Like T. McQueen, running that content machine!

Did I hit the mark with that Sheryl Crowe Steve McQueen reference? Regardless, it’s a great song, and works for describing our evening at General Assembly with Steve’s long lost South African third cousin, Tami. All she needs is a fast (content) machine, and SalesLoft has built that machine under her guidance.

I met Tami McQueen for the first time yesterday just before our Digital Marketing class. I can now say that Tami lived up to everything I had already heard about her before we met, and I am very glad that I took the chance to invite her – without meeting her first – to give a guest lecture to the Digital Marketing class that I am currently teaching at General Assembly. Her talk on how SalesLoft built a content marketing machine was amazing, not only in what the company has achieved, but also in the level of detail Tami shared. The selfie below was just the icing on the cake.

As I scrambled to take digital notes on the fantastic content Tami was spreading over our class, I landed on some extremely important points that Tami emphasized. Those points are what stood out from my 4 pages of notes. So here are Tami’s Twelve Talk Tips.

  1. SalesLoft started with a content mission: “Be the world class authority in Sales Development.” Positioning yourself or your organization as an authority is one of the most powerful benefits of producing a blog, and SalesLoft has done that. When you think “sales development”, you think SalesLoft. Kind of like SEO for the brain.
  2. Marketing is branding, and their focus was inbound lead gen, directly tied to revenue goals of the company. Tami says that was her “wake up call” that marketing is not only parties and PR.
  3. The SalesLoft content marketing mission is tied directly to revenue goals by means of the SalesLoft sales funnel. They know that 70% of their leads come through content marketing, and that 15% of the leads generated through content marketing are converted into consultations. So their content marketing goal is a very specific number of leads every quarter, tied to the strategic revenue goal for that quarter. SalesLoft is not just blogging for the hell of it.
  4. SalesLoft’s content team uses a Google Sheet as their content calendar. The term “Keep It Simple Stupid” is quite appropriate here. You can pay a lot of money for a content calendar application, or you can just make one that really, really works for you.
  5. Tami leads the content team in filling their content calendar for each quarter, directly based on SalesLoft’s one page strategic plan, in direct support of the organization’s marketing goals for that quarter.
  6. SalesLoft manages its content creation process using agile / scrum methodology. They have daily stand up meetings and weekly sprints, which are created every Thursday in their sprint planning sessions. Agile has become the preferred method of creating great software, and Tami makes the argument that agile can and should be used in content creation as well.
  7. For their 5+ weekly blog posts, monthly ebooks and case studies, and weekly sales tips videos, SalesLoft tests (at least) 5 different headlines for every content item, always measuring to see which headline garners the most attention to their content.
  8. Your writing will tank if you write specifically for SEO. It’s boring, no one will read it. Instead, write the content (blog, ebook, white paper) to full capacity, then take the keywords and see where you can integrate them into the content.
  9. SalesLoft used to just spray & pray until they started measuring content and social analytics. Then they fine tuned the content to take a different approach. They still miss the mark from time to time, and are still learning. When they test a piece of content, they change or test only one thing at a time, for a true a/b test.
  10. If you’re creating great content, that’s great, but if you don’t distribute it to the world, it’s a total waste. SalesLoft’s distribution SUCKED early on (Tami’s words, not mine). They had no real traction. Then they brought on social media specialist David Ahn as a strategic hire, and he created all SalesLoft social distribution methods, from soup to nuts. Tami was highly complimentary of David: “He schools me on the daily.”
  11. Once they got content marketing traction, they realized that this was the machine they really wanted to build. It worked, so they began duplicating it by adding another content builder, designer, video, and distributor. Now they produce 5 blog posts/week, a newsletter every other week, an ebook or case study twice a month.
  12. For each blog post, Tami’s team will create (at least) 5 headlines for the blog before the blog is even written, for positioning, or click bait, and A/B test them on the blog and with email subscribers to learn what works best.

Despite SalesLoft’s rapid success in the last two years, Tami remains humble: “Marketing is tough! Celebrate the small wins! I make mistakes on the daily.” And, Tami confirmed what all new digital marketers fear: “Everyone wants an organization’s marketer to ‘make it to go viral!’ That doesn’t happen.”

I had a great respect for Tami’s abilities and expertise just via her reputation, and now that I’ve seen her teach her trade, I can confidently say she is all that. Thank you, Tami, and thank you SalesLoft for setting a great example for the digital marketing community to aspire to reach.

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