Brands connect with their markets through content. These are stories — that move and touch the core of a person’s being — that reach out to your audience. Effective storytelling, in oral, written or visual form, is an art you can master, which you can use to share your message, generating the kind of response you want, and bridging your brand to your public.
Beatrix Holland is a content specialist who works with brands including Medibank, Australia Post, and Telstra. Beatrix says nobody creates content in isolation, so build your content generation team — and she shares some great tools to make content creation easier.
Ophelie Lechat is a reformed journalist who turned to the dark side and became a marketer specialising in unearthing great stories. Ophelie believes everyone can contribute to great content and encourages us to empower our networks in content creation.
Disclaimer: Transcripts may contain a few typos. Similar sounding words can lead to them being deciphered wrongly and hence transcribed likewise.
Serpil Senelmis: For WeTeachMe this is the Masters Series where industry professionals share their secrets to success. I’m Serpil Senelmis from Written and Recorded. If you’re running a business or working in marketing, it’s probably been just a matter of minutes since somebody told you that you need more content. Brands connect with consumers through compelling content, but not all content is created equal. So how do you go about creating killer content? We’ve got two experts in the field to share some industry secrets. Ophelie Lechat works with startups and mission-driven organizations to help them differentiate themselves through smart storytelling. She describes herself as a Meerkat who seeks opportunities for content.
Ophelie Lechat: The meerkats are more the centuries. So they’re looking out for what’s happening out there. They’ve got their eyes open. They’re spotting things that are outside of their own department. They’re often kind of snooping around in Google Docs, you can always see their little face in the corner wondering why are they reading this client proposition? But I am definitely a meerkat in that. I like to be across everything. And I like to spot opportunities.
Serpil Senelmis: We’ll hear from Ophelie soon, but first content specialist Beatrix Holland. She’s created content for major brands like Medibank, Telstra, and Kmart. Beatrix has got a great set of tools to improve your content marketing, and she describes herself as a lemon.
Beatrix Holland: Alright, you guys, I am very pleased to know that content has fans. My talk is just going to give you a little insight into some shortcuts that I use, which will hopefully make your content lives a little bit easier. 15 years ago, I graduated as a classically trained advertising copywriter. And for anyone who loves advertising, or has seen madmen, this is a very, very famous Volkswagen ad. The point being that this Volkswagen Beetle is in fact, a lemon because it’s failed its last inspection test, and so it can’t be sold. So it’s a very high-quality car was an exacting standard. So thanks the Germans. But when I graduated 15 years ago, there wasn’t much of a market for this kind of advertising, which was a kind of a pity, because this was exactly what I wanted to do. I thought that I was going to go out there and shape some beautiful long copy work. And everyone wanted ads, that basically looked like a billboard. So I, in fact, was a lemon. 15 years later, I have a really great working life, which I love a lot. I spend a lot of my working days working with big brands like Medibank, Australia Post, and Telstra. And I love them because they have great teams. And let’s face it, often deep pockets. And I spend a lot of time working with small businesses and startups, which I love because they’re exciting and passionate. And that’s where we can try some new ideas. And let’s face it, small budgets breed big creativity, which is a phrase I’m actually going to use again, even I’ve just invented it. The thing that changed in 15 years was content. Thanks, content, content has made all the difference in my career; it’s actually content that’s created the very happy kind of work and balance that I have today. These are some sneaky tools that I like to use when I’m working. These are just tools that I genuinely think are doing a good job. This is buffer. One thing I love about buffer is that they keep an excellent blog, which is mainly around content and social media, they really interrogate what’s going on. And whenever there’s a new feature or Instagram, lets you suddenly schedule directly into the app, these guys are on it, they’re writing about it. And they’re making it really tangible in terms of what it means for your business. So buffer lets you schedule across different social platforms. And remember with every piece of content that you’re creating, you’re not just sending it out once you’re sending it out a bunch of times across your platforms, buffer is going to make that very, very easy for you. Especially once you get into your review section and your content inbox. If you’re working with a team, you can be sending each other links that you’re going to be uploading. It is a fantastic workflow. It is a very cheap product, it costs like $100 a year. And if you want the free version, it’s free. Now the content that you’re posting isn’t just about the content that you’re writing or making. It’s also about posting social content that’s relevant to your audience, but providing your own context so that you become the commentator. When I used to talk about how to curate, I used to talk about the millions of mailing lists that you should be subscribed to, and how you should maybe just spend half an hour every day sorting through those to find out what was really relevant to your audience. And I’m kind of an idiot, because I recently discovered nuzzle. And that does all of that for me. So I connect this platform to my social accounts that I want to use. And then it tells me what’s being most shared within that group. Then I can search through the articles at will, and pull out the ones that I know are going to be most relevant. And I look like a cool early adopter, who’s really on top of the news stream, I have found this to be absolutely invaluable. And it really has saved me so much time. This is a free app, you can also choose to receive a newsletter that just gives