Content-Led Growth

Amanda Natividad, Jimmy Daly

Growth Summit 2022

How to turn your passive readers into active buyers



[00:00:00] Aadil Razvi: And we have my dear friend Ian joining us right now. He is the agency director of Bell Curve and I'm gonna let him take it from here to lead you all through the content led-growth with Amanda and Jimmy.

[00:00:13] Ian Martins: Hi everyone. I'm very excited to be here and very excited to get this opportunity to chat with both Amanda and Jimmy.

To get things kicked off, I'll do a little bit of an intro and then we'll get right into it. Amanda is the VP of Marketing for Audience Research Startup, SparkToro. She's also contributor for Adweek and a cordon blue-trained chef, formerly a journalist as well. Amanda previously led marketing for Growth Machine and Liftopia, and she built Fitbit's B2B content program.

So a lot of different things that you've been working on. I thank you so much for coming in and speaking with us today. And we also have Jimmy Daly here who is the co-founder of Superpath, a community and job board for content marketers. He's previously the VP of Growth at Animalz, which is an agency and currently lives in the Vail, Colorado with his wife, daughter, and chocolate.

[00:01:11] Jimmy Daly: Thanks for being with me. Yeah, Thank you.

[00:01:15] Ian Martins: Today I got I know I got a bunch of questions on all things content-led growth, but I'd love to maybe perhaps get both of your perspectives or POVs on what is content as opposed to other marketing initiatives. How would you define content in your own words?

So maybe Amanda, can we start with you? Like, how do you define content?

[00:01:40] Amanda Natividad: Yeah. So content is, huh? It is everything to me. I guess I would say that content is any kind of produced piece or program that encompasses your brand messaging and your value proposition. Maybe that's the broadest way to say it, but maybe that's maybe I would pause there.

[00:02:08] Ian Martins: All right, Jimmy, how would you define content?

[00:02:12] Jimmy Daly: I think the way I think about it is that there's certain type of companies who have just this kind of spirit of education and community baked into their company values. And I feel like content is the output of that, more so than other marketing channels.

Obviously other channels are useful in their own ways, but I feel like it's for companies who really wanna connect with people in ways beyond just the transactional nature of business. Like to me, that's what content really is.

[00:02:39] Ian Martins: Perfect. Yeah, no I would agree with that. Think those are both great definitions.

I know I come from a the advertising world and I would often get into lengthy debates on is it advertising, is it content? What's the difference, what's the line blur? Cause sometimes it can get a little get a little gray in that space. But, no, that's great. I'd love to move on from that and see content has come along the way.

A lot of things have changed about contents and how you use content to market your business, and a lot of things have remained the same. As we go into the new year, we're in Q4 now, we're heading into 2023. What are some ways in which you've seen content change over the past year or two?

And maybe we can start off with Amanda, if you wanna get started.

[00:03:26] Amanda Natividad: Yeah, so I think in the recent couple years, I think we're finally starting to break out of this classic notion that content marketing means owning a blog and SEO strategy. And I think more and more teams or more startups are becoming aware that modern content marketing or content marketing today is often much more than that.

So I think today it's not common for content marketers to also own the podcast and newsletter, YouTube channel, social media or more than that. So that's how, I think, that's how I feel like we've seen content shifting in the recent years. And, with the rise of all these new and different content formats, I really feel like now is the best time to be a content marketer.

[00:04:15] Ian Martins: Yeah, we definitely agree with that.

[00:04:18] Jimmy Daly: Yeah. I would echo everything Amanda said. The way that I keep track of this type of stuff is by monitoring the conversations that are happening in our community, and there's a lot more conversation over the past year about audio, video, PR,

communications, just like any opportunity for the business to communicate with the customers is in one way or another, probably getting dumped on the content marketers desk. Sometimes for better, maybe sometimes for worse too. Like not all of us are equipped with the right skills to do that, but I feel like that's a huge opportunity for content marketers at the moment is to

develop skills outside of just writing, right? Because it's essentially the same thing, right? You have to learn the new mediums, learn the new tooling and all that type of thing. I would say also we're seeing companies get a little more creative with things like user generated content or data generated content.

I feel like. While there's still quite a bit of this, the same old do keyword research, pick a keyword, write 2000 more, and that can actually can still work like we still see that working a lot. Like a lot of teams are also broadening their horizons a little bit and trying to find higher leverage ways to create content.

I feel like UGC and data are kinda like at the core of that. There's other ways too, but yeah, just in general, like more creativity, more variety. It's cool. It's a good time content for sure like amanda said.

[00:05:43] Ian Martins: I'd love to double click on that the idea of expanding skills and content evolving, not just

being maybe copywriting and, starting to encompass audio and video, it's almost as if the job that maybe one person was doing in a company now needs to be quite a few people, ideally, how have teams been scaling out in content and what types of new skills or new team compositions have you been seeing as we move into this world?

[00:06:15] Amanda Natividad: I feel like Jimmy would know this better since he's talking with a group or community of content marketers every day. So I would love to hear Jimmy go first.

[00:06:23] Jimmy Daly: Yeah, sure. The biggest thing we've seen is that it seems like most companies, and I'll most of the companies that were

talking with their B2B SaaS. So just putting that out there cause it's not the same across all industries. But all teams seem to hit this point at some point in their company life cycle where content has traditionally been a growth mechanism. And then more is asked of the content team and they hit this point where they have to decide like does content become this internal agency to serve other parts of the business?

