Breaking Content Marketing Down to the Basics With Gregory Kennedy
Content marketing is not a difficult subject. But it does have a due process when it comes to executing it. Of course, that depends on the nature of your business, who you are as a content marketer, how you focus on your audience, and much more. But in the end, it all boils down to the very basic principles of marketing.
1. Tell us about your journey till now.
I've been in high-tech marketing for my whole career of about 20 years. I started as a designer and was a creative director in advertising for 10 years. Then I moved into marketing and have been in B2B marketing for the past 12 years.
Over time, I’ve helped take three different startups to over a hundred million dollars in revenue. I was an early employee at InMobi, India's first unicorn. I then worked at Next Role, an online e-marketing platform that scaled to about 50,000 customers. And then, before going out on my own with BrandZen, I was at a travel marketing company called Sojern for five years, where I was the VP of marketing.
2. A large part of your career has been as a marketer in marketing companies. How has content marketing evolved for you?
In the early days, the focus was hardly on content. At the same time, it was relatively easier to generate leads since not many companies were marketing content online. I think the best way to describe my journey through content marketing is to start with my role at InMobi. At the time, the company had really unique data - we were able to gather data regarding different mobile ad networks and their usage. Over time, we knew what percentage of which types of devices were used in specific countries. For e.g., we could assess the iPhone versus Android mix, the smartphone versus feature phone mix, and much more. So eventually, we put together a report that detailed all of this and more. As a result, the report met with a lot of demand from advertisers and marketers. And it drove tons of downloads and a lot of press.
That was when I really saw the power of content marketing - if you had something unique, in demand, and something that would educate or help people in your target demographic; they would not just save or download it but they would also seek it out actively.
And slowly it became the core of our marketing strategy. But today, you have everyone making reports, doing content marketing, writing blog posts, and creating podcasts, so it is much more difficult to stand out, but the principles are the same - great, unique, high-quality content that educates and helps your target audience learn, grow, and do a better job with their business.
3. How do you segment your content?
It all depends on your business - some businesses have a simple segmentation; they focus on a mass audience. Others are more specific in terms of who they are looking to target. At Sojern, we targeted travel companies but had very distinct segments within that audience, which ranged from corporate hotels, mid-sized luxury hotels, or even resorts and bed and breakfasts. We also had travel and tourism companies and government tourism boards. And, we created different types of content for each of these segments.
For me, it just goes back to the best practices in content marketing like asking yourself questions like, do you have a good understanding of your segmentation, do you understand who those customers are and what they're looking for, and then create content for them?
4. How do you strategize your content and structure your team?
I think people spend too much time creating content and not enough time thinking about distribution. What you need to do is focus on how you are going to get all that content you are creating out there and build distribution into your strategy. And, no, I am not suggesting you write a whitepaper. Write ten blog posts that you can collate into a white paper, and then build a strategy around how you will promote all of those blog posts via various channels.
Think through the different content pieces that you need and almost work backward from the channel that you're trying to stuff with content and come up with a way to roll it up.
When we talk about team structure, let me tell you I’m a big fan of working with both in-house and external resources—whether they're freelancers, contractors, or agencies—and trying to get the right person for the right project. I find that external contractors have a neutral perspective of the business. They're just focused on being great writers and can work well with a content marketer and subject matter expert to deliver the final product. If you fuel these writers with the right content, strategy, and approach, you will get the absolute best result.
Marketing's job is to help sales make more money faster.
5. How do you quantitatively measure your content’s success?
In some ways, I think it's very straightforward and we must start with the question - What are we trying to do in marketing? We are trying to find customers and get them excited enough about the product that they buy it.
So you start with this premise and then everything on your marketing plan, team, and function should work towards that. Content needs to play a big part in helping that happen. You essentially segment the content depending on the funnel. If you think about your content strategy from that perspective, you can easily put KPIs on all of those different campaigns depending on the specifics of your business and what you're looking for across the funnel. That in turn will help you measure your content’s success.
6. So tell us about your current tech stack.
I’ve worked with several tools. Salesforce is ultimately the first choice for a sales database. On top of that, I've worked with a variety of different software packages. HubSpot and Marketo are really popular. You've got things like customer.io and other niche email products that can sometimes make sense depending on what you're trying to achieve. You also have intelligence products that I think are interesting.
Having said that, I think it's relatively easy for your tech stack to get complicated and expensive. So I think it's important just to keep it simple and straightforward. And choose your tools depending on the stage of growth you are at.
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