Cornerstone Content Strategy

Episode 10: Cornerstone Content Strategy, with Lori Jones

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Cornerstone content strategy? This podcast with Lori Jones will teach you the secrets of cornerstone content strategy.

Cornerstone content strategy is the main topic for this podcast episode with the one and only Lori Jones. Lori is the President and CEO of Avocet Communications. With more than twenty-five years of experience, Lori is a marketing executive and a recognized leader in integrated communications in the digital age.

Her experience shifting perceptions – for building brands for a share of heart and positioning companies for share of market – enable her to contribute a strong understanding of the intricacies of the motivators of today’s buyer. Her experience with national and local brands enable her to contribute a strong understanding of the intricacies of today’s consumer and business motivators.

Lori is a founding member of the Forbes Agency Council, and under her leadership, the agency has been named one of Colorado’s Top 100 Women-Owned Businesses by ColoradoBiz magazine multiple times, been included in The Denver Business Journal’s list of Top 25 Advertising Agencies in the state, and been named to BizWest’s Mercury 100 list year-over-year. In 2020, Lori was inducted into the Boulder County Business Hall of Fame.


What you will learn in this episode is about cornerstone content strategy:

  • How Avocet Communications got its start in Lori’s parents’ basement
  • What inspired Lori and her team to start Avocet’s podcast: “Integrate & Ignite.”
  • The role that cornerstone content strategy played in building a position of authority for Avocet
  • Why Lori believes that building a position of authority starts with “having your own house in order.”
  • How to create consistency with your cornerstone content strategy — and why it’s absolutely crucial to do so
  • Ways to use cornerstone content to build a position of authority, add to your credibility and engage with your Dream 25 list.



Cornerstone Content Strategy: Full Episode Transcript


Cornerstone content strategy and its importance? Then, welcome to the Sell with Authority podcast. I’m Stephen Woessner, CEO of Predictive ROI. My team and I created this podcast specifically for you. So, if you’re an agency owner, a business coach, or a strategic consultant looking to grow a thriving, profitable business that can weather the constant change that seems to be our world’s reality, well, you’re in the right place.


Do you want proven strategies for attracting a steady stream of well-prepared, right-fit prospects into your sales pipeline? Yup. We’re going to cover that. Do you want to learn how to step away from the sea of competitors so you stand out on the ground you’re standing on? Well, we’re going to cover that, too. Do you want to future-proof your business so you can navigate the following challenges that come your way?


Well, absolutely. We’ll help you there, too. I promise you each episode of this podcast will contain valuable insights about cornerstone content strategy and tangible examples of best practices. Never theory. From thought leaders, experts, and owners who have done exactly what you’re working hard to do. So, I want you to think practical and tactical. No fluff ever. Each of our guests has built a position of authority and then monetized that position by claiming their ground, growing, their audience, and nurturing leads.


And yes, of course, converting sales with the help of cornerstone content strategy. But all the while doing it by being helpful. So every time someone from their audience turned around there, they were with a helpful answer to an important question. So their prospects never, ever felt like they were a prospect. I also promise every strategy that we discuss, and every tool that we recommend will be shared in full transparency in each episode so you can plant your flag of authority, and claim the ground as I mentioned.


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Cornerstone Content Strategy: Lori Jones’ Introduction


Fill your sales pipeline with a steady stream of right-fitr clients. Okay, so I am super excited for you to meet our very special guest expert today, Lori Jones. If you’re meeting Lori for the first time, she’s the president and CEO of Avocet Communications. And as you’ll hear, a marketing integration guru. Lori has a depth of expertise in all aspects of marketing, advertising, and PR online strategy, including her ability to knit each of those areas together, hence the name of her podcast Integrate and Ignite.


Lori and I are going to talk through about cornerstone content strategy and how Avocet built its authority position, how it took years to do so through some very strategic cornerstone and cobblestone content and how their content has teed up conversations with their dream prospects and how it’s teed up opportunities for the Avocet team to sell significant strategy projects. Because here’s what Lori and I want for you.