Should we keep the content team focused exclusively on growth? Do we need a writer on the product marketing team or the product marketing team? Have their own writing. Do we need a writer over here on the partner marketing team? How or should we have a matrix thing or the content folks are all centralized and there's this pool of resources to dip into.

Every company ends up coming up with their own version of that and what works for them. But we find that's like it's a big challenge, like a lot of companies are struggling to figure out what that looks like as content becomes not just this one kind of siloed off part of the business, but this kind of layer that ends up being important for

lots of different departments. There's no like clean answer to exactly how that works. I can think of some companies who have leaned heavily into the internal agency model and it works really well for them. I can think of other companies who have issue that in favor of keeping a small lean group of content marketers focused exclusively on the traditional content KPIs like you know

page views, organic traffic, email subscribers, things like that. So ultimately, I think it boils down to how, the business case for it. Also just sometimes the company's appetite for content, right? Like some companies like it's very important to them. Like I said, it's like part of their ethos.

And they want content marketers like across the company. In other cases, it doesn't make sense. I hate to say it depends, but it does, It depends on a lot of things. And there's a couple different setups that we see working pretty.

[00:08:32] Amanda Natividad: Yeah, I think I wanna add to that I feel like I've been seeing a lot of freelancers or agencies take on more of the content in, at other companies and maybe something I'm not seeing as much or I still think there's a big opportunity for content marketers specifically is leveling up to that.

Really like next level true like content marketing director where instead of being the one who's just running a blog, it's being the person who quarterbacks like all the blog content. Turning that into a new content program or running a different content program that becomes like one of the defining content pieces for the company.

If that makes sense. I guess what I'm trying to say too is I think there's still a big opportunity for content marketers to bring new types of expertise at the table. Maybe more like specific expertise in podcasting specifically, or more expertise in video production and YouTube? I think that's where we're going next, or we've been going with content, right?

Like going to all these different kinds of formats. So I think now there's gonna be a need for people who are really good at hosting and growing a podcast, for instance.

[00:10:01] Ian Martins: Yeah, that's very, Go ahead.

[00:10:04] Jimmy Daly: I was gonna say, no, Amanda said something that I just wanted to follow up on briefly is this question of, at least for content marketers folk still focused exclusively on text based content, is who writes it, And Amanda's totally right.

Like in-house teams are creating less and less content and they're outsourcing or partnering up with vendors, agencies, contractors, whatever, to do more and more of that, which means the skillset for the in-house person is evolving, right? I would say there too, it's sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, Like a lot of people get into content marketing cause they enjoy the craft of writing and they hit this point in a career where they have to decide, am I gonna lean into this kind of like high level individual contributor role?

Maybe that means I'll ultimately end up going freelance, or am I gonna develop some of these quote unquote softer skills that make me valuable to the organization like vendor management, which is not something that's talked about a lot, but is really important if you're overseeing agencies and freelancers who are doing the work for you.

Luckily there's a lot of options these days. That's one thing that's happening with the variety of this. Like more people than ever are working in a freelance capacity Gosh, we see that just people are in droves heading towards freelance work, at least in our Slack community.

And I think that's awesome. There's just like an awesome career to be made there. If the skill you wanna lean heavily into is primarily the writing part.

[00:11:26] Ian Martins: As more and more content is required. The platforms and the mediums for which you're producing content continue to expand and evolve.

Content has gone perhaps a tactic that used to be seen as fairly maybe low cost, high efforts into one that is probably a little bit more costly. Whether that's in staffing or agencies or freelancers. And if you're an earlier stage, startup, you obviously have to pick and choose your battles and what am I gonna invest in?

How am I gonna find traction? Should I go page, should I go content? So I'm curious for the earlier stage of companies that are just getting the product into market, how should they be thinking about content and whether that's the right channel for them to lean into or not? And maybe what signals they should be looking for, whether that's gonna be the one for them

[00:12:20] Amanda Natividad: for various kinds of startups? Sorry.

[00:12:22] Ian Martins: For early stage startups either be the B2B or B2C you can take your trend.

[00:12:33] Amanda Natividad: I do feel like, I feel like it's such a boring answer, but I do still feel like there's a big advantage to having the company blog. Because once you're producing all this content at scale, it just goes back to where are you gonna put it? You should put it on the blog

So I still think that's important to have. But something else I think is also really important is really growing those rented channels, those rented top of funnel channels like social media and getting really good at those. And maybe even starting there, right? So thing I wanna talk about is there, the notion of zero click content, right? Zero click content is content that has standalone value, where clicking to read more or learn more or to view it is only additive to the experience not required. And in creating zero click content, it's a way to essentially optimize the content

native to any given platform. So I think more startups, more companies, more people should really be thinking about that and optimizing to get seen on these top of funnel channels. And then, yeah, eventually, building the road or yeah, building the road that goes to your own house to your blog or whatever that might be.

[00:14:00] Ian Martins: Who's not familiar with the term and the concept of zero click content? Could you explain that for the audience?

