Becky May on building extended teams
Outsourcing can provide businesses with cost savings, improved efficiency, access to expertise, flexibility, and risk management benefits. However, it's important for businesses to carefully consider the potential drawbacks of outsourcing, such as a loss of control and potential communication challenges, before making a decision.
In a conversation with Anirudh Singla, CEO at Pepper Content, Becky May, Senior Content Strategist at InSided talks about building external teams.
Here are some excerpts.
1. Can you please introduce yourself?
My background actually is in journalism. So storytelling has always been kind of the root of what I enjoy doing. So having that editorial background and perspective I think has made it so much easier for me to approach content marketing because it's not necessarily a traditional marketing background where you're taking a product and you're looking at the features and benefits.
It's really looking for that story and that hook and that angle and then from there kind of weaving in the product or the messaging into that and it's not necessarily what you start with. And I think that's kind of why content marketing is so much more popular than what traditional marketing has been, is because people want to read a story, they don't necessarily just want to go to a features page. I do think that those things are important, but I think that they go hand in hand. You have to have a great content marketing strategy in addition to your marketing strategy.
So I started in journalism, like I mentioned, I ended up at a digital publishing house for a while and focused on B2B beauty. I was starting to work with a lot of content creators and influencers. So I kind of pivoted more into influencer marketing. As you would imagine. The beauty industry is huge for that. So moving into B2B SaaS has been a bit of a change. But I think even though it's completely different verticals, there are thought leaders in B2B SaaS.
Nick Meta is a perfect example of that. I'd say that we even have our own set of community thought leaders that everyone knows. So I think even though they're not creating content for Instagram or Tik tok, they're writing really great think pieces and kind of personal opinions and trend reports and those are also really, really valuable to the industry, almost more than a piece coming from a brand because people want to read content from people. So I think that influencer marketing is kind of also become a huge part of our strategy, as well as just thinking, who are these thought leaders in the industry right now that we can partner with? If it's for quotes, if it's for extension of our own content, asking them if they could share a piece? All of these things, I think, are important and essential for any modern day marketing strategy.
2. How has community-led content been a key lever for you so far?
Yeah. So like you said, I think some of the most important or most read pieces of content are content and questions that come from the community because they are using the product, they actually are in it. And these could be concerns or questions or improvements and feedback that they're giving you. And other people are also in your customer base, are also thinking these things. So again, having it kind of almost be a PeerToPeer piece versus the brand telling people what we think that they want to hear, I think those pieces of content are essential and it builds that organic flywheel, you know. So, once you get people that are starting to post content, it kind of opens the door for other people to feel like they can engage in that conversation and contribute as well. So I think Community led inside it is a community platform. We're actually focusing on working on our own community, which is inspired. We just hired a new head of community so our content team is really working with him to see how do we as a content team work with our head of community to make sure that we're not only producing content in that one specific kind of platform, but also to our email customer base. There's great content that we want to make sure is getting extension not just in the community but outside of it and then also to our prospects. I think community serves a lot of different teams and I think a lot of times people think of it as just like one specific silo. But it helps with HR and recruiting, you can find great leads and potential employees from your community. You could find leads from your community and warm them up. So it's not a cold call. Like I said, those great pieces of content could be an ebook. Those come from your community. So I think the community is just kind of like a great source of all of these different content ideas and again, it just kind of trickles down into all the other areas of your company as well.
3. How's the team structured at InSided and how big is the content team?
Our content team is a team of two. We do have a larger marketing team that includes our Demand team which is about four or five people. And then our head of our VP of Marketing. He's kind of like our internal thought leader. He's the go to person for any webinar that we have, any panel. He's kind of the face of insiders marketing team. So it's really nice to have him. I think that he's kind of like my go to person to ask for that extension.
Those thought leader like hey, do you mind sharing this on LinkedIn because I know that you're going to get a lot more page views from your LinkedIn post versus our brand's LinkedIn post. So yeah, we try to just be as agile as possible given that we are a relatively small team and in terms of the strategy, we kind of focus on a campaign per quarter. So for this quarter we're doing community summer camp because we know that community content, like growth is a really hot topic right now and who doesn't love summer camp? So we kind of figured we tie those two things together. We're doing Fireside chats with different thought leaders on a biweekly basis. We just had a camp counselor session with our resident CSM and our head of community to answer any questions that people had and then we're producing, we call it our customer Talent show which is essentially a case study that we're producing every I think biweekly. So there's a mix of different content, virtual, ebook, blog content as well and we kind of try to just look at it from a quarter to quarter basis. Like what is the thing that we feel like our customers have been asking and maybe there's like a gap or a knowledge gap that we need to fill there. So we'll kind of pick an area of focus and then pick a theme because if you've looked at insider's branding at all I'd like to think that we're a pretty fun company. It's very playful. So we kind of like to have those themes tie into those educational topics as well.
4. What is your take on the quality vs quantity debate?
This is something that's been very difficult for me to learn because I feel like there are so many things that I want to tackle so I kind of have to stop myself and just really focus on what's going to have the biggest impact for the company. I think social media was something that I started for Insider and I had all these different ideas for just kind of building the brand voice and doing all these fun memes and gifs and things like that. But we really weren't seeing the type of results and clicks and meetings booked that I think were worth the amount of time it was for producing that much content.
So, to your point, the quantity was there, I don't necessarily know if the quality translated. So, we've shifted focus a little bit more on customer stories and case studies again. I think that that's the type of content that is great for her sales team, great for our BDRs to go out and have those conversations and talk about the stats and really have that as the kind of opener for their conversation too. Just to send a case study and producing those as much as we can. I think that that kind of has a bigger impact on the company.
5. What are your thoughts on using freelance creators or building extended teams?
I think that there's obviously pros and cons to outsourcing work to freelancers. I think that having subject matter experts is probably the most efficient way to do it. Just because if you have someone that maybe isn't the best writer, but they really, really understand the topic, it's easier for the writer. To go ahead and finesse it and make sure it grammatically fit, is grammatically correct and flows well, versus trying to explain an industry, a topic to someone that doesn't, or just your product to someone that has absolutely no understanding of it. You know, I think I get old LinkedIn messages all the time saying I'm a freelance writer and I'm really reluctant to dive into that just because I know how much work it can be to take on a freelance writer that doesn't have that understanding. And essentially you could end up rewriting it and it's a lot more time to put together that campaign brief and edit and send feedback. So I think if you find the right people, outsourcing is a great option, but you have to be very selective on who you end up choosing to outsource the work to. Otherwise, it's just going to be double the amount of work than you going ahead and writing it yourself.
6. Do you ever see a chance to probably think about building virtual design teams?
I do. I think it's important that you have a very built out and specific brand guidelines tone of voice. So if you are out, again, if you are outsourcing that work to other teams, that it's very clear and it doesn't feel disjointed from anything else that you've produced from the brand and it feels very seamless to what you've created in the past. But again, I do think that it is a good scalable option. Again, if you're not sure what the project volume is going to be like too, it's a great way for you to kind of temporarily outsource the work for maybe an event that you're ramping up for. And then when things kind of slow down, you don't have to have that person as a whole head count that's on your team.
7. What are things you think a content marketer should not do?
I would say my piece of advice for content marketers is to not lead with the sale. I think that effective content marketing pieces are education-focused and not necessarily product-focused because people as the readers understand content marketing so much more than what they might have five years ago. So if it's not a good piece of content, people are going to be able to tell from the first few sentences versus whether it's clickbait. So I think making sure that you're providing value in every piece of content that you're producing and not trying to trick the reader.
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