As a result of listening to this conversation, we want you to have the courage. Yes, courage to step into what’s necessary to build your Zorro position and to do the hard work to build your own dream 25 list of prospects who you want to most serve. And lastly, we want you to think through how your agency, your coaching practice, or your strategic consultancy, how can look through that business with a very strategic lens where you and your team ask yourselves, What if we did it this way?


Cornerstone content strategy? Would that be more helpful to our clients? And if so, would that help us earn a seat at the strategic table, which of course is all what we want? So without further ado, welcome to the Sell with Authority podcast, my friend Lori. It’s so nice to be here with you today. Stephen, Thank you so much. And my goodness, thank you for that incredible introduction to it.


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Cornerstone Content Strategy: How Avocet Communications Started


I think I might just rerun that part of this discussion a few times. Well, all well deserved, which I’m super excited for, as I mentioned, for you to share your smarts. You’re so generous in doing that. So thank you. My gosh. This is just going to be great. So before we dive into the questions, I actually take us behind the curtain.


Obviously, I gave some nuggets of your expertise and knowledge base and so forth. But take us behind the curtain and tell us a little bit more about you and your path and journey, and then we’ll dive in. Thank you. So I’m one of those individuals that was lucky enough to have about a 20 year interview before I was hired for the position that I have right now.


My father hired me right out of college. So people often say, you know, you’ve never really had to be interviewed, and you just don’t know what it’s like. And I’m like, well, you know, we are by every client, number one. But number two, I did have a 20 year interview, and then my father finally pulled the trigger to hire me here.


He was one of those individuals that came from a creative family, came from New York and Chicago agencies. I grew up on the trade show floor, really learning marketing and at a very young age, I thought, “Okay, I’m not going to go down that path. I’m going to go into broadcast journalism.” And the second semester of my senior year found out that I hated it and really did not want to travel down that path.


And as the story goes, and it’s a sweet one and I’ll make it quick. I was interning for a professional selling professor, and during that project, my father, by that time, had a 11-man shop operating out of the basement of my parent’s home. And we hired my father for a project, creative projects. And it was during that project that my dad said, “Why don’t we give this a whirl and just do this together?”


And we did, and very quickly started pitching some nice national business and within about two months time we found out that we were a finalist for a regional rental car agency. And I’ll never forget the phone call came in on a Thursday. We were operating the business again out of my parents phone and this particular client asked to see the office and meet our team.


As I was looking down at the orange shag carpet beneath my feet. I said, “We’ll give you a shout back tomorrow and let you, you know, pass along all the details.” I ran upstairs and told my father we needed a plan. We needed it quickly, and that next day we went and signed a lease. The following day, we bought furniture. Sunday, we moved into our first leased office space.


Monday, we were there with our family to make us look larger than we were. And by 10:00 that morning we had our first national contract. So it was that entrepreneurial spirit that I grew up with on the trade show floor and all of those meetings that I attended in boardrooms that really gave me that intuitiveness to know that we needed to do something quickly.


Since that time, Avocet, that is an integrated communications firm, as you mentioned, and we are the 40th largest female owned business in the state of Colorado. And I have an incredible husband who’s the love of my life I’ve been married to for 22 years and four wonderful children. 


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Cornerstone Content Strategy: How Avocet Stood Out


Amazing. So if everybody in our audience, would like to know even more about the cornerstone content strategy and the story that Lori just shared with you, because she gave you the highlights.


If you go back to Onward Nation, which you can find on the Predictive website, but if you go back to episode 130, which was the first time that I had a chance to interview Lori, she actually broke down that story, that entrepreneurial story in great detail, because, one, it’s a great story. And two, it’s a really cool sort of map, if you will, of how to do it.


It was just about putting your best foot forward in a really short or compressed timeframe. It’s a great story. So, if you want to listen to that in full granularity, episode 130 of Onward Nation, Lori, thank you very much for sharing the highlights. Thank you again for saying yes and joining me here so that we could do a deeper dive into the authority position that you and Avocet have built over time.


