Why Convince & Convert’s Content Values Culture and Consistency

Why Convince & Convert Values Culture and Consistency when Creating Content

Anna Hrach, Strategist at Convince & Convert, joins the Content Pros Podcast to discuss culture and consistency.

In This Episode:

Anna Hrach

Convince & Convert

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Full Episode Details

Focus on the Culture

According to biologists, a properly functioning body is a massive ecosystem of individual beneficial organisms working together to sustain balance and progress. When these pieces are healthy and efficient, we see them as a single productive entity.

In the same way, a healthy business is made up of individuals who all work together to keep the greater “organism” growing and moving forward. The converse is also true, when part of the ecosystem is unbalanced the overall health is in jeopardy.

When it comes to hiring, it can be easy to focus on an individual’s skills but miss the way that your culture will be affected. Just like the body, you can always train to strengthen different parts, but the inside must be healthy first. By focusing