“We wrote our first blog post before we wrote our first line of code.”
- Jon Miller, founder, Marketo

Blogging is important for every business. So we don’t just offer ghostwriting services for others. We blog for ourselves. Why? To discuss big issues such as content strategy, commissioning and ROI, as well as tactics for effective copy creation or editing, not to mention news about Collective Content.

Remember, over a third of marketers say blogs are the most valuable content type. Let us know what you’d like to read about here.

Global, distributed, connected – this is how our team works

Photo by Charles Koh on Unsplash

Last time, as part of our ‘Why do we have staff around the world?’ post (spoiler: it’s to access the best people), I said I’d divulge a little more about how our collective successfully works when everyone is in a different location.

I should say that we have no official headquarters. For a while, we had desk space at one of our main client’s offices. But we gave that up three years ago and haven’t looked back.

I should also say that there’s a big difference between our core team – on the payroll, full-time and with IT support from the company – and the freelancers who make up the wider collective, some of whom are solo, some moonlighting with a day job, and some at partner agencies.

So here are some tips on the how:

Think about your people
Be really careful – really care – about how everyone works. We’ve touched before on terms such as ‘remote working’, ‘working from home / WFH’, and ‘distributed working’. We prefer the latter. The way you speak about people has an impact.

Stay in touch and informed
The last point is particularly the case if some people are distributed around the world while others aren’t. Corinne Purtill at Quartz talks about FOMO – the fear of missing out that some distributed staff can have when they know a large part of a company is all together at a head office. In our case, there isn’t that risk, but keeping everyone aware of projects, updates, client wins, etc. is still important, whether through infrequent in-person meetings or online updates or regular calls.

Know what works best for you
How do we do that? Let’s talk tools (although they’re too often the focus for articles like this). Whatever your teleconferencing choice, and whether you use Slack, MS Teams or something else – in fact those platforms and voice conferencing are increasingly merging – be warned that there’s a big difference between what you want to use and what clients insist you use. So be open to their choices but also know what works best for you internally. While we use tools like Trello and Google Sheets for project management, for messaging we’ve settled on WhatsApp, given its simplicity and new hires’ familiarity.

Meet face-to-face occasionally
While you might work from different locations most of the time, make sure you still see each other in the flesh. For the Collective Content team who are in the UK, that’s often when we’re meeting to see clients or going to events. More widely, we have offsites that are a chance for everyone to spend time together and take a more strategic look at what’s going on. These are also an opportunity to get in other (paid) advisors.

Provide a range of support services
As well as IT support, don’t forget other key functions you’d tend to expect in offices. These can be around helping individuals with their working set-up, or around HR issues such as tax advice, insurance and training. We tend to try to combine training with in-person meet-ups, and use services such as LinkedIn’s Lynda.com.

The last thing I’d mention is to realise that no one has all the answers. You have to figure out what works for individuals and the organisation they work for. (Must be both.) There is no right way to do this. Don’t let someone tell you a platform isn’t right if it’s right for you. Don’t think that someone who lives in the middle of nowhere might not be a key member of your team.

This trend is global and it’s only going to continue. Changes in technology and attitudes have made it possible. The results show it means happier clients and happier workers.

At a content agency, maybe my number-one job is to give the team time and space to be creative. For us, distributed working means we can do that, without limiting our talent pool. I can’t imagine us working any other way.

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent

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What does the latest research tell us about content marketing?

Marketing is changing fast. So fast, in fact, that it’s hard to keep up. That’s according to academic researchers. But they also note that “keeping up” is no longer optional for most businesses today – it’s a must for any organisation that wants to survive.

Content marketing has become one of the must-do strategies for those looking to keep up, at the very least.

Know where you are going

“Content marketing has gone from a technique which would get a business ahead to one that merely keeps it equal,” marketing professor PJ Forrest writes in a recent research paper. “Content marketing is now the industry standard.”

While a wide variety of content types can be effective, “[j]ust any old copy will not work”, Forrest notes.

“One of the worst mistakes a company can make is a failure to be useful,” she writes. “The content can provide value to the target market in many ways such as being interesting to read, teaching or providing knowledge, presenting solutions to problems, or just being humorous or entertaining.”

