Consulting Services Make It Easier to Be a Marketing Department of One
Courtney Casey is the Director of Marketing for Accent Computer Solutions, an IT services company based in Southern California. Being responsible for marketing in an extremely competitive industry means that Courtney has a very comprehensive marketing strategy and is active in multiple channels, from content development, advertising and email marketing to customer communications, sales enablement and networking.
Before working with Lori, Courtney had a full-time assistant to help her cover all the bases, but when that person moved on, instead of filling the position, she took a step back to weigh her options.
Marketing Team of One Needed More Capacity
“As a marketing team of one, it’s very difficult to get everything done and the result is an ever-growing to-do list,” said Courtney. “I had a list of specific tasks that were always on the back-burner because they weren’t on fire. I knew that not getting them done was hindering our potential future success.”
As Courtney contemplated how she could buy herself some time yet move forward with her marketing plan, Lori Creighton, marketing consultant at Homestead Media came to mind. Courtney and Lori had met through a marketing peer group and they had continued to keep in touch even after the peer group disbanded. She knew that Lori had worked in the IT industry and was experienced with HubSpot, the marketing platform that they used.
“I had noticed Lori’s work in the IT space and I knew from our previous interactions that she is really good at strategy, organizing, and thinking things all the way through the process,” said Courtney.
Industry specific web pages speak to unique needs and help SEO
Marketing Initiatives Pulled to the Front Burner
When Courtney and Lori started working together, the first thing they did was to review Courtney’s list and make a plan to pull the back-burner items to the front and get them cooking. Courtney wanted to add separate industry pages to their website to speak more specifically to industry needs. She wanted email lead nurtures written to follow up with prospects who had downloaded content from their website and to drip on prospects; and she wanted their client stories revised so that they read more like stories. A big project was to add long form (or pillar) content to their SEO strategy to increase website traffic and generate more leads.
Lori dug in while Courtney left on a two-and-a-half-week vacation.
“I trust Lori immensely. I just knew she would do the right thing while I was gone,” said Courtney. “I also knew that she has worked in the exact role that I’m sitting in, so I knew she had experience doing exactly what I do.”
Quick Results from the First Email Nurture
Before going on vacation, Courtney was able to see results from the first piece of marketing that Lori got out the door for Accent -- an email lead nurture campaign that Lori created to reconnect with prospects with whom the company had previously met. The messages led to renewed conversations, very qualified opportunities and closed business. Courtney suspects that the recipients of the email series and subsequent series, do not even realize that the communications they received were not individually written by the company president.
“Our company president is getting replies to these emails and he knows he didn’t directly send out the message, but he loves it that these people want to talk,” said Courtney. “The nurtures have become a sales tool that he doesn’t have to actively manage. The automation and the conversational voice of the emails are doing the work.”
Content Strategy Implement to Increase Web Traffic and Generate Leads
Marketing is all about setting up interactions to meet buyers where they are in their decision-making process. That’s what long-form or pillar content does as it attracts and educates web visitors and turns them into leads. Lori suggested converting a great piece of content that Courtney had written into a pillar. The result has been uptick in website visits and an increase in the number of qualified prospects who have downloaded the resource.
Despite having many blog articles on the hot topic of cyber security, the Accent website was not capturing much traffic in that area. Lori created a piece of pillar content on cyber security with a different angle. The “Executive Guide to Cyber Security” frames cyber security with a C-level perspective. Since the publication of the pillar content and internally linking the cyber security articles to it, the Accent website is moving up in search results.
Client Interviews Uncover Success Stories and Buying Insights
Client stories are a step that few buyers skip when researching a vendor, and Courtney wanted to revise theirs to make them more compelling and easier to read. Using a storytelling approach, Lori rewrote the client stories to focus on the client. As she moved from rewriting existing stories, to gathering new ones, Lori documented a new storytelling process, that starts with a phone interview and a written story and leads into a storyboard for later video production.
In addition to working with Accent clients to gather information for stories, Lori has started to conduct buyer insight interviews with new Accent clients to learn the story of their buying experience. Courtney was eager to have Lori bring this methodology to Accent but she was concerned that speaking to clients early in their relationship would cause them to second guess their decision. After determining the right timing, interviews commenced.
“I wanted to know the specific factors and what other research the client did to get to their decision,” said Courtney. “We’ve just had one interview so far, and I already see their value. The insights that we received from just one interview has influenced how our sales team is able to communicate during their meetings with potential clients.”
Total Trust in Marketing Consultant to Be an Extension of Their Brand
Some companies might be reticent at having an outsourced partner communicate directly with their clients but Courtney views this as a benefit. She feels that the client might be more open in a conversation and that they might tell their story more thoroughly and honestly. She trusts Lori to not just get the story, but to interact with their clients in a professional manner.
“I feel super comfortable letting Lori communicate with Accent’s clients,” said Courtney. “I know she respects the relationships and she’s an excellent extension of our brand.”
Outsourced Consultant Increases Capacity and Expands Expertise
Because Accent is in the business of outsourcing IT help to businesses, it might have been a bit easier for Courtney to get buy-in for bringing in a consultant to increase their marketing capacity and expertise. In IT, one person can’t be an expert in everything and the same is true for marketing. She knows that hiring an assistant might look like a cost savings, but she would end up spending a chunk of her time training instead of strategizing and implementing.
“Some marketing directors might feel a little intimidated when they know they need to bring on a consultant like Lori. They worry that their bosses will think that they can’t do the work, but the truth is that one person can’t do everything,” said Courtney.
Courtney is relieved that it has only taken a few months to check off most of the items on the back-burner list that had been nagging her for years. Moving forward, she anticipates her collaboration with Lori will continue to bring her capacity and expertise as she needs it, which makes it a lot easier to be a marketing department of one.
"I trust Lori immensely. I also knew that she has worked in the exact role that I'm sitting in, so I knew she had experience doing exactly what I do."
-- Courtney Casey, Director of Marketing at Accent Computer Solutions