Why Must Businesses Fail In Their Content Strategy (Interview with Heather From)


MC: Hey guys, MC from Candybox marketing here.

I’m super excited today because we have a special guest with us. One of my fellow colleagues that I absolutely love working with, our super-duper content writer and social media marketer that puts in a lot of amazing strategies to helping our clients thrive in business. Heather From, thank you for being here today.

Heather: Thanks for having me!

MC: I try my best to sell you, but I feel like I haven’t done a good enough job. I always want to give you the opportunity to do that: share a little bit about what your role is at Candybox and what you do for clients.

Heather: Perfect. At Candybox, I am the social media marketing manager for lack of a better term, or how I like to say, Content Coordinator. I find that everyone can use Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn these days; but it’s really about the content that you put out there. So definitely, that’s the focus that I have at Candybox; along with doing a whole bunch of other little side things here. I’m also a published author, which makes it a lot easier in terms of creating content and meeting with businesses to create content that best represents them in today’s industry.

MC: I think that’s fantastic, and I actually share your story quite often with people when I speak at events. One of the things that I remind them is that you actually don’t have the marketing background that most of the people do that come into the company. You have a content writing background. You are the master of storytelling in our business and you do that for clients every day, so I think that’s fantastic. I’d love to talk a bit about the content side of things. There’s a common phrase in our industry, which is “content is king” but unfortunately there’s a lot of businesses that aren’t using content the right way. I’d love for you to share some strategies in how people can use content to increase traffic for their website.

Heather: Yes, for sure. Content is all about starting a conversation and a relationship with someone. So, when you are trying to be all about sales on social media or on your blogs, it’s really not doing anything for your business. Obviously, you want a few posts to be about what your business offers, but the main thing that you want to share, we call it “giving away candy,” is information that people find valuable that they do not have to pay for. That means sourcing out content. So, for instance, for Candybox, we might share articles about leadership or about entrepreneurship or how to grow your team effectively. All that content goes out, but we’re not trying to sell Candybox in any way, we’re trying to say that you know what, we understand that these questions come up in business every single day so we are going to provide information to make it a bit easier for you to run your business as a business owner or entrepreneur. That’s the focus that I have with all my content strategies. What a lot of people don’t realize is that blogging actually helps you rank higher on search engines, so when people are looking for information, for

What a lot of people don’t realize is that blogging actually helps you rank higher on search engines. When people are looking for information, for instance with it being so hot out and if I write a blog on “how to keep your home cool this summer,” people might find that blog when they Google tips on how to stay cool all summer long! They might find your blog and be able to be directed back to your website. So, not only are you adding great value and great content online, as well as contributing to the web, but you are allowing another way for customers to be directed back to your website and your services.

MC: That’s great, love it. And for those who have listened to the last few episodes that we have published, we also talked about how businesses spend way too much time talking about themselves, and that’s one of the biggest issues. Where to them content is “let’s just talk about how awesome we are twenty times in a row and maybe that’s good SEO,” they just don’t understand that. I just want to switch gears to the other spectrum of content. You talked about a few things businesses can do to really get themselves out there and do a good job, but what are things businesses are doing wrong with their content today? What do you find when you’re consulting something or you’re revising content?

Heather: That is a great question. If it is content that exists on social media, so let’s say LinkedIn, people really struggle with putting content out on this platform. Some people think that it’s kind of like Facebook, or follow the general belief of LinkedIn as ‘Facebook with a tie,’ which is the description people like to use. You want to be professional but not sound too corporate on this platform. As soon as you get into that corporate language, people lose their connection with you. They can’t actually identify with what you’re saying on your LinkedIn profiles, especially when people write in the third person. You need to write in the first person as it sounds so awkward when you say “Mahfuz is a project manager at Candybox Marketing” instead of saying “I am a project manager at Candybox Marketing”. That’s one thing I notice with a lot of companies in terms of putting out content that doesn’t really do anything for people. But, also sharing content that doesn’t really have any call to action in it is harmful as well. Call to actions, or CTA’s as we say in the industry,  is what you want your customer to do. Do you want them to read more, click here, do this or do that? If you’re putting out content that really doesn’t lead anyone anywhere, they feel lost. They don’t know what they want, they don’t know the direction you want them to take. You have to think about “what is the end goal for our customer?” Whether it’s social media posts, blogs, anything like that, identify how you can direct them to learn more about your services down the road.

MC: Great. Love it. You know, I always find myself sitting down with clients and pushing these messages just as hard as you do, and you specialize in writing content! I always sit down with businesses and I say “listen, you need to start publishing more blogs. You need to start writing more content and really jazzing up your website, and the number one thing I hear from businesses is that they don’t have time. The business owners will say this, and you know this because you’ve hosted workshops every single month, and you have business owners always talk about lack of time. One of the things that I typically do is I recommend that they should hire someone that specializes in content writing, and that they should just try to pick it up because they’re trying to run ten different areas of their business. So, let’s talk about hiring strategies for a second. From a business standpoint, in order for them to find the right person to hire for this side of the business for writing content, what is some of the stuff that they should look for to get that role filled?

