If you are looking for a podcast to learn about content marketing, then look no further.

In this podcast, we discuss the different aspects of content marketing and provide a holistic view that will not only help you drive traffic to your website but also help you generate leads.

Our special guest for this episode is the B2B content marketer Erin Balsa who has dedicated her life to content marketing. Some of her key achievements include

✨ Helped increase organic demo requests by 102% in one year

✨ Conceptualized, wrote, and project managed a research report that drove $680k+ in revenue

✨ Helped draft and launch a market category to secure a $50M Series A

Over the years, she has worked with Hubspot, G2, monday.com, among others, and founded her own company called Haus of Bold.

Be sure to check out the episode, and if you like it to share it with your friends.

Podcast Transcript

Crispino  0:09

So hi guys. Welcome to the business and remote work podcast brought to you by Wishup. I'm your host, Crispino, along with the co-founder of Wishup Neelesh Rangwani. Today we have with us Erin on the show. Erin is a B2B content marketer and host of the Notorious Thought Leader podcast. So welcome to the show, Erin.

Erin  0:29

Thanks for having me. Happy to be here.

Crispino  0:32

Awesome. So I'm really excited for this episode, as today we'll provide a holistic view of content marketing strategy designed to not only drive traffic but also generate leads and increase your revenue. So let's get started.

Erin  0:48

Sure thing.

Crispino  0:50

Awesome. So Erin, to begin with, could you start off by telling our viewers and listeners a bit about yourself and what you do?

Erin  0:58

I am Erin Balsa, and I'm a B2B content marketer. I work with software companies, particularly sales tech, mark tech, rev ops, and customer success. So really, the entire G.T.M. function, I support them by helping them build content teams. So finding the right people, because, you know, most of us that have been working for any amount of time know that your people are really what determines your success or failure, right? That's what it comes down to. So getting the right people on board, and then content, strategy, and process. So making sure people are working efficiently so that they can scale. And then execution, I still do better writing, which I love. And in my last day job, I was a marketing director, and there just really wasn't any opportunity for me to write at that point. My team was too big. So when I quit my job back in January to work for myself, I made sure to build in time for writing.

Crispino  1:54

Awesome, awesome. And now you started your own brand. The House of Bold.

Erin  2:00

You did, yeah. I recently rebranded. So when I launched my business, I was like, you know, at the accountant, and he said, Alright, so what do you want the business to officially be? We're gonna, you know, set you up. And I said, I don't know, how about Erin Balsa content marketing, and I just kind of was like stuck in the moment. And then I went to a bunch of, like, networking events, and I had to put my name and my business name on my nametag. Yeah, I'm like, this sucks. I don't want to be Erin Balsa from Erin Balsa. So I sat down and thought about what I really wanted my brand to be. I don't have plans to have employees, and I'm very happy being a one-person shop. But I still wanted to have a brand and something that really reflected myself. And something that really spoke to my clients. And that's how I landed on House of Bolds.

Crispino  2:48

That's amazing. So you also have a podcast, right? The Notorious Thought Leader. So firstly, I'd like to ask you why the name Notorious Thought Leader. How did that name come up?

Erin  2:59

So, first of all, I love Biggie. A lot of people know this about me. I have a big five-foot-tall oil painting of the Notorious B.I.G. Yes, I do. So that's just kind of a nod to my love of Biggie, and also, you know, it's poking fun at the whole term thought leadership. You know, a lot of people these days set out to become a thought leader, and a lot of them don't necessarily have what it takes to be a thought leader. Right. So this, this trending topic, especially in B2B, I have a lot of my clients saying to me, you know, I want you to. I want someone to help me create thought leadership content. And I have a lot of companies that I work with changing their blog to say, like the thought leadership blog, but if you were to poll like 10, average content marketers and say, like, what is thought leadership, I bet you, you would get ten different answers. It's very misunderstood. And I've found through my kind of quest to speak with people about thought leadership and develop my own depth of understanding on the topic. People who typically become seen as thought leaders don't set out to be thought leaders, right? They're practitioners, they have their hands in the data and the details, and they're able to then develop these leading thoughts. So the whole word notorious, you know, it has a lot of negative connotations, like 'the notorious criminals.' So I just wanted to kind of poke fun at the whole concept of thought leadership because it is meaningful, and it can help you grow a business, but it's misunderstood. So that's kind of where the name came from.

Neelesh  4:33

Yeah. So actually, you know, when we talk to any P.R. agencies, you know, public relations, they use this term a lot. I say they misuse this term a lot, you know, you know, will make you a thought leader, will give you a stage somewhere where you can, you know, tell people what you do. I never understood it, and really what is thought leadership? So what is it according to you?

Erin  4:55

So, this is funny so. I just launched a newsletter, and the first issue went out today, and I said in it if you can't define thought leadership, you shouldn't be selling thought leadership writing as a service, right? Because what are you selling? I've seen people say, you know, thought leadership, can I use an A.I. writing tool to do thought leadership? Of course, you can't because that's the complete antithesis of what thought leadership is. Right? Exactly. The robot, regurgitating what's out there. It's new, creative, original thoughts. So I challenged myself to not only be able to define thought leadership but be able to do it in 10 words, so the really simplified boiled-down definition. And for me, thought leadership is the practice of sharing original thoughts that shape the conversation. So it's great. If you're out there and you're educating, it's great. If you're out there and you're influencing others. Those are important things to be doing. But that's not thought leadership and thought leadership is original thoughts. New takes iterating on the way things are currently done, finding new ways to solve problems, and coining new frameworks and disciplines. And by doing so, you're actually shaping the trajectory of your industry.

