In this article, Joana Inch from Hat Media shares her journey working with SaaS and tech companies and how she helped them scale their business performance.
Here’s the outline of the interview:
- Q: Can you just introduce yourself and also talk about your inspiration? How did you get into digital marketing and content marketing, and if there was an inspiration and aha moment?
- Q: Could you also share a little bit with us about your process for creating and bringing the most value to your clients?
- Q: How long does it take to have an interview with the company?
- Q: What do you think that some or most writers miss in their process that would make their content more effective?
- Q: Since you work with many tech companies, do you have any advice for a tech SAS company?
Q: Can you just introduce yourself and also talk about your inspiration? How did you get into digital marketing and content marketing, and if there was an inspiration and aha moment?
I am Joana Inch, the co-founder and head of digital strategy at Hat Media. Hat Media is a content marketing and digital marketing agency based in Australia, and we specifically work with SAS and tech companies in the b2b space.
I am going back to when we first started over 15 years ago. I mean, Facebook wasn’t even alive; I don’t think content marketing was that standard or even almost unheard of; it was back in the day when Google AdWords was the way to go, the way to get leads. So that’s how we started back in 2005.
I believe in doing lead generation ads by looking at the website’s landing pages. Over time as social media became more prominent, we started to see a shift in buyer behavior, and we noticed everyone was doing their research.
It’s not as simple as seeing an ad coming to a website and purchasing from you. It’s going beyond that the buyer is a lot savvier. They are doing their market research. More than likely, they already know who they want to buy from and what they want to buy. Based on their study, all the humongous information that google and all the other search engines offer.
So when we started to see content marketing, that’s where we needed to be, especially in the world of B2B. So we have to create more blog content which, of course, is also great for search engine optimization.
I have to say the aha moment that worked incredibly well was when we were working with one of our tech clients Lenovo, a tech giant Lenovo. At the time, we were creating white papers, guides ebooks, and all the information was to offer thought leadership content.
We were working with them in the APAC space, so we were covering all of those regions, and what we were doing at the time is we created a brand agnostic website because we wanted to test if the content was to come from a person rather than a brand or a company page.
At the time, we were writing about three articles per week. The topics included machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data centers, all of them related to tech and Lenovo in one way or another. How much more effective would it be?
We had the sales guys and the people speaking to the clients and the customers as the authors. Lenovo still powered them on the brand-agnostic website, but it was very much putting them as heroes of this content and the aha moment came when one of the sales guys got one of the biggest deals in the history of his career.
I think it was just three million dollars in that year alone, just one of his deals, and it was the client who had gotten in touch with him, and he had said I’m following all of your content. He goes, ‘oh, is it sorry? Is it too much to post three times per week?
He was like, no, I’ve learned everything I need to know about future data centers just from reading your posts, which led to further conversations, a meeting, and then a deal.
So it was a massive aha moment. We weren’t even trying to sell in these articles; we were just providing thought leadership content, and I mean, if you simply Google thought leadership benefits, you’ll see that over 60% of companies will reward business to someone who they consider a thought leader even if they hadn’t known them previously. So I’d say it certainly works.
Q: Could you also share a little bit with us about your process for creating and bringing the most value to your clients?
It’s an interesting revelation. We had early on in our content marketing journey because we have been doing it for ten years, but at the very beginning, I think we struggled like many content marketing agencies struggle.
We had great writers and copywriters, but with SAS and tech, it’s a very specific industry. We often work with startups as well, so it’s like a new product on the market that people may not even be aware of.
So one of the challenges we had early on in our journey was the clients were saying, “look, the copywriting is great. I love the style; however, I feel like they do not really understand my industry or my vertical or what I’m trying to solve here” and I think a lot of content marketing agencies probably still struggle with that.
A little bit about finding writers that are very industry savvy. So one of the things we started to implement was before we briefed the riders, we would host an interview with either the founder of the business or a developer or the product specialist, people that understood that product very well.
When they speak, they speak with passion and their vision, and all these amazing stories come out that a copywriter would not have been able to know. So we actually hosted about a 60 to 90-minute interview with them.