Heather: I’d like to say that I know a little about a lot of things because in my role, I might be working with ten or fifteen clients on content development, and I need to know a lot about their industry in order to be able to write a blog. When companies are looking for someone or to outsource their blogging strategies or anything like that, I recommend going local because it can get very awkward if you’re working with a team from the U.S. or from another country, and they just don’t understand what’s going on in Canada for Canadian businesses at this time. I also recommend that the person really has a desire to learn because what I try to do in my writing is match the style of writing that the business is already putting out there unless they want to do a complete style change. I do this to keep it in the same voice, same brand, that kind of thing so it doesn’t look like someone else is doing their marketing. Also, find someone that will spend a few hours on Google and go through looking for the best resources and information to include in the content. The last thing you want is to hire someone who’s going to put out information that’s not correct. You need someone who has some research skills and who’s good at writing. You can see that if you ask for any sample work from them. Find someone who’s really going to take your business and this content, and think outside the box and run with it.

MC: And I really like that you emphasized on submitting samples of their work, I think that’s so crucial. Heather has helped Candybox grow over the last few years by hiring great talent and bringing in the right personalities to our business, and that’s been one of her secret sauces that a lot of people don’t know about. A lot of people don’t know that you ask applicants to submit samples of blogs and you ask them to show some of their best work so you can actually see that they’re not putting together a resume and just boosting themselves up, but that they’re really practicing what they’re preaching. I think that’s amazing, and that a lot of people don’t actually take advantage of that. Let’s talk about the other side. We talked about what business owners need to do to fill that role, but what about the marketing students who are listening right now and saying that “we want to work for a company like Candybox, we want to do what Heather’s doing.” What are some things they can do today to help them equip themselves and prepare themselves for this role?

Heather: For sure, so as you’ve mentioned earlier I don’t have a marketing background. I graduated from the University of Toronto in Art History, English and Professional Writing and Communication. Writing has always been a passion of mine, but that was one of the biggest learning curves in terms of how to take the writing I was used to, and applying it with a marketing hat on. I would say for anyone that’s trying to get into this industry, just write for fun. We see so many people that send in their resumes and their cover letters saying that they love to write and all this stuff and that’s great, but then when we actually say we want you to sit down and write a blog, even if it’s of your own choosing in terms of topics, they really struggle with it. I would say write for fun because it really gets the creative juices going and it keeps that talent nice and fresh and sharp. Also, try brainstorming and thinking outside the box. If I’m writing for an insurance company, for example, I might have home insurance, auto insurance, and commercial insurance as their core services that I can work with, but if I want to do value-added content, I need to think outside the box. Topics like, “How Can You Get Your Cottage Ready For The Summer Season,” or “How Can You Keep Your Car Working All Year Long,” is what I aim for, as people might not know about these tips and information. With these blogs, you are expanding the umbrella of what the insurance company might be talking about or offering. It’s a great way to add value-added content and have people get directed back to a website; so think about how you can brainstorm and expand that reach.

MC: Excellent advice from Heather. Guys, take notes, Heather’s helping out both sides of the world whether you’re in business or whether you’re a student trying to get a position. Heather is your go-to person for that kind of advice, so a lot of great stuff shared today, Heather. I really appreciate it. I want to end the interview with one final question, probably the biggest question in this entire interview where if I don’t like the answer I’m probably just not going to upload this. Here we go, the moment of truth. What is your favourite candy and why?

Heather: I would have to say that a Caramilk bar is my favourite candy. You might see my face on the website a bit posing with a Caramilk bar. It always fascinated me growing up because the main question was, “How do they actually get the caramel in the Caramilk bar?” I’m a glutton for punishment and I love finding things out and researching things, so when I was a child every time I had a Caramilk bar I would study it, figure out how they got it in there, and it’s something that’s stayed with me for life.

MC: Great stuff, that’s awesome. Heather, I really appreciate you coming in. One of the things I mentioned in the interview is that people may be able to find out more about your workshops. I mentioned that you do monthly workshops to help people get their social media accounts up to speed and ready to go for business. Where can they find more information about these one-on-one and about these workshops?

Heather: They can actually go on to the Candybox Marketing website! We are changing things up a bit and offering advanced social media workshops that cover a bit on how to create social accounts, but that focus more on strategies and things that you can do to really expand your presence online. If they go to candyboxmarketing.com and look up workshops, they’ll be able to find all that information there.

MC: That’s amazing. Heather From thank you for coming in today I really appreciate all the great insight.

Heather: Thanks for having me.

MC: Listeners thank you for tuning in. Do me a favour. If you like what you hear, please hit the share button or put a comment down below and let us know how awesome the advice was from Heather today. We’ll see you again in the next episode.