[00:14:06] Amanda Natividad: Yeah, So a zero click content is, it's a phrase I coined really largely based on how I've been seeing the trends in social media or top of funnel content where I've been seeing that the people who are growing their audience's fastest, who are getting the most traction, are people who are creating this content that has standalone value to each platform.

So examples of that would be like Twitter threads, right? You have people like Sahil Bloom who pretty much exclusively wrote threads for two years before he ever even launched a newsletter. Like I think he's one of the first people to really treat Twitter like a blog, right? So that's one example. Writing LinkedIn posts, like 100 word LinkedIn posts where they're like mini blog posts that have all the value right then and there.

Readers don't need to click to leave. But ideally at some point you will be able to, or you will direct readers or users somewhere else, but at that point clicking on it for them is only additive to their experience. So it's not so much, Hey, look at a cool blog post. Here's the link.

Here's a summary of my blog post in a hundred words. By the way, if you wanna read more about this or get the full context, go to my blog.

[00:15:24] Ian Martins: Anything to add there. Jimmy?

[00:15:31] Jimmy Daly: No. I was gonna say, that's super interesting. I just feel like the thing that we talk about sometimes at Superpath that we phrase is like promotion is hard, distribution is easy. And the thought, the thinking there is like what Amanda said is as you develop your channels, whether it's your email list, whether it's Twitter, LinkedIn, or whatever else, It becomes really easy to distribute content later on, but you have to put in that upfront effort to get anyone to follow along, to subscribe or whatever, and just do exactly what my Amanda just said.

I think that will work really well. And then on the thought of just like early stage content strategy. I feel like for really early stage companies, probably don't hire a content marketer. Like particularly if you're gonna be product-led, your first hire should either be like a really strong generalist marketer or maybe a product marketer.

Get them access to the blog and just let them write all about the product. Make sure that people really understand what it is. What are the use cases? Talk about integrations, talk about you know if you can get customer stories going, stay really close to the product and ideally really close to the money.

Also, maybe that's slightly different if you're early stage, but your enterprise SaaS and you've building out a sales team, like in that case maybe you do have a content person dedicated to just supporting a sales team through case studies, customer stories, and helping them with building email campaigns or whatever other like sales enablement stuff that they need

but across the board, I think that one thing that basically any early stage company can still do and still be really effective is just to take people on the journey of getting the company and the product off the ground. It's like the easiest, like most obvious thing. I would loosely call it meta content.

Just be like, we raised our round, like here's how we did it or we launched this new feature. Here's the story behind how we came to it and the struggles that we went through to get it to market. Or, we put together our first company retreat and here's the things we learned, like stuff that's really tangentially related to the product itself.

But, basically anyone in business or marketing is generally attracted to that type of thing where it'swritten in the first person. It's casual, it's informal and you're taking people along the journey as opposed to just saying, putting out more traditional marketing messages about this feature does x sign up here.

It's just, I think it's just a nice way to kinda showcase some of the people and the story along with the business, and not everybody has the appetite for it, but I still feel like, some companies going back along, like Buffer, like kind of the classic example of this, but plenty of companies have done this type of thing extremely well, and I think it could still work.

[00:18:19] Amanda Natividad: Yeah. I think adding on to that I feel like early stage startups would benefit greatly to reframe how they think about content like rather than thinking about it as SEO or like having a blog and, I think SEO is a means to an end, but I think reframing it to taking a jobs to be done approach to content.

The idea of what job can your content accomplish? And so it's what Jimmy said, just now, like maybe content kind of fulfills the need for sales. And so in that case, sales enablement content, case studies, battle sheets, whatever it is that sales teams need, that's the job to be done for content there.

Or it could fulfill the need for product marketing, right? If you wanted to create what am I saying? If you wanted to take more of a product-led content approach, then the job to be done for content is growing the product or growing the business. So I think thinking more about that and then using the kind of classic KPIs of like SEO, the search rank, page views, using that as sure, that's the means to an end, but ultimately the goal is for content to accomplish a job for you.

[00:19:40] Ian Martins: How might an in-house content marketer facilitate that conversation and kind of start stepping out of their lane, right? Let's say you were in this very specific copywriting, SEO, more traditional type content role, but you wanna apply this job to be done framework, and you want to include more people in the org and kind of start to step outside of your lane.

What might be a path towards that? What type of conversations or questions could you'd be asking your team members to open up that door to let you start expanding that skill and stepping out of your lane?

[00:20:18] Jimmy Daly: I think I can kick that one being,

[00:20:19] Amanda Natividad: Oh no, go ahead. Yeah, go ahead. Go ahead. Yeah. No. You should .

[00:20:22] Jimmy Daly: Yeah, no, I was just gonna say, to me that sounds like managing up like that's a soft skill that people develop throughout their career, but trying to communicate to your boss or your boss's boss or whatever the things you're seeing on the ground with your, like very hands on subject matter expertise, like oftentimes is much more like on the money than what someone far above you

is wanting to happen from like a top down perspective? I feel like usually that conversation two things. One is that luckily a lot fewer companies are so concerned about page views these days, which is great because it just opens up the door to a much more nuanced conversation about how content can support the business, whereas like even five years ago, it's okay, we need a hundred thousand page views. 2% of people are gonna sign up for trials. 5% of those are gonna become long term customers. So it's just pump more in there. I feel when it comes to managing up, talking about data is often the best way to do it.