Neelesh  6:13

Got it? Hey, Crispino, I got a new title for our blog. For our podcast, this one thought leadership on content marketing.

Crispino  6:22

That is actually a good title, yes, and many would say even Erin is a thought leader already in the content marketing space. I've been following your posts on social media on LinkedIn, and yes, it is very thought-provoking, and you are paving the way, I would say, for many content marketers out there. Yeah.

Erin  6:37

Which is funny because that's something else that a lot of people have said to me. I've said that to others who I view as a thought leader. I don't view myself as a thought leader. I actually think, if anything, I might be influential, like maybe I have some influence, and I help educate and teach. But I'm not necessarily like coming out with new frameworks, I think of myself a lot as a kind of, like, an investigative journalist, and it goes back to my journalism background. I love to find out why and to understand things deeply. And that's kind of the journey that I'm on with trying to get to the heart of what thought leadership is and help others that are B2B marketers understand it so that they can do a better job with it. In creating it.

Crispino  7:19

It's beautiful. So when I found this on your website when I was going through your profile, you joined Predictive Index in 2018, and you increased the organic demo requests by 102% in one year. So how did that come along? Could you tell us a bit more about that journey?

Erin  7:35

Yeah. So I joined P.I. in 2018 as a content team of one, which is a really amazing, fun challenge, right? So coming on, being tasked with creating process, adding people building this engine, really, because they hadn't necessarily had an engine. So when I said this whole thing about, you know, I helped increase hand raiser leads, it wasn't just me. I was not a team of one at this point. By this point, I had built a content team across that year; I think that we did that. And it wasn't right away. It wasn't in 2018. This didn't happen. It took time to build. And this was more like 2020 into 2021. And by then, I had a team under me. I think I had six or eight people at the time. We had a really strong demand gen director, and we're working in conjunction as a team to brand demand content working as one. And together, we, the marketing function, did this together. This is something that one person is not going to come in unnecessarily and do this unless you're absolute, yeah. So just wanted to be clear on that. It wasn't like the Erin Balsa show. It was the marketing team that put together this great plan. And so, really, I think what we did that was the most successful was we had been really strong with our content, and people loved our content. We were very lucky to have a really interesting topic that people really deeply care about, which is hiring, hiring the right people for your team and your company, managing how do you get the most out of your people engaging. How do you engage your people? Right? So these are really easy to write about topics with endless possibilities. That was good. We also had a unique angle we had at the beginning in 2018. I was hired to help launch a we're trying to create a category right we have this new discipline that we created called Talent optimization. So we're not like everyone else being like, here's how you hire here are some boring hiring best practices. We're like, Yo, here's how you do it with talent optimization. This is new, and this is interesting. This is like an endless abundance of content ideas. So we had all those things going for us. However, as many people who might be listening to this are familiar with. Sometimes when you join a new company, your marketing and sales kind of outlook might not align with what's currently happening, and so, for example, you might be gating every single asset, and then maybe the motion is, oh, here's an email, here's a phone number sales are gonna call them and be like, Hey, you downloaded this ebook, do you want to talk? They're gonna be like, obviously, no. I just wanted to read this ebook. So that is kind of what was the motion at first when I first got there, and again, this was going back years. This is really common still back then, a lot of people were gating every single asset. Now, that was just something that had to change because we all know, at the time, content was our number one lead type. So people loved our content. They were filling out the forms to get it, we called them, and they would not be ready to buy. So the conversion rate from we were considering it an M.Q.L. Like we're qualifying you because you gave us your information, even though you made your first ebook so that needed to change. So we realized that pretty fast, and we built an interactive learning center so that people were not forced to give their information so that we were inviting them to give their information if they wanted to, and there was a real lot of value in doing so. So rather than the value of reading one little ebook that probably could have been a blog post, they were unlocking all of this content, all of this entire library, and there were interactive courses, there were videos, there were certifications, there were templates, you know, you could actually use all these templates in your business right away. That's a lot of value and what I tried to think about when I work with clients is with somebody and your target audience pay money for this piece of content? Could you sell this piece of content? If not, it shouldn't be behind the form. We moved to kind of that mentality. So we invited people to create a learning account and learn about talent optimization with us over time, and that really helped, and we started seeing when we gave them some breathing room and space and time to interact with our content. They were more willing to then raise their hand and request a demo. And we all know that the demo requests close at a much higher rate than when we're calling them first.

Crispino  2:28

Yeah, absolutely. Something to learn for us. Because yeah, yeah. And I think even Gary Vaynerchuk speaks a lot about this in his book, 'Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook' I think I got the name wrong of that. But he talks about giving out free content, adding value to the user, and then eventually asking for a sale or closing for sale. So I think that's similar.

Neelesh  2:49

What I liked about this was what Erin just said, would the users pay for this content? Only then should you put it behind a blocker or, you know, ask them an email address. Did I get that right, Erin?

Erin  3:02

yeah, that's how I think. I mean, everyone's different, some people think you should get absolutely nothing, and that might work for your business model. But a lot of times, we have some sort of leads that we have to be generating, and it can take a little bit of time to build the momentum so that you're getting enough hand raisers. So this is kind of a smart way to think about your if you are going to gate, just be sure that you're maybe getting the best content or the right things.

Neelesh  3:29

Yeah. So this is one of the attributes. So let me ask a follow-up question on that. This might look like a very common question, Erin, but this could be a thought leadership question again, so what are the key attributes of good content? Or what does good content look like? Or feel like?

