The Top 3 Challenges
For B2B marketers (& many B2C marketers), the top three challenges are:
- Create Engaging Content
- Produce Content Consistently
- Measure Content Effectiveness
from a 2104 Content Marketing Institute survey*
Here’s an Australian company who do all of the above plus an awful lot more with their content marketing. They create, promote and distribute their content marketing in an integrated marketing communications process. This ‘Integrated Content Marketing’ is now their number one lead generator, number one brand awareness builder and it is now delivering a competitive advantage that is rapidly becoming a sustainable competitive advantage.
The Content Driven Company
Kelly Services is a recruiting staff organization with two core audiences:
(1) companies who will pay Kelly money to recruit staff for them, and
(2) staff looking for a new job.
Kelly are effectively in both B2B and a B2C.
Instead of dealing with traditional staffing/recruitment companies, Kelly targeted
the more traditional consulting firms including McKenzie’s, the Banes, the IBMs, PWCs; all of whom have a lot bigger budgets. Kelly wanted to break into this market and demonstrate its capability to play in the outsourcing space where the deal size is typically $20 million to $1 billion and take 18 months, to two years to close deals.
Content, Competition & The Opportunity
Already a lot of the players were quite well advanced in thought leadership content but not many of them were taking it to a real content marketing approach integrating & leveraging the content to the maximum. Kelly saw this a really good opportunity to create competitive advantage and, frankly, they didn’t have enough money to do anything else.
Step 1: Content Audit
Kelly’s Marketing Content director, Todd Wheatland, talked to a lot of staff and identified 600 pieces of content that had been developed by someone somewhere for some purpose (e.g. promotional materials for events, exhibitions, conferences, collateral literature, reports etc.) all of which are potential marketing content. Kelly found that the process of looking back (at existing content) in order to look forward to be very useful. This process helped the team to learn how to structure content. ‘We understood a lot more about who we’re trying to speak to, and what we’re trying to tell them. What value Kelly is trying to add, what questions they’re asking’ said Wheatland. A huge underutilized resource was discovered.
Step 2: Content Selection
Out of those 600 pieces of content two were selected that could be used. Kelly are good at leveraging research. 80% of all their content, including blog posts has a unique original research component to it.
Step 3: Develop Personas
Personas help Kelly to understand the audience which tends to be typically Csuite plus some HR & procurement audiences.
Step 4: Identify 5 Buckets, 200 Key Words & 2,000 Pieces of Content
5 buckets (themes) of content were identified along with some 200 relevant keywords that searchers would use. For each of those 200 keywords Kelly produced 10 pieces of content per year, optimized for that keyword. Effectively Kelly produce 2,000 pieces of content in English a year, based on these 5 buckets. Choices are made regarding what formats i.e. whether to create a printed book, an ebook, surveys, white papers, blog posts (see content pyramid below).
Step 5: Secure Budget: 3Ms Resources
Kelly made a strategic decision to focus on content marketing and subsequently cancelled some major events that they normally attend and use the money to develop content and run a pilot programme to demonstrate value. Content has now become about 50% of the total marketing spend. In terms of structure Kelly’s Content Marketing team is lean – lead by Todd Wheatland who spends 50% his time another content marketer in Germany who is basically the head of B2B content marketing, and distribution channels. Kelly have one other person in the U.S. who is basically in charge of B2C content, which is now a big focus for Kelly since they have introduced in the Kelly Service side of the business. The USA team member spends 20% of their time (annualised) on content marketing (0% in the quiet months, and up to 40% in the busy months), and then many individuals both within and outside the company who play varying roles in Kelly’s high successful content marketing. This includes translations, videographers, animators, illustrators, etc). Beyond that, everything is outsourced.
Step 6: Leverage, Repurpose & Produce
The production process can be the lengthiest part of content management. Particularly if running a properly structured survey with time allowed for testing the questionnaire, rolling it out/fieldwork, analysis, report presentation & an array of design and editing required to generate a suite of marketing content. Atomizing content means breaking it into different formats and/or tailoring reports into very specific regional or industry type reports (relatively easy to do once the survey questions have covered some regions and sectors). For example, a global survey can be split and sliced in many ways e.g. gender, jobs and geography so that tailored report for engineers in Queensland, creative services people in New York, etc can easily be generated.
The research report may be 80 pages in a general term; you may do a spinoff eBook that’s 2-3 pages that’s very specific and targeted to a different audience. The research is repurposed into different elements beyond a research report to deliver ebooks, blog posts, infographics, social memes, animated infographics and more. In fact Kelly Global Workforce Index (survey) was leveraged to deliver:
1 x Survey or eBook
6 x Topics/Chapters (mini eBooks)
1000+ content pieces
200+ news releases
20+ Company events
40+ External events
30 x Countries (30 languages)
Kelly also generate white papers over consecutive years and sometimes look at the same topic over consecutive years and then go back and reinvent older pieces and refresh them. Books still have a high degree of credibility when being considered for events.
