360Studying’s Joei Chan on embracing innovation as a content material marketer

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Relating to content material advertising and marketing, it is simple to really feel such as you’re being stretched between a growth-focused, Website positioning-driven content material technique and a extra artistic, high-level strategy. However why can’t or not it’s each?

Ideally, this wouldn’t be a battle. Simply ask any content material marketer – they might fairly have the time and sources to concentrate on each, as a result of to construct a robust advertising and marketing model, you want an strategy that covers each the notice and the acquisition.

Putting that stability is of the utmost significance to Joei Chan, Director of Content material on the collaborative studying platform 360Studying. Whereas a profession in advertising and marketing wasn’t precisely in her plans, her background in literature and movie research has given her an uncommon perspective that has inspired her to experiment with daring and new storytelling codecs to drive natural development.

On her very first day as Director of Content material at 360Studying, she starred because the lead of Onboarding Joei, an unique, unscripted docu-series that adopted her onboarding expertise throughout her first 90 days. And if beginning a brand new function wasn’t difficult sufficient, the present began filming a few weeks earlier than the COVID-19 disaster, which means that we acquired to observe in actual time as she confronted the challenges of pivoting to distant work throughout a worldwide pandemic. Joei and the workforce’s distinctive strategy has paid off in spades: the present was just lately chosen as a Webby Honoree, not lengthy after they launched their second sequence.

We just lately sat down with Joei to talk about her new sequence, how one can work sudden new codecs into your content material advertising and marketing technique, and balancing creativity with lead era.

Listed below are a few of our favourite takeaways from the dialog.

1. Don’t be afraid to attempt one thing totally different

Weblog articles, podcasts, ebooks, and movies have been the bread and butter for content material entrepreneurs for a very long time now. That’s why, if you wish to construct a model that stands out from the gang, it’s essential to be open to experimentation. For 360Studying, which means that every so often they wish to take an uncommon concept and run with it. Like, say, merging the concept of a actuality TV docu-series with one of many key use instances of a fast-growing B2B startup.

“I knew they’d numerous ambition to do unique and daring storytelling, and that’s what I signed up for. It simply got here collectively properly – I’m beginning this new job, onboarding is one in every of our use instances, and I’m a content material particular person. I’m in for experimenting with totally different content material codecs. Clearly, once we first began, it seemed like a loopy concept and we had no concept the place it might land or how far it might convey us. It was type of a danger that we took.”

2. Balancing the artistic with the standard

In fact, all issues thought of, you’re not going to be turning your content material advertising and marketing workforce into Netflix – on the finish of the day, you continue to should be frequently producing content material for each step of the lead era funnel. And so, content material entrepreneurs should discover the best stability between creating memorable, high-level, top-of-funnel content material that builds model consciousness and extra acquisition-driven, bottom-of-funnel content material that converts that consciousness into income.

“Content material entrepreneurs are in a really difficult spot as a result of there may be this extra conventional path of content material, of being very centered on running a blog, Website positioning, and development via publishing numerous weblog posts. And we have to do this since you need your model to succeed in prospects of their purchaser’s journey, and also you need to present up once they’re looking for totally different key phrases. However on the identical time, doing that alone is just not sufficient so that you can stand out as a model and to be memorable.”

three. Inviting the viewers in

Many people battle with the sensation that we should be totally different folks at work: extra severe, extra skilled, much less open. However as Joei factors out, that strategy could also be placing up boundaries in our relationships with prospects. Being well mannered is important, after all, however a little bit of vulnerability and authenticity can truly enable you join together with your prospects on a extra private degree. And as we all know, constructing these private buyer relationships is the important thing to long-term development.

“Satirically, our want to appear skilled generally stops prospects or prospects from connecting with us on an emotional degree. So I really feel prefer it’s vital to think about how we are able to communicate and talk extra as we do in our actual lives. I’m the identical particular person at work as I’m in my private life, and I believe while you embrace that, folks can actually really feel it and admire that, and so they join with you on a a lot deeper degree.”

Caught your curiosity? We’ve gathered a listing of articles, movies, and podcasts you possibly can try:

That is Scale, Intercom’s podcast sequence on driving enterprise development via buyer relationships. For those who benefit from the dialog and don’t need to miss future episodes, simply hit subscribe on iTunes, stream on Spotify, or seize the RSS feed in your participant of selection. You may also learn the complete transcript of the interview, which has been frivolously edited for readability, under.