Erin  3:50

If I had to boil it down to the simplest answer, it's customer-centric. Okay, what do I mean by that? What defines good content is going to be completely different if I'm creating content for a C.M.O. or if I'm creating content for an individual contributor who's been working in marketing for three months, completely different, the format might be different, the voice might be different, the depth might be well will be definitely different. And even whether I'm going to be leading with an educational piece of content, or customer-centric, you know, opinion, piece of thought leadership piece, I'm not going to do thought leadership, on marketing for somebody who's an ISV, who has been working for three months, they're not ready for that. They're not ready to have their mind bent and to think about the industry in new ways. They just have to figure out what the hell they're doing so that they can just do the job that they've been hired to do. So I'd say that good content is really customer-centric. And not just like the customer like we, you know, we have a tool for marketers a, we have a tool for sales reps. Yes. That's good. But what level are they? Where have they been? How much do they know? What do they want to learn? Like for me right now today? Like I can't remember the last time I actually Googled to find an answer to something that I do every day. With the exception of technology, like maybe I'm trying to find a technology to help me do this thing. But I'm not like, how do I write an SEO blog? Like, how do I make a C.T.A. like I was doing that years ago. So those types of search engine-optimized articles they're not going to work for me today. Today, I want you to really get me to think of things in a new way. So it really depends. I can't just like give the best answer for what's good content. It's customer-centric and audience-centric.

Crispino  5:49

I think that does make a lot of sense. So you spoke earlier about writing a lot of content when you joined I.P., So I wanted to ask you a follow-up question on that. How did you distribute it? Like how did you get it out there? To the right audience, like what? What methods have you used? Did you use paid ads or social media to repurpose the content? Like how did y'all reach the audience with it?

Erin  6:13

So at my last company, we worked hand in hand with paid, so the team that handled paid P.P.C., and we had a lot of success with that play, especially with like templates and reports. And we also had a lot of success with retargeting ads. So, for example, we had someone who found us through a blog, and then they read the blog and then they raised their hand to sign up for our newsletter. They read the newsletter; they created a learning account with that learning center that I was talking about. They looked around, they looked at some courses, and then they kind of ghosted us and went quiet for a while, we put out a report, which we would put out a few a year, and we retargeted them, and they read the report, and then they went back into the learning center, took some courses and then requested a demo. So it's about thinking about how you can use content not only to get new eyeballs but to get return eyeballs. So, for people who are already familiar with the brand familiar with the solution, how can we get them back into our ecosystem, because those people probably be the easiest people to get to buy, right? As opposed to starting fresh, they know nothing about you. They might still be exploring their own problem and exploring solutions. So we always try to think about that as a big motion as well. We also do a lot of events, so we could have one or two webinars a month. And we would do a lot of, you know, roadshows, cold marketing, a lot of going on other people's podcasts, and webinars and going on the speaking circuit. And we did a lot of partner marketing. So we used our partners as a distribution channel as well, we had about 800 partners around the globe. And we would ensure that with especially our biggest campaigns, we weren't like you have to share every blog post they would sometimes because they find it valuable. And we found ways to create attribution links so that our partners, even if they were sharing it on social or sharing it with their own newsletter, in their own newsletter if one of their prospects clicked a link and signed up for a demo on our site, they'd get the bid to get the account and the credit. Chip. Yes, essentially. So that is another good distribution channel that a lot of people don't really think of as a distribution channel.

Neelesh  8:40

Yeah, yeah. Hey, I have a question about the distribution channel. So Erin, do you think that it's important to keep yourself updated with a different types of channels? What I mean is, say, for example, let's say at one point of time newsletters were very successful, then probably blogs were very successful, then probably podcasts are or will be successful, then there is Tik Tok or videos, which are successful. Do you think it's important for content marketers to keep updating themselves on the new channels? Or does it not matter over a long period of time?

Erin  9:25

I think yes and no, yes, you should always understand what is going on, so that you're up to date on your industry, and so that you're able to understand whether or not this is something worth investing in at the same time a lot of marketers don't succeed because they don't commit to a certain strategy or certain channel, and they have shiny object syndrome. They're like, oh, like, let's try doing this thing. Let's try this. Let's try Tik Tok. Let's try Twitter when they probably would have a lot more success if they went heavy and deep into one or two and did it really well. And then once they had proven success, yeah, then maybe we see for audiences, you know, into LinkedIn live or if they're into Tik Tok, for example, and it really depends on who your audience is.

Neelesh  0:21

So, for example, sorry, I'm following up on that question. It's for most people, and it's obvious that the B2B audience should be easily found on LinkedIn, let's say. But frankly speaking, we guys never had much success on LinkedIn, we had much better success on Instagram or Facebook. Why is this?

Erin  0:41

Why is that? I mean, please your audience that makes a big difference, right? Like, where are they spend their time? How old are they? Were they digital, natives? Where they not? Like, are they early adopters for technology, like that makes a big difference too there are some audiences that are the next, you know, the next greatest tech they're gonna be in at first because, you know, the early adopters, of course, they're going to be on Tik Tok, you know, they're young, they have a preference for consuming content via short video snippets, of course, they're going to be on Tik Tok. Now, the audiences that I tend to work with more, maybe aren't necessarily going to be there right away. Think about what was that, uh, oh, my God, I'm forgetting the name of it. Now, about two years ago, there was that new platform where you had to, it was like, audio only, but it was live, you would like go into a room that was a conversation happening. And a lot of people that were in my kind of ecosystem, so older people, Gen X, you know, 40s 50s, some of them were exploring this new platform, which I thought was really, really cool. Definitely was not widespread adoption with that population. But there were some that were trying it most didn't stay in last row. Like I tried it. It's just too much of a commitment for me, which is interesting, because a lot of these people, yeah. Do you know what I'm talking about? I don't want to be talking too deeply about Yeah.