Let’s start high level. So, think 30,000-foot view for our audience. So, how would you describe the authority position that Avocet currently holds? Well, first of all, it took place literally at 30,000 feet because I was flying back from a meeting in Michigan and knew that authority, positioning, thought, and leadership expert positioning were something that we really needed to be able to tackle with the business.


In a cornerstone content strategy, we were really focused on outcomes for our clients in a very customer-first approach to their marketing. And I knew we needed to do the same thing with the positioning of the business. So we developed, Integrate and Ignite as our authority position and we integrate owned, earned, shared, and paid approaches for small to medium-sized businesses. And we ignite a positive outcome, whether it be tied to OKRs KPIs or a very specific KPI.


That’s ultimately what we did to position ourselves among a sea of sameness with a lot of marketing agencies at the time. And we are going on season seven this June of our show. So this was seven years ago that we knew we really needed, to kick it into gear. Yeah. Okay. So there’s a couple of really cool things in there while several that we should size apart.


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Cornerstone Content Strategy: Planting Your Position of Authority


First, when you mentioned 700 years, if I recall correctly, we’re talking about 400-plus episodes, right? Well, I promise you, it’s not 700 years. It is seven years. However, seven years is nine. Seven years is a significant amount of time. But it is 400-plus episodes, right? It is, yeah. And that’s a lot of episodes. Some tears in between, a lot of change with management, some pivoting to really figure out what will resonate with an audience and what we can really help people make an appointment to want to go to each week to learn more of that.


Okay. You mentioned some of the things that Avocet does well. You mentioned paid earned. And I think that’s a model or an acronym if I remember correctly, but I don’t recall what it’s called. It’s the original peso model, which is paid, earned, shared, and owned. We approach it a little differently.


Cornerstone content strategy approaches it from the standpoint of owned, earned, shared and paid because we feel that you need to get your branding and your own house in order first, which is called owned assets, right? It could. It is your branding; it is your website trade show. It could be in-store. You know, all those components that nobody can really change.


And that needs to be right in order to launch and earn shared and paid strategy of that. Okay. So flipping the model, so owned, earned, shared paid. And then I think if I heard you correctly, it sounds like, okay, if these if these are the things that we do well, we’re going to now build an authority position around that.


With cornerstone content strategy we’re going to plant our flag deep in the dirt and we’re going to pound it in the dirt over and over and over again. So it goes deeper and deeper and deeper because we want to claim this ground. And it sounds like the launch of the podcast in these 400 plus episodes around owned, earned, shared paid, and obviously, you’re interviewing a lot of experts and guests, and plus your expertise is injected into those episodes that that’s what started and has now built this authority position.


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Cornerstone Content Strategy: Creating A Content Plan for Your Client


My tracking, what really is, and what we know also is that when our clients integrate those with us with a sound strategic platform to work from, they become the authority figure. So we need to be able to walk the walk and talk the talk for our own clients. And again, it does not matter if it’s a technology client or a retailer or a CPG; no matter what, the model works very, very well in integrating those approaches to create that very positive outcome.


Okay, I am so glad that you talked about that and here’s why. As you know, you hear the same thing that I do is what I meant to say when you and I go to, you know, agency meetings or conferences and that kind of stuff. A very common thing for an agency to say is, you know, where the cobbler’s kids and, we can’t create a content thing because we just don’t have the time.


We’re so busy with all of the client work that we can’t do the things for ourselves we know that we need to do. Whereas you just said walk the walk, talk the talk, which is great. So now you have this wonderful proof point of seven plus years of 400 episodes you mentioned like every week it’s the same day so that your audience can depend upon that.


But then my guess is clients said to you, “Can you guys do that for me? Like, can you show me how to do that? Like, how to have a very consistent content schedule and a strategy and all about it, right?” That’s exactly right. I mean, it’s cornerstone content, right? Yeah. And no matter what model you’re utilizing, if you’ve got that, in our case, it’s a podcast.


