How to Build a Content Strategy That "Drives Pipeline"

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Sara: Okay. Well, first of all, I was never really hired to do content marketing fully. Right. So it's something that I do because I really believe in it. And because I think nowadays it just the modern way to do marketing. Right. And so I have mostly worked in sales led companies. So more like enterprise, I would say ABM type of play where obviously without sales, you just cannot move forward with, which I would say there is less pressure to deliver results now, but obviously it's also a bit harder to, to demonstrate the impact of every single marketing initiatives.
Which for me has never been a problem because thankfully I was never in one of those companies. I feel that's probably more an American thing where you are always like with a, with a knife at your, at your neck or something. But basically I really realized that we had such great minds and experts that were very far away from marketing and had all this knowledge in their heads, obviously, as usually in tech companies.
And I would say the biggest thing I've done is really teach them about what it is to bring out all that knowledge and how to do it and how to do that strategically.
Louis: Bonjour, bonjour, and welcome to another episode of Everyone Hates Marketers. com, the NoFluff actionable marketing podcast for people sick of marketing bullshit. I'm your host, Louis Grenier. In today's episode, you'll learn how to build a content strategy that truly drives pipeline. My guest today is a B2B marketer who, like me, is a very contrarian figure, should I say, in our space.
I like the way she talks about her experiences quite simply and how she stands out in a sea of people talking about the same stuff. Currently, she works in house for a small B2B consulting slash software company, but also does freelance content marketing advising on the side. So Sarah Latanzio, welcome aboard.
Sara: Hi, Louis. Thanks very much.
Louis: I channeled everything, every latin, you know, heritage into that pronunciation.
Sara: I felt it. I felt it.
Louis: So like me, you are born in a non-American country. We are like neighbors, right? I'm French or Italian, and I don't wanna go into cliches, but I think it's pretty fair to say that you like me, you like to challenge the status quo and is not afraid to share what she's thinking.
Which is rare in our space, right? Which is why, you know, I kept reading your stuff. Anyway, today, right now, like literally right now, what is the thing that pisses you off the most about the content marketing world?
Sara: I think it's really the fact that it's become like a black wolf type of space, like crypto, you know?
It's like, it's all about the hacks. It's all about the hacks. And also it's, I think people don't make a distinction between what it takes to build like a corporate content strategy and just like a guy becoming rich, selling LinkedIn courses, basically.
Louis: Okay. That's actually a very good way to frame this conversation because that's exactly where I want you to go in a sense, which is why I called, you know, I, at the start I was saying like a content strategy that builds pipeline.
Those are your words, by the way. But this is what I want you to get to because in our world, right, we log into LinkedIn every day. We post a lot and we are overly exposed to all of those people and to all of this bullshit. But what I like about your profile is that you're not yet another tech person in a massive company that has a share of voice that is way bigger than others just because of their profile, just because of where they worked or whatever.
I like the fact that you actually created that space, I wouldn't say out of nowhere, but yeah, from your sheer, I would say resilience and intelligence. Right. And, because you work for a small company in Switzerland. So you're not in.
Sara: I have to correct you there. It's not so small. It's 700 people, but yeah, it's not.
Louis: So in my head, it's small in a sense that you wouldn't be Ahrefs or HubSpot or those companies that have an excess show voice in a sense are like a massive leader. And you think about them the first, you know, first thing you think of them, like in the B2B SaaS tech world where like those companies are just overly, but yes, it's not that small, 700 people for sure.
So I like the fact that you did this on today. That's what I want to do with you is like trying to break down. How does it actually look like nowadays to do content marketing in a way that is like actionable for folks. working in normal jobs, not like the very few working fucking tech founded with like millions behind them and stuff like that.
So do you accept the assignment?
Sara: Let's try.
Louis: All right. So let's go back to your experience. So when did you join the company? I don't want to try to pronounce it because they need to change their name, by the way. Ad, how do you call it?
Sara: Why? Ad Novum. It's, it's, it's Latin, right? So it's pretty easy.
Louis: No, no, it's not.
Anyway. So when did you join them?
Sara: Well, I think it's been a bit over two years, by the way, just full disclaimer. I am in my final weeks because I will start a new role in another company beginning of April, but yeah, it's been about two and a half years.
Louis: Great. So that's actually, that's by the time this episode will be recalled, it will be published.
I would say, yeah, I would say you, you would have announced the move already. So I think it's a great way to frame this even better, which is like, what did you learn when you started two years ago with that company? And what do you think you're going to bring to this new role? What would you do differently?
Right? So like still in that frame of working in a company, starting the concepts, building this conference strategy to build pipeline and stuff like that. So maybe let's go back two years, two years, two years ago. Tell me more about what is the very first thing that you started to do in order to like reach the goals you had?