Neelesh  2:19

Yeah. Yeah. So so this is this is the platform from which I think Twitter copied that those that, you know, feature where people would come together. And yeah, I know, I forget the name.

Erin  2:31

So that's a perfect example of like, so a few people who are early adopters that I typically would be talking to and selling to on LinkedIn checked it out. And for them, it was too much of a commitment for me, I checked it out, it was too much of a commitment because I have kids. So I can't just be like dialing into a live conversation. Because my kids are going to come in the room and scream, like I need to do these kinds of things, through text through chat, or at a time, like right now when my kids are at school. I can't just be like dialing into these conversations at night. Now a younger audience who maybe doesn't have kids yet, or maybe doesn't have, like, yeah, maybe they can. And that was really popular with that kind of younger. Maybe on there all night long.

Crispino  3:12

You'll mean discord?

Neelesh  3:14

No, no, not, discard? No.

Erin  3:16

I probably still have it on my phone. So let me see. If I do.

Neelesh  3:20

Yeah, so

Erin  3:22

Clubhouse right.

Neelesh  3:24

Yes, yes. Yes. That that really, you know, caught on with the audience in 2020 is during COVID time, and then it just disappeared for some reason. But yeah. Yeah.

Erin  3:37

Yeah. So I think yeah, so age, time, what else you have going on in their life? All of that matters. You know, preferences. Yeah.

Crispino  3:48

So Erin, based on your experience working in the b2b industry, like we are in the B2B SaaS kind of market. So what kind of content do you think creates the most impact?

Erin  4:00

Again, content that's customer-centric. So it really depends, like, so if I'm selling into CHRO, so Chief Human Resource Officers, which I was in my last job. They, yeah. Yeah. So they're not going to be googling? Yeah, go ahead. Sorry.

Crispino  4:21

I'm saying our audiences as well, would be like entrepreneurs, founders of startups. Okay. That kind of an audience here.

Erin  4:29

Super busy. Right? So probably, what kind of content content that's going to make their life easier. So what's going to make their life easier? What are their biggest problems? How can you help them take action in the widest lift possible, right? So I don't know I wouldn't be able to tell you what's the right content.

Crispino  4:55

We do have a great solution for them virtual assistants.

Erin  4:59

Okay, So, yeah, so like, say, Say me, I'm a busy entrepreneur, right? So what what kind of content would catch my interest in that area? Um, so I can tell you what I would be interested in. I'm a bit of a control freak. I think a lot of entrepreneurs potentially the like, I could never delegate, because it would take me too long to document the way I do things, or other people couldn't get up to speed quick enough. So maybe some like, really short, interesting stories, like success stories for people like me are people I trust. So like, Oh, I know. So and so they have a similar business to me. Oh, that's interesting that they had success. And maybe like, here's a way to document your S.O.P.s, or standard operating procedures in you know, 20% of the time, as opposed to just sitting down and typing it out. Because that's, for me, like I, when I had a team, of course, you need to document your S.O.P.s, you have to document the way you do things that others can follow. When you're a one person show you, sometimes you're just like, go, I don't have time to stop and document these things, then I'm never going to be able to outsource stuff that's not documented. So I would be interested in Teach me how to do that without sitting down and typing everything. That takes a long time to get everything from my head onto a page. So are there any hacks? Are there any tips so that I could hire a virtual assistant? Because for me, you know, there's always, why do people not say yes, of course, the biggest number one is status quo, there's going to maintain doing things the way they are, even if it's not great, because it's not painful enough to make me make that move. But if you show me maybe you dig into the pain, a little bit like it is actually painful, because you could outsource this one thing that you do every day for an hour, you could have an extra five hours a week to go to the gym, you've wanted to get in shape forever. But you say you're too busy. You're not if you just got this documented, S.O.P. down, you could have a virtual assistant, and now boom, you have five free hours to go get your health back. It's like building those narratives, telling those stories, and really, you know, motivating people to change and making that change as easy and painless as possible.

Crispino  7:19

Got it. So a lot of, go ahead Neelesh.

Neelesh  7:22

So I have a, no, I was changing the topic.

Crispino  7:26

Okay, I have a follow up question. I mean, just confirmation. So it's basically a lot of case studies, in a storytelling format with product demos. If I understood that correctly,

Erin  7:36

maybe, maybe not. It's understanding what pain I have. How can you maybe make me feel like that pain is worth solving, and show me how I could do it. So I don't know exactly what the format is going to be. I'm just one person. But say everyone's just like me, I spent a lot of time on LinkedIn. I have a lot of friends on LinkedIn that I trust that I think are smart, successful people. I, I struggle with documenting my S.O.P.s. And that's why I haven't outsourced really barely anything to anyone yet. And I do complain and moan and complain about working too much and not having enough time. So it's not that I don't want to, I would if I could solve this problem. But I don't know how other than sitting down for like a week straight and typing everything that's in my head onto paper. So maybe you have some sort of email drip course, every day for 30 days you send me one thing to do today is going to take you five minutes a day. Okay, so today, I need to do this thing. And that's it five minutes a day. And then by the end of 30 days, I've documented my S.O.P.s. And now I can hand that off to a V.A. and get my time back. Maybe it's that? I don't know.