And honing in on the whatever the most relevant key metrics for your business are. Like, for a lot of companies it's m qls, and so if the content team ends up being responsible for MQLs as opposed to page views, like they can orient an entire strategy. Around that's gonna look a lot different than the kind of keywords that turn into ultimate guides to whatever type strategy.

There's obviously like a lot that comes along with that. Like one thing that that we encourage, basically all content marketers to develop are really strong Excel or Google Sheet skills so that they can be they basically, so they can tell their own stories with data and they can come to their own conclusions and then they can use that to present to somebody else.

As opposed to waiting around for someone else to get you the data dump and you ask them the questions and they actually go in there and do it like that, that like really puts you in a position of like very low leverage. So as you're thinking about managing up and trying to like direct the content or even the marketing strategy in a direction that you feel would be better for the company, like one, you have to be able to communicate that

to your manager, which I said is like a whole thing in itself, but two, like being able to wrangle your own data to tell that story, I think is really super important.

[00:22:42] Amanda Natividad: I think that how, oh in expanding their role internally I think there's the biggest opportunity for content marketers to learn to create product-led content.

I think that's the biggest opportunity in most companies or most teams. I say that because I think that's the most economical or efficient way to get ROI from your content. And it also requires working with other stakeholders like product marketers, maybe the product team maybe the sales team, right?

Depending on what kind of organization you have. And it gives you more opportunity to manage up and out or manage laterally. And I think it's also a way to reframe your thinking about content and making it immediately useful or actionable to the business. So I think I should get more specific.

That's a little bit abstract still. I think thinking about content the product-led opportunities and content things that could even go beyond quizzes and calculators, but that's part of it. Where tho where I feel like quizzes and calculators are still in that realm of like it isn't always owned by content marketing.

Sometimes it's owned by product marketing. But those are, those tend to be the types of assets that, generate, that have viral loops, right? That they generate people repeat visits, get people to share them happen out or get users to share them with their friends or whatnot. And it ultimately is a healthier way to create content.

[00:24:27] Ian Martins: On the topic of metrics you mentioned, learn how to use your spreadsheets and all that. What are some of the metrics that you're looking at to tell that data story, right? What are some of the KPIs that you think are important for content marketers to be paying attention to?

And in the context of growth in particular, like how can you use data? What types of metrics can you be looking at to prove that you're having an impact on growth?

[00:24:56] Jimmy Daly: I feel like there's a lot, there's a lot there. I guess the simplest way that, this is what we do at Superpath, this is what I would recommend to the companies that we work with, is boil it down to three or four numbers.

There's so many numbers that potentially lead you in a bunch of different directions, so we try to keep it really simple. So like numbers I would recommend like MQL and you have to define internally exactly what an MQL means to you. Because I've learned in having conversations with people that mean slightly different things to different people.

So defining that, keeping track of that. Probably also organic traffic growth, but I would recommend tracking it month over month. So the percentage growth per month is really what you're interested in as opposed to just the absolute number. Like in my time at Animalz, content Agency, just as an example, we had a lot of customers who would say things like, we wanna double our organic traffic, or we wanna get to a hundred thousand organic visitor, whatever.

These kind of like big lofty, like milestone type goals. And we just found that once they understood like what it took to get there and what it would cost and how long it would take, they would lose their appetite for it relatively quickly. But if you can say okay, we're gonna try to improve your monthly organic visitors by 10% month over month, and if we do that for 24 months, here's what your traffic looks like.

And then they go, Wow, that's amazing. If we could do that. But it's like focusing on the small thing that we can monitor closely. We feel that there's a very strong signal there that it's if we do this, that it will have the right trickle down effects for the rest of the business. Yeah, MQLs and organic growth, I feel like those are like the, if I have to, if I have to blow it down to two and I actually think it'd be better to have two rather than a dozen.

Those are the two I would go with. .

[00:26:50] Amanda Natividad: Yeah. I agree, but I also, that's not really what we track at SparkToro, right? So what we, I think the way we look at content at SparkToro is it depends on what job the piece of content is serving. So in the case of like earlier this year, we came out with an original report on the amount of fake followers on Twitter.

So we connected our own analysis gave a definition for what constitutes a fake follower, like fake followers, spam or inactive account. And I think it was Twitter who said that was they estimated like less than 5% of users or fake or spam. And we found that it was more like 20%. and this was research that we pulled together pretty quickly.

I think it took about, it only took about four days. But the goal of this was essentially digital PR, like we wanted, we were trend jacking, right? Elon Musk was in the news about over his bit for Twitter. And so everyone was talking about fake followers, and Elon even cited our research.

I don't think he cited our names, but he cited our research and some of the press that he did. But that wasn't necessarily a KPI , but we, what we were looking out for was if it would get picked up by media. And so that was something that we actually got over 500 unique press mentions and

something that's cool is before we came out with this research, we didn't rank at all for the term audience research. We say that our tool helps you do audience research. We say we're an audience research startup. We weren't ranking at all for it, but after this report came out we started ranking number two or number three.

Sometimes we break number one. So that's depending on what the content is, we look at stuff like that. Other things we look at are, If the job of the content is to promote a webinar or gain webinar registrants, then we look at that, right? We look at how many people did we get signing up for this webinar?