Sara: Okay. Well, first of all, I was never really hired to do content marketing fully. Right. So it's something that I do because I really believe in it. And because I think nowadays it just the modern way to do marketing. Right. And so I have mostly worked in sales led companies. So more like enterprise, I would say ABM type of play where obviously without sales, you just cannot move forward with, which I would say there is less pressure to deliver results now, but obviously it's also a bit harder to, to demonstrate the impact of every single marketing initiatives.
Which for me has never been a problem because thankfully I was never in one of those companies. I feel that's probably more an American thing where you are always like with a, with a knife at your, at your neck or something. But basically I really realized that we had such great minds and experts that were very far away from marketing and had all this knowledge in their heads, obviously, as usually in tech companies.
And I would say the biggest thing I've done is really teach them about what it is to bring out all that knowledge and how to do it and how to do that strategically. And so I basically went from people who were, what is this and what is content marketing, what is LinkedIn to people who approach me to, to help them really to, to create content, to contribute to articles, to join and organize panel discussions with partners.
And ultimately, I would say something that has moved quite the needle for us was SEO, which asked me a year ago, I would have never told you because among all the channels was the one I knew the least, but in a space where, and especially in Switzerland, in the German part, like SEO is really bad, you know?
So there was like an opportunity to win. Some keywords that are really, really low volume, but very, very business relevant. And so, for example, one of the many things that this company does is cyber security and data protection consulting. And so there was a new law coming into force, which is the Swiss data privacy law.
So it was a big thing for businesses because they had to adjust Yeah. Legislation. It's kind of GDPR for Switzerland, right? And so based on this collaboration that I established with the experts, they told us, Hey, this is a topic that will be very important. So we started kind of creating a cluster around it and okay, it was also about a bit of luck, but we really hit the moment where we were the first to talk about it.
And so we really caught the curve when this was going up. And yeah, I mean, we, we really got a lot of business out of this because people wanted consulting on this. This was very important. Also timely. Yeah.
Louis: So let me go back to what you said, because I used to work in content. I used to, I used to lead a content marketing team as well, or like lead the efforts and start almost from scratch as well when I was at Hotjar.
And yes, one of the first thing we tried to do was to get people inside the company to actually get their knowledge out because we knew this was like absolutely critical. So one of the first thing I did was to interview the CEO at length, like for hours to just extract as much knowledge as I could.
And then also the founders, the other co founders, like Hotjar was funded by five people. So I spent a lot of time talking to all of them and I felt I understood them very well. And we were able to start there, but then it started to fall down. Like, it was really difficult to keep pace and to make people really care and to make people write things.
Like I just couldn't find the right, just never really found the right thing to make it work. So now I'm very curious how you did it. So you joined and that's the first thing you thought about, like the big thing. was to get their knowledge out, their expertise outside their brain. How did you go about it?
How did you convince people who see marketing as advertising and bullshit. And I'm not, this is not something that influenced me to actually wanting to do this.
Sara: Well, first of all, as you said, it's never, you know, a perfect thing. I wish I could say everything was perfect and now we are a unicorn, but that's not it.
But the first thing I realized is you don't need many people. You need a few that understand it, that are even open minded enough to understand it. Maybe also have a bit of a business sense, you know, and that also are not afraid to be a bit at the center of attention, obviously, because especially in tech, there are so many people who are, I don't want to even have a blog post that is in my name, you know, like I don't want to be on camera.
I don't want any of that. Right. And, and obviously why make your work even harder. And so the first thing is really like, I try to connect with a few people that, that understood the value of it.
Louis: How did you do it? When we say connecting, like it's, do we talk, like, do you send them a message in Slack individually?
Did you let the, I don't know, the CEO share that this was on a new project? Like, how did you, what does it mean?
Sara: It was, so obviously I introduced myself. They knew I was a new person for marketing for this particular business line. And I explain them why I believe that content is a great way to get what they wanted.
So I listened first, obviously I listened to the goals. I listened to the people they wanted to reach, et cetera. And also I think the thing with content marketing is always that people think it's really like the post or just write an article, put it there. Once you let them understand that first it's something that comes from the input they give and is a tool that they can activate maybe on pitches, sales presentations as an outreach to maybe go to a prospect and say, Hey, do you want to collaborate with us on an article?
Or do you want to come with us to speak at this event? We have tickets and you could be on stage with us. Then they listen more, you know? So I made it really, really tangible so that yeah. In a way, content became something closer to what they do every day. And so this one kind of adjusting the common language was a thing.
And I believe, I mean, that's just the reality of it. Some people like you as a person and when people like you as a person and you also click, I wouldn't say emotionally, but you know what I mean? Then you help them out because they're friends, because you have a good time with them, because maybe once you help them out, once they help you out, right?
And that's just a little bit.
Louis: So let's go into the detail. How, roughly how long after you started the role, did you start connecting with some of those experts inside the company?
Sara: I think it took me about maybe nine months to find the right people.