Neelesh  8:51

Yes. Got it. So I have a I have a very different question for you Erin so, you know, the viewers of our podcasts are entrepreneurs, but sometimes they are also a lot of candidates. So there's this question about good content versus average content. So they say, you know, average content is as good as bad content. Right? So the question is, I mean, I read that I read that somewhere. So the question is, let's say if somebody is a new content writer, or let's say somebody is an average content writer, is it possible for an average content writer to become a good content writer or right, what can somebody do to become a good content? Or is it possible or is it not possible? Is it like a skill that you're born with? Or how is it?

Erin  9:37

Well, I would say that my, my opinion has slightly changed over time, which is good. It's always good to keep your opinions open to changing. I always said, I always said you either have the natural ability or you don't. And the reason I said that is because I've been hiring and training, and onboarding writers for over a decade. And a lot of people just didn't get better. And I felt like I had to, you know, spoon feed them. And I would give this really like detailed explanations and line edits. And I just could not get them to where they needed to be. So my view was always good people can become great, but mediocre and bad people can never become good. And then maybe I began to realize maybe it was just me and my teaching style. Because I have never, you know, I haven't been through a master's degree program to teach me how to teach adults to write better. Everything I know, is based on myself and my on the job figuring out experience, right? I've been an editor, I was never trained to be an editor. Yeah, I went and took some courses after becoming an editor so I could get better. But, like, I never had professional training. So maybe with the right teacher who understands pedagogy around adults, and writing, perhaps they could, but with your average editor and a startup or a company, hell no, because they're not going to necessarily have that pedagogy to teach you. They're just going to teach you based on here's what you do, and do this better. And why can't you get it? And it's kind of frustrating. Yeah, I don't know. Maybe it's me? No,

Neelesh  1:36

I asked this question. Because, you know, there are certain professions in which the industry is skewed towards good people. So, for example, if I talk about software developers, right, even an average software developer makes it really good in life. But in content, that's not the case in content, you know, the good content writers take up the major share or major chunk of the market. And, you know, the average ones, you know, still struggle. So that's why I wanted to ask this question.

Erin  2:08

Yeah, I mean, I think anyone can get better. But can some people become like, great, only maybe with like the right teaching, I teach it very hard. I found it very hard to get people to great. Definitely getting good people to Great, that's not hard, because they have aptitude. And a lot of that, I think, is like some of its taste, honestly, like a lot of creativity is taste you're matching your natural, like, you just have it, or you don't kind of in a sense, you can hear you can hear the words. You can see them on the page, and almost like they come to life on the page. And you can say like, yeah, yeah, good. And some people, I think they're just lacking that, like, taste. Yeah. It's hard to teach. Yes,

Neelesh  2:58

that's true. That is true. Yeah, Crispino.

Crispino  3:02

So Erin, I'd like to ask you a bit about content strategy now. So what is the basis on which you create or like, Do you have a checklist for creating a content strategy? What do you look out for?

Erin  3:15

Yeah, I think a strategy in four chunks. So I think sometimes clients actually aren't really ready for a strategy. And the reason I say this is, either you're so early, that you're still like in beta. And you're just trying to understand, if you have like product market fit, you don't need some big complicated strategy. Or maybe you don't even have enough content for like different parts of the funnel. And I hate to talk about the funnel, because it's kind of an antiquated concept. But let's say we're getting people to understand what this tool is and why they need it, and how it could make them have a better life. We don't need to be ranking for 100 keywords, we don't need to have necessarily SEO be our first play, we might just need the right messaging so that we can deliver it to people that we're having conversations with. So I think that it's first of all understanding, do we actually need like a real true strategy? Or do we just need a couple of a process and a couple of steps that we're going to try, and then we'll kind of build from there. On the other hand, some people are already creating so much content, and it's such a hot mess, and they're so stressed, and they have like 20 different vendors, and they have all these internal stakeholders, and everyone's confused. They might not need a strategy, they might just need to have some process to help them work together better. And then once they're actually working together, they're slowing down, then they're going to have a strategy. So just want to say that, like, it's not always that you need this huge, gigantic strategy. For content. You need a plan. You always have a plan, but a whole strategy. It's kind of a it's a complicated thing. You get some good It's expensive. And if you don't have the internal people that know how to execute this thing, then you don't necessarily need this gigantic strategy. If I have some junior person who just got out of college yesterday, I'm not going to hand them a strategy and be like, once a quarter, we're going to do a research report. And then we're going to chop it up. And we're going to remember, like, what the hell you're talking about, like, I just know how to write an article. So you got to also like, work with who you have, take time to get the right people, and go from there. So I would say, number one is goals. So I always start with, like, what goals we trying to achieve. And then from there, there are four parts of the strategy. Number one is planning. So what is our process for planning? What kind of content we're going to create? What's our ideation process? How are we going to collect ideas from people across the business? How are we going to collect ideas from our customers? And when I say customers, I don't just mean our paying customers, I mean, the entire customer lifecycle. So our audience, how are we going to collect ideas from them? How are we going to automate that? So we can do that at scale? How are we going to take our ideas and get them into our project management tool? How are we going to prioritize which ideas we're going to create? How are we going to align that with our product roadmap, or our event roadmap? So planning is like a really complicated thing. And a lot of people don't have a process, they just kind of say, Hey, what should we write about this month? And that's not a process, right? So helping to understand that. And then planning, how are you going to handle content requests, are you going to be a ticket taking function or a strategic content function, and that needs to be talked about and decided, so here is your resource you have, you know, two writers and videographer and a graphic designer, they don't have infinite hours in the month, they can only do this amount of work. So you're going to be carving out, you know, maybe 30% of their time is for taking requests, maybe 30% of time is for executing the roadmap that you've defined, and then maybe you know, 30% of their time is left open, so that you're able to capture capitalize on opportunities, as you see them come up. Could be trending topics in the news. It could be maybe you know, somebody on sales is like I noticed this interesting problem. People are getting stuck on this one thing. Okay, cool. So how can we spin up a campaign in the moment based on that need? So I think, um, the content strategy has to be, has to be planned out, like, what is that percentage of workload gonna look like? And it's flexible, you know, there might be ebbs and flows. But if you don't decide that and make that part of your plan, you're going to end up being a ticket taking function, and you're going to be like a hamster in a wheel. This one needs this, this one says they want this, this one needs this, and then you're never truly able to be working in a strategic fashion.

