Content Marketing with Laura Brodie

This is part of a series of interviews with B2B marketers. In this post we're talking with Laura Brodie from Bridgit on content marketing as a way to build your brand.

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Laura Brodie. I am the director of marketing and communications at Bridgit and we build communication software for construction teams. 

Laura Brodie enjoying Bridgit's new office

Laura Brodie enjoying Bridgit's new office

We want to talk to you about content marketing as a way to build your brand. Can you describe how you're doing that?
Content marketing at Bridgit was one of the first things that we started doing. As a young, scrappy new team with zero dollars it's always a good way to start when you have a talented team that can pull it together. Originally when we started with content marketing at Bridgit, we didn't have a product that was in the hands of our users yet.

We looked at what can we do to start building our brand story without being able to tell user stories. We started doing something around the idea of construction technology trends and from there we were able to roll that into e-books, blog posts, and that snowballed into doing a lot a presentations at industry events, conferences... that kind of thing, which led to a lot of contributed articles. And then we found ourselves in the position of being a thought leader on construction technology even though we hadn't launched our product yet.

That's how we started with content marketing at Bridgit and from there we've really let the industry, our readers, and users dictate how we develop that strategy based on what they're interested in and what they're asking for.

"The problem with content marketing is the regurgitation of the exact same information over and over again."

How did you find those connections to do thought leadership stuff, or get into those industry publications and talks?
Yeah, we were very lucky in construction – there was not really much information out there. A lot of the problems that we generally see with content marketing is the regurgitation of the exact same information over and over again on everyone's blog with no fresh ideas. 

In construction there was not a wealth of information out there, so we had the opportunity to create something new from scratch. We started with an e-book and once we had that we were able to go out to these different publications and associations and say “Hey! You know, we just wrote this great e-book, share it with your audience. Also, we'd love to come talk about it!” At first sort of thinking “Who's going to have us come talk about this?” But they bit and then everything went from there. 

You said you're doing things like e-books... how much is educational content versus how much is brand and storytelling content?
For us pretty much all of it is educational. We don't really tell the Bridgit story or the Bridgit brand story that much through our content. We rely more on press and that kind of thing for those kinds of stories. 

We start at the top of the funnel with broad construction technology trends type content. We have our audience that's already listening and we start to pull out more of the users stories. We love doing interviews with our customers on how they use technology in their day-to-day. We find everyone in the industry is really interested in what other teams are doing, so that’s usually very popular. 

This year we're launching a new version of that tech trends e-book, but it’s all anchored in interviews with people in real life. So it's not “We say these are the five trends” it's more “Tell me about what you're doing? Where do you see the industry going?” We are really excited to launch that. We’re going to distribute this piece as a print magazine as well as online.

"If you do a podcast and no one listens, no one knows. Just sweep it under the rug and try something else."

Print distribution seems to make sense for who you're targeting. How do you come up with the different types of content production that you're doing?
It's lots of trial and error. For example, we started with one e-book and it took off and we got a lot of inbound leads, and through that a lot of good opportunities. So we continue to try a lot of different things and follow what's hot and seems to be getting attention. You know, your podcast is popular, but if you do a podcast once and no one listens, no one will know – just sweep it under the rug and try something else. 

So its just following the metrics...
Yes, exactly! Always following the numbers and following what our customers and our potential customers are asking for. We always try to listen as much as we can to both our sales team and customer experience team. I try and go on construction sites as much as possible to talk to people. What are the questions they're asking? Those are probably going to be things that will be very interesting to the general audience.

How do you collect and share that data internally?
Internally we do a few things to collect and share that data. We have a monthly newsletter where we will share interesting customer stories, metrics across all the different teams, that sort of thing. We do quarterly off sites. We have different slack channels. We really love sending emails from customer experiences, as well as the sales team that are just great stories, so we're sharing those all the time. We have this one awesome user – our product is called Closeout, so she calls herself the “Closeout Queen.” We love stuff like that!

Do you create all your content internally or do you use any external sourcing?
We do it all internally, which we've gotten pretty quick at. As long as you have some good writers on your team and have done it a few times, the design usually comes together pretty quickly. 

"We do contributed writing to get our word out on a large scale, then drive people back to product based information."

You mentioned earlier that you have that funnel of content from the first interaction to repeat engagement. How do you reach those people in different ways. 
Because we don't try to necessarily make our blog the anchor where were driving people to initially, we do a lot of contributed writing and that's helped us get our word out on a larger scale, and then drive people from there back to the Bridgit website and our more product based information. We do a lot of distribution via other people's e-newsletters, magazines, etc.

We have partnerships with a bunch of different local construction associations. There's a few different groups both in Canada and in the States, as well as some in the UK that we partner with that run events based around construction technology. Really early on, as all of those groups were just getting off the ground, we identified them and said “Hey, we would love to partner with you, give you some of our content.” They were in need of content so it was a perfect relationship and we've been able to grow those from there. 

You're going to where your buyer already is instead of trying to get them to come to you?
Exactly. And because our buyers are very, very busy and not always tied to their computer, they're not sitting there researching all of this stuff like we might be in marketing. It’s usually “I have a need!” and then they will go research, which is where more SEO type tactics comes in. But they're not just sitting around perusing blogs all day, which of course is what we all do all day long.  

That's why we have a blog! You said you're not using your content to build the Bridgit brand, but you're using it to build a brand around your customers?
Yeah, so with our customers and with the construction industry in general, our main goal is to be known as a leader in the industry. Not necessarily for our specific product and its core features, but in general. Right now we're a go to resource for information about whatever is happening in the industry and then from there they are learning more about the product, as opposed to shoving it down people's throats like “You need our specific solution!” and we've found that's worked really well because there is such an appetite for information in general. 

"Go right to the source and create original content that doesn't yet exist."

Who would you say your influencers are on your content and brand strategy?
Our influencers really are our users. We have a really great group of user champions who are always giving us great feedback and asking lots of really intelligent questions. We try to use that as the anchor for the kinds of content we are creating and then when we go to create that content we like to tell their actual stories. So like I said, how are they using technology in their jobs, where they see the industry going.

At this point, when we try and do research for a lot of the things we want to write about, it just doesn't work. We end up stumbling upon our own content or people that have kind of done a riff on the initial stuff that we have put out. So it's really important to go right to the source and create original content that doesn't yet exist.

You mentioned earlier that a lot of people produce content for the sake of producing content. We see that in marketing all the time. How do you see content marketing trends changing?
I definitely think the trend’s probably shifting a lot more towards personalization. We've seen that in a lot of different aspects of technology and a lot of mainstream blogging platforms. I think that that's going to really start to be relevant in brand content marketing, whether it's the way you're dealing with your website's blog, or the way you're segmenting your user groups. It’s going to be a lot more specific and personalized where the user can pick and choose what they want to learn about so it's relevant to them. 

One last question, what's your favorite 90’s dance song?
Ooo, i'm like a, more a late 90’s kid. I’d probably say Spice Girls, like maybe Wannabe?

Thats a good one, thats like Grade 6 for me.