Way back in 2017, nDash published a short series of interviews with some of the brightest minds in marketing. For 2022, we’re bringing it back! We’re excited that Nicole Bump of Bump Inbound joined us for the second in a new series of Dumb Questions for Brilliant Marketers. In this interview, we talk about finding motivation, identifying strategy, content trends, and Nicole’s new on-demand content strategy course.
Welcome back to the nDash blog! We last chatted with you about your use of the platform for Bump Inbound. What’s shifted in your career since then?
Honestly, I went through a little bit of a slump through the holidays and early 2022. There was plenty of business, but I just wasn’t excited about anything. Motivation was sparse, and I was a bit burnt out. So, I’ve doubled down a bit on finding clients that really fit my niche (B2B martech/adtech), and share my philosophy for creating good content. It’s helped to reinvigorate me a bit, pull more enjoyment back into my work, and inspire a lot of new ideas for where my own business can go this year. This is one of the things I love most about being my own boss and running my own business—I can make it whatever I want it to be, and there are no rules that it has to stay a certain way if it’s not serving me and my clients.
As a one-person agency, how do you see yourself supporting more businesses as you continue to grow?
I’ve realized that a lot of the clients I work with are small, or even one-person, marketing teams. They know they need content, but they don’t know what, specifically, they should produce to make progress toward their goals. Typically, I’d work with these clients on a 1:1 content strategy engagement, but I can only handle so many of those in a given time period. So, I worked with a few colleagues to create an on-demand course on content strategy fundamentals (the Content Strategy Quickstart). It’s a really great resource for any small marketing teams that need to get their first content strategy in place but are struggling with how to do it.
What’s the difference between a marketing strategy and a content strategy?
Marketing strategy is a much broader effort that defines your overall marketing goals and how you’ll go to market to achieve them. Content strategy is a subset of your overall marketing and outlines how content, in particular, will contribute to your marketing success.
What are marketers doing wrong / what are you seeing missing in the current implementation of content strategy?
The biggest mistake is that people just don’t have a content strategy at all, or they have one that they don’t know how to operationalize (so they don’t use it).
A solid content strategy should outline what you are producing, why you’re producing it, who it’s for, and exactly what to look out for to measure your progress. When your content strategy is built this way, you naturally refer back to it often, which helps everyone to stay on track.
How do you advise clients to update old content, and how do you identify how to prioritize?
I advise my clients to update/optimize old clients based on John Bonini’s approach—I think his framework is really solid. That means prioritizing updates based on three groups of content:
- Biggest losers. These are posts that have decayed organically (you’ve lost traffic over the past ~6 months). Update them with new/more timely information to boost traffic back up.
- Almost famous. These posts are currently ranking on pages 2-3. Optimize them for a better shot at page 1.
- Nobodies. These posts are targeting high intent keywords but aren’t ranking anywhere near page 1. Optimize them for a better shot at page 1—or consider adding the content into another higher-ranking post and redirecting.
John provides specific instructions on how to pull reports to guide these optimization efforts in his Some Good Content Patreon.
What are marketers doing too much of today, and what are they doing too little of today?
Marketers are doing too much content production that has no plan behind it. I like to say that the content machine is always hungry, and many marketers are just feeding it with whatever they can whip up. This won’t help you accomplish anything meaningful. You’ve got to just ignore that content machine, slow down, and produce more thoughtfully. Not only will this help you accomplish more with less content, but it will also reduce all the crappy, “noisy” content that’s clogging up our blogs, inboxes, MINDS, etc.
I would say marketers are bringing too few new insights to their content and conversations. Yes, there are some table stakes you have to cover off on for creating content that will rank in search. But the world doesn’t need more of exactly the same stuff. One solid way to bring new value to the conversation is to incorporate new ideas and examples from internal and external subject matter experts (SMEs). This could be through a quick LinkedIn message or email, an actual interview, or even just pulling some good stuff from audio/video content that hasn’t been published as copy yet. Podcasts and webinars are a perfect place to start.
Any predictions on what we’ll look back on this time next year and think, “thank goodness that fad is over?”
LinkedIn polls? I think that fad’s already on the way out, actually (although most of them never bothered me).
When it comes to fads in general, I think most content marketers need to avoid the shiny, new object. I see a lot of companies that have trouble mastering the basics of strategy, planning, and consistent execution. However, they’re still often distracted by more exciting stuff like interactive content and AI-driven personalization. Most brands could make a lot of progress by mastering fundamentals first, then choosing to take on new endeavors one by one.
Thoughts on TikTok/Snapchat for B2B marketing? Any examples of brands or marketers doing it well?
Social isn’t my area of expertise, but at the end of the day, we’re all marketing to other humans. Connect with them where they like to hang out. There’s also a decent amount of white space on TikTik right now, so any early adopter B2B brands that are willing to jump in there, experiment, and optimize will probably have a nice little advantage over the fast followers and late adopters.
I just saw a post from Katie Mitchell, Head of Marketing at Sprig, where she shared screenshots of people finding her B2B company on TikTok. It’s happening!
Can you tell us some of your favorite marketing resources to read?
I already mentioned Some Good Content—one of my favorites, and I continually go back to reference how-tos and download templates.
I also like reading and often reference content from Ercule, a small agency that focuses on content and organic search (they’re also my partners in creating the Content Strategy Quickstart course). Their staff is always very generous and approachable, even when covering technical topics. They give away a lot of deep instruction, such as their 3-Hour Keyword Strategy.
What about your favorite marketers to follow on LinkedIn?
Erin Balsa is a strong content marketer and writer that always hooks me with her LinkedIn posts (impossible not to click that “see more”).
Brooklin Nash shares all about growing a B2B writing business.
Andy Raskin tells great stories, and his podcast Chill Beefs is hysterical.
Some rapid-fire questions for you:
What are the 3 most important components of a content strategy?
If I HAD to boil it down to three, I’d say audience, mission, and distribution. But realistically, there’s some other important stuff between those three that you shouldn’t skip.
What is the biggest thing companies miss in their strategy?
How to use it over time. They create fancy PPT or PDF documents that they use once and then forget about.
You get *one* SEO report for the rest of your life. Which one?
SEMrush’s position tracking. (I assume unique keyword research isn’t included in “reports”?)
Any final thoughts for marketers?
I’m finding more and more that B2B marketers need to focus on mastering the fundamentals. It’s not sexy, but it’s okay to run the “2010 Hubspot Play”, for example, if that’s what you can manage to execute well and consistently.
Thank you so much to Nicole for taking the time to chat with us. Be sure to check out her new on-demand course, the Content Strategy Quickstart!