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Advertising and marketing accidentally

Dee: Joei, you might be so very welcome alongside to Scale by Intercom at the moment. We’re delighted to talk with you about your work at 360Studying. To kick us off, do you need to give us just a little little bit of background on your self?

Joei: Positive, thanks for having me at the moment. I’m tremendous excited. So I’m at the moment working at 360Studying as Director of Content material. Earlier than, I used to be working in different startups, working in content material advertising and marketing, doing lead era and inbound advertising and marketing however with a robust concentrate on telling model tales and creating various kinds of codecs of content material.

I type of fell into content material advertising and marketing just a little bit accidentally. I even have a background in literature and movie research, screenwriting, and all that. Once I was younger, I believed I used to be going to be a professor at a college. That wasn’t my profession path, or at the least my dad and mom’ profession path for me. However out of a random summer time vacation in Paris, I turned a niche yr right into a full ex-pat life. Now I dwell in Paris and I work in content material advertising and marketing, and it’s nice.

Dee: Nicely, to be honest, there are parts to that historical past by way of filmmaking, by way of training and storytelling that I believe might be very properly expressed in your world at the moment. And we’ll hear just a little bit extra about that later.

Joei: Yeah, trying again. I didn’t see it at the moment, however now, yeah.

“It’s crucial to have a robust model so you possibly can result in natural development, which is far more sustainable in comparison with paid acquisition”

Dee: In order that brings us to your work in 360Studying. You joined the corporate at a fairly fascinating time. How did that come about?

Joei: I used to be approached by the model director when 360Studying determined to actually put money into constructing a robust model to distinguish ourselves, as now we have very formidable objectives to develop within the US and globally. The corporate traditionally has been very profitable in paid acquisition, demand gen actions. And that’s type of how the corporate has grown over time.

However our CEO noticed that it’s crucial in the long term to have a robust model so you possibly can result in natural development, which is far more sustainable over the long run in comparison with paid acquisition. So, I used to be approached to assist construct that natural content material model technique a couple of yr and two months in the past. No regrets to this point, it’s been a loopy journey. I’ve realized a lot in only a yr and two months, and we nonetheless have numerous ambition and development coming within the close to future.

Actuality present meets B2B

Dee: In that yr and a half, you’ve achieved some actually, actually fascinating — I’d even go as far as to say out-there — stuff by way of content material advertising and marketing. A number of our viewers will in all probability be acquainted with your actuality present or docu-series. Which do you like?

Joei: Yeah, it is dependent upon who I’m speaking to. I believe we pitched it on Product Hunt as a actuality TV present of a B2B, and possibly extra docu-series once we’re speaking to extra severe prospects or traders in order that it doesn’t sound so Kim Kardashian.

Dee: I prefer it. Nicely, look, our viewers will in all probability fluctuate between the 2 of these. It’s referred to as Onboarding Joei. And for these of us who haven’t watched it but, it’s now on its second sequence. So are you able to share what the sequence is and what the content material truly entails?

“Once I began my first day, my video producer welcomed me with a digital camera and requested if I wished it to be in a docu-series”

Joei: Positive. Onboarding Joei is a docu-series produced by 360Studying, and it’s precisely what the title says, Onboarding Joei. The pitch was: go behind the scenes of a hyper-growth startup with our unique docu-series and observe Joei via her first 90 days as she begins a brand new job.

Once I began my first day, my video producer welcomed me with a digital camera and requested if I wished it to be in a docu-series and that he can be filming me each day and we’d shoot and produce an episode each week for my first 90 days. 13 weeks, 13 episodes, fully unscripted.

Dee: Superb. Was the sequence ever on the desk earlier than you arrived on that first day?

Joei: It was not explicitly on the desk, however I knew they’d numerous ambition to do unique and daring storytelling, and that’s what I signed up for. It simply got here collectively properly – I’m beginning this new job, onboarding is one in every of our use instances, and I’m a content material particular person. I’m in for experimenting with totally different content material codecs. We’ve got a video producer, so all the celebrities have been aligned and we determined to go for it and do one thing totally different. Clearly, once we first began, it seemed like a loopy concept and we had no concept the place it might land or how far it might convey us. It was type of a danger that we took, however then it paid off.