Louis: Okay. A long time. To find the right people. So that means you started the process before, but it took you roughly nine months to feel like, okay, now I have a core group of people who could be an asset.
Sara: Yes. Because the structure of the company is also very, very difficult in a way, in the sense that it's a bit like Accenture in the sense they have different business lines and you have different people that are responsible for different business lines. And then we also have like a, like a team internal that does the hands on production of content.
So as usual in those, in those larger companies with larger, not like a startup where, where it's like, you know, everybody, it takes a while to gather the right people at the table, convince them. Also, because I also had to change all the processes for the operations of content for the content delivery with the marketing team.
So on one side, the experts on the other side, the marketing team and changing all of this takes time.
Louis: Okay, so we'll get to that, the process in a bit. But tell me about how you got to find the right people. Like, was it just you looking at their role one by one, connecting them with them on Slack or whatever you were using, start the conversation or was it, you know, at the office, how did you start to get a sense of who could be interested?
Sara: Well, I knew who was, so to say, who was Inside of my business lines, who was responsible for project delivery was maybe also more on the business development side. I started setting up some meetings on bi weekly. And I mean, a lot of them you realize after a while, that's not the right constellation. It's not moving me forward.
Then you can also look in the intranet or whatever, who's responsible. For what projects, what projects are open. And also I looked on LinkedIn. I connect with obviously when, when I start, when you start a new role, people connect with you, you connect with people and you see if somebody's already posting some stuff, then another very important point, say it's like companies or maybe also in, in, in B2B SaaS, but there are always those industry associations and very often people take on roles there to go build community or maybe speak, or maybe they have some side roles where they are ambassadors, advisors, whatever it is. And so usually those people obviously are very interested in communicating because otherwise they wouldn't spend their time dealing with more people after work.
Right. And so, yeah, I mean, I kind of put together all those facts and then slowly, so then some people joined later. Yeah, it happened.
Louis: How many people are we talking about that, you know, after nine months, you felt like, okay, I have, I have a good pool of people I can rely on.
Sara: To be honest, maximum four. And there was a specific person that was my biggest fan is my biggest fan.
And he really like, at some point, he went to meetings and was like, okay, we're going to do content marketing. Sarah told this, this, this, you have to do this. You have to do this, you know? So he took so much stuff off my shoulder that Like I wouldn't have very often, I wouldn't have known who was the right person to ask for this particular topic because obviously engineers and staff, they are on projects.
They are consulting clients. I mean, in a 700 people company, how can I know? Right. And so he always. He's brought me the right people and he also always pushed me hitting, help me hit the deadlines and such. So my biggest takeaway here is really you rather bond with a few people that then amplify your reach and help you out rather than trying to convince everyone.
Louis: Yeah, no, that sounds like the right strategy. So you had those people in, they were publishing stuff on LinkedIn and or being active in, in their own community or events or whatever. You've created a good relationship with them. And now you have them in a sense, how did you go from obviously publishing on LinkedIn once in a while, as you know, as, as one of your colleagues might do versus being more involved in a kind of strategic initiative inside the company that is, there is more at stake, I would say is a different thing, right?
So how did you convince them? Like, tell me how you talk about practice of content marketing to folks who. Probably, you know, I had no fucking clue what it meant in the first place.
Sara: So I remember I did a presentation that was called something like content marketing take over or something like that. And I started kind of with, I did this, I think after, after we really started, you know, creating blogs in a different way, repurposing content a bit more collecting feedback, I will tell you later also what I changed in terms of content operations. And basically I made a timeline where I showed kind of all the content initiatives of the past year that were really like, Hey, we're hiring. Hey, by the way, we have a new offer. Hey, this is our new blog blog about one topic. blog about another topic, you know, like really, it was so clear, it was all over the place.
And there was no common line. And there were also not no repurposing. And the other timeline of the past few months that we or three months, I don't remember that we've been doing this new thing, it really showed so much consistency. And already this rang a bell to them and was like, Oh, this looks really like completely different things.
And it's all about what we're trying to sell. Right. So this was the one thing. Then, I mean, I must say it was also very convenient because at the same time we had this kind of cluster about this data thing that I told you about that was picking off and was clearly via HubSpot bringing in a few deals at the moment.
And so it was the first time where people were like, Oh, it's really like you put in effort and money comes out, you know? So, I mean, yes, it was just the perfect moment to gain, to, yeah, to gain more support and momentum.
Louis: So that presentation was it's in front of the entire company, like who was on the other side?
Sara: No, it was just in like, in one of my business units, because obviously I cannot start such a project and involve like 700 people or like all the business side of the entire company. I did the pilot with, a market unit, a business unit that for me was more mature because for me, their business strategy was a lot more graspable because, because also I saw those experts that were more willing to collaborate.