How many relative to last time, or how many relative to when we didn't create a blog post in advance of it, so changes each time, but we're fighting different ways to gauge success, resonance, and reach of our content.

[00:29:17] Ian Martins: When you're creating content there's a lot of ways to approach like the strategy behind it, right?

And earlier on it might be a little clearer, right? Like maybe you have some specific keywords you're trying to rank for or what have you, but as things, time progresses, thinking about what content should they be creating requires something, requires some strategy. How do you approach

thinking about like strategy coming up with like content pillars. Like how do you approach strategy? And again, in the context of an earlier stage startup that's maybe made it past that core bit of content that is looking to expand, What are some questions they should be asking themselves to think through that strategy?

[00:30:08] Jimmy Daly: I personally like to think of content strategy, whether it's early stage or later stage. As using lanes like a lane, meaning like a certain type of content created for a very specific purpose, and then the combination of those lanes drives the whole strategy forward. So an early stage company might do, like one lane, might be thought leadership, maybe another lane is sales enablement.

And then a third lane might be SEO, like the thought that like, we're gonna start building this foundation, but it's not really gonna pay off for 6, 12, 18 months or whatever. I sort of like this though because it just keeps it, it's possible that you get into it and you learn one lane is really good.

Another lane is not, It's not working. You can swap it out without blowing up the whole strategy. It's like you always have a couple irons in the fire and then you can work backwards. As you figure out which your lanes are, you can work backwards to figure out how to optimize each one.

What distribution channels make the most sense? How are you gonna reach people? Do you need to put a little paid spend behind it to get it rolling? Are there specialized vendors that can help you execute each one. How do how do you measure them? Can you boil it all down into a single spreadsheet with a couple numbers, or do you have to try to attribute each lane to different business outcomes?

But yeah, we've seen that work with like super early stage. Really like late stage like large enterprise SaaS companies even direct to consumer, which is kinda like a whole own world of stuff. But this I'm big fan of this kinda like portfolio approach where you get a couple things going at any given time.

[00:31:46] Amanda Natividad: Yeah, I really like that. Another way I think about it too is figuring out your short term and your long term goals with content. A short term sort of goal that I often tend turn to is just looking at the sustainability of content. Can that piece of content sustain other parts of the business?

So maybe it's like an SEO blog post. Maybe what it sustains is your ability to create an ebook in about a month to that's derived from a set of similar types of blog posts. Or if it's a case study and it becomes. And your short term KPI is whether your sales team was able to use it in a client call or prospect call.

So thinking about things like that and then the long term thinking being, what does this program look like over time? Okay, we're publishing sub blog posts or publishing two weekly blog posts. What does the blog look like six months from today or 12 months from today?

Or if it's a podcast, same thing. Like what's the goal of that podcast and what does success look like six months from now?

[00:33:01] Jimmy Daly: That's interesting actually. I have a question for you Is one thing that we see is that I fee like for the most part, companies can grab like boiler plate off the shelf content strategy, and if they just execute it well and do it long enough, like it's probably gonna work, but I'd be curious like in your, like you just have experience at so many different and really cool companies. If you get into situations where it becomes clear that a lane or a strategy is just not working anymore and has to be killed off, or at least like significantly overhauled. If you come across that and is that, have you had the experience of being like, we thought this thing was gonna be awesome, it's not, we need to pivot for whatever reason.

[00:33:44] Amanda Natividad: Yeah. So I think, so one thing comes to mind, which is a fun example, is at Liftopia, right? Liftopia was a ski lift ticket company. They were like the Expedia of ski lift tickets. And when I had joined the company was quite old, like it was the oldest startup and they had a blog for a really long time.

So great domain authority, great content. A lot of it. So the stage that I joined, it was like there are only so many things you can say about the highest vertical drops in North America, , like we ranked number one for that. It was awesome, but what next? So the tricky thing was what other keywords can we get?

Like we did content, all the content's done. So I started to think about putting a more timely spin on content. So having so trend jacking, right? And this worked pretty well, but it was also hit or miss. So we'd have several posts that just didn't gain any traction really.

And then other posts that did really well. So one was the kind of trend jacking aspect, but the other thing we did was to capitalize on our domain authority and being like the content leaders in the skiing space. We also took the approach, the sort of wire cutter approach of doing product or gift guide recommendations because my hypothesis, I guess there was everybody knows, or a lot of people already know Liftopia and we have some brand equity here.

Maybe it would work really well if we started kind of trying to capitalize on that reputation and creating content about that. So that worked well in that some of the gift guides that we did would get picked up by niche blockers would be like, Oh, this list is actually really good. So those are, I think, two interesting examples because you so rarely hear about what do content teams do when this mature, the level of their content or their stage of their content has matured so much.

[00:36:04] Jimmy Daly: Yeah. That's really cool. That's a great example. I think that's really interesting. I feel like you don't hear that too often. Like I can't think of any I always go back to like our community and just the conversations people are having there, and I don't know that topic has ever come up that we like maxed it out, what's next?

That's really cool.

[00:36:22] Amanda Natividad: Yeah. Thanks.

[00:36:25] Ian Martins: At particularly with like social media and everything How do you think about founders brands and their content alongside the business' brand and its content, and how do you think about those two? What is, should every founder have a personal brand alongside the business?