it to you in your inbox. Or you can actually curate your own news feeds within the app. Your content marketing strategy is not public relations. PR is a different beast. And it really should be treated as such. And you really need to budget for it in that same way. Because PR is still an industry that is very much relationship-based. But you can do things to help yourself and to help your business. When it comes to media and influencer relations. Sauce Bottle partial is a really cool site. There are other international sites, but this is the most relevant one for the Australian audience. When you’re on Sauce Bottle, you can position yourself as an expert, or as a journalist. So it may be that your company is a mid-tech company, and you are really publishing a lot. And you are looking for people to speak to you. Fantastic, you’ve become a journalist. But you might be keen on other people doing the grunt work. And you might be very keen to lend an opinion. So you’re a source. And you can log in and you can find the opportunities. Often you’ll have to write a little pitch explaining why you’re the best person, it’s a great site, get on it, get used to using it, and you will find some really unique opportunities. community building, because nobody creates content in isolation when it comes to building a community around your business, Facebook groups is probably the platform that you’re overlooking. And I’ve been creating Facebook groups with a number of my clients. And I found it incredibly rewarding. Primarily because Facebook is not having a great time at the moment, you might have noticed, the algorithm is all over the shop. But groups are still relatively consistent, they’ve taken a bit of a hit, but nowhere near as much as the main site. When you build a group, you’re getting a lot deeper engagement from your members. They’re also much more likely to feel like they’re an advocate of your business because you’re not speaking to them directly to sell them stuff, you’re actually creating a community around information sharing that can be really meaningful. The other main way that I use groups is again, for content curation, I find when I’m promoting a certain product or service or area if I jump into a couple of groups that are talking about that stuff tangentially.
Beatrix Holland: I get incredible consumer insights for free. I get knowledge for free, and I get to see what’s surfacing in the market again, for free. It is a fantastic place to do market research. The usual rules of social platforms apply. Don’t walk in and begin speaking whatever you’re selling immediately. You look, you listen, you share some meaningful content, new relationship builds you just basically be a good person. And Facebook groups really do pay off, I wouldn’t do a social strategy without them. And now, every startup fringed outsourcing, if this really does all sound too hard, and you want to go somewhere and find some people that will actually do the legwork for you and create the content that you’re going to be promoting. There are lots of lots and lots and lots and lots of places that you can go to. But you’re time-poor. Cloud peeps is a San Francisco based startup kicked off by Melburnians. So you know, we’re very patriotic. And what it does is it lets freelancers promote packages that they offer. So they might be offering five blog posts and 20 social posts for a set price. And it also allows them to pitch on jobs that you post. So say you’ve got a specific content need like you know that you should be posting to LinkedIn five times every month, and you’re prepared to pay $300 per post, you put that job up, and then people send you their folios of the Skillshare marketplaces. It is one of the more reasonable ones. I’m really wary of recommending sites that push down the prices of services to a ridiculous degree. I don’t think that you get good content. You’ve worked really hard to build your business. You should look after your brand at this point. I think this site is genuinely good. I think the people on it a good I have worked on it. I think it’s pretty fair to both parties. And I care a lot about looking after writers. Two more things that you need to include. Get into their mailboxes, mailing list or your secret weapon. We just talked about Facebook and being unreliable. Don’t let a Facebook page be the only portal for all the data you have on your customers. Get a database, run a mailing list, observe the spam act, people aren’t necessarily going to come to your blog every week and read your cool three new posts. But if you send them a Friday roundup of everything that you’ve written, like WeTeachMe, they are going to engage with your content, visit your site, remember that you exist to spend money with you. Personally, I recommend MailChimp. Now, you’re ready to reach an even bigger audience. Think about third party publishing opportunities and guest blogging. You can’t publish content that you’ve published before Google will penalize you it’s called duplicate content, you can consider publishing your content to LinkedIn Pulse or Medium. And that should be laid out in your strategy. But you can reach out to established audiences offer them a post, when people are running sites that are very content heavy, they are pushed for time, they need more writers, if you can send them a pitch that shows that you understand the audience, your expertise is relevant. And that you can actually handle the job of writing a 700-word post, which you can, chances are you will get reach far and wide. The only important thing to do if you are going to pursue this is to ensure that both parties are really clear beforehand with how you’re going to be credited. If you’re not going to get a link back to your website, or at least a little author bio that really explains what you do. Move on, find a better opportunity because remember, you’re only publishing each piece of content one time. Also think about print publications, media outlets, and EDM. So a lot of people don’t necessarily run a website, but they might have a mailing list with a lot of subscribers. If you have a little running list of all of these potential opportunities, when you have a free couple of hours, send out some pitches, see what comes back. But this really is a terrific way to grow your profile online and to really compliment your content. Alright, guys, that’s it from me, it’s been a pleasure.