We then transcribed that and sent that to the copywriters so that the vision and the understanding of that industry vertical were always there. The writers just expanded on it to make it better; that allowed us to repurpose some video snippets from that interview to use on socials in emails and nurture our audience through it.
It worked well at giving the writers a good brief, allowing them to write good content. It gave us lots of video content as well, which, as you know, works much better than copy and makes a huge difference in people remembering what you stand for and what you do.
The process of the questions that we ask the founders is that we sit down with them to truly understand their niche. If they don’t have a niche, we make them work on a niche because I think that’s really important for marketing strategy.
When you’re writing content, don’t be generic. You need a niche or a specific target audience that you can learn about and understand. Because when you’re writing, you’re writing specifically for them.
So what we do is we work with the founders and also the marketing and sales teams to create a niche. Then we use a few tools that we use in the space to try and learn what people in that niche are searching for online?
What is trending on social media? We created a list of probably about 10 to 15 questions that we then returned and asked the founders in that interview to flesh out all the content that would help.
We structure it very much at awareness to consider decisions so that we have content at all stages of the buyer journey and the marketing funnel.
Q: How long does it take to have an interview with the company?
I think a bit longer with a startup. It depends on where the founder of the sales and marketing teams are in their journey. A lot of the time, they have a niche that makes life so much easier for us.
We don’t have to convince them that your products are not for everybody, let’s really hone in on a niche, and we go through a list of questions. I have actually created some online learning videos around this topic.
So learn and nail your niche; that probably takes about an hour to the workshop, and then we go away and put together the kind of a buyer persona or an ideal client profile document for them.
Then once we have that, we research the questions. So in terms of the client’s time, we probably need an hour of their time to ask them questions about their niche and then another 60 to 90 minutes to do the actual interview for the content.
The rest is done internally by us, and all that research and documentation probably take about two weeks to complete.
Q: What do you think that some or most writers miss in their process that would make their content more effective?
I think what I said earlier is that they’re good writers, and they have experience writing, but they do not understand the industry that well.
So the language that they use could come across as being a little bit basic or something that the target audience probably even knows better than the copywriters, which means if they miss the mark and the niche is not happy with that writing, they’re not going to read anymore. So we go through the process with them.
You need to understand this industry and product better, and the way we do that is by having that interview with the founder initially than that we generally do with the writers.
We like to repurpose a lot of the content as well, so we would get them to write a guide, and then that guide can be spun up into various blog content that we can add to the website.
The interview with the founder could turn into an on-demand webinar depending on the structure of the questions.
One thing we’re finding is that when it comes to content, not so much with the writers, we’re shifting towards a lot more video content. So there’s been a lot of changes that we made a few years ago.
We did a lot of talking where we interviewed people, the founders, and they would speak on a specific topic for two to three minutes. We find out, but this audience, that’s too long; no one wants to listen for two to three minutes.
So we need to grab their attention in the first six seconds. So we’ve changed our tactics quite a bit in the video department.
The way we produce video content, we do a lot of motion graphics now, which I think captures people a lot better, or we might just do a quick six-second teaser to what the content is going to be about before the three-minute, or four-minute interview starts.
So that’s one thing we’ve done mainly with video content.
Q: Since you work with many tech companies, do you have any advice for a tech SAS company?
Absolutely, I’d say to them don’t just launch into content marketing and write about everything that you know. That’s a common mistake. These startups don’t take a step back to put themselves in their customer’s shoes and understand the basics.
My biggest recommendation is that you don’t just launch products and write generic content but please, everybody, take the time to hone in on who is your client? Who is your ideal client or your niche? Take the time to nail that.
It could take a couple of hours; you may have to speak to your customer service teams or your sales teams because the teams that speak to the customer day in and day out will have some amazing insights to offer.
We always try to speak to everybody on the team, not just the founders, because there’s a lot that they can tell us from speaking to their customers. Once you have that niche, we then go through a process we call clarifying your message.
So how do you write for this particular audience? What is the tone of voice? What is the slang or the wording that might not be professional? They might want to listen to more colloquial content that they’re more used to reading.