Should they be exploiting both of those opportunities? So there are times where maybe it doesn't make sense for you to focus on that. What, how do you think about that in your content strategy with the companies you work with.

[00:37:03] Jimmy Daly: I can think of a few ways that it plays out. Like I'm over generalizing, but I feel like there's a founder personality type that loves this kind of thing. They just have so many ideas, like maybe they do some writing on their own and at some point a writer, ghost writer maybe can come in and just help them like

export their thoughts and package it up into content. And I think that can work really well. And then I think when it's forced, when somebody's we need more executive thought leadership, like how do we do it? Like that just, I don't know. I've never seen that go over all that well.

But I feel like in general, I feel like, there's kind of founder led content, which Dave Gerhart wrote a book about this, which I've recently started reading, and it's really good. Like he just kinda lays out like his view on how this can work really well and it's really good stuff.

But I feel like it doesn't have to be just about the founder either. Like I think that one thing that happens on a lot of content teams is there's like the people who are creating the content may not even be getting bylines for the stuff that they're writing. And I think that it's de incentivizing for the content team because a lot of these people aspire to be better known for their work.

And content is somewhat unique in the sense that you can get public credit for the stuff that you do at your job, to me that's one of the best things about it is that if your name and face is on a piece of work you're really proud of, like that's public. Your mom and dad could even see it, let alone like other people in your industry.

So I feel like sometimes it's a better idea. Say you're founder's not the founder who's just like spouting off ideas constantly and you almost have to reign them in. I think maybe a better opportunity is to empower the individuals on the content team or the freelancers that you have writing this stuff to have their faces and voices out there a little bit more.

Sometimes even encouraging them to write in the first person, right? Instead of this kind of like dry, like SEO, B2B thing that to some companies, and certainly I've been part of teams that have been very guilty of that, right? Like it becomes so generic, but once you say it's your name, it's your face, it's your ideas, right?

In the first person, like the personality of the writer really comes out and I think it's a really cool opportunity for the company as well to brand some of the folks on their team as experts in the field and just give them the opportunity to speak.

[00:39:30] Amanda Natividad: Yeah. I think that's an interesting distinction.

Founder content versus brand content. I think founder content, it really needs to come from the founder, right? I think sure, they can work with a ghost writer I think that's fine. But I think we've all worked with the executive who's like we need thought leadership content.

I need you to write it for me. That's never gonna work. , you've been there. So having a founder with a strong point of view on something and having them be comfortable talking about that point of view ways to do that would be like, If they wanna do the writing themselves or, you could, you as a content marketer can interview them goes right on their behalf, but you also need to work really closely with them to make sure it really is their thoughts, right?

It really is like an extension of their brand. In my case, working at SparkToro, I'm lucky to work with a founder who creates his own content, right? . So I think the content, probably the best way to describe our content, SparkToro, is that we do essentially founder content and I say that for myself.

I'm not a founder of the company, but the blog posts that I write are from the founder perspective. Like it's from my perspective as a longtime marketer in the space and how I think about content or how I think about various marketing tactics. I really think this only works if the people themselves are willing to create it.

[00:41:03] Jimmy Daly: I feel like you had something really important, which is that like strong ideas are gonna be way easier and more interesting to write about, but also the company, it depends on the company. Of course. Like small company, it's easier, large company, it's harder. The company has to be willing to just let people, they can't like de-risk the content to the point where it doesn't say anything anymore.

That becomes really difficult at a certain scale, but also if you start it early, it becomes part of the company culture too, to empower people to say what they wanna say. You know what I mean? Not in crazy things, but have their own perspective on things and that can scale really well, but probably needs to start early.

[00:41:47] Amanda Natividad: Yeah, totally. I think we should touch on the brand content piece. Like how do we differentiate brand content versus founder content or any other sort of thought leadership content. What comes to mind for me is during my time at Fitbit on the B2B side, Fitbit, B2B was selling devices in bulk to other employers so that they could run corporate wellness programs.

We also sold separate software for this. And so a lot of the content we created, it wasn't really SEO content because it wasn't really the business need that we had at the time. A lot of our content was in this realm of founder brand content that was about our point of views in this space. So the way we would approach it was the brand content was why do we fit

B2B deserve to be here. Like why do we have a point of view on type 2 diabetes management. And then the founder stuff was like, we had a who do we have? We had a medical director, like the, or Chief Medical Officer who had his own content and he was, he's an actual doctor, so his content was his.

And so he would write about here's why I think, remote patient monitoring is the future of health. So that would be his point of view on that. And then maybe that, maybe the supplemental piece that we would write as the brand would be here are ways to do remote patient monitoring with other types of health devices.

Some wonky examples there, but I hope this kind of helps break down some of the distinction between when is something from the brand's point of view and when is something from a founder or executive's point of view.

[00:43:36] Jimmy Daly: Yeah, that's a really good point. I've also I've done some thought leadership stuff for Superpath, but I publish it on a personal blog as opposed to the company blog because I just feel like

I don't know, it just feels different. Like I feel like I can say a little bit more. I feel like I can talk more about like my personal experience and like sometimes be really frank about like how crappy something went or how frustrated I was at this or that, I think there's probably I don't approach it in this way, but then there, but there is an opportunity to build back links to back to your company domain.