Serpil Senelmis: Some great takeaways there from big brand content creator Beatrix Holland. And I really like that idea. Nobody creates content in isolation and so you need to create a content community. Make sense. Up next, we’ll hear from Ophelie Lechat, a journalist who crossed over to the dark side of marketing.
Ad Guy: The Masters Series is WeTeachMe’s vision of the future of learning. One that’s inspired and impassioned, run by the people for the people. WeTeachMe is Australia’s biggest school, where you can learn what makes your heartbeat. Bringing teachers and learners together, WeTeachMe helps you find classes near you. Start your quest at weteachme.com. This podcast was prepared for your ears by Written and Recorded a content creation agency. Creating successful content relies on the ability to craft a persuasive story, from blogs to podcasts, social media to feature articles, Written and Recorded can help you get your story out there. Engage your content at written and recorded.com. And now back to the content queens.
Serpil Senelmis: Ophelie Lechat swapped her life in economics in journalism to create stories that connect us chemically and physically. And she’s turned the traditional marketing funnel on its head.
Ophelie Lechat: You heard about the how of content marketing, especially if you are in a small business or running it yourself and for the first time and you don’t really know where to start, we’re going to go back a little bit to talk about the why and how you can make it happen within your team, even if your team is just you. So I most recently, I was the head of operations and content and product and all those things at Site Point. Site Point as a publisher for web developers and online entrepreneurs. And we had a massive amount of content. We had books and courses and between 40 and 70 articles a week and all the social channels associated with that. So it was a beast, it was really a publisher. It wasn’t so much about content marketing. At that point. It was about helpful content as a publisher, and my background is in economics and journalism. And then I jumped over to the dark side of marketing about seven, eight years ago now, it’s been really rewarding because I get to find the interesting stories in a whole different space. So I still believe that you can find the interesting stories in the dark space of marketing So what I aim to do now is to give you the tools to frame content in the bigger picture, understand where it fits within your company’s bigger marketing efforts and ultimately where it should fit within your entire organization’s conscience. There was a survey done in the UK a couple of years ago, saying who would they trust most, as a government official? Would they trust the queen? Who has been the UK is sovereign for what 60 something years now? And has been raised to lead a nation and read multiple nations and has like, been primed for this her entire life? Or would they trust JK Rowling, who wrote some really good books and got a lot of following, but ultimately has never worked in government? And ultimately, most people chose JK Rowling, because they feel like they connected with her. They followed along with her stories. they’ve read her books, either as children or they’ve read them to their children. They’ve seen the movies that her story inspired and they felt a connection to her. So this element was really interesting because it sets apart the idea that trust comes from qualifications. Often trust comes from knowing the full story about somebody or having the impression that they know the full story about somebody. Stories is make us care. I think we know this on an emotional level, and maybe a psychological level. But they also make us care chemically. and physically. This is the story of a scientist who was on a plane and he’s watching Million Dollar Baby and he just started sobbing. He’s just like tears streaming down his face, and he thinks is a pretty tough guy. So it goes back to his lab and does some studies ran an experiment where they showed two groups of people to different clips. The first one was a really emotional story with like rising music about a man and his dying son, his terminally ill child, and it really tugged at your heartstrings. And the other version that they showed the other group was a much drier story, it was much more like a news story, it was very fact-based. And it focused more on the illness than on the connection between the father and son. And they did a blood test of both audiences and found that the stress hormones in the group that saw the more emotional story was much, much, much higher. Stories that connect with us make us change physically and that stays with you over time. And the final story, this is Chimamanda Adichie, she grew up in the UK, she read children’s books about children going apple picking and drinking apple cider and white girls with blue eyes and blonde hair, frolicking around in dresses. And so when she was a teenager, she started writing stories and got really into creative writing. And she would write stories about these little white girls hanging out with their friends and drinking apple cider. This