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Cornerstone Content Strategy: It’s All About Consistency


The cornerstone content strategy could, in some situations, be a webinar or an e-book. But the most important thing is consistency. As long as you’ve got that core cornerstone piece of content that you were pushing out and then slicing and dicing into many forms of additional content, the content starts to work for you and hence build an authority figure.


And it really does increase awareness. And I don’t know what the number is. You might know it, Stephen, but I do believe that most podcasts produce seven episodes. Yep. And then they’re done. Yep. And with Onward Nation, you were well over a thousand. Here we are at 410, 411 this week as we speak with our cast and with it’s what we preach to our clients.


In cornerstone content strategy without consistency, you’re not going to be able to move people through the funnel and that becomes a very paramount component. Now, it’s not easy, which is why most brands hire agencies to do the work. It is not easy and we’ve missed I can count maybe on two hands the number of times throughout the seven years that we’ve actually run a rerun instead of actually having something produced.


And that consistency, with that team really behind making it work, has really positioned our agency as an authority figure when it comes to marketing firms across the US. Dare I say 100%? I hear you say that. I can hear my business partner, Erik Jensen, say, Stephen, that’s why we need to eat our own dog food.


And I agree with them 100%. It’s I believe that it’s difficult to stand in front of a prospective client or a client and say you should do this. And yet, we have not done that for ourselves. And that’s what I think is so amazing about what Avocet has done. You’ve built this authority position and then back it up and say, “Hey, client or prospect. The reason why we’re suggesting that you do that is because we are our own dogfood.” I mean, this is exactly how we’ve built our business through a very integrated approach and then they can see the result outcome of that. It has so much credibility to what you’re saying. Well, credibility is key, right? Which really is the crossover between between that earned and shared approach when it comes to authority and content.


A case in point: I have been invited to cover with my podcast about cornerstone content strategy, I bring my podcast on the road to cover Oracle’s next week show CMO Worldwide with with Reuters and other shows that I can bring the cast on the road interview. I became a part of the press corps and interviewed key people about the brands that those shows want to amplify on the show.


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Cornerstone Content Strategy: The Right Content Will Make You Desirable


I’ve met some of the most interesting people and thought leaders. Through this journey that we started seven years ago, 30,000 feet, literally, as you said. Yeah. Okay. So you just gave us another really powerful proof point. And that is why it is such an awesome example for our audience to hear from you is the fact that you’re part of the press corps.


You then put on your hat of being a journalist, right? And you were asked and invited into those situations where it’s like from the outside in thinking, “Wow, what an incredible opportunity to really go behind the curtain and then to be able to have that type of access.” Did you earn that access 100%? Is it possible for others?


Absolutely right, it is. And, you know, it was one of those unexpected icing on the cake sort of opportunities. We were pitching Oracle to appear on the show, and we had a conversation with them, and they turned it around and said, “You know, you’re this great influencer. NetSuite is all about their CRM and posts and their integrated SaaS system. We want you to come to us.“ 


And it was I had to pinch myself after that conversation. Well, yeah, it’s one of your dream gas and prospects says, “Okay, could you come to us and interview us for your content platform?” Yes, please. It was it was and continues to be very cool, of course. Okay. So let’s talk about setting some realistic expectations here because you mentioned the seven episodes we call pod feeding.


And the reason is that you know, people think that somehow, whether it’s a podcast or some other type of cornerstone content, there’s some sort of get-rich aspect to this. It’s like, I’m going to plant my flag, and all of a sudden, eight weeks from now, which is why it happens, it’s seven episodes, seven or eight weeks, or now people are just going to be pounding down my door in order to do work with us.


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Cornerstone Content Strategy: The Power of Connections


A cornerstone content strategy is not the right expectation. So, help us set expectations. You’ve obviously gained a lot of traction. And when did you start to see it? We’re proof points, traction, whatever metaphor you want to use. When did you start seeing that happen? So out of the chute, I basically told you, I think you included 20 people, that you were going to appear on my show.