Dee: Yeah, it completely has. It’s paid off in spades. I’ve watched it, it’s an ideal sequence. I actually loved it.

Joei: Thanks.

Dee: The storytelling and the narrative arc in it are actually pleasurable. I’m curious, the place did that sit inside your general content material technique and ambition for while you began this function as content material director?

Joei: That’s an excellent query. Content material entrepreneurs, particularly in B2B, are in a really difficult spot as a result of there may be this extra conventional path of content material, of being very centered on running a blog, Website positioning, and development via publishing numerous weblog posts. And we have to do this since you need your model to succeed in prospects of their purchaser’s journey, and also you need to present up once they’re looking for totally different key phrases.

“We’ve got this extra down-to-earth facet the place we work on our weblog and Website positioning technique. After which, yearly, we consider one thing type of loopy to check out”

However on the identical time, doing that alone is just not sufficient so that you can stand out as a model and to be memorable. And so, content material entrepreneurs have to do that hybrid the place you’ve this constant Website positioning content material machine happening to your weblog, however you then type of want these extra epic moments of campaigns or enjoyable initiatives that basically stand out and catch folks’s consideration. And that could be barely much less scalable, nevertheless it’s extra provocative and memorable.

That’s how we take into consideration our content material – now we have this extra down-to-earth, conventional facet the place we work on our weblog and Website positioning technique. After which, yearly, we consider one thing type of loopy that we check out. Generally it flies and generally it doesn’t.

Dee: And also you truly alluded to one thing I used to be going to ask you about just a little bit later within the dialog. When a format like that isn’t essentially scalable, you’re clearly fairly snug for concepts like that to shine brief and vibrant.

Joei: After we discuss scalability, it’s not nearly how a lot you possibly can replicate it, it may be additionally about the way you maximize what you will get out of it. Generally it’s doing a season two, generally it’s simply selling the hell out of season one and ensuring you get probably the most out of the manufacturing that you just’ve put in, and simply advertise in numerous points, or slice it into totally different codecs. “The Slicing of the Turkey” is a very fashionable means of repurposing content material amongst content material entrepreneurs.

Generally it really works, however I believe it actually is dependent upon a case-by-case state of affairs. Aside from Onboarding Joei, we had one other video sequence referred to as Grasp SaaS. So it was a complete rip-off of Masterclass, the place we emulated the identical grand music and really dramatic setup with an skilled sharing his experience in entrance of the digital camera after which a brief class. That has additionally gotten numerous nice suggestions and it could be extra scalable as a result of we are able to re-adapt and take that very same format and get different specialists to share totally different subjects. We weren’t in a position to try this due to COVID, however that could be a extra scalable concept that we are going to do extra of sooner or later.

“You need to discover artistic concepts, however they need to all the time have a connection to what you’re doing”

For onboarding Joei, it takes numerous circumstantial parts. You want to be somebody who simply began their job and somebody keen to place herself on the market. After which, there was additionally this craziness that wasn’t anticipated with COVID and the pandemic that type of elevated the strain and the drama facet of the present which may not be one thing that we are able to simply replicate.

Dee: The remainder of the world would in all probability thanks for not making an attempt to duplicate that. However at their very core, Joei, these two larger concepts you described there between Grasp SaaS and Onboarding Joei, at their core, they do communicate to 360Studying, the corporate, the product, and every thing that you just provide. So, they’re type of the content material marketer’s dream in that they’re anchored in that philosophy.

Joei: Yeah, after all, you need to discover artistic concepts, however they need to all the time have a connection to what you’re doing. It’s not like we’re Netflix and we’re producing fascinating reveals for folks to observe with no finish aim. Ultimately, in case you’re a SaaS firm, or an company promoting providers, you in the end need to create this funnel the place, sooner or later, there may be an acquisition component to it. It’s a bit totally different than media firms, the place all they need is to entertain and create engagement.

Dee: Completely. And by way of promoting these concepts to inner stakeholders, did you come up in opposition to any challenges?

