Yva Yorston: Attracting better quality customers with educational content marketing

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Notes

In this episode, Yva shares her journey from going from virtual assistant to building out her business Content Boost and how content marketing plays a part in the experience of her business.

Content Boost, founded by Yva, is a B2B content marketing consultancy and blog management agency based in Aberdeen.

Yva shares how she uses content as a tool for education; how content helps her prospective customers move through the buying journey faster and easier, how it’s helped the business gain better fitting customers, and why it helps to delegate parts of the content marketing process.

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Transcription

Chris:
Good morning, Yva, welcome to the CMA podcast. How are you today?

Yva:
Hi Chris. I’m good thanks. How are you doing?

Chris:
I’m really good. Thanks, yeah, I’m excited that you’re here, I’m excited to document this journey that you’ve been on, and excited for you to… I want to share with us all the things that have happened over the last few years. First of all, could you tell us what type of business you’re running, what type of work you do?

Yva:
Sure. Yeah, so I run a content marketing consultancy and blog management agency called Content Boost and I do that up in Aberdeenshire. The current version of the business has been going for about two years, but my overall business journey has been about seven years.

Chris:
Wow! Seven years Yva. You are too young to be running a business seven years.

Yva:
Yeah. It feels like longer.

Chris:
I think everybody that’s started their own business will absolutely appreciate that. Days feel like years. I really want to capture your content marketing journey. I know you’ve done a bunch of different things over the years. But mainly all in the B2B space right?

Yva:
Yes. That’s right. Yeah.

Chris:
One of the major challenges that a lot of people of have when it comes to content marketing is there are tons of B2C case studies, examples, journeys, and B2B seems to be kind of, I don’t know what people think is different or whatever, but I think we’ll be able to talk through that and hopefully people will be able to see your journey and be inspired by it. So any other B2B businesses that are listening to this is definitely one they want to listen to. Where did… I don’t even know if you’ve had this conversation before, when did it sort of content marketing become a thing for you Yva? Where did it sort of like that journey start?

Yva:
Yeah, it’s an interesting one because even though I run a content marketing agency now, it’s been a very much an evolution to get to this point. As I mentioned, the overall business journey has been seven years. And when I first started, it was a virtual assistance business. So, that seemed like the easiest way to get started with the business. And through my learning about the virtual assistant industry, everybody learns on the job when they start a business. And because I was offering a virtual service, then I very quickly started to learn about online marketing as a means to get customers for myself.

The difference for me I suppose, versus what we consider online businesses to be now was that I was offering an online service in a local area. I found with content marketing was that it really served the offline marketing that I was doing in terms of networking and things like that. So you mentioned about B2B. I think that’s the default for a lot of B2B is networking and you know, face to face relationship building and things. But what I quickly learned was that blogging and having an email newsletter and these sorts of things really enhanced that process because it helped to build trust with people while you weren’t in front of them, if that makes sense.

Chris:
Yeah. Allows you to sort of scale yourself which is-

Yva:
Yeah, exactly.

Chris:
Absolutely. There’s a ton of benefits for that, any business, and this is another thing as well, I’m glad you mentioned this. Is that anyone that’s listening that runs that sort of localized business then content marketing absolutely works for you as well. It’s like it’s not small businesses, big businesses B2C, B2B. There’s a place for this and there’s a win for everybody, which is so I’m glad you mentioned that. You started for you learning on the job… you started to think about using content marketing for you to actually get clients, get customers, but I’m trying to look for a triggering event or moment in your career where content marketing became like more, a little more mature, more serious, or played a more important rule. Is there something along the way where content marketing just seem to be much more important than it was at the start, and how is that impacting your business today?

Yva:
Well I think the triggering moment in terms of really understanding the alignment between content marketing and the sales process really started when I met you and joined CMA, but before that it was very much a gradual. I remember the original blogs that I was writing very much focused on my personal journey and what I was up to and events I was attending, awards I was winning and that sort of thing. I think that’s what a lot of businesses who get started with blogging assume that it’s about, is about them as opposed to by the customer. But over time I think I was just consuming a lot of content myself around how to do it well and started to understand that education piece, that it’s a tool for educating people about what you do and helping them to understand how it applies to them and their situation.

Over time it kind of improved I would say when I look back on my blog posts now, the sort of blogs that I was writing way back at the beginning weren’t really sales focused at all. What they probably did do is help people get to know me and get to know my journey. But really it was when I came along to a CMA life, and when I met you that I started to learn about the big five and how to align content marketing with the buyer’s journey. And that was, I would say, the biggest shift for me in my understanding of content marketing over the last few years, because I think I’ve always understood certainly for the majority of my business journey understood the value of educating customers. But it was really the very close alignment with the sales process that was the big shift.