So I was like, you know, let's try to win this and then let's try to scale it to others if they're interested, you know, because as I told you, I was. I was also not responsible to all the business segments, you know, yeah. And I feel this work because then people like this thing spread when people pass the presentation.
And I mean, then implementing it is another thing. Not everybody wanted to do it, but yeah, the effect was there. And another thing that I did to convince them to make it more graspable for them is really take some examples from other companies that kind of were a bit in the direction that we wanted to go.
For example, other companies talking about cyber security, creating cyber security reports, and maybe doing CEO reports. So basically, you see that. a content piece can be a way to bring your prospect on boards because you make them feel important because then you could, you collect at the same time, mark market insights about your target group.
So they understood that one piece of content can have also so many implications and information on the business side, basically.
Louis: What's interesting about the industry you're in, like the role that you're in, at least at the time we are recording this, is that like in traditionally, the way deals are brought through is through what they call business development, right?
It's like you have your network, you have like, you make friends with people in the industry and you try to get more contracts inside the same company. It's a very kind of traditional way to do it. And then after a while, when the company to scale, they understand that they need to do something else. They understand that marketing is kind of the dirty where they need to start using a bit more, but then.
They might understand what it means. They might understand that. Yes, other companies are doing it. Okay. I can see a few leads coming through thanks to what marketing has done, which is quite surprising because they're not used to that. But then there is the actually doing the thing, right? So you know, because it's easy enough to agree in a company training or company presentation, be excited about it.
And then you leave, you go to your house, you wake up in the morning, you go back to work and you fucking go back to normal. So how did you manage to make those few involved? And what does it mean for them to be involved? Like, what did you ask them to do?
Sara: So I made it as easy as possible to contribute in the sense that before.
The process was really, especially for example, for blogs, right? It was really like, Hey, this is kind of our outline. These are our template, not even an outline. These are template. Fill it out. What, what's on your mind basically. Right. And so people would be like, dude, I'm spending like two days on this models and I don't even really see an impact from it.
Maybe I'll do something else. And I think that's where in general, not only in this company, things go south because nobody does. Yeah. Maybe you can do it once or twice. Maybe when you're not so busy, maybe you also like writing. I don't know. In tech, if you give an engineer or somebody like a blank template, they're going to write a master thesis.
And also like, then you're going to start arguing on what on the Oxford comma on the, yeah. So very bad strategy. And, and also like, you should never go to a person asking them for a favor and telling them, by the way, you're going to do all the work. Right. So I saw another problem there because I was like, if I get the buy in from them, if they understand that I want to contribute, and then it's like so difficult for them, they're going to give up, right?
Because it's not their main job. And so we really started using more like recordings or this, this script. So we use like interview them, what's on their mind, what they're doing, if they can just explain stuff. And then we used to just transcribe it, which saved a lot of time, but also we in this particular situation, the blog is our main long form content.
We don't have a podcast. We don't have, we have a few reports or whatever, but it's really the blog. And so we did all the clusters that we needed to have and really filled out the template as much the outlines as much as we could. So for them, it really became a structured input where they don't really need to write because I'm like, you're not a writer.
You can do a lot that's not where I need you. You'll never be as good as writing. So I need you just to maybe do some preparation. If it's maybe a topic that it's not like so easy to you, or maybe connect me to the expert, if there's somebody who knows it a bit better than you. And then I think that was really the sweet spot where they're like, Oh, okay.
So really it's about my knowledge. I just, Sarah gets it done. I cannot believe that. Like, it's just like, give like sitting on an hour off of call. And then it's like meeting in the middle, right? Because they obviously know some topics that no keyword pool, no research can cover. But on the other hand, there are a lot of, there are a lot of topics that you doing a bit of research as a marketer and understanding the topics can suggest, right?
So it becomes a fruitful collaboration and brainstorming.
Louis: That's what happened when I was at Hotjar towards the end, where we really started to like, get a good rhythm of publishing stuff and being able to get the knowledge of the right people is that's that pretty much what we did probably in a less clever way, less organized than you, but interviewing people internally or externally.
And that was the main source. And then we would weave that in. So I would pick angles that would go well, like whether it's like almost stopping to look at SEO altogether and just picking things that we think people would like based on what we know of them and interviews and shit. That's when it really started to work without expecting them to write anything, without expecting them to, you know, to come up with anything, just have a 30 minute chat, boom, it's recorded.
And then two weeks after boom, it's live and it makes them look good. And I think the unlock for me at the time. I don't know if you've thought about it this way, was to really think of self as ourselves as journalists inside a business instead of like marketer, content marketer, right? Because that's what journalists do.
I mean, I, you know, I didn't go to school for journalism, but I know that they go for sources and they interview people when they don't know. And that's what we started to do. And it, it felt much better.
Sara: Definitely. That's, that's the ultimate goal.
Louis: So yeah, you started to be able to produce good piece, started to work and stuff like that.