So that's the first part of content strategy. And then, you know, after planning is execution, how are you going to create the content? What kind of content are you going to create? And why? What does it look like? What are the steps, so if you're going to be creating reports, okay, that's cool. But you got to bake in the distribution, you can't just like, be like, here's a report. Now what, because what is happening, you put on social, you put it in your newsletter, and then you never hear about it again. So when you're baking in the distribution into the planning process, you know that you're going to create a report in a certain way. So that it's going to be really easy for you to chop it up and turn it into blog posts, chop up those blog posts and turn it into a LinkedIn carousel, chop up that carousel and turn it into a Twitter thread. There are all these different ways of slicing and dicing assets. In the planning phase, as well, I also think about the strategic narrative. Because after working with a lot of clients, I find the same thing happens again and again, clients spend a lot of money with an expensive agency to come up with a strategic narrative. And then they end up not doing very much with it. When a blog post gets delivered by a freelancer, they're like, oh, yeah, can you add some of the strategic narrow the product marketing? Can you add the strategic narrative into this content? And then you end up having this really shitty content? Because it used to have a storyline it used to flow well, but now someone in Product Marketing got asked to add the strategic narrative, and now it's like this jumbled mess. That's actually like not customer-centric anymore. Yeah. So what a better approach is is to bake the strategic narrative into the planning process, and that's something that I've developed over many years of seeing that that had to be part of planning. Okay, so we have planning, we have execution distribution, which, again, is thinking about working with other teams so working to distribute things, retargeting ads? Are we working with A.B.M.? Are we planning any specific campaigns that we're sending some sort of gift or some sort of box to target accounts? What are we going to do there? How are we going to do that once a quarter, what percentage of our resources gonna be dedicated to that, and then, you know, measurement, which a lot of times, the cool thing about measurement is, the content team needs to know what they need to measure. And they need to know what they're going to you based on the feedback they get, they don't have to be the ones actually doing the thing. And that's something a lot of writers especially, I think, from my experience, and from talking to a lot of writers, writers, or creatives, there's a reason that they got into that field. A lot of writers are scared of numbers and data, and analytics. And I'm here to say, it is possible to grow your career if you're a little scared of analytics, because you just have to know what you need to see. You need to have the right people that can pull the data for you into dashboards using tools like Domo, and you need to know how to interpret that data and make better decisions, but you don't have to be the one to be in the software setting up the dashboards. And I think that misunderstanding holds a lot of creatives back from rising and an organization when relation.

Neelesh  1:35

So brilliant, actually, I would, you know, listen to this recording again and take notes again because this was a lot of gyaan.

Crispino  1:46

Yeah, gyaan, I don't think Erin knows 'gyaan' is like an Indian slang for knowledge.

Neelesh  1:54

Sanskrit. It's Sanskrit slang for knowledge, like insights, deep insights are called 'gyaan,' and it is usually given by gurus like teachers.

Erin  2:02

love it. Learn something new every day.

Crispino  2:08

Erin, I wanted to ask you one thing, you spoke about measurement in the last sentence. So how exactly do you measure the success of your content?

Erin  2:17

So ultimately, it comes down to your business motion, right? So if your sales lead, maybe it's, are you driving hand raisers to request a demo? And are those the right hand-raisers? How those actually converting to sales? Opportunity, right? Am I driving all the wrong people to request a demo? And it's never going anywhere, then? That's not great. But if I'm driving the right people, and it's working out in there, converting Okay, then I'm doing a good job. I'm making sales easier. Or if you're, you know, have a freemium or a free trial, it's driving product, signups? Am I driving enough product signups and content is usually involved as well. And getting those trial users, it was freemium users to become paid users? So are we helping to, you know, convert people there as well? If your partner lead is content, driving partners to sign up to become partners because that's the ultimate snowball effect. So I would say those are my three big metrics. You know, of course, you can say pipeline at the end of the day. Yeah, of course, marketing should be driving the pipeline. But I mean, we're our goal is to get the right people. Yeah, sales of it sales lead, or to get the right partners to raise their hand to become a partner to get the right people into the product and to get them to become paid users.