Chris:
What does that look like in reality for your business? Just know, in other words what kind of content are you creating to sort bring this into practice?

Yva:
Well, I mean, the contract I have been creating over the last year or so has been very much focused on the journey that my prospective customers go on. I think being a marketing agency, every marketer is producing content to promote their marketing services or at least they should be. So therefore it’s a very crowded space that can be very difficult to maybe get the search traction that some more traditional like products and services might get in a local area because there’s just… it’s much more competitive. But what I have focused on is content that when I get a lead whether that’s from a face to face event or whether it’s via online or however that leaders come to me, the content I’ve been creating is geared towards helping that person to understand if our services are the right fit for them or not.

Some of the things I noticed when I was speaking to not necessarily prospective customers but to business contacts in my local area, was that when they were considering working with a marketing consultant of some type, what they were looking at was should they work with someone who does content marketing or SEO or social media. So I noticed that there was people recognized that they needed help, but they didn’t necessarily know where to place their budget. And you know, for most small to medium sized businesses, they can’t do everything. So it was a case of helping them to decide what they should do first, and or what was the most appropriate solution for the challenges that they were facing at the time.

So that’s the sort of content I’ve been creating is content that helps people to understand at what import situation they should work with a marketing consultant and agency and what type of agency that should be. I’ve been finding that to be really effective in having sales conversations with prospective customers. That just means that when that issue comes up, then I can deliver that content directly to them and it helps them make their decision.

Chris:
Okay. That is to me, that’s actually what content marketing is in my, like in my… for you as well clearly, but when someone asks me what content marketing is, that’s the kind of story or the sort of points that I would want to make. It’s about understanding that there’s a sales process every prospect is going through. It’s up to us as business owners to help them get through it faster, easier to a point, and I guess the question might be here as what’s the outcome of that? So you’re creating content that helps our prospective customer move through that buying process, right? To what ends? How does that benefit your business? What’s the outcome?

Yva:
Well, I mean the outcomes include prospective customers making a decision more quickly because they’re able to evaluate the options more thoroughly and with more confidence and therefore they’re able to come to a decision more quickly, and also that the customers that do decide to come on board with me are a better fit than they would have been previously. So, it’s all about sort of managing expectations, I suppose. So before if I’d started working with a customer, but maybe they didn’t have a completely full understanding of what it was that they were buying in a way like if they had different expectations and I there had been some sort of breakdown in communication in terms of what it was that I deliver versus what it was that they expect.

Then that obviously becomes a difficult relationship and a difficult customer to work with, going forward because there’s just a mismatch. Whereas if the customer has all of the information up front, then you’re never going to get that situation of having crossed wires. And it just means that the customers you’re working with are… every relationship is a lot smoother, communication’s a lot better, and the end results that you can ultimately get for them are going to be better at the end of the day as well.

Chris:
Yeah. I hope we’re getting that fit right. Making sure that the customers… in other words, what’s happening with your prospective customers is they’re pre-qualifying themselves as you’re a customer. So, when they get through the whole experience is just far better. They want to be there, you want to work with them, everybody’s on the same page and if we’re going to be in business for a long time. So it’s important that we build those relationships well from the start. I think that’s really what… everybody that’s listening has had a bad client Yva. We want to minimize that. It’s not because they’re bad people or we’re bad people, it’s just a bad fit.

Yva:
Yeah, exactly.

Chris:
The less time we can make that happen the better, and the content marketing is that whole process, that qualification process you mentioned. Absolutely love that. This is exactly what I think content marketing just makes such an amazing impact. When you’ve been creating all this content Yva, we’ve been working together for a long time. What has been your biggest lessons along the way? In terms of… I know you’ve started another business from scratch and I think you’ve learned a lot and that journey, like being able to start again with your new brand. Maybe perhaps there are some lessons in there that you could share with people that are listening know that they are going to start content marketing for the first time. And they’re like, right. Or maybe they’ve been thinking they’d been doing content marketing but after listening to this and actually, they haven’t, and that’s probably why they’re not getting the results that we’re looking for. What have you learned, perhaps in brief what you’ve learned, in terms of the building blocks that mean that content marketing’s going to be much more successful for you and your business?

Yva:
Yeah, when I rebranded a couple of years ago, I really considered it like you were saying, it was a fresh start for me in terms of applying everything that I’d learned in the four or five years prior with the first version of my business if we consider that to be my apprenticeship, then this was me kind of going into the real world and doing it properly. And so I decided to be quite methodical about how I went about building the business. So the first sort of year or so was about getting the offering and the business model and the systems right so that the delivery of the service was that the foundation and the bedrock of everything going forward. Because you can create fantastic content, but if you can’t deliver on the promises that you’re making, then you’re in for a losing battle.

