When Kathy Jaques started her job as CMO of eVestment 4 years ago, the sales team was using a directory to make outbound calls to generate their own leads. The website looked more like a brochure.
It was very 1990s--if not earlier--and the company was stuck in the classic outbound vs. inbound conundrum.
Jaques had experience in her previous jobs using demand generation programs. She had worked hard to dispel the many myths around content marketing. She knew that in an industry that had its own language and set of challenges-eVestment connects investors with investment managers-that content could yield benefits (a.k.a. leads).
In fact, she believed content could generate 20% of the company's new revenue for the year.
But she ran into a problem that many CMOs and innovators face, especially those that are in a legacy business: getting the founding partners and the sales team to understand that many outbound marketing tactics are in decline.
"The sales team did not initially embrace these new leads, or the expectation that they would follow up on them in a specified amount of time," says Jaques. "Part of this was a capacity issue--and part of it was a disruption to how they had been working."
But then Jaques and her team made 4 important moves that ultimately changed the company's culture:
1. They evaluated their existing assets. The company's product platform provides data that's of use to investors and investment managers, like monthly reports on hedge fund performance, or a list of equities trending up or down. All great assets to re-purpose as content.
2. They sought input from client-facing employees to explore issues that are surfacing in the market. They continue to do this on a regular basis, which helps their content remain relevant and useful.
3. They mined external news sources to identify themes that are resonating with their market. Lean on those in your industry who are already doing the leg work, and then add your own voice to it.
4. They leaned on the founders of the company, who were modest and not drawn to the spotlight. Founders have lots to offer but are sometimes not intrinsically motivated to put themselves out there. This is especially true with a second generation business whose founder is still in the picture.
Jaques and team then began to create content-and they knew that it would resonate with prospects. They produced an "Investment Statistics Guide"--a reference guide to industry terms--and garnered 78,000 unique page views, of which 1,600 converted into leads.
"We found that highly targeted and personalized content has been especially effective," says Jaques, who initially created a good chunk of the content herself. "Our highest performing campaigns identify where our clients might be missing out on opportunities, specific to their strategies."
What happened next is something we often see in companies who display an initial reluctance to adopt content marketing: The sales team began to realize how content could benefit their goals. Their resistance began to magically diminish. Their requests for help and ideas for content increased.
Jaques built a team of employee bloggers and added more content--infographics on industry trends, survey reports, case studies and webinars on hot topics. They also launched their own client conference, which has provided a fountain of content.
"Now that we have a great team built, I rarely write content but I review nearly all the content at some point in its development to check voice and accuracy--and to just stay in touch," she says.
Other than outsourcing the animated videos-and a handful of white papers, which can be tedious to produce--all the content has been generated internally."
And has that initial goal of generating 20% of new business through content been realized?
"Oh, yes," says Jaques. "The content program is currently running at around 32% of revenue."
And even more importantly, that 32% success has created a culture of innovation. "We're encouraged to take time to evaluate new tools," says Jaques. "I personally try to connect with 2-3 other CMOs every quarter to stay current and I encourage the team to find counterparts at other companies they can develop relationships with as well."
And that's an enviable return-no matter what industry you're in.