The Client Situation
Content marketing is supposedly the pill to cure all ills for consulting companies. The idea behind content marketing is a good one. Showcase your consultant’s expertise and insights by giving away a small sample, usually for free. To do this, most organizations create blog or article sites, build email newsletters, develop videos, hold webinars, design infographics and even write white papers.
What if you did all of these things, and did them well, but still lacked clear visibility to how these efforts were benefiting your business? What if your organization desired a quantitative method, one that leaders from Marketing and other areas of the business could use to evaluate the impact of current efforts and inform decisions around future investments in content marketing? Where would you turn?
This is exactly the position in which Karlene Moore, a marketing director for a very successful pharmaceutical consulting company, found herself. With a small team of dedicated professionals, she had led the charge to deploy content marketing programs that definitely demonstrated expertise, built confidence in the brand, and generated business development inquires. But along the way, she discovered a number of challenges.
One challenge was defining what topics to cover. Another challenge was figuring out how to produce content. She needed the insights of busy consultants, but their hours were mostly billable. So if she asked them for time, she needed proof that it would be time well spent. Another challenge was figuring out which types of content to produce: articles, newsletters, videos, podcasts, white papers or infographics.
But more than anything, she struggled to see how all of the time and effort that went into their content marketing program was actually shaping the behavior of current and prospective customers. She knew anecdotally that the content marketing program was leading to productive sales conversations. But she did not know which customers or prospective customers were exhibiting “leaning in” behavior, which had taken the tangible step of making a business development inquiry, or which content assets stimulated these conversations.
She had all sorts of tools at her disposal: an email system, a webinar platform, a content management system for the website and a CRM tool. But none of these systems talked to each other, shared data or readily gave her feedback about how the market was responding to the content the marketing team was producing. She needed an integrated system that would not only automate provisioning of the content, but also, and more importantly, demonstrate the impact of the content.
The Shattuck Group’s Recommendations
Karlene Moore reached out to The Shattuck Group (TSG) to see what we might recommend for someone trying to achieve these goals. After several conversations, Randy Shattuck recommended a two-pronged approach:
- Shore up content marketing efforts
- Deploy marketing automation
For the first phase of this engagement, Randy Shattuck recommended Market Research and Content Marketing services including a close analysis of how competitors were using content marketing. For the second phase of this engagement, Randy Shattuck recommended deployment of marketing automation with ongoing support to optimize the solution over time.
The Service Package
To shore up the content marketing program, we began by analyzing how our client employed this strategy, comparing it to how competitors were using content marketing. We discovered a number of differences in the various approaches of companies in the pharmaceutical consulting space. We were able to recommend several alternative strategies including changing how content was gated. Gating is the practice of requiring people to fill out registration forms to access content.
We also helped Karlene and her team develop an annual editorial calendar. Randy Shattuck spent time with several consultants analyzing the types of engagements that they had found to be successful and desirable. From this analysis, along with the audience personas that Karlene had already developed, we developed a formal ideal client profile that guided the topic selection for future content pieces.
Next, we helped Karlene begin to define the specifics of what she wanted a marketing automation tool to accomplish for her company. To do this, we took three important steps.
First, we helped Karlene define the key priorities, the features and functions that a marketing automation tool must deliver to meet her company’s core requirements. We identified a host of marketing processes and technologies common to most professional service firms. We also included criteria for annual licensing fees, training and time-to-launch. Then we helped Karlene Moore think through her must-haves, I’d-likes, and it-would-be-nice for each of these criteria. This process helped produce a picture of what the ideal marketing automation solution would look like for her company.
Second, we evaluated a number of tools and providers available on the market today and compared them to the criteria defined in the first step. This clearly eliminated certain providers and made others a front-runner. Based on our evaluation, we were able to recommend one marketing automation solution.
Third, we interviewed marketing team members to deeply understand their day-to-day operations for processes such as:
- Email marketing and newsletter production and broadcasting
- Gating and form usage
- Webinars including promotion, registration and follow-up
- CRM usage
- Production of web pages including landing pages for content marketing assets
- Existing analytical and reporting tools
Out of this analysis, we were able to help Karlene Moore’s company define their current operating model. This laid the framework for building a bridge between the existing marketing digital infrastructure and the new marketing digital infrastructure.
The Shattuck Group then led a process for defining an implementation plan for the marketing automation solution. Because we knew this would be a comprehensive, enterprise-wide replacement of several existing tools and processes, we built a full-blown technology and project management plan that included a detailed Gantt chart. This chart outlined responsibilities for all parties involved and timelines in which certain activities should be completed.
The implementation came off without a hitch. In slightly more than 60 days, Karlene Moore’s company had a functioning marketing automation tool. But our service and support did not end with the implementation.
Marketing automation tools position professional service companies to be active learners, discovering what works and doesn’t work for engaging with clients and prospective clients in a way that leads to productive and meaningful conversations. We continued to refine the marketing automation system by helping generate reports, improving email deliverability and enhancing how users of the content marketing program access content.
The Client Results
Today Karlene Moore knows exactly which customers and prospective customers are engaging with her company’s brand. She can measure “leaning in” behavior and identify which content pieces have generated business development inquiries. More than that, she has the digital infrastructure to see where those inquiries are in the business development process.
She has deep insights into the types of content that users find insightful and what is popular with them. She is able to work collaboratively with her colleagues in cross functional areas of the business. By providing guidance that is informed by metrics generated through the marketing automation tool, the company improved both internal efficiency and the customer experience.
Karlene now has access to real-world data as a result of the marketing automation tool. This data helps her guide the company toward specific clients and prospects who demonstrate sufficient leaning in behavior to warrant personal follow up. The data also identifies which individuals should be nurtured further before taking action. All of the data collection and measurement is automated and analytical reports are available in seconds through the firm’s customer relationship management software (or via the marketing automation tool itself).
By uncovering the digital footprint of users, she had made the invisible consumer of content marketing pieces completely visible to the marketing team and broader consulting organization. She knows, based on lead scoring, how many contacts are engaging with the brand. And based on the lead score, she can measure their level of engagement and correlate it to the individual’s affinity for the brand and sales readiness.
Karlene Moore says: “I appreciate the dedication with which The Shattuck Group helped us select, implement and optimize our marketing automation system. They were a key strategic partner in accomplishing this important goal. I now have empirical evidence to support the reports I deliver to senior executives at my company. This gives me confidence that marketing is functioning as a business partner and peace of mind about the impact we are making on the business.”