really British experience, because that’s what she thought a story was. And it’s only a little bit later when she was in university that she discovered the depth of African literature. And from that started connecting more with her own culture and seeing that there were stories all over the world and that the single experience that you’re exposed to can influence the way that you speak and the way that you write. This point is especially important if you are in a mission-driven organization. So an organization that’s maybe a nonprofit, or B Corp, or that tries to connect with people in one way or another around their story, it speaks to the importance of showing a plurality of stories, and not just the single narrative that might be internalized in your team. And that might be the story of the founders. It’s the story of the customers the story of the users the story of the bigger community. So we’re going to go over some really basic marketing things. And then I’ll relate back to these three anecdotes I’ve given you to see how content fits at every step of the way. First of all, talk about the traditional marketing funnel. So that’s how we used to think of it. At the digital agency where I work integrity, we prefer to talk about the user engagement framework. This is a wheel, but we’ll start at reach. Reach is the idea that there are many, many people out there that might be interested in your product. But first, they have to hear about either your vertical or your product type. Then move into the interest phase where they’re aware of you. Maybe they’ll sign up to your newsletter. Trial is where they sign up for a two-week trial. It’s a of your app. Connection, they start to integrate it a little bit into their day-to-day life or they they take it for a spin, they bring it to their teams if it’s a team product for business. Adoption is where they really integrated into their day-to-day. So it becomes a tool that they use daily, weekly, monthly, that they share with their co-workers. And then advocacy. Love that one. That’s something that we often forget about in the marketing cycles. advocacy is like Beatrix talking about buffer before I love buffer. They’re my favorite of all the automation tools out there for social media. I talked about them on Twitter. I’ve blogged about them. I think I had a testimonial on their homepage for a while like, I will tell everyone about buffer because they got me every single step of the way, they had really great content that supported the stories that I needed, I could see myself in the use case. And now I’m telling all of you about it, and you’re interested in content marketing. So you’re probably the prime people to hear about this. So if you think of it more strategically, it took all of those steps for me to get to this point. And now you are at the reach point. So content fits every step of the way. If you think of the more emotional driven content that connects with you on a physical-chemical level, that’s going to be in the reach stage. If you think of the decision making content, the JK Rowling’s books, if it was a marketing strategy, like a really long play for prime minister of the UK, it would be around the connection angle, it would be writing all these books, and sharing all these stories really made us connect with her. And if we think of the ideas that represent us, and that make us change our own view of ourselves and change our own view of the world, that fits within advocacy, and it fits with an interest and trial and all these different places. So when I talk to a CEO or a marketing head, and they say, well, we don’t really need a blog, we don’t really need to do that sort of thing. We’re looking more for conversion optimization. So we’re looking to bring in people with the right interest level, who are primed to purchase, and then who are going to convert really, really well. So they’re mostly interested in conversion rates. On a really short timeframe, like a couple of weeks or a month, we’re really it takes seven connection points with a brand to feel like you know them and to feel connected to them. And I would say when you are talking to the people who hold the purse strings, or when you’re trying to convince yourself that it’s worth spending the time, the money and the efforts on content marketing, I would bring you back to this. It’s not just about the adoption, or even just about the advocacy, it’s about the entire funnel. This doesn’t mean you have to develop a strategy that addresses all of these all the time today. But it’s the framework to think about it. So a lot of research goes into an overarching content directive, that’s knowing your audiences, knowing your unique value propositions. It’s understanding where you fit in the market and what your competitors might be doing. There’s a ton of research that goes into that, then there’s what we call content pillars, which are the ideas that are going to resonate most with people. And that’s more about themes. They’re broad, they’re different, you don’t necessarily go down to granularity. At that point, you’re just identifying what are the different types of things that we could talk about.