Neelesh  3:46

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Hey, well, Crispino, we have been discussing about this top of the funnel, and bottom of the funnel is the time right to ask this question. Yes, yes, it is. Okay. So Erin, you know, for a while, we have been, you know, pushing out content on our blogs and, you know, other channels. And then I keep asking Crispino, hey, when would the leads start coming in? So then Crispino, you know, talk to some of the experts like yourself, and, you know, he came back to me, and he said, you know, we are writing a lot of top of the funnel content, we need to write more of the bottom of the funnel content. Now, he has been repeating this for some time, and I asked him the same question, what is the bottom of the funnel? And I understand what's top of the funnel, but what is the bottom of the funnel? So can you shed some light on that? I mean, we are completely lost there. Yeah.

Crispino  4:37

Not completely Neelesh. I wouldn't say that. But yeah, go for it.

Neelesh  4:41

Okay, maybe Crispino knows it and he has figured it out. But I haven't. So I would love to hear your opinion on that.

Crispino  4:47

We've been getting some leads from some blogs. So I put in the seller completely lost there. But yeah, I mean, surely I can share some insight into that. Yeah. Yeah. So

Erin  4:55

awareness. Essentially, I think of it like, well, top of the funnel, I think of it like awareness. So these are people who they're not they don't have their wallets out. They're not like actively looking to purchase a solution, but they're interested in a topic. And I actually was looking at your website and let's say I saw one that I thought was a good example of a top-of-the-funnel. So for example, 'Top six places to work from when working remotely, is a top-of-the-funnel blog post for people in your audience that work remotely, especially if they're digital nomads, or especially if they like live in a city in a small apartment, they're going stir crazy, and they want to know where they can go work remotely. And they're, you know, you know, other than a cafe like maybe you have some good suggestions. That's a topic that's interesting to me, that has nothing to do with me having intent to purchase, right? No, I'm not considering you. It has nothing to do with your company or your offer. It's just an interesting topic to me. Yeah. So if you start getting that kind of interesting content in front of me, places where I spend time, I'll start to say, Oh, this company Wishup. Okay. And I probably won't think much of you. I might not even go on your website and see what you even do at this point. However, your name is going to be familiar to me. And then maybe someday down the road. If I hear someone say something about Wishup. I'm like, oh, yeah, I know that company. Oh, yeah, they put up that cool content or remote work. Let me check them out. And then I'm starting to do my own self-discovery. And I'm pushing myself down deeper in the funnel, right? So middle of the funnel content. I think of that we're at consideration. So you move from awareness to consideration. So, for example, I've already read 10 of your blogs, and I've been following you on social. Somebody mentioned your name. I heard you on a podcast. And now I'm like, let me check out this company. And this is where you start to see sometimes direct traffic. If you're looking at Google Analytics, yes. Yeah. Now I'm going, and I'm checking out some of your other content. And I see this other blog that seems pretty interesting to me. It's a step-by-step guide, How to hire a virtual assistant for your business. And I'm like, Oh, that's interesting. Because I want a business and I'm bogged down, I'm busy. Let me check this out, right? I'm not saying I'm ready to hire, and I'm ready to hire one today. But I'm just trying to explore the topic. I'm considering maybe hiring a virtual assistant, not today, I'm not making a decision, then the bottom of the funnel is like decision, okay, I know I need to hire a frickin virtual assistant today, or I'm gonna lose my mind, the pain is real, I'm ready. And that is when you get the bottom-of-funnel content. That is when I'm deciding if I want to use you or your three competitors. Okay, and that is content that's going to aid me in my decision.

Neelesh  7:48

What could be an example of that?

Erin  7:51

A competitor blog. So you know, comparing Wishup versus one of your competitors. That might be something I might stumble upon organically. That might be something that you target to me, that might be something that if you knew that I made some sort of search query, and I was searching for a competitor. Now maybe you're going to serve up an ad to me about you. And maybe the ad isn't just a basic ad. Maybe you're actually serving me up a content piece that's like this competitor that you just search for versus Wishup because you already know I'm trying to make my decision, you know that I'm in the decision phase.

Neelesh  0:03

So comparison with competitors is one type of bottom-of-the-funnel content. Okay, that's new for me. Did you know that Chripino?

Crispino  0:12

It's already in the works, really,

Neelesh  0:13

Are there any other examples where bottom up, which is bottom of the funnel, for example, comparison with competitors, what else could be a bottom of the funnel?

Erin  0:25

A lot of times bottom of the funnel comes into play during the sales process. So it'd be sales enablement content if your sales lead content that you can give your reps to help close the deal. Maybe it would be I mean, I've done some really interesting sales lead content and interactive pages. So pages that are based on industry, and they'll have a case study at the top and it'll be like, here's someone in your industry with your same problem. And then you can click through you can read some data points, you can read some features about the software, you can compare us against two other competitors all in one place, and this interacts with a page that's a good example of what you can do with bottom of the funnel content.

Neelesh  1:04

Got it. So case studies competition comparison. Okay, got it.

Erin  1:11

Yeah, and the reason I kind of hate the idea of the funnel, and I said, it's antiquated. It's because in the past, like, the company was in control, we would tell people here like you're gonna fill out this form, and you're gonna get into this nurture, and we're gonna shoot like jam this down your throat until you say yes, and nowadays, like the power lies with the consumer. You know, there's a shift toward my friend Ashley Fosse. She says the content playground like you're creating this playground of content so that people explore on their own terms. And a lot of times, like, in the past when someone to come on and demo they like, you know, they wanted to learn all about the product, they didn't know anything. Now they know everything. They don't want to hear your like sales pitch, they just want to like see the product in action, and just make sure that it's gonna work for them.

Neelesh  1:58

Got it? Hey, Erin, you keep saying that, you know, a funnel is a very antiquated concept. You know, and you know that this always reminds me of what HubSpot has been marketing for some time, you know, they say, Hey, funnel is old. Let's talk about the flywheel. What's your opinion on that?