Yeah. That I could get my feet wet and, you know, just figure myself out as a host for the first time. And so I knew, that’s 20 weeks. That’s basically half a year, right? So, I did not set any expectations about a strong area until year two, and we produce the podcast in its entirety in your house. And we manage our team members, you know, they track every hour of every day just so that we can understand profitability not only for our own marketing but for our clients as well and where we might be, you know, over budget.


So that’s ingrained in the DNA of the agency. So we tracked hourly against revenue. So, revenue gained through the podcast can be achieved in several different ways. I invite a guest to the show that I’m interested in working with. They fit the perfect clientele mix. We refer to it as a dream 25 It could be that.


It could be, you know, referring someone, a guest referring me to someone. I mean, it could also just be someone who learned about the podcast through iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Amazon, whatever it might be. They start listening, and then ultimately, they call in today. So setting that KPI up was very important.


Within the second year, we were about a 1 to 1 cost to-revenue model, and today we are 6 to 1 and a lot of these things happen so uniquely and pivoting like, you know, I interviewed the executive director of a large nonprofit about an event that she was going to be appearing at. So that podcast aired before that event where they were going to be sharing it with several different business leaders attending the event.


Cornerstone content strategy wasn’t necessarily a dream 25 guest although she did become a dear friend and a client later on. But to me it was okay, how can I strategize? Getting in front of her audience and then of course direct guest connections as well. But the revenue, you know, it’s in the millions for us at this stage. Millions of dollars are gained through this very direct approach.


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Cornerstone Content Strategy: Be Strategic When Doing Your Presentation


So amazing. So, let me give you that ratio back to you in the form of dollars when you said 6 to 1. So for every dollar that you and your team, because it’s produced in-house, every dollar that you’re investing, you’re getting six back. Exactly. That’s pretty good math. Yeah, it really is. And it’s amazing how it all works.


I just gave you one example, but another example was when I invited a very globally known CEO to appear on the show, and within a month he referred us to one of his brands. We then picked up a second brand, and then he had an IPO. And guess what? When the IPO happened, one of their big competitors called us and said, “You’ve worked with this brand; we want you to do our work.”


So it’s the lineage of it all. That third example is indirect but directly related to that interview on this cast. It’s so smart. So there’s a couple more strategies in there that I want to slice apart because sounds like the way you approached the launch of the show and then also how you got really strategic around doing 25 and then mixing that into, you know, what we would call the Trojan horse of sales strategy.


So I want to make sure that we go down both of those paths because I think that’s going to be really helpful for our audience with the use of cornerstone content strategy. So when you mentioned the 20 initial guests, so let me give that back to you and ask for some clarification. So it sounds like I reached out to 20 people who, you know, are going to add value to the future audience.


I say future because you’re watching the show at that time. Yeah, well, right. A lot of friends and family. Well, but friends and family could add value to the audience, right? Yeah. Okay. Would you also say that would have provided maybe dual benefits one kind of helped you get your legs under you feel comfortable about the new thing but then also for future guests, it made you easier to say yes to point back to a body of work.


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Cornerstone Content Strategy: Pivoting Your Way to Stay Ahead of Your Competitors


With cornerstone content strategy, it was that credibility. It’s hard to pitch something out of the chute with zero backing, right? And you got to tell an incredible story. So one of the great ways for me to tell that story was to, again, have my feet wet, have some good KPIs on OKRs to share, and, you know, some great, great thought leaders to really lend credit credibility to me.


The program that I was implementing was really smart. And then I also want to make sure that we talk about this, too: Everyone listening right now, you can use that same strategy, whether it’s a podcast, a blog, a video series, or whatever. If you’re interviewing somebody for, you know, if you like to talk, then fine, do a video series, podcast, whatever.


If you like to write, interview people for a blog post, blog series, or e-book series. It sounds like what this framing that Lori is giving you is if you’re going to be interviewing gas as part of your content creation, then reach out to ten or 20 people who you know really, really well and who will add value to your audience.