And at this stage, was it starting to like drive actual pipeline? You said the first big win was from this kind of GDPR in Switzerland type, type topic. Did you feel like it started to really pick up steam after that?
Sara: I mean, it's always like stocks, it goes up and down. And definitely there were also a lot of blocks that we invested so much time and they didn't have much traction.
Then there was another one that we published and I need to started getting traction after four months. And then it was even, it surpassed even the other one. So we understood, I think that also the speed of execution is very, very important. And it's kind of a pain, you know, when you have, when you're very, very reliant on experts, because we cannot improvise.
We cannot improvise things like when I'm writing for HubSpot as a marketer, we really need to make sure that everything that is there is accurate. Right. So that was kind of the next bottleneck that we were trying, we were still trying to solve. But yeah, I guess once, I think this big success also gave us the confidence and yeah, the validation to move forward.
And whenever somebody was late or didn't want to contribute, we brought that as a case and then yeah, people give a bit more effort.
Louis: Let's talk about the process then, because like to have momentum is important, right? Completely agree on this. Like you need to be able to, to ship things regularly. And, because if you don't produce a good quantity of things, you can't tell what is quality, especially when it comes to bringing leads.
And, you need this, you need quantity first. I mean, that's what I believe anyway, like not shitty quantity AI driven thing, but you need a cadence. You need to ship and see what sticks and learn from that and do better. So tell me about that process, right? Behind. Behind that content strategy. Maybe we can talk about.
Why content strategy is not just a calendar of all the stuff you need to publish next, but let's talk about a bit about the way you've done it internally to have this cadence. You said you changed the process. So what was it and how did you change it?
Sara: Well, as I said, like very isolated sprints and kind of random blurbs, like what's on your mind.
I did quarterly plannings, meaning I already knew for the quarter what were my clusters, you know, and more or less. I would say the goal was really three quality articles per month. That was the goal for my own topics. And yeah, so I knew already, and everybody knew also the experts, what we're going to talk about.
And then from there, what I did is I created one I made them agree because very often they were like, no, this is actually kind of, they didn't say like that, but it was like, yeah, top of funnel, lot of blah, blah on, on the internet. But that's not relevant to us, right? That's not something that we as a business should go after.
And so once we all agree on the topics, I would start to create outlines for them for the content. And I would already fit it in as much as I can with maybe what's in every paragraph, what are the target keywords, what are, where maybe I think that graphic would be very helpful, like all of those things.
And then, and then I would basically involve also the editor and the expert. When I thought this was for me done, they would then pick it up and they would basically. Yeah, the editor would interview, as you said, as a journalist, the expert, and then they would basically create the article. Another thing that saved us a lot of time was to also involve the designer once the article was still in the making.
So really, everybody was working on this skeleton in Google Docs or whatever, instead of editor writes, then he passes it in when everything is done to the social media manager, to the designer, and then everybody starts from scratch. Because you want also that the designer and the social media manager, they start thinking how they can already develop the copy.
And so also this, like social media was another battle, like our own company account, because Yeah. It was the usual when a blog is, it's done, you publish it. Right. And so like, it was really, it felt a bit like empowering the team because they didn't even know that they could contribute more strategically at the beginning.
Right. And so they were like, okay, so I see there is, I don't know, this article about X and actually this would be great in a carousel. You know, this would be great in a video. This would be great in animation. Let me, Like, let me just go to designer and see how we can work on this. Why the article is in production.
And the result was basically that at some point, like you, you don't need, we obviously have a project management software, we have Jira, everything is ticketed and, and then at some point, you don't even need to discuss, Hey, we have a blog. How many po we should post on social media about this? Oh, what do we post?
No, it was clear. One blog means X amount of social media posts. Every, every age one is a, I don't know, it's a title for a carousel, whatever, you know? And so I always say it really felt a bit like, being in an assembly chain. You put in this and then it's already packaged and goes on to the next person.
And for me as your, especially in such a company where the volumes are very, very low. And I think apart from this, from this case where obviously it was also a very timely topic where people look for it proactively, it's probably not the best channel, you know, I mean, if I would have unlimited resources, I would obviously do it, but I think other channels like events and, and self organized events, like even webinars or, or we did hybrid events that were virtual and are a lot more important and a lot more worth investing.
But for me, SEO also helped me a lot to structure the articles. In a user friendly way, in a sense that the article look good. It was skimmable. It was also you know, structure with some target topics in mind. So even if it was not meant for ranking, I think the structure and the rationale helped us all a lot.
Louis: I agree. We used to do the same thing with the outlines and structuring things. And it's always difficult to like have a balance between, you don't want to just play for SEO sake. You also want to think about the people behind it. And so we always try to weave in an angle that was a bit contrarian or controversial or different by leaning on experts.