Erin  2:16

Yeah, I mean, I love the concept of the playground, when I heard that, that totally resonated with me, and especially my own buying habits. Because I mean, I don't like to be forced into anything. I'm like, very, you know, strong-willed, independent, like, don't tell me what to do. Don't force me to have this journey that I don't want to have, like, just be there, put out good content or consume it when I feel like on my own schedule, and I think that's how people are these days.

Neelesh  2:42

Yeah, no, but have you heard about the concept of flywheel like, you know, like you're bringing in more consumers?

Erin  2:48

Yeah, that's the whole concept of the whole G.T.M. team working as one unit, right? So in the past, it was very siloed, you had your siloed marketing team. That was a big delineation between marketing to sales, right? And then a big delineation between once you become a paying customer, then they're handed off to customer success, and now it's not like that, right? So now, it's all about working together as a flywheel. Because the customer journey doesn't end when they become a customer. You're constantly trying to create new values so that they're expanding, and you're using a landing and span motion, you're putting them back into the sales cycle. And so you're also thinking about how your customers can become your evangelists and start creating generated content. And that really helps you go even faster.

Crispino  3:34

Got it. Awesome. So adding just a final question, like how long does it take, on average, to see results from your content? Like to get leads? Once an article is out? Say it's distributed? Like, is there any average time that you can set on when you can start seeing results?

Erin  3:53

I don't know. I think it would probably depend on how expensive your product is and how long your sales cycle lives. How many people are on the buying team? How big of an ask it is? I mean, am I popping down a credit card to pay $10 a month to try a software? I mean, I could find out about you today and try you today. That's not a very big investment on my behalf. If I'm working with, you know, enterprise client and this product is $750,000 a year, and it's going to require your I.T. that buy-in to make this change to get like, you know, 30,000 employees onto this new software. That sounds like well might be a year I might have to involve with securement department, I might need to get all of this buy-in and approval. So even if the very first touch to the time that you request a demo and say yeah, I want to learn more than that might happen relatively soon, but by the time content finishes doing the job to assist in the sale, that could be a year or more so hard to say you know with reports I've seen leads come in as soon as like a month after a report goes live. But I've also seen leads continue to come in for up to two years. So it depends on the content piece and the longevity of a content piece.

Crispino  5:15

When you say report, what exactly do you mean by the report, Erin?

Erin  5:20

So the report is when you're publishing original data, so proprietary data, and using it to tell a story. So there's different ways you can do that. You could conduct a survey, and you could survey your own list, you could survey a cold audience, you could get data insights from your software and use those to tell a story. There's like all different ways of doing it. But I call that just a research report.

Crispino  5:43

That's a very interesting thing, Neelesh we're working on the case study. We can use kind of report format for that. This is a good idea.

Neelesh  5:52

I have a question, and probably we should have asked this question early on in the beginning of the podcast. So when did when did you get into this? And when did you decide that you want to focus on this field?

Erin  6:07

Content marketing?

Neelesh  6:08

Yeah.

Erin  6:09

Oh, God. So I know I look really young. But I'm actually in my 40s. So I spent my whole 20s working in education. When I was 30, I started a blog, just as I always loved to write, and I was always good at it. I was like the high school newspaper editor and all that. So start a blog came on from my nine-to-five rope. And then I use that to land my first job as a magazine editor, worked with editorial for like, I don't know, four years or so, and then somehow randomly applied to a job at a content marketing agency. I was like, Oh, they need someone with management experience who's an editor. That's me. I don't know what the hell content marketing is, but I'll try it, and luckily, they gave me a chance. They hired me to manage a 15-person team. So 15 writers, and I just kind of got thrown overboard sink or swim. And I fell in love with content marketing, and I've been doing it ever since.

Neelesh  7:02

Nice

Crispino  7:03

Awesome.

Neelesh  7:04

So it's more of serendipity. It happened by chance, actually.

Erin  7:08

Yes, exactly. I just wanted a job. And I was like, Hey, what's this content marketing thing? That sounds cool.

Neelesh  7:15

Cool. Yeah. Yeah, that's pretty good. We learned a lot from you, Erin.

Crispino  7:21

Yeah, I think this session was really good, and our listeners and viewers also really get to learn a lot because we have many companies that are also into the same phase of content marketing our viewers, so I think this will be really helpful for them as well.

Neelesh  7:38

Yeah.

Erin  7:39

Awesome

Neelesh  7:39

All of our clients would love to hear this podcast, and I'm sure they would love to hear this.

Erin  7:44

Awesome. I have some free resources for anyone who's interested in content, particularly b2b content and thought leadership. I have a newsletter and, like you mentioned before, a podcast, so yes, welcome to follow along, lots of good free education. I also am very active on LinkedIn, publishing a lot of content about content.

Crispino  8:06

Yes, we've done the links to your podcast and your LinkedIn profile as well in the description for the episode. Also, we'll be having this as an article on the website. So, anybody who wants to read over it can come to the website and find you from there.

Erin  8:19

Awesome sounds great!

Crispino  8:22

All right. Thanks so much for your time Erin.

Erin  8:23

Yeah, thanks for having me. This has been fun.

Neelesh  8:27

Awesome.

Wishup Podcast marketing
Crispino

Crispino

Crispino is a professional digital marketer, with a love for design, art, literature, and everything in between. Experienced in content writing he intends to captivate your imagination with his work.

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