Get your legs under you, and then you’re off and running, right? That’s exactly right. And then you’re staying in front of them, which is key, right? So there are a few different ways that we do that. Of course, the content is sliced and diced, and we immediately communicate with them to let them know when the show is airing.


But then it’s it’s really evergreen content that we have, especially on Twitter. The tweets are always out there. They never end. So that’s one way that we can stay in front of that context. But there are a couple of other ways as well. So we launched about a year ago an expert series where we had 60 people that we had interviewed on the show that we sent a post-poll to, and these were prospects for us, and we sent them this post-poll, and then we wrote an e-book about all of their insights.


And so that was a way for us to stay in front of those, those influencers. So it’s just thinking about ways in which you can pivot just out of the mainstream, the mainstream cast, how you can pivot to stay in front of these people is key. The other thing that we’ve done, because we have so many episodes under our belt, is that our show releases on a Tuesday.


And then, on Thursday we, we followed these same 60 people in the press. And when their company has news on Thursday, we rerelease their episode and congratulate them on said news. So it’s, you know, it’s its ingenuity, I think, at its best. But it’s also taking this great platform of content and making it work for you 100%.


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Cornerstone Content Strategy: Claiming The Ground and Interviewing Your Dream Prospects


Going back to your words a few minutes ago, walk the walk, talk the talk. You are a walking billboard for how to do it right, how to do it with excellence. So let’s go to the dream 25 pieces and Trojan horse of sales because I want to make sure that I understood this correctly. It sounds like you and your team sat in a room, whatever the process was, and you built a list that you call the dream 25.


These are the prospects who ever said you would most like to work with. And then you figured out a way to use the podcast of cornerstone content strategy as maybe the Trojan horse, the way to open the door as a journalist, not as an agency owner looking for her next new client, but as a journalist. And then it sounds like that was easy to say yes to you because you, again, had all this credibility in the body of work because you had claimed the ground that you owned, and then you found yourself interviewing your dream prospects.


And my understanding of the process of cornerstone content strategy is correct. That’s exactly right. It has to start somewhere, right? And there’s nothing worse than casting too wide a net and trying to be all things to all people. We’re really focused on bringing thought leaders to the show who have a current marketing title working on a national or global brand and some very key areas within aerospace and technology.


And again, that kitchen sink is always fun to throw in there to and really, you know, retail is another focus area for us, like large retail that is more regional instead of, you know, some of the technology that is global and inviting those individuals to the show to help them build their thought leadership is another side benefit of this.


Right. All the while, we’re getting to know them and establishing credibility. It has to start with that list. That list has changed a lot because some people just say no out of the chute. You find out that they’ve got an in-house team, and they don’t outsource anything. And you’re still developing a very unique situation.


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Cornerstone Content Strategy: There Are No Shortcuts to Success


I interviewed someone on the show four years ago who is a lead through one of our guests, and she became a client six months ago. So we are staying in touch and continuing. And we built a friendship that was not work-related at all. It was not like we got together, but we maybe got together once a year and had coffee.


She worked for a very, very large enterprise and wanted to get out of the Silicon Valley and get out of the commute and had the opportunity and hired us. And, you know, all the while she also referred us to three or four different people that we’ve had on the show. And that is really. So was she on our dream 25 to begin with?


No. But did she earn a spot there over somewhat over us, finding out through this sales process and cornerstone content strategy that we needed to slip someone off? Yes, I love that. It really illustrates what is a great example that Drew and I talk about in our book, Social History, and that is everyone who could take a day or a decade.


Cornerstone content strategy is about being patient, not making the person on the other end feel schmaltzy, like there’s some sort of prospect, and just teaching and being generous. And at some point, there’s going to be an opportunity. It might be a day or a decade, in this case, four years. It’s a relational right. First, it is all the while we’re getting to know them, which is, again, back to that credibility and not pulling the trigger too soon.


