Are you ever curious about what led to a great piece of content marketing? Or do you wonder who the marketer is behind the campaign?
We're curious. We love to learn from Cobomba customers. Michelle LeBlanc, Founder at Drop & Hook sat down with our CEO, Bart Frischknecht, to shine a spotlight on her content marketing experience.
Here is a portion of the transcript from that conversation, which has been lightly edited for clarity. Check out the video for more juicy details.
Q: Tell us about your marketing journey to Drop & Hook.
A: I am a social media strategist and content marketer. I have been working in that space. over 12 years now. I started my career many years ago as a more traditional marketer in academic publishing.
It was about the time when Twitter was invented. And my boss at the time turned to me and said, you're young, figure out this Twitter thing. And long story short, I now have been doing social media for all that time.
As my career progressed, I really came to understand how social media is great for building at the forefront of who a brand is and what they are to its customers–how different audiences are thinking and feel about them. But ultimately, content has to go deeper than social and live in a lot of different spaces. I picked up some email marketing and blogging along the way.
About two years ago, I went out on my own as a consultant. I work a lot in the transportation and logistics space, so that's kind of my unique little niche.
Content marketing examples
Q: Are there any particular content marketing successes that stand out in your mind?
A: What I really love to see happen is to create an environment of self-perpetuating content machines.
This means creating content that resonates with an audience. Then they start engaging with it. And then from within those people, they start producing content on your behalf or interacting with your content in a way that turns into more content. This continues to feed the goals that you're trying to accomplish by putting content out there in the first place.
A good example is a truckload carrier I worked with. In trucking it's relatively difficult to find qualified truck drivers. You have to put an individual behind the wheel of a giant machine and not only trust them to get freight safely from point A to point B, but they're literally driving around with your brand name out there.
This brand will constantly hear back from motorists that encounter their drivers on the highway saying, “This person who stands for your brand…” And so there are a lot of different considerations at play when you look for truck drivers.
We were working on their employer brand and what they could do to recruit truck drivers. And we came to realize that there's actually a lot of whitespace or opportunity for hiring more female truck drivers.
They had a number of individuals within the company who were women who had gotten started in driving. Either somebody in their family was the driver or their husband was a driver and they got brought on and trained.
At the time, only about 3% of truck drivers were women, but this company actually had 16% of their driver workforce that were women. They also found that women were more likely to stay with the company for longer and have safer driving records. We took that really authentic insight and found a couple of employees who were long-term members of the company. We gave them some traditional media training and started creating content with them. They became ambassadors for the brand.
By doing that we simultaneously engaged their current workforce so that more people came forward with their stories. We ended up creating a video series, PR, blogs, you name it, all kinds of content.
Q: Are there particular content marketing lessons you’ve learned over the years or things you would do differently now?
A: Absolutely. There are many times when a brand wants to be able to put out a specific message and believe that people are really interested in this information. The mistake is the belief that all it's going to take is to put together the perfect blog post or the perfect little video and people are going to engage with it.
One example I’ve seen repeated a lot of times is where a brand thinks, okay, we're going to create a promotion because we just want to get people's attention and get people excited about this idea. And we’ll do a giveaway–in a particular case I’m thinking about it was a gift card–and that will be enough to get people excited to be part of our community by participating in a user generated content campaign to win a gift card.
I've seen on multiple occasions things like that kind of fall flat because you end up reaching an audience that's not actually the audience you were going after.
In one example I can think of, the truck drivers were the core audience we were looking for. But when you looked into the details of the campaign for how to target these people you resort to things like using Facebook lookalike audiences with people that already like the Facebook page because those are our people, right?
But interestingly, once we started to put the content out there to get people to engage with it, we had many stories turning up of, “Oh, well, my brother is a truck driver,” or, “My dad was a truck driver,” etc.
The theme was they all supported truck drivers, but they weren't really our right people. So in the short term, maybe you reach the goal of getting more people to like your Facebook page and consume this little bit of content. But if it's not the right people on the right content, then what is it really doing in the long run?
You might have short-term success, but it's not going to be effective or sustainable for a brand to go after that type of short-term win all the time.
Keys to success with content marketing
Q: Are there any patterns, organizational behaviors, or mindsets that you see in the organizations that are most successful with content marketing?
A: Yes! When I come in and I'm working with somebody for the first time, it's actually amazing how consistent the experience is.
I typically come with a mindset to mine content out of what is already happening in the organization. I always feel like, wow, there are so many good stories here. All you guys need to do is put the box around them and package them up. There's actually rich stuff here already.
I think people are busy in their day-to-day, or they have very specific things they have been told to go after. I think it's hard to take that strategic step back and see things with that fresh set of eyes.
Even when you’ve been in a role for a while and you’re looking for how you can do content better, it can be simple like doing an audit like you're doing it for the first time. That might make you realize there's stuff you hadn't even thought about or that you are taking for granted. Those things might be the first things that your audience members see or engage with. Or it might be the first question that's in their head when they're thinking about either your brand or the topic you're trying to get into.
Brands that are willing to do that, take a step back with that fresh set of eyes to think more strategically on occasion, I think is important.
I've seen a lot of success with companies who realize the authentic feelings that somebody has is the thing that is important, whether it is your customer, or your employees if you're doing employer branding, and that what you're trying to sell, isn’t really the thing that's important.
When they can center that user experience at the forefront of their content that's ultimately when it succeeds–when they start thinking of the content through that person's eyes.
Impact of COVID on content marketing
Q: Has your approach to marketing content or inbound marketing changed since the COVID pandemic? If so, in what ways?
A: Sure. I think people are having to be creative in ways that we didn't necessarily expect. But I think that in some ways maybe some good will come out of that because it is forcing people to think outside the box.
Also, I think there's an opportunity to do things in a way that is going to feel authentic and not going to have as many bells and whistles from a production standpoint. In the way that social media evened the playing field for big brands and small brands–everybody has the same access to a platform–maybe some of that will come to the forefront as well. I expect we will start seeing new people who are doing things really well because they're able to think on their feet like that.
I've been lucky because I work with a lot of brands that are essential to goods and supplies moving around the country so things have continued rolling for them pretty much like normal obviously with some fluctuations.
There's a fair amount of revisiting marketing budgets and thinking about where we want to spend our dollars right now and thinking about how can we plan ahead to be successful when we don't necessarily know what things are going to be like six months out or a year out from right now. That’s true for the economy in general or for our particular brand or where our customers are going to be either physically or emotionally.
I think it's forcing a lot of people to take more of a startup mindset to how they're doing things, but maybe some good will come out of that because I think it's an opportunity to try some new stuff as well.
Connect with Michelle LeBlanc
A big thank you to Michelle LeBlanc for sharing her experience with us. Drop & Hook is growing, and we wish Michelle and her team continued success.
Marketers spend too much time researching the content they create and still end up guessing about what will work. Cobomba software tracks your current content performance and identifies every question your marketing content needs to answer. You receive new content recommendations every month so you create your content in a flash and attract customers to your company.
You can see for yourself and request your free content audit today.