Content marketing lessons from Kelly Services


At the end of Todd Wheatland's presentation, "Transforming a large organization into a content machine," at Content Marketing World, he offered a top ten list of tips for creating corporate content. I've pulled a few tips from his list and added in others from earlier in his talk that resonated with me - and merged them together for a new list of my own.

You know what? Let me back up and answer a few questions first.

What is content marketing? Content marketing is a subset of marketing activities that involve creating, sharing and curating content that your customers will find useful. Everything from in-flight magazines to corporate blogs and technical white papers are good examples of content marketing. For a concise definition of content marketing, see Wikipedia. Or read this ultimate definition from the Godfather of content marketing, Joe Pulizzi.

What is Content Marketing World? A new international conference that I attended in Cleveland last week, with about 900 other content marketers.

How does this relate to customer analytics (the theme of this blog)? This blog is all about meeting customer needs and increaseing customer profits. When done correctly, all of a company's content assets work together to help move customers along a path toward a final purchase, product upgrade or some other business goal. You can use analytics to help optimize that process.

Now that we have that out of the way, here are ten tips from Todd who edits and manages the Kelly OCG knowledge site, which is filled with great content. The main points in this list are his, but they're paraphrased and supplemented with my own thoughts.

  1. Be cautious about the linear expectations set by marketing funnel diagrams. Even the simplest of customer transactions don't always move directly from awareness to consideration to purchase. There are a lot of starts and stops and random meanderings around that funnel before a purchase is made.
  2. Don't rely solely on experts for content creation. Experts are busy, and some of them don't like to write. You also need to employ writers and marketers who can interview your experts and quote them or put together Q&A style interviews.
  3. Content marketing is hard, no matter how big you are. Companies of any size are struggling with similar resource issues for content marketing. You'd be surprised how few people are really good at writing content that customers will find useful.
  4. Use an outpost management model for gathering and posting content. Todd's team has a company curator, for each particular topic, who takes the lead in assigning, identifying and editing content for each priority topic.
  5. You don't always have to take a stance. Strong opinions can be divisive. Rather than forcing authors or readers to state a strong opinion on an issue, it's more important to create a safe space where discussion on an issue can take place.
  6. Stop sponsoring events. Instead, Kelly offers its speakers and editorial services to present or cover events with articles that get published on their content site. Todd says this has transformed the way the company handles events. Good spokespeople are key to the socially-driven component of this model.
  7. Free your content. Free yourself from the traditional, controlled formula of gating content everywhere. Find new ways to repurpose and remix content.
  8. Outsource with intent. When considering outsourcing for content creation, do it for speed and access to talent. Don't do it just to save money.
  9. Do cool stuff. Make videos. Create infographics. Find fun, new ways to tell your story. Creating content can be fun, so enjoy the process.
  10. Kill the cheerleaders. This is my favorite. Good content does not talk about how great your products are. Instead, it helps readers understand how to use your products and how to meet their business goals.

Stay tuned for more posts from my Content Marketing World experience. Since I was s a speaker at the conference, I'm also putting together a few posts that include tips from my presentation, "Results-driven blogging for large and small B2B brands."


About Author

Alison Bolen

Editor of Blogs and Social Content

+Alison Bolen is an editor at SAS, where she writes and edits content about analytics and emerging topics. Since starting at SAS in 1999, Alison has edited print publications, Web sites, e-newsletters, customer success stories and blogs. She has a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism from Ohio University and a master’s degree in technical writing from North Carolina State University.


    • Alison Bolen

      Thanks, Todd. Your talk was filled with great advice. I only had 25 minutes, so I feel like I rushed through mine! We definitely have had some similar experiences in our corporate content journeys. Keep killing those cheerleaders!

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