And I will warn people: If you go into this long-format content approach expecting immediate results, it won’t happen. There might be some low-hanging fruit, and you might get lucky. But don’t go into this with the short game in mind. It won’t work. This has been a fantastic text, so we still have several big topics that I want to cover.


We’re going to take a real quick break first. Then when we come back, everyone, this is where we’re going to take some of the proof points of walking the walk and talking the talk, establishing the authority position with cornerstone content strategy, and then how that has transitioned into excuse me, not that’s not the right word, how that’s given avocet the ability to really earn this strategic seat sitting at their clients table through some very comprehensive strategy project. So hold that thought, everyone. We’re going to be right back in just a quick break. 


Okay, everyone, we’re back. And before the break, as I mentioned, Lori gave us some really great proof points about how her and her Avocet team, they are walking the walk, They are talking the talk every single day. We’ve got this really cool model in these proof points around owned and earned and shared and paid.


And each day they’re putting that to work for themselves. And then this really amazing thing has happened. And so I’m going to ask Lori to slice that apart, how they’ve really earned the seat at the strategic table with their clients. And now we are consulting on at-depth strategy work. Okay. So Lori, take us behind the curtain here and give us back to, like take us back to the genesis of that and then how it’s grown since that.


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Cornerstone Content Strategy: Establishing Your Expertise to Make Clients Get You as Their Business Partner


Well, it grew rather from an area of frustration. We were in. We were working with some great brands, but we were getting involved from a marketing standpoint downstream. And so even though the insights were shared with us, some from some very, very smart marketing leaders, they didn’t really have the insights they needed to set themselves up to succeed.


So we were implementing cornerstone content strategy and program teams based on a lot of guessing and a lot of guesswork. So as a part of the thought leadership process and redefining the vision of the company, we knew that if we were able to sit at the table well before we truly started talking about the owned, earned, shared, and paid approach, we could develop strategies and connect them to the outputs in a far stronger way.


So we backed ourselves up as an agency, built an incredible strategic team, and pivoted the podcast even a little bit along the way to speak through strategies that that sweet spot that every CMO has, right? Or every VP of Marketing or every VP of PR has like that thing that they go to to really set the stage to work the strategy through and that pivot for the agency, well, it saved us during COVID, by the way, because our clients truly looked at us not as tacticians, but through strategic partners that solved sales and marketing problems.


And that is when, you know, in early 2018, 2019, we very methodically said, “Okay, this is how we have to pivot the agency because we don’t want to be perceived as a tactician. We don’t want to be perceived as that agency that someone goes to for a direct mail piece or, you know, we wanted that integrated program.” That pivot and the methodology that we deployed to really grow that side of the business has paid great, great dividends and dare I say, is a great, great entry point.


The cornerstone content strategy is a great entry point for establishing the expertise needed for clients to really look at us as a business partner, not just a marketing tactician. That’s where we’ve seen 40% growth in strategy work year over year. Everyone, this goes right back to what we are talking about or what I said in the intro when I said, If you want to step away from the sea of sameness, Lori just gave you the blueprint, right?


You have to have the courage to make those types of decisions, and I want them. I do not want to minimize that. Those are courageous decisions. So talk to us about that, Lori, because those are big, meaty decisions. Well, they are. And it takes a team to implement them. One of the side benefits of me showing up to the mic each week and talking to really, really smart people is that I grow as a professional.


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Cornerstone Content Strategy: Get A Strategic Partner Be Part of Your Team


The growth that I’ve had through this podcast is, you know, is is very, very deep. So you begin to really understand and develop yourself, and you begin to have such a greater understanding of business in general. And then the strategy needed to really help set the plate or set the table, rather, for companies to succeed and making sure we developed a process.


We have a ten-point process regarding the cornerstone content strategy that we decide whether or not to pull based on the insights the client may or may not be able to provide us. Typically, these programs last 90 to 120 days. They require a lot of effort, insight, ingenuity, and innovation to really help determine the client’s unique position.