Ophelie Lechat: Then you do a few sample content ideas. It might be an Instagram series or a takeover by a woman who has planned her dining room design around the silverware set that she’s inherited from her grandmother. If you’re talking about the sustainability aspect, it might be a blog post about the life stages of metal from original mining, to first use and manufacturing through to recycled and then through to this fork that now happens to be in your hand. So these are really, really different ideas, but they’re different angles that you can take to speak about the same thing of work. This is the sort of exercise that we run through with our clients regularly. And the best thing is bringing people from outside the brand into the room and getting them post-it’s and getting them to throw out these crazy ideas. Post-its are great, because usually, they’re anonymous. And you can just feel free to stick up your ideas. And nobody’s judging us specifically on that. It’s more about the groups of ideas. So we have some sample content ideas. And from there, we identify which specific ones are going to fit with which specific content pillars at which stage of the user journey. Not all pillars will have content across every stage of the user journey or every channel. But from this list, you might say, we’re going to write blog posts, we’re going to focus on edn’s and have a regular newsletter as well. We will do individual photos on Instagram, we’re not going to do stories, we’re going to focus on photos, we will do a little bit on Twitter, and we will focus on testimonials. So we’ve gotten rid of videos, we’ve gotten rid of a lot of ideas in the SEO, we’ve gotten rid of a lot of that granular stuff that just tends to happen because nobody’s thought of it before. And we’re all in a panic. So since most of you work in really small teams or startups or are individual contributors, you might be thinking that there is no way you could do even this amount of stuff on your own. Where do you find the inspiration, and I’ve just said it’s great to bring in people from external teams. But maybe you don’t have those, maybe you don’t work in a co-working space and you don’t have community contacts you can bring into your strategies. So we’d like to talk about honey badgers and meerkats, the honey badger is a solitary animal. They find honey that is what they do, they will just go for it and seek it out. Not necessarily collaborate with other honey badgers to find what they need. Gonna stereotype wildly, but they’re usually engineers or programmers who like to dive deep and focus on a problem. They’re the people that you do not want to interrupt with quick questions, and the meerkats are more the centuries. So they’re looking out for what’s happening out there. They’ve got their eyes open. They’re spotting things that are outside of their own department. They’re often kind of snooping around in Google Docs, you kind of always see their little face in the corner wondering why are they reading this client proposition. But I am definitely a Meerkat in that. I like to be across everything. And I like to spot opportunities. And these people are the world-class team players. In early stage startups, this is the groups that you usually find that group is also great at spotting content opportunities all over your company. At integrity, the agency I work with, we talk about building a content culture, which ultimately was the title of this talk. And I hope that I’ve convinced you why you need to this is the how building a content culture is empowering your entire team, and your entire community, whether that’s your support team, whether it’s your companies that you’re friendly with partnerships, people who don’t necessarily work in a marketing department or marketing role, empowering them to spot the good ideas and then giving them a channel to feed those ideas back to you. It could be your audience where you’re talking about user-generated content. It could be other stuff in your team. It could be your industry, Beatrix talked a little bit about content curation, some of it is that some of it is also featuring case studies from other companies that you can partner with, to feed through to your audience. And then you take that main idea and chip it down into little what we call briquettes. So you have the brick of a, let’s say, this event tonight would be a content brick. They are filming they are recording me, there’s probably going to be a write-up. These are the individual content items that go out into the world. So from one event that took a lot of planning and curation and preparation, you’re getting not just one big content thing. It’s not just a podcast, it’s actually a multitude of content items that can be used and used and used again. And if you get everyone within your organization to spot those opportunities, then your content problem is not as difficult. Thanks.
Serpil Senelmis: Ophelie’s love affair with buffer is so obvious, and so too is her passion for stories that make us trust and care. I love that idea of empowering your team to spot content. Now all of these content tips will work great with the social media skills you picked up in our last podcast. And next week, we’ll tell you how to get your content to the top of the search results with the SEO secret ooooh. Will be combining the art and science of SEO copywriting to show you how to get more website traffic and happy customers. Until then, I’m Serpil Senelmis from Written and Recorded, and for WeTeachMe, this is the Masters Series.
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