Joei: I imagine my video producer did when he pitched the concept earlier than I joined an organization. However fortunately, now we have a tradition of being strategically provocative as an organization. The CEO may be very aligned with doing issues in a different way and making an attempt issues that different firms should not doing. However after all, we nonetheless needed to type of construct a enterprise case that Onboarding Joei highlights a side of our use case, which is onboarding, and we’ll be speaking about studying – it’s not similar to a catchy concept the place now we have folks twerking for no purpose. We’ve got to promote it just a little bit and tie it with enterprise influence to get that buy-in, nevertheless it was not terribly tough due to the corporate tradition.

Onboarding throughout a pandemic

Dee: With the pandemic hitting, your workforce type of needed to activate a dime, presumably by way of what the unique concept was, and produce a really totally different sequence to what would possibly’ve been anticipated. What was that interval like? And did you ever think about dropping the venture?

Joei: Clearly, my producer couldn’t observe me round anymore after we went distant. To start with, he was actually following me round together with his iPhone each day, in our conferences and every thing, documenting every thing. And once we needed to work remotely, that each one needed to come to a halt. I began my job and the sequence two or three weeks earlier than the pandemic hit. So, after all, we had no concept how lengthy it was going to final. We didn’t know if it was only a month the place every thing would cease after which we might resume and return to regular. Little that we all know that, a yr later, we’d nonetheless be right here, however we thought of placing it on maintain as a result of we thought it’d resume in a brief interval.

However then we noticed all these discuss reveals, like Jimmy Fallon, doing house editions and simply adapting the format. And we thought we may attempt to do the identical as a result of there may be this component of my onboarding being 90 days, and on the finish of it, we might discover out whether or not I make my probation interval or not. So if we hadn’t continued, that storyline can be mainly ruined. So we type of needed to keep on with it. Fortunately, my associate can also be a filmmaker with cameras and stuff, so he began filming me as a substitute. We switched that format, and by chance folks responded very properly. Since then, we by no means thought of dropping the venture.

Dee: Yeah, I believe that while you watch the sequence, it comes throughout, it actually speaks to the second. And if nothing else, it’ll truly be fairly an fascinating file so that you can have in many years to come back, to look again on that interval in a means that numerous the remainder of us don’t.

“I positively had doubts about how a lot of it I wished to share or whether or not it was type of placing me in a weak place”

So many people felt that type of blurring of the road between the personal and the non-public, immediately working from house. It was quite a bit, however clearly, with you, that line was blurred even additional. Did you discover problem in any respect?

Joei: Yeah, I positively felt that I used to be exposing my private life fairly a bit on the docu-series. We made that call from the start, to point out the non-public and emotional facet of onboarding as a result of that’s what’s fascinating, and that’s not an angle that’s often instructed in B2B content material. However we went even additional because the pandemic went on, and I used to be sharing about my household, and at some factors, we talked about very private issues. So I positively had doubts about how a lot of it I wished to share or whether or not it was type of placing me in a weak place.

However then, from the responses I’ve acquired from viewers and my family and friends, they actually resonated with what I used to be sharing. And in the long run, what’s private is what’s common, in a means. And I believe that’s what has made the present profitable as a result of folks can see themselves in my journey and expertise. I really feel prefer it was intense in some moments, nevertheless it was value it simply due to how properly folks resonated with it.

“You need to fully rethink the way you combine somebody right into a workforce when there’s no human contact”

And such as you stated, as our houses turn out to be our workplaces, there’s actually no clear boundaries between private . The sequence actually highlighted how our lives have modified, how our means of working wants to alter, and likewise how employers want to contemplate workers’ private lives at work, too, as a result of while you’re working with folks behind the screens, generally we overlook there’s this complete private facet to each worker’s life. I wished to convey that and spotlight that within the present to remind all people that each worker is a human being and so they all have private lives and issues.

Dee: And you understand, what an ideal factor for 360Studying to seize, that onboarding course of at a time when onboarding, as an expertise, has modified a lot. And throughout the 2 sequence, you possibly can see how these instruments at our disposal can truly assist the particular person on the opposite aspect of the display screen.