Basically, every time we would pick a topic, and I won't question you on this a bit more, you mentioned the word cluster. I want to define that a bit on topic, but once we knew roughly what we want to talk about, we'd find an expert to talk about it. And almost every time, because we talked to someone who knew that, we could find an angle for that topic that was wildly different from any other top 10 results every time, because all of the other top 10 results were absolutely horseshit, right? So we just, it was very easy actually to come up with the right angle because yeah, once you know the topic, you realize most of it is, you know, it's bad. So going back to what you said, you mentioned the word cluster a few times.
So how do you define a cluster? What does it mean for you?
Sara: Well, for me, cluster is like a collection of articles of similar topics from different perspectives, search intents. I don't know, stage in the funnel, if you will. And that are all interconnected and build upon each other.
Louis: Can you give me an example from like the company you're in at the time we're interviewing, we are talking just as a, as a cluster or something I can Google just so that I can, you know, we can talk about that in like in practical terms.
Sara: Yeah, I mean, so for example, one, I stick to this data privacy thing. So I always start also for simplicity, for my own planning with like a guide that really covers everything about this topic. And even there, a lot of people are like, Oh, that's SEO soup, whatever. But I'm with you, you know, like if, if you really manage to have unique perspectives and experience of the people.
It's unique and it's very in depth. So there was really this long article with what is the Swiss data protection law? When does it come to force? What do you need to do? What are requirements? All of these things very long. And then obviously it's connected to the offering page, as are all the other articles in the cluster.
So it would It would be interlinked with data protection services and this particular, this offer in particular. And then there, there were other articles that were, I don't know, maybe an article that was a bit more in depth into the legal requirements, an article that made a comparison between the Swiss data protection law and GDPR.
We also had an article that was It was literally not for SEO, but it was really like we interviewed some legal expert in Switzerland and each of us gave us a quote. And so it was kind of a roundup article. So a bit like that.
Louis: We got some big wins with clusters. I remember we did a cluster when I was a Hotjar around usability testing.
And the one that I love the most was actually to do a glossary around Google Analytics, because the positioning of Hotjar, as I had worked on, was we are a complement to Google Analytics, right? So we're not replacing it, but like you basically use Google Analytics and then you use Hotjar to complement the findings.
And we did this huge glossary of all the terms, the top terms that were searched, where we felt there was a lot of opportunity to hijack a bit the search results. And we would come up every time with like, let's say bounce rate and we would define it. And then we'd say, actually bounce rate means nothing because X, Y, and Z to actually see why people are dropping off, you better do also this that also work really well.
So anyway, cluster is for you basically like the main topic. And then it's like. all the stuff that, that support that topic. Cool. So maybe, can you tell me more about how you decided on those clusters in the first place? Because then you could use that information for articles on the blog, but you mentioned webinars and events.
You can obviously that's you can reuse that for webinars or even.
Sara: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, one, once we, I told you I did a quarterly planning, right? So it was really based upon what are some like our offerings that we want to prioritize right now. And so that's how, I mean, the clusters are in a sense for me, the offering, because I'm not gonna put like just random top of the funnel content.
I mean, yes, I'm not against. Some top of the funnel content, if I can provide unique insights, but it was really, really always orientated towards the business strategy. And I think that's also what people want to hear and what they want to know. And what you said, I mean, sometimes we also did the opposite.
We started, I remember with this hybrid event, which I think was really one of the most successful so far that we had basically kind of a webinar that was also streamed and, but people were there on stage and we opened it for, I don't know, 30 people that could come very, very selected because the topic was kind of, it's connected a bit to this data privacy Swiss data privacy law.
It's kind of the digital EID. So they are discussing in Switzerland, the introduction of the EID. And so we had, basically we wanted to discuss this topic from the perspective of the government, which is obviously very highly involved in the development from, from the technology part. So we had somebody who's working on similar project from our side there in the panel.
Then we had just like somebody that works at a company. And then we had like an influencer that she calls herself like a digital economist that brought in like the society aspect and whatever. And so you had really those four experts commenting on such a topic from very different angles. We also got the influencer to write on her LinkedIn profile about it, post about this event and what they discussed.
And then we kind of, we transcribed the entire discussion was still kind of a pain for me. But the article that came out was sensational. And this was actually the article that picked up quite massively after four months. And obviously then there was also Q& A. You could literally get some polls on what topics would be very interesting to discuss to fill the cluster as well, or maybe to make more events or maybe have a bring like such a presentation to another event where you're going to speak. So that was, I think also for the team. And that was that I showed content is elastic. Like it all belongs together. You can start from a blog, but you can start from social posts.
You can start from an event. You can do it solo. You can invite people, but it needs to be consistent with the rest of the stuff you're doing.
Louis: Before we switch gear a bit. How you did certain stuff on LinkedIn that I think is important to talk about, not because LinkedIn in particular, but there's a few things that you've done that I know a lot of people are struggling with.
To close on that topic of the content strategy for companies like that, why is a content strategy not an editorial calendar?