Like I've done some guest posts along the same lines where like I'll write a post for an external site to talk about like my personal experience doing something and then we get links back to that. It's actually worked really well. Not, I don't pursue that as like a proper strategy.

It's just like when I feel like I want to say something or I feel like I've accumulated enough experience on a small topic that there's something worth writing about, I'll do it. And I feel like I do see, I feel like maybe we don't see that as much as we used to. Like I feel like it used to be that a lot of people kept personal blogs and kinda like alongside like in parallel. That probably is, like I said, you can't really operationalize that strategy, but for if you have that really likes writing, like encouraging them just to do it in whatever way feels comfortable to them, probably gonna have some positive side effects for the business also.

[00:45:03] Amanda Natividad: Yeah. Wait, Jimmy, how do you think about the distinction between writing on your personal site versus like for Superpath versus doing a guest post on someone else's website?

[00:45:16] Jimmy Daly: I feel like. I feel like when I write for Superpath, which to be honest, I very rarely do. I'm thinking about who's the target reader?

Like what conversations have I observed in our community that potentially could like, provide some examples or anecdotes that I could work into this piece. Like what's the takeaway I want people to have. It's, there's like a strong marketing focus on it versus if I write on my personal site, like I wrote a post.

Not that long ago, like it was about Superpath, but it was about this conversation I had with my wife who like helped me like get to this realization of just a negative mindset that I was stuck in and how she helped me like work through that. Like I probably wouldn't write that for the company blog.

I could, but something about it just feels different. And then for guest post I actually don't write about content marketing at all. I write about community building, which is something I've spent two and a half years now thinking about, like almost constantly but is not exactly the right fit for

the folks were reaching a Superpath who are primarily content marketers, and maybe they're involved in community at their own company, but it's kind, I like you because it gives me an outlet to just document some of the stuff that I've learned in getting into the whole community world.

[00:46:39] Ian Martins: As the skills required have evolved for content marketers. One of the ones that you touched on was vendor management, right? So whether that's agencies, freelancers, whatever you need to get into a place where you're probably writing a lot more briefs. And I've seen a lot of briefs in my time, and I'm sure you both have.

And there's been some great ones and there's been some terrible ones. And there's been some that are exactly brief. They're more like 30 page documents with everything under the sun. And and so I'd love to get both of your POVs on, like how to craft a good brief. What are the essential bits in there?

If you wanna get, the most out of the whoever it is you're working.

[00:47:26] Amanda Natividad: Oh gosh, I haven't written a brief in quite a while. I try to keep it short-ish, two pages or less. If I can fit on one page even better. But I think depending on what it is like if it's a brief like for a freelance writer versus like video production agency or that sort of thing I think I would try to.

I would I normally write out like what the program's goal is. Like the program meaning like, let's say it's a creative brief for a freelance writer. Then the program goal is the blog's goal. But the individual post might have its own goal. So I try to create a distinction between the two to convey like, here's what all this work leads up to, right?

Here's why we're doing this post. Like we're doing this blog post on cold outreach because we want to be known as the best sales resource ever. I don't know, whatever it is. So creating those two distinctions and then also including what I like to include is things I don't like.

So like including things like, here's a bad example of what this would look like or here's what I don't want to happen, or it shouldn't look like this, it shouldn't read like this. I think it's a little bit more helpful for that freelancer or that vendor to understand like, what should I stay away from?

What is it? What will you hate? I won't do that.

[00:49:03] Jimmy Daly: We actually, we had an interesting conversation in the community about this the other day, but it it actually was catalyzed by this conversation about how much should you pay freelancers? What do we expect to pay a freelancer who's gonna write a piece for you or your business? And the conversation took a turn that I didn't necessarily expect, and people were basically the amount you pay depends on how much work you have to do to make them successful, right?

So if you have to write an incredibly detailed brief and you have to edit the piece later, like you shouldn't have to pay that much for it versus if you're hiring someone who's has really deep subject matter expertise maybe you're actually just paying them to just go do what they think is best, I feel like one of the things we do at Superpath is we were in a marketplace, and so I thought about briefs in that context because we pair companies with writers. And we make sure there's a brief in place. We've tried a few different things. You know what actually works best though is lids, if we just say to the person wants the article written just record yourself talking on Loom for two or three minutes about this article. That is so much more helpful than document that has like the H2s already written and tells you like, Okay, here's an H2, then a hundred words, Make sure you use this keyword.

Here's the next H2. Okay. This section show three bullet points. You know that I think for the writer. They're just like a robot at that point, like filling in the gaps from the SEO tool that probably generated that brief in the first place. I think that there's probably there probably is a right structure and a right template.

For creating a brief that works very repeatedly. But this little like loom we found to just be like so incredibly helpful. The other thing we do is, every now and then with some of the marketplace customers is we jump on a call like maybe once a month, and we just ask them to just brain dump.

What are you thinking about? Okay, we got these couple ideas like in the hopper, like just riff on that for a little bit. We record it, we transcribe it, and we give it to the readers. That works really well too. And those are all maybe like expanding outside the scope of what a traditional brief looks like.