Joei: Completely. And it’s a must to fully rethink the way you combine somebody right into a workforce when there’s no human contact. How do you make folks really feel welcomed right into a workforce? A part of a tradition often requires numerous bodily conferences, or gatherings, or workforce lunches, and none of that may occur now. So, when there are not any water cooler conversations, how do you retain that engagement and foster that tradition? We haven’t figured it out both. So it’s actually, I believe, one thing that each firm is studying to adapt to.

Discovering the best metrics

Dee: What was the viewers response like and the return on funding to your workforce?

Joei: The present generated numerous curiosity and buzz from day one. I believe the concept was contemporary and daring, and it’s nonetheless a format that isn’t so widespread in B2B. A number of firms do episodic video or podcast sequence, nevertheless it’s often not dramatic, nor a actuality TV present with a plot and cliffhangers and rigidity. And so, we have been in a position to get numerous views, and other people speaking about it from the start.

“We truly readjusted the KPIs. It didn’t make sense to have a bottom-of-funnel metric”

By way of ROI, I believe that’s an fascinating query as a result of, at first, we truly arrange a subscriber goal and an MQL or a lead goal. After which, we shortly discovered that as a result of it’s an ungated piece of content material that anyone can have a look at and watch, this lead gen facet is just not one of the best ways to measure the present’s success. And so, we truly readjusted the KPIs and measured it extra on consciousness degree as a result of it’s an awareness-y sort of content material, actually top-of-funnel. It didn’t make sense to have a bottom-of-funnel metric. So, in the long run, we’re taking a look at extra viewers and visitors for the present.

Dee: That makes numerous sense. And I used to be truly going to ask you about KPIs as a result of even simply watching it or speaking about it, it does really feel, as you say, very top-of-funnel content material. So it nearly looks as if you wouldn’t have been arrange for achievement if the KPIs had been in any other case. Had been there another KPIs that you just used? I imply, except for the apparent one in every of you getting to maintain your job.

Joei: We’re additionally beginning to use it as an HR employer-brand piece of content material. We’ve seen that numerous our candidates point out Onboarding Joei of their interviews and say, “Oh, I’ve seen the present, and I actually appreciated the tradition,” or “I believed it was tremendous fascinating for the corporate to have achieved one thing like this.” So, we’re trying on the mentions of candidates speaking in regards to the present, and we’re additionally beginning to take a look at our press mentions – backlinks and quoting us in weblog posts, and even podcast interviews like this one to take a look at how a lot dialog it’s driving for the corporate.

Dee: Sensible. And what recommendation would you give to different content material creators looking for a equally intimate or conversational technique to interact with their viewers?

“Our want to appear skilled generally stops prospects or prospects from connecting with us on an emotional degree”

Joei: Lots of people have requested me for recommendation on how they’ll begin a present like that. Clearly, there’s the technical aspect of issues it’s essential to have – the best folks with the video expertise or modifying expertise. However extra importantly, it’s in all probability the strategy and the tone, as you stated, that must be extra private and conversational. I believe it’s regular that the majority of us really feel like we have to communicate and current ourselves in a different way at work or in advertising and marketing. And that’s why we frequently discover this company jargon that bleeds via most content material advertising and marketing. However satirically, our want to appear skilled generally stops prospects or prospects from connecting with us on an emotional degree. So I really feel prefer it’s vital to think about how we are able to communicate and talk extra as we do in our actual lives. I’m the identical particular person at work as I’m in my private life, and I believe while you embrace that, folks can actually really feel it and admire that, and so they join with you on a a lot deeper degree.

Dee: That makes numerous sense. I suppose if you wish to invite openness, it’s a must to be open your self. As content material entrepreneurs, we’re all the time on the lookout for new methods to ask these conversations with our viewers. And since you’ve been profitable in avoiding the pitfalls of this, I believe, in your two sequence, Grasp SaaS and Onboarding Joei, what’s your recommendation for ensuring that firms don’t miss that chance whereas additionally avoiding leaping on each bandwagon going? As a result of there may be that danger there, I believe.

Joei: I believe you do must have a plan. You need to be responsive and react to what’s occurring on the earth and in your prospects’ lives to be related. However I believe it’s higher to create conversations together with your viewers by making connections between what you’re already doing with what’s occurring fairly than simply ready for one thing to occur after which consider a advertising and marketing concept that responds to it.