We talk a lot about cornerstone content strategy, and are we going to challenge someone or all? Are we going to challenge some things? Most clients always say, Here’s our list of competitors, and of course, we’re going to do a competitive analysis and take a look at positioning and messaging and all the branding elements, and you really gain insights. But then, from there, and this is just one lever, what is your point of purity and differentiation so that we do not launch you into that sea of sameness?


Brands are comfortable in the sea of sameness. It’s their comfort zone. And they feel that they will win as long as they show up at the table. And that’s just not the case with a very discerning buyer today. They need to be motivated. They need to be told a great story and ultimately answer why I should be doing business with the brands that we happen to be marketing and that all those strategic level levers set our clients up to succeed, and then we win.


Of course, here’s the reality. It is really easy to play small, but if you want to stand out from the sea of competitors, sometimes you need a strategic partner as you have done and do on behalf of your clients. You want to step out of the sea of sameness. We can help you do that. And you guys have done that brilliantly.


And also noticing here, I know you pretty well from over the years, but like I was watching your eyes just light. I love this right in the passion in your voice, like, my gosh, we’re on a strategic topic. And there she goes. I mean, like, you are totally energized by this topic and I’m sure your clients feel that they do.


And I love this business so much. My father, who is, you know, was the inspiration behind all of this and the true gift beyond my husband and children in life, you know, having this partnership with him for as long as I did. He said to me very early on in my career, that the minute you stop enjoying this is the minute you should do something else.


I have not stopped enjoying this. Have I had time periods where I thought, my gosh, I loathe, you know, a situation? And even today, I mean, there’s probably 95% of my job that I love and 5% that you know what? That’s kind of goes with the job description, owning your business. You just now, you know, you’ve been cleaning toilets every once in a while.


You know, it just has to be done right. But that passion has grown through this podcast. It has you I’m smarter, I’m wiser, and I am not, you know, I’ve been doing this 33 years. I’ve been doing this day in and day out for 33 years, and I won’t stop anytime soon. Yeah, but there’s so fantastic.


I know that we need to come in for a landing. I need to be respectful of your schedule, but I am so grateful for your generosity. Before we go, before we close out and say goodbye. Any final advice? Anything you think we might have missed? And then please tell our audience the best way to connect with you.


Listen to this Integrate & Ignite podcast that also discusses cornerstone content strategy


Cornerstone Content Strategy: How To Get in Touch with Lori


One of the most important things in cornerstone content strategy is to not go into this with the expectation that it’s going to be easy. There is no way out. There should be no way out once you get started because if you stop, you’re just going to have to do something else to really build this position in the marketplace.


It is hard. But the, you know, the gratification that I have gained through this and the gratitude I receive from people who listen to the show or, you know, lives I’ve changed because of this or, you know, pearls of wisdom that they now have over a wonderful guest is what this is all about. I walked into a room about a year ago and started talking, and someone in the room said, There’s that voice.


And it just made me feel so great to know that I was impacting them. And so just know that this is again, it’s not the short game. It’s a long game. You will succeed if you if you stick to it. Regarding reaching out to me, I am always an email away. You can email me at [email protected] and something else we’re going to be providing everyone. Today is a research study.


We researched marketing directors at very large businesses globally, and they’ve got some great insights about cornerstone content strategy to share. You can download that and Awesome. Okay, everyone. Lori just gave you the perfect blueprint and framework for how to play the long game. And no matter how many notes you took or how often you go back and listen to her words of wisdom, which I sure hope that you do.


The key is to take this blueprint for the long game and apply it. Start walking the walk and talking the talk, eating your own dog food, and taking what she so generously shared with you. Take it and apply it. And Lori, I am grateful that you said yes to coming on to the show to be our mentor and guide so we could move our businesses onward to the next level.


Thank you so much, my friend Stephen. It is always a pleasure, and I appreciate you very deeply.


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Sell with Authority Podcast

The Sell with Authority Podcast is for agency owners, business coaches, and strategic consultants who are looking to grow a thriving, profitable business that can weather the constant change that seems to be our world’s reality.

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