I'm always on the hunt for people who are doing content marketing really well. It's inspiring to find sites that are taking this whole process to heart. It also acts as a great resource anytime I need to boost my own creativity during this ongoing hunt for the perfect piece of content.
So when I found the Vertical Response blog earlier in the year, I felt like I had hit pay dirt. I wanted to dive in a bit deeper as they have been on point with their investment in high quality and resourceful content that seemed tailored rather well for their audience in the marketing space.
I reached out to Kim Stiglitz, the Content Marketing Director and superhero behind their brand strategy, to understand a bit more about their overall plans and how that reflects on day-to-day tactics.
Hey Kim, thanks for taking the time to do this, can you tell me about yourself?
I've been at Vertical Response for five years now, originally on the conversions team. After a bit I then moved to the retention team. We started to place a lot of focus on this "content concept" so our CEO asked me to own the strategy. Last year, we really started to run with it and now you can see the results on our blog and on our social channels.
Tell us a bit about your original content strategy, how did you get started?
I think the first thing we really focused on with each piece of content was answering a common question our current or potential customers would ask. These create really powerful evergreen content pieces. It was a great first step as it was pretty easy to find the questions most related to our core personas.
And how has this all evolved for you guys over time?
Well the simple fact we concluded early was that the more relevant the question was that we answered, the more engagement the content received. We turned this into a strategy where we wanted to start simplifying complex concepts into fun ideas.
We also started strategizing heavily around where to source the most useful questions and a resource quickly sprang up: our own customer service and sales teams. These folks talk daily with current and potential customers, so it makes complete sense that we should be basing our content off of their recommendations.
For customer service, it's a great way to find customer's pain points with a product or service and respond appropriately on the blog.
And for the sales team, we ask them consistently, "What are the hurdles you are having when trying to close a deal? What are potential customers hoping for?" It bolsters your credibility to have answers to potential questions prepared and published.
These are both great insights directly into what your content strategy should look like.
Any advice for brands looking to really step up their efforts in 2014?
I think one of the key things to think about is asking in EVERY scenario, "is there a story or resource in that?"
Almost anything that happens daily at a company should be up for consideration when brainstorming blog content. Was there an interesting conversation between creative and legal? Did a client ask a really interesting question? Could you publish a post about that? So many interesting things happen in any company that it only takes a bit of creativity to think of tons of fascinating content.
I also really recommend writing specifically for tailored audiences. There's a difference between someone who reads People Magazine and someone who reads Inc. It's important to remember this and really focus on a target reader with each piece.
Looking for some other companies with ridiculously impressive content on their blogs? Here are some of my favorites:
Zendesk - Mixing humor, resources and interesting data, Zendesk is a great resource for any marketer or small business with a creative slant.
Mint.com - Great financial planning advice for all different levels of understanding. Deep dives into complicated topics that still read simple enough for someone who just wants to learn how to save.
Whole Foods Market - Recipes, health advice and great foodie news make this a must read for any food nut. One of the most playful designs of any major company as well, which fit their personas perfectly.
ThoughtWorks - Offering any team at the company a chance to flex a little muscle, the ThoughtWorks blog offers insights into the daily operations of a software company as well as acting as an industry news resource.
37 Signals - I doubt there is a brand more honest than 37 Signals. Commonly penned by founder Jason Fried, 37 signals does a great job writing about business philosophy as well as giving a window into the daily operations of one of the internet's hottest startups.
Patagonia - As a huge outdoor nut, I love reading stories about grand outdoor adventures. Patagonia features these stories with little focus on their product.
(photo courtesy of Bigstock)