keyboard and whenever you have any chance to put something in quotes, don't miss that chance, because now the reader's getting that from another perspective, it feels like a third party. It's like an endorsement, like it's just somehow more credible. So it checks that box.

And then also, as I mentioned, you're gonna get greater social reach because an ally in creating content is an ally then in promoting content. So unless you have people in your content, you did not optimize for social; everyone knows content is optimized for search, includes keywords in your title, your header, or your body text. But what it took me years to figure out is that content optimized for social media has people, faces, names, quotes, perspective. That's what optimized for social means. It checks all the boxes. Plus in the long run, separate from your brand, separate from your leads, separate from your employer, grow your own network. Make friends.

George B. Thomas: An ally on creating content is an ally in promoting your content, and I also love this conversation around optimizing for social, and of course, grow your network. And by all that is holy make some friends.

But that sounds maybe too easy to be true. And I knew that for many of us, there might be a question swirling around in our brain, one that might paralyze us from even getting started with collaborative content. How the heck do we find collaborators to work with? Ans Andy had a great answer to that question.

Let's go ahead and see what he had to say.

Andy Crestodina: Uh, a lot of it just sort of happens by traveling through life and, you know, I'm at an event and there's a bunch of smart people here, and I get this idea to ask all these different people the same question. I leave the event with a roundup. Because maybe that was who I was eating lunch with.

I was invited to create some kind of survey. There's a company doing surveys in collaboration with marketers, and so I'm gonna make the survey. I was just on social. I hadn't seen Ross Simmons in a while. Wow. Hey, maybe he can do the survey together with me. Hey, let's both get the data. Let's both do analysis. Let's both write articles on the same topic and then reference each other. That would be better for both of us. So I just ask: Hey, Ross, do you wanna do, I'm, I'm gonna do a survey interested? Immediate Yes. Writes back; we move from social to email.

So it's honestly, for me... I know there's tools for this, this Onalytica and Tracker, and there's lots of tools for like, finding influencers and those tools will help you find people that you hadn't considered or Spark Toro shows you like hidden gems and like which podcasts are talking about, which topics. But honestly, it's just he way that I met all the people that I know, it was just by being active in communities, live events or just on social media and just listening, just talking to people.

Because when you have an article, it's on a topic. You gotta find someone who's relevant for that topic. It's kind of who's top of mind for you. It's reason number 10 million to be active on social media so that you are more likely to be top of mind to others when they look for a collaborator. So my answer is really just build your network. Just be active. Just listen to what people, you know, think of people who are relevant to the topic.

Reach out to some, but one trick in that, and I should say this, you can't wait till the last minute cuz it stresses people out or they won't respond, or it's too hard. You gotta plan your content a little bit farther in advance if you're doing collaborative work because, you know, give people at least a week or so. Some people are really Johnny on the spot, but a lot of people take a little, you know, need a little more time to think about a good answer.

George B. Thomas: Don't stress your collaborators out, but it also doesn't have to be rocket surgery. Sure, there are tools out there to help, but more importantly, there are humans, oh my gosh, humans sitting next to you or in your circles that are more than willing to help and heck, even people out of your circles.

But we'll talk about that in a few minutes because there might be a mindset around that. First, it's time for some dope B2B learnings from the vault of MarketingProfs articles. That's right. It's time to dig into the treasure trove of valuable information and pull out two pieces of gold to help you be a better B2B marketer.

Article number one this week is How to Spring-Clean Your Website Content. Now, George, why did you bring that one up? Well, this one jumped out to me. If we're having this collaborative content conversation, you might want to update your historical content or clean house as you move forward. I like a lot about this article, but really love the simplicity of the content litmus test.

What do I mean? In the article, Doug Yocco says the litmus test consists of two questions. Does this content address and solve a common challenge or showcase your business as an industry? And is this content relevant to your target audience? Hmm. Great questions to ask.

Article number two for this week's episode is How to Level Up Your Content Marketing With a Topic Cluster Plan.

Again, if you move in a collaborative content strategy direction, one of the questions you might quickly want to know is how does all of this collaborative content play together? How does it fit in a nice content strategy, AKA, a cluster of content? I mean, they will be socially optimized as we spoke about, or Andy spoke about, but there's nothing wrong with impacting your SEO along the way as well.

Now to learn more after the broadcast and read both articles in full, head over to the link located in the description below. Yes, all the right links in all the right places at the right time.

Man, I love this conversation about collaborative content, and we're gonna dig in a little bit deeper because we're gonna head back to Andy.

But George, I don't know any influencers, and I just know that they're going to turn me down if I reach out and ask, and I can't take that if I get turned down. Listen, a vital piece of your success pertaining to collaborative content is your own mindset and the mindset you need around this content strategy.

You may be thinking about it correctly, or if you have thought any of the things that I just jokingly kind of said. A few seconds ago. Well, you might not be thinking about it so correctly.

Well, here's what Andy had to say about the mindset you need for this collaborative content strategy pertaining to actually reaching out to thought leaders or the people that you're trying to collaborate with, which by the way could be internal employees, coworkers, could be people on the Internets, like Andy, Ann, George, Jay, whoever.

Anyway, it's all about mindset. Here's what he had to say.

Andy Crestodina: Yeah. Well, large social accounts are a bit overrated. Anyone who has worked with a large social account can tell you that; it's not, the point is not to collaborate with a celebrity or, you know, you don't need a Jay or a Joe or an Ann here to be successful at this.