Sara: Because the editorial calendar is just the, what we're going to do and when, like kind of here is what we decided now you can go in and run with it. But the content strategy is all we discussed in this hour.
I don't know. It's really, it starts from getting closer to the people, getting closer to the business goals, educating people, finding the difference between topics that are worth. pursuing and not, and how you're going to pursue them. So it's a lot more.
Louis: Is there something I should have asked that I didn't about this?
Like something that you'd like to maybe rant about or talk about, about your experience in that company to like, to build a content strategy that, that drives some actual pipeline?
Sara: Not really. But I must say that I also, among the other things, I interviewed customers obviously, and I revamped also the way we do case studies.
So before it was also there a lot like, okay, here's our template. The company was great. And especially when, when. And this also, you know, something I cannot read anymore on LinkedIn, talk to your customer, dah, dah, dah. And like for companies like Ahrefs or whatever, I mean, you go with marketers and every marketer wants to be on an Ahrefs case study, right?
Go do it with banks, go do it with cybersecurity companies. You need to, you struggle a lot to get those people on board. And also, you have this idea that they are a lot more conservative bottom buttoned up. And so for me talking to customers was really, really enlightening because I started understanding more how they function.
And, and also like that they are I know it sounds stupid, but like people like you and me, you know, and I have the feeling that a good thing about such industries that maybe are not the coolest kids, it's that such people appreciate a lot more when they are featured on a case study and see this pretty thing that is a bit modern with infographics, whatever.
And so just wanted to share this.
Louis: I agree. Yeah. It's funny. We had the same experience about custody as well. One way that I love to structure custody is to lead with the objection first. So really to like talk about the real story, which is, well, we weren't sure this was the right tool. At first we tested it and it didn't work.
And then we'd reach out to this guy inside a company and it was so helpful. And so then we stuck around and, and then this is what happens, right? So I always love to actually get the real story and really push the objection to make it look like it's actually a real thing. Not a fucking seller speech in disguise.
Yeah. It's funny. We had the same experience as well with. People outside of our bubble, normal people who don't go on LinkedIn every day, who like are craving the attention that we could give them, right? Like, it's like, I've never, ever been featured anywhere. Someone is actually asking me questions, I want to feature my words somewhere.
Like, you know, we take that for granted because that's what we do all day, every day. Most people out there never get that chance. So yes, I want to go back to some, a little thing that you said, you know, in passing, where you talk about, you know, on LinkedIn, everyone says, talk to your customers, blah, blah, blah, right?
Which is kind of pet peeve of yours that you don't like. And this is why you're here today. This is why I'm talking to you is because I really like the way you've approached your own LinkedIn as an example of like social posting or whatever you call it as a way to like share your view and gather an audience around those views.
You're not afraid to be controversial, even though. Honestly, what you're sharing isn't that controversial, but at least it's going against the grain of what most people would say. You're not necessarily going at it. You go at it. So you don't really hold back. So I'm just going to read out a few lines of one of those posts.
Um, you say, Oh, the amount of ridiculous advice I've seen over three years of daily scrolls through LinkedIn my seven topics for advice so absurd it's almost art. And one of them is like, your employer doesn't own your LinkedIn profile. That's the quote. Well, empowering, but they might be rightly pissed off if you bash them publicly on social media, or if you spend more time liking dog pictures than doing your actual job.
But also, go tell this to the ones stuck in Toxic Trolls where even a like is money to it. Yeah, so, Like you're not afraid to share things as they are. You're not afraid to share mine. You seem to really understand people very well. Like you're able to like write content that is really in line with what people think, right?
Almost quoting them verbatim as well. So I know from talking to a lot of folks in our industry, this, what you're doing there is what they want to do, but they're so fucking scared of doing it. They are scared of doing it because they are afraid that they're going to say something someone else has said before.
They are afraid that they're going to be ignored or they are afraid they're going to be mocked. They're afraid of everything. They're afraid that they're going to push away the right people if they are too much themselves and they share their point of view. So fear is a massive thing. So how do you get over that?
Sara: I mean, first of all, thank you because you gave me a lot of compliments. I think I always felt very free to express myself also in terms of the employers I have. And I, in general, I'm a person who never agrees for the sake of agreeing, but at the same time, I think if I disagree, I can do that respectfully and I can explain why I think the way I think.
And so I applied that to LinkedIn. And to be honest, I don't think you can pull this for three years. Like I did. Without being yourself. Like when I realized that the more like the content comes from my heart or from my experience, the easier it is to produce. And usually that's also the content that resonates most with people.
Yeah. And I'm, I'm just, I'm not afraid. I mean, I'm not afraid of what people think because I don't provoke them for the sake of provoking them. And I think it feels like she's trying to make a point here. Let me talk to her. Let me. Engage with her way of thinking.
Louis: Tell me about this in terms of, you know, one thing that people are afraid of in particular is to get nasty comments and trolls and hate stuff, you know, like people are so afraid of getting any hateful stuff.
So can you, you've been posting a lot, you've been very active, you have, you know, people following you and all of that. How many times have you had someone, I don't know, insult you or really leave, like, leave a very nasty comment, something that, you know, just hurts you?
Sara: Never. Seriously, never. I mean, I think I, I blocked, I, the only people I block are the ones who pitch, like, really in a very cheap way, in a sense.
Yeah. We connected, you never talked to me. And then you're like, Hey, by the way, subscribe to my newsletter, stuff like that, because it really disturbs me. But apart from that, maybe I'm extremely lucky, but really never had any crazy horror story about hate or something.
Louis: And that's why I wanted to ask you the question.
And I didn't know the answer to this, but I had the sense that like, whenever I ask this question to people who are quite active anywhere online. That's what I hear. So the worst thing that can happen if you're listening to these episodes and thinking of putting yourself out there and sharing who you really are and your voice is, is people ignoring it, right?
Which people are afraid of, but then that's what you need to fear is that the obscurity. And once you start shipping things and have a cadence, understanding what people like and what they don't like, then you start getting somewhere. Yeah, I think you've shared that as well recently. It takes a long fucking time, right?
It's like, there's no magic here. There's no secret. It's just, it's hard fucking work. You've been at it for three years, right? You've been publishing for like, almost daily for three years. Is that it?
Sara: No, not daily. Three times a week. Yeah. That's what I
Louis: said. Almost, you know, um, three times a week for three years, but like three times a week for three years, there's 52 weeks in a year.
That's 150 times time three, that's 450. Do you know what I mean?
Sara: One, one could say, yeah. And I think that's also like a recipe for not being burned out to feel what's the right rhythm for you. And one, another thing I would like to share is that, yeah, I mean, maybe it's true that some people are pissed off by this and some people, I mean, maybe some people that know me professionally or maybe that maybe have not really directly worked with me, but maybe were at a past company with me or whatever.
Then they're like, Oh, this chick, what is she doing? She's always on my feet, blah, blah, blah. Or maybe some people would never hire me because they're there. They feel threatened by this, you know? And then I feel. As you, as you read, I shoot very openly against all the LinkedIn bros and people who say a lot of stupid things that are not true misleading.
So, yeah, those people will have a problem with me, but just like in real life, I don't try to please everybody. I think it's really like you attract the people, you attract your tribe. And that's what I want. I want to work for a company that values all the work I'm doing. Not that it's like, Oh my God. You know?
Louis: Yeah. Yeah. So it's really about picking the right company and all of that. But yeah, there's no, honestly, I don't think there's any downside to doing what you're doing to sharing your point of view. I believe this is one of the best. way to sell anything, whether it's your personal brand to be hired by other companies or to sell your services and stuff like that.
So you're a great example of that. And I like it because you're not yet another white guy in the U S talking about content. Right. And I know I don't want to sound like misogynistic or sexist or whatever, when I said this, but like as a woman in particular I know it might feel harder for some of them to actually put themselves out there and whatnot.
So you're a great example, but you mentioned something when we were talking before in the questionnaire, I asked you to feel, you mentioned the difference between the Europe and the U S in terms of culture for this kind of topic, what have you noticed? What, how do you see the difference between the two?
Sara: I think what I've learned because I have started also, yeah, working a bit on top of what I've built. It's never been my focus too much. And especially now that I will change a few things in my kind of employment, I will scale it down for sure, at least at the beginning. But I believe the majority of things don't happen online, unless you want to sell courses or whatever.
I think it's very important to complement it like offline as well. And this is why I think in Europe, especially, yes, people might notice you because you have a big audience and they might know you, it might be a plus, whatever. But I don't think that people necessarily give you like a big project or whatever, just because you have 20, 30, 40, 000 followers on LinkedIn.
And I never wanted to be, to start creating kind of cheat sheets and kind of all these lead magnets that you can find any way better at HubSpot or whatever. And so I tried always to kind of to nourish my offline connections as much as my online connections.
Louis: Interesting. Yeah. I didn't think you'd say that, but that's an interesting way to see it.
Sarah, you've been pleasure. Thanks for showing, sharing the details like behind the scenes of how you've done stuff. Best of luck with your new role that you would have started by the time this episode is live. What are the top three resources you'd recommend listeners today?
Sara: Well, this podcast, for sure.
I must say lately I've been kind of really binging on Ali Abdaal, all these productivity things. I really like them a lot. Then I guess for content marketing, both SEMrush and Ahrefs are always like a safe bet to me. I would never, I would never state otherwise. That's it.
Louis: Okay. Well, Sara, thank you so much once again for your time.
It's been fun.
Sara: Thank you. Bye.

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How to Build a Content Strategy That "Drives Pipeline"
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