Step 7: Integrated Marketing Communications & Integrated Lead Generation
Content Marketing requires more than content generation. It’s a naturally integrated process involving everything from undertaking the research through to analysis, content development, PR, events, staff mobilisation and measurement. The web site’s front end has free content supported by a lot of social distribution around that, but then a lead registration or capture model for the really juicy pieces of content that Kelly think people are willing to go through and signup for. Marketo is the lead nurturing platform used which integrates nicely into Sales Force, with auto alerts sent to sale reps when qualified leads interact with specific content.
Step 8: Integrate, Mobilise & Distribute
Producing so much content around specifically defined keywords, with frequency, and circulating and distributing that content, both on Kelly’s own channels (slide share and youtube), plus mobilise staff and partners. Kelly wanted many people from within the organization to have an external profile. They didn’t just want it to be the top 10-20 employees, the same old people who have the senior titles. So the content management team (of 2) fought very hard to get people right down the basic operational level involved in being part of this mission. Kelly now leverage their content via staff social networks supported by a huge amount of internal content plus internal webinars. The sales teams are always briefed and equipped so they can offer added value content (e.g. sample reports, memes, infographics and even mini eBooks) at exhibitions/conferences/events. Popular posts are also promoted (they find it delivers a healthy ROI).
Hot new content is also regularly leveraged via PR (news releases). Most surveys make interesting news.
Kelly believe in Apps as part of their content marketing and they cannot over estimate the value of things like apps. ‘People like shiny stuff.’ People internally get very excited about things that maybe aren’t that strategic but that actually have some sort of cool factor that they can share with their network so they talk about it with clients. That funky factor, that thing that’s a bit lighthearted, or a bit cool or a bit new; having something like that every few months, or whenever you can justify it, has been a really helped sustain interest, momentum and a sense of excitement that stuff is happening within Kelly.
Step 9: Systematic Content Marketing
Kelly now has one of the fastest growing groups on LinkedIn with 25,000 members and another 350-400 new members a week and the reason that happens is because LinkedIn promotes it and because Kelly manages it diligently. It literally takes only 10 minutes a day to manage the Linkedin platform and yet it generates more traffic than search. Kelly’s proactive weekly email to any member of this group proactively brings people back and says ‘there’s three hot new discussions here, can you help out these guys?’. Todd believes that Linkedin Company pages is becoming, and will become more of the hub for any content and will become a much bigger channel.
With research Kelly do a lot of annual stuff, quarterly stuff and monthly stuff. It’s like self-perpetuating cycle. It’s very easy to calenderize, it’s very easy to find a process around and it gives you that layer of those core things that can help set your content and calendarization around that gives you some predictability during the year.
Kelly try to stream the same visual look across the family of content.
Clockwise: Career & Development & Upskilling Report (12.00), Employees Self-Help ebook (2pm), blog posts (5pm), infographics (6pm), social memes (7pm), animated infographics (9pm), video at 10pm
In addition to its 25,000 LinkedIn members, Todd Wheatland’s tiny team’s continual stream of great content is now reaching a tightly targeted global audience which has, in turn, lifted the monthly unique visitors by over 350% within the first 12 months. So from Kelly’s own channel through to their SlideShare channel, through to YouTube, through to other communities it’s not uncommon for those 200 keywords to have multiple Kelly results on the first pages of search results. Todd is very clear about the tight connection between content marketing, marketing objectives, bringing in leads in and closing sales.
Ongoing Results – The Knock On Effect
Events companies now invite Kelly to attend free because they have become influential content company. Some companies invite Kelly back because of their blog power. Events organisers see Kelly’s growing database, their growing audience, all of their content and often ask them if Kelly can come and cover an event? Maybe even host the event? Kelly then get given behind the scenes access to talk to the different speakers, interview them and run that through various blogs. They now increasingly make connection between topics, spokespeople, content assets and events – a self-fulfilling cycle of things. Kelly’s successful content marketing has moved them out of being the vendor, the guys in the trade hall booths and up to the guys doing a lot of hosting, but also a lot of keynote speaking around topics that are important to Kelly’s target market.
So through their dedication to relevant quality content, repurposing and promoting in an integrated process, Kelly have created an ever strengthening competitive advantage – which is rapidly becoming a sustainable competitive advantage.
PS Leveraging Your Content: Stanford University and Facebook Data Science’s research on Social Media’s ‘Invisible Audience’ was leveraged with a 30 second video announcing the research!
* Footnote The 5th annual industry-wide MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute survey of B2B content marketing (comprising 1,820 North American B2B marketers, Oct 2014). A fourth challenge is documenting your content strategy.
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- Having produced your content, yo need to know is it working? Here’s how you measure the effectiveness of your content marketing
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