Dee: That does make sense. It’s being proactive about this stuff fairly than being reactive.

Joei: Yeah, mainly. We began Onboarding Joei earlier than there was a pandemic, and we have been going to do it anyway. Clearly, it was a lot much less common as an expertise, however we wished to speak about what it’s like beginning a brand new job in an organization and the behind-the-scenes of a startup. It turned one thing totally different due to COVID, however we already had a plan that we have been going to do anyway. Identical for Grasp SaaS. So it wasn’t us reacting to what’s occurring after which pondering of doing one thing.

Taking over bolder bets

Dee: As season two attracts to an in depth, what are the important thing learnings that you just and your workforce will take going ahead from the entire venture, together with Grasp SaaS as properly?

Joei: I believe that the most important takeaway for our workforce, at the least, is to take the danger as a result of generally it pays off, and when it does, it’s nice. And there may be sufficient cookie-cutter sort of content material on the market. We want extra unique and totally different concepts. Even for ourselves, as content material entrepreneurs, while you’re engaged on initiatives, you need issues which might be thrilling and make you sit up for going to work each day. So, I believe the most important takeaway is to take bolder bets in your content material.

“Content material entrepreneurs spend most of their time producing an ideal piece of content material, however not a lot about, ‘Okay, how will we get folks to see it?’”

On the distribution aspect of issues, I believe we truly haven’t thought as a lot about distribution as now we have on manufacturing. And I believe the sequence or each of our initiatives may have been much more profitable if we had thought of distribution a bit extra from conception. Generally, content material entrepreneurs spend most of their time producing an ideal piece of content material, however not a lot about, “Okay, how will we then get folks to see it?” And in order that’s what now we have taken away. We’re going to make investments extra in social media and on distribution and correct methods to advertise our content material.

Dee: That’s such good recommendation as a result of I believe you possibly can’t all the time plan for that massive concept, however you possibly can definitely plan for distribution and discovery. Actually good recommendation there, Joei. Has this impacted your content material technique going ahead?

Joei: Positively. I believe earlier than this, we had a extra packed content material manufacturing schedule, and now we’ve truly determined to supply much less however spend extra time excited about, “Okay, what’s the launch? What’s the distribution technique?” So we’re doing much less, however hopefully extra impactful content material.

Dee: High quality, not amount. I believe that’s one thing that numerous content material groups do step again from at varied factors and notice that they should simply discover that proper stability for themselves.

Going the place you possibly can develop

Dee: What’s subsequent for the content material arm of 360Studying? Have you ever any massive plans or initiatives on the rise and for the remainder of 2021?

Joei: Nicely, we’re scaling into new markets, we’re persevering with to develop within the US, however we additionally need to develop extra in new markets, within the UK, in France, and presumably opening up new markets. So I’ve to start out excited about how one can localize and mainly replicate our content material technique for all these new markets, which goes to be a giant problem. I’m additionally launching a podcast quickly, now we have totally different video codecs developing, and we’re additionally publishing a ebook subsequent yr. A number of work to be achieved in 2021.

Dee: Nicely, that each one sounds very thrilling, significantly the podcast. Earlier than we allow you to go, this sequence is usually about listening to how firms scale their development, and I’d like to know if there was a key occasion in your profession – outdoors of Onboarding Joei, after all – that helped you scale professionally.

“What has actually helped me develop in my profession was becoming a member of an organization that was actually investing in my division”

Joei: I don’t know if I can name it a key occasion, however what has actually helped me develop in my profession was becoming a member of an organization that was actually investing in my division. Not only a firm that’s rising quick, however rising in your particular division, which means they’re investing within the advertising and marketing workforce. I’ve joined firms the place they have been rising, however they weren’t rising in my specific division, and that makes all of the distinction on how a lot you possibly can develop professionally.

Dee: Completely. Lastly, then, the place can our listeners go to maintain up with you and your work?

Joei: LinkedIn can be the perfect place to search out me. You will discover me on LinkedIn, Joei Chan with a dot after Chan.

Dee: Proper. Nicely, we’ll hyperlink to that as properly. And hear, Joei, it has been such a pleasure chatting with you at the moment. Thanks for taking the time.

Joei: Thanks for having me. It’s been a lot enjoyable.


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