Then the next phase was about getting the brand right. Having a brand that communicates what we’re about and what we offer and a website that reflects the messaging that we want to portray to customers and that will help them understand whether we are the right service for them or not. Then developing a sales process that helps them to come into the business, and then content really becomes the thing that ties it all together. In terms of what I’ve learned is that if you don’t have those foundations in place, the content will only get you so far. And so I’ve been having to be quite patient, I suppose with myself in terms of getting those things right so that when I do really ramp up my own content production, then it’s going reap massive rewards because of the foundations all there.

I would say that there are some businesses that I come across even now in terms of my prospective customers who don’t necessarily have all of the right building blocks in place before they start. So as much as I’m a massive advocate of content marketing and I wish everyone was producing content for their businesses to help them get customers. Sometimes you need to take a step back and look at the overall picture before you jump in with both feet. So that’s been my biggest learning curve over the last couple of years I would say.

Chris:
Yeah. I think we don’t talk about it enough in our industry, in our space and educate our prospective customers enough about getting the timing right, which is really what we’re talking about. I think there’s nothing wrong with just postponing something until you’ve got something else in place. I guess the challenge is this is a great conversation Yva because I think a lot of people listening might be questioning some of this stuff and need a little bit of permission perhaps to say actually I’m not going to do something right now until later until I’ve got something else in place. And I think you’ve been brave I think in some ways to see that to yourself to say, “I’m going to set this up so I can win, and in order to do that, I’m going to have to say no to somethings right now until it’s the right time.”

I think that’s true, it’s not just brave, it’s hugely sensible. And so obviously you taking a really long term approach to your business and in other words, knowing that if you want this to be a success, I think you’ve said this before as well Eva, is that if I want this to be a success, I would have had to go all in on this thing and do it right. In other words, everything I know and to place knowing that effort they’d feel if it does eventually feel at that everything that I could to make us a success.

Yva:
Yeah, absolutely. I think there’s a balance because I think probably a temptation for a lot of companies considering doing content marketing is to go straight for the stuff that generates awareness of their business. So the stuff that will get them lots of likes and comments and maybe even traffic to their website, which is obviously all part and parcel of it. But if you… you have to make sure that you are creating content, but it has to be the right content for the right time and the right… making sure that it’s fitting with a specific business purpose. So, if you’re creating content that’s generating massive awareness, but there’s a gap in your business somewhere else or the content that you’re creating doesn’t totally align with the business objectives that you’re pursuing at the time, then it’s not going to filter through in terms of real business results.

But equally, you’ve got to keep the doors open at the same time and make sure that you are being visible in generating customers. So it has been difficult at times to strike that balance between not being completely off the grid, but spending time in the right places and not kind of getting ahead of yourself.

Chris:
Yeah. There’s some content that you have created Yva, that you have not even reaped the true benefit from yet because it’s sitting there waiting to be found by people when it’s the right time for them versus creating content that allows people to sort of see you a little bit more, right?

Yva:
Yeah, exactly.

Chris:
That’s what we’re talking about. You know what though, I think I would say 80% of the conversation that people have about content marketing is all around awareness-based content, I would say, and I think it gets… we’d lose the preop principle for this. I think 80% of the content that we talk about is about creating awareness-based content because 20% of the results, whereas 80% of our results are going to come from the content that fits into the sales process, which isn’t necessarily about getting lots of comments and likes and views and shares and all of that kind of stuff. I think that’s a really great conversation for people to have with their teams or with themselves, or with their business friends is a big gain, a balance I guess.

I guess this journey thing, right? I mean, someone listening just now is thinking about starting on this journey. You’ve already mentioned about recommending where did she start with these building blocks and these foundations? Are there any particular significant challenges that you’ve had all along the way, Yva, that’s really almost made you kind of think twice about what you’re doing? What I’m looking for here is like there’s… I feel like after I’ve been teaching this for so long, there’s just so many things that are going to stop people in their tracks. I’m looking for some context from your journey of where that’s happened to you and perhaps how you’ve overcome those challenges.

Yva:
Yeah, obviously one of the biggest barriers is finding the time to do it or making the time to do it, and consistency I think is a universal challenge for anyone trying to create content for their businesses. So one, and it was really the kind of the thing that helped pivot my business to what it is today in terms of offering block management and things was the process that I went through in delegating parts of that process to publish and promote the content to someone else so that it freed up my time from doing every single part of the process, which can be extremely time-consuming. You think that creating the content would be the most time-consuming thing but really we should be spending as much time promoting it as we do, creating it.