But we're just finding that it works so well when you can let people brainstorm a little more reform than being forced to package it up in a brief

[00:51:26] Amanda Natividad: I wanna call out in the chat mode. Pointed out. He likes Emily Kramer's GACC framework for briefs, goals, audience, channel, creative. Unique point of view. I like that.

[00:51:42] Ian Martins: Yeah. Briefs. There can be an art to a brief, right? Where it's like you need to make sure that you provide enough direction.

People, it might sound nice, playing in just on a blank sheet of paper, but you want a box to work with. But then giving the writer or the creative, the space to be creative would interpret that phrase and deliver that back. One last question. As we're near over Q4 now, we're heading into 2023, what are some perhaps like underpriced or overlooked opportunities that you see?

For 2023 and some places that content marketers should be paying attention to.

[00:52:24] Amanda Natividad: Maybe I'll point to a tactic that I feel like is in underrated tactic in content and events. And it's really just getting more out of your content by having things like webinars, interact with your blog posts and vice versa cause one thing, one way I think about it is I feel like people would normally say Oh yeah, when you do a blog post, like it should become a webinar, or webinar becomes a blog post.

I think what's ideal is if you can test like stress test an idea, like a point of view or something in a webinar where you have the idea partly fleshed out. And then use that feedback that you get in the webinar to refine or harden your ideas. And then after that, create an amazing blog post.

I feel like that's a really good tactic for getting more out of her content and producing higher quality content. Oh, the other thing is, I feel like people think that your webinar where you're presenting in front of 50 people and you have your slides, like your ideas, you need to be perfect then, and you have to have the perfect slides and have it all be a lovely presentation.

But I actually think your idea should be like 90% done. At that point, because I think what you actually want is you want some feedback. Like you want people to like, respond in the chat or ask questions or be like, Oh, doesn't make sense. I don't get it. And then using that feedback and making your ideas better so that you can then write a stronger blog post, which then becomes the source of truth for whatever the idea is

because over time it's your blog post that people are going to keep going back to. No one thinks about a webinar, months from now and tries to Google the webinar, right? Usually you look for the blog post .

[00:54:23] Jimmy Daly: I love that. I feel like there's been a lot of conversation again in our community.

I know I keep referencing that there's like a lot happening, so it's always top of mind, but a lot of stuff. A lot of conversations about like down economy, like what's going on right now, there's not a lot of open content marketing roles out there right now. Interestingly, we saw our

monthly listings on our job board are down like 75% from the spring. So it's an amazing time to hire a content marketer, like the people who are posting jobs are getting amazing candidates because there's not that many roles out there. So that's one thing, like if you wanna make a longer term investment, wonderful time to hire.

And another thing, the other thing, Like we hear, I've heard a number of companies recently say like they're, they're not sure they're shrinking their monthly budget on content or they're gonna wait and see what happens in a month or two before they decide they're gonna do whatever.

So if that's you it's a really nice time to clean up bloat, there's a lot of low hanging fruit in terms of just like general content hygiene, are you doing too much? A lot of teams are doing too much. So can you scale back and focus on the things that really matter?

Can you go back and refresh content? Are there like little like technical things wrong with your site that actually would improve SEO? If at the moment your resource constrained, this can be a really good use of time. Hopefully in 2023, which I know is your real question, that's not happening so much , but like immediately potentially helpful.

[00:55:59] Ian Martins: Great. Perfect. Thank you very much. I know we're nearing the end of the session. Where can people find you, Amanda, if they want to reach out and see what you're up to. And maybe if you wanna add to that too, share any tools that you can't live without, that you use as a content marketer.

[00:56:16] Amanda Natividad: Yeah. Let's see. You can find me on Twitter at amandanat and And then check out SparkToro. We have some free tools most ever paid tool and our audience research newsletter. A tool that I cannot live without as a content marketer is, I don't know, I got nothing right now, probably Notion .

[00:56:39] Ian Martins: There you go. Perfect. And Jimmy, where can everybody find you and reach out?

[00:56:44] Jimmy Daly: Yeah. If you work in content or even ready to content, come hang out. It's a free community. There's about 10,000 content marketers there. We would love to have you. That's the best place.

Twitter, also at jimmy_daly. Make sure you remember the underscore because there's another person who has the handle that I want and sometimes they respond to tweets that are accidentally tagged with that handle. And the tool I can't live without right now is called Grain. It's a tool that record, you can record your Zoom calls.

It has a live note taking feature, and then it does this really slick thing with transcripts where you, it highlights words as you go. And you can pull out snippets in the same way that Descript does. Like you can highlight a bit of text and then share out those video clips. So we use that to transcribe any calls with customers.

That stuff ends up going in content briefs and sometimes even in articles. We use it for sales and a few other things. It's good. And it's 18 bucks a month or something.

[00:57:44] Amanda Natividad: Cool. Great. If I were running a blog, an SEO blog, I would say Clearscope. Sorry.

[00:57:50] Ian Martins: No. Yeah,that's perfect. . Awesome. All right. Thank you very much for your time. We're gonna be heading right into the next session which is on community-led growth. So I'll see you all over in the next session. Jimmy, Amanda, thank you again for joining us and sharing all of your wisdom with the audience.

[00:58:10] Amanda Natividad: Yeah. Thank you.

[00:58:11] Jimmy Daly: Thanks, Ian. Great to see you, Amanda.

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