Uh, a lot of what I just described has nothing to do with the social reach of these, of the collaborator. Right. Uh, enjoying your job, adding visual prominence, you know adding another points of view, learning by creator content. None of that has anything to do with the, you know, perceived level of visibility of the collaborator.

Uh, but. Yes, they'll enjoy it anyway. Try it anyway. It doesn't hurt, right? What's gonna happen? Nothing happens. That's the worst case scenario, is that the person doesn't respond to you. Not a big deal. Uh, so yeah, taking a, taking a bit of a chance and doing a bit of outreach is helpful.

Uh, and by the way, all of these people wake up in the morning hoping to be interviewed. People love to be interviewed. To them, you are a press hit. That's what happened, right? This paradigm shift. Now you're the media. That's the change on the Internet, is that everyone's a publisher now.

So as the media, when you reach out to someone and ask them if they'd like to contribute to you this piece you're making, they're very likely going to be excited about that. Pro influencers, by the way, are the best at this because they know what it's worth. They know how easy it is, and they drop everything. They're ready. They budget time to respond for little PR opportunities like this.

George B. Thomas: Man, so much good in that section. Large social accounts are overrated and think media hits. Media hits, media hits. Fyi, I love being quoted or being asked to be on a podcast, and I can tell you, so does anybody that you think that you can't reach out to, they like it as well. So I need you to break your historical thoughts and simply ask, ask, ask. And then when they say yes, start creating your amazing content with a little help from your friends. There might be a song there. Did you start singing it? Anyway, A little help from your friends, mentors, and thought leaders. Trust me when I tell you. You got this.

Now it's time for from the B2B community. That's right. We searched far and wide in the #MPB2B universe to find amazing information and conversations to bring to you, the masses. So first, make sure you're using that hashtag so I can see you online. And second, make sure you have fun and add value to the community along the way.

Then we'll spotlight you or your crew on the show. This week it's LinkedIn and Rhett B. That's right. Marketing and membership strategist, relationship builder and team culture enthusiast. And it goes a little something like this. Yes. CX is critical to a business' success. Excited to learn from RI zips. Kelly O'connel, and Nate Brown. Why Thank you, Rhett. This actually comes from an original post about our MarketingProfs Friday Forums, and if you're not joining me and all the smart folks who make up those events, you're missing out, but never fear. You can always go watch the recordings as well. Thanks Rhett B for using that #mpB2b.

So one of the things I like to do is words of wisdom and let's kick it back to Andy and some words of wisdom around this topic of collaborative content strategy because these words... listen, get the notepad out, get the iPad out, like I jokingly say, get the chalk and your wall or whatever you can write on out. Because these words of wisdom, priceless.

Andy Crestodina: Don't go it alone. It's harder, it's boring, it's lonely. Uh, there are people out there who will be thrilled that you contacted them and asked them for their perspective. It's not important if they're famous. Uh, it's important if they're interesting and have a perspective, and over time you're gonna do--Anne's words--build a little squad.

You're gonna build a small community around you of people who love to work together, people who share each other's work. People who contribute to each other's work. I feel bad for the marketers that write every article on their own. They publish every article the day that article goes live. Nobody knew it was gonna exist until the day it went live. Nobody was waiting for it. They never write for any websites except their own.

Let's mention that guest posting, writing for other people, doing outreach offering to help, you know, to publish on someone else's website is also a form of collaboration. Inviting others to publish on your platform is a form of collaboration. Don't do it all by yourself. Uh, what's, what's the phrase? If you want to go fast, go alone. If you wanna go far, go together.

Content marketing's a long game, right? We always say it's a marathon, not a sprint. You're gonna go far. So go together. Build. Build relationships, meet experts, learn from them. It's a contest of generosity. The most generous brands win to be the most generous brand. You're gonna need a little team to do it with you. You're gonna have to enlist the help of others. You're gonna offer your help to others, and in the long run, you're gonna go way farther. We are gonna do way better outcomes with this more collaborative, strategic, more generous approach.

Gone are the days of doing it solo. Never write another piece of content without a contributor.

George B. Thomas: Oh man, hmm, my goodness. Don't go it alone. It's boring and lonely. Build your collaborative content squad, and remember it's content generosity. Ah. Ladies and gentlemen, have you enjoyed today's journey?

Let us know using the hashtag #MPb2b. Head to the description below. Click on the links to the full Marketing Smarts Podcast with Andy Crestodina and keep on learning more about this collaborative content strategy. Remember, these were just a few clips out of the Marketing Smarts podcast that was sponsored by Mountain and Semrush.

If you got value out of today's show, hit that like and better yet, share with a friend to keep learning more. And as always, remember to be a happy, helpful, humble B2B marketing human. And we'll see you on the next episode of the Marketing Smarts live show next week.

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image of George B. Thomas

George B. Thomas is a marketer, video Jedi, and HubSpot certified trainer with 25+ years of sales and marketing experience. George is owner and HubSpot Helper at He has a record-breaking 38 HubSpot sales, marketing, service, CRM, and CMS certifications. George harnesses his expertise in graphic design, Web development, video editing, social media marketing, and inbound marketing to partner with, teach, and develop solutions for companies looking to develop their businesses and increase their revenue.

LinkedIn: George B. Thomas

Twitter: @GeorgeBThomas