And so when you’re trying to undertake all of that yourself, then it makes it more difficult to fit it into your week. Because it’s just not sustainable to spend that amount of time doing content marketing all by yourself. When I started delegating publishing and promotion of my content to a virtual assistant, then that made a massive difference and allowed me to really focus my time on creating content that serves my audience. It was then a concept that became a core service that we now offer. I think that’s probably a key consideration that people should make when they’re starting out with content marketing is anticipating this challenge with consistency and thinking about how they can mitigate that right from the start.

So maybe they’re not necessarily in a position to delegate publishing and promotion straight away, but how are they going to tackle that in the immediate term and how could they potentially tackle it in the future? And maybe that does involve hiring someone in higher sore, shading the responsibility for content marketing amongst different team members or working with some sort of outsourced service to deliver that aspect of it. I do think businesses need to be aware of who’s going to take ownership of the content, but who are the team players going to be, who are they going to be as part of the process.

Chris:
Yeah. Do you know any companies that do this sort of work Yva?

Eva:
I may know one. Yep. Content Boost. So we offer a block management service that provides publishing and promotion services, other fixed monthly packages. So that is definitely an option for sure.

Chris:
It’s a real option though. I think you’re spot on. I don’t think you’re trying to pull the wool over anybody’s eyes here. I think this is really, really important to recognize that even whether you’re a company of one or you’re the marketer and the business or you’re the director of a company and market kind of falls at your feet, that there’s the content creation part of the journey, which is so absolutely important. I feel so strongly about having that in house. Doesn’t mean that you have to edit, publish, promote, design, all the other stuff that goes with it. That’s somebody else’s job, right? If it isn’t someone else’s job, no, you should definitely be planning for it to be somebody else’s job in the future or other people’s job and that there’s going to be multiple things. I totally think you’re spot on there, especially as your business grows and you want to create better quality content, things like that.

I think you’d need to build… absolutely build your team and if you want to stay consistent and committed to the process. Because I know this from myself, even maybe you can reflect on and resonate with us as well as that, there are just certain parts of the process that I just don’t like and I don’t enjoy and I think if they can eat away at you and make you feel that you just don’t want to do this thing anymore, it’s not worth it. And when in fact you started it for a reason and you knew that somewhere deep inside you knew that it’s going to be worth that. It’s just that this part of the process isn’t your best, isn’t the part where you’re best.

Yva:
Yeah, that’s it. There are parts of it that are a grind, but they are super important for the success of your content marketing strategy as a whole. So things like doing the formatting on your blogs to make sure that Google picks them up and ranks them or scheduling social media posts to go way across your different platforms. I don’t think anybody unless they’re super sort of into the administrative side of things, I don’t think any business owner would look forward to that sort of thing. So, it’s all about thinking about how you can spend your time in the right places so that you aside from anything else so that you don’t lose motivation and you don’t lose passion for the process because if it becomes a chore, then it’s going to be more difficult to maintain it and to actually see it through and get the results that you want.

Chris:
When those results start coming and I think that makes a big difference though as well and makes you get excited about content I think. I truly think that content marketing brings excitement back into our business as well, and it really does get you fired up. We’re running a little bit short on time here Eva, so what I would like to do is for those listening that want to see some… it’s hard to do this on a podcast, right? Visually grasp a visual… what’s the word I’m looking here for? As a vision of what your content looks like. So would the best place be to head to your website?

Yva:
Yes. So it’s contentboost.co.uk and I have a learning center page where people can look at the content I’ve been creating and hopefully get some ideas and inspiration.

Chris:
Yeah, exactly. So you’re able to see all this stuff that you’ve been talking about here, that sales process, how you’ve… it’s good because they’re the people that will go to your website, they can now get a better understanding of why you’ve deliberately created this piece of content. I think that’s, that context that a lot of people don’t see when they’re looking at someone else’s content.

Yva:
Yeah, absolutely.

Chris:
So, contentboost.co.uk I think people are going to have questions. They’re going to want to connect with you after this as well. Eva, where’s the best place for them to do that?

Yva:
Well, they can follow me on Instagram or Twitter at contentboostuk. Or they can connect with me on LinkedIn and I’ll be happy message them there.

Chris:
Perfect. Thanks a lot. It’s just been amazing. Thanks so much for joining me Yva. I really appreciate you taking time out of your day to do this. I love documenting these journeys because I think it’s just like a moment in time where we can see this is what we’ve achieved so far and hopefully in the future, we can jump back on, have another brief conversation about where you are then and how far you’ve come as well. Thanks so much for sharing your journey with us and give us an insight into how you’re using content marketing to grow your business. Thank you.

Yva:
No worries, Chris. Thanks for having me. It’s been great.

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