It’s also critical to have a clear, well thought-out strategy for content marketing, Forrest adds.

“Not having a strategy leads to failure in any type of marketing but businesses often do not realise they should have a strategy specifically for content marketing,” she writes. “Without knowing what the company was trying to achieve it is impossible to measure whether it succeeded or failed… As the old saying goes, if you do not know where you are going you are likely to end up someplace else.”

Build trust by being useful and user-friendly

Today’s cyber consumer has different habits, interests and needs than past brick-and-mortar consumers, write a pair of Italian researchers in a recent issue of the European Scientific Journal. Those differences, according to Giuseppe Granata and Giancarlo Scozzese, have “highlighted the inadequacy of traditional marketing methodologies…”

Internet-based strategies such as digital marketing, e-branding and storytelling, they say, can improve marketing content and help businesses build more lasting relationships with customers. And essential to such strategies is ensuring they are relevant, secure and easy to use.

“A customer is satisfied when his overall evaluation of the experience with a brand and its products over time is positive,” Granata and Scozzese write. “With this in mind, it is about the initial phase of the marketing funnel that marketing experts should pay more attention to. The stage of research and initial information exchange is in fact that in which the perceived value of the brand for the consumer plays a crucial role. A website that offers relevant content and a secure, intuitive and simple-to-use architecture will encourage the user to revisit the site and potentially repeat the purchase.”

One study, they add, “demonstrated the positive relationship between content quality and brand trust.”

Format content with mobile in mind

In a recent article for the Mexican journal Mercados y Negocios (Markets and Businesses), Nancy Church, a retired professor of marketing and entrepreneurship at the State University of New York-Plattsburgh, reviews a range of activities that will become increasingly important for marketers in years to come. In addition to artificial intelligence, video marketing and augmented reality/virtual reality/mixed reality, these include mobile-first/mobile-only strategies.

“In order to provide the best search results in terms of content and quality of websites, ‘Google’s move to mobile-first indexing means the robots will look at your mobile website first before crawling the desktop version’,” Church writes, citing a 2018 study. “In order to rank higher in Google searches, marketers must ensure that the information, images and videos for mobile sites [are] comparable to the desktop version and mobile optimised.”

Church cites further research that recommends that “marketers ensure that their websites are mobile-optimised with shorter headlines and smaller chunks of text, with instantaneous mobile page load times, and with more videos, especially videos presented in vertical format”.

Having a content strategy, always being useful and keeping mobile front of mind are all essential – some would say obvious, today – ways to be successful with your marketing.

Read Further

Why do we have staff around the world?

Photo by Juliana Kozoski on Unsplash

Why do we have people in different locations around the world? We could simply answer: “Because we can.”

But there’s a wider point that’s worth making.

When I recently mentioned to someone that our latest hire is in Toronto, I was asked whether Toronto/Ontario/Canada is an important market for us. We have a handful of clients there but that’s not the reason for that new hire.

We are global in the search for talent, not markets.

There’s something to be said about the precise difference between being global and being international – or multinational, even.

Most of our clients sell anywhere and sometimes everywhere around the world. Their people are also spread all over, with only sales and on-site personnel needing to be physically close to clients on a regular basis.

They rarely require us to meet face-to-face or even be in the same town or city.

It helps that we specialise in clients within the B2B technology sector. Their products and services have enabled all organisations around the world to work in distributed ways. And of course they practice what they preach – they can’t enable and advocate such a way of working without doing so themselves, and being OK with suppliers like us who also see the benefits.

So being able to be global is on the one hand about working for anyone, anywhere. But arguably the greater benefit is about being to hire anyone, anywhere. This has been the true revolution that makes a business like ours possible.

This has been about the why of a distributed working set-up. Next time I’ll tell you more about how we do it – and the big difference between remote working and distributed working.

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent




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Contact us

Contact us to find out how we can help you:

Email:  tony.hallett@collectivecontent.co.uk

Twitter:  @ColContent

Facebook: facebook.com/CollectiveContent

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/collective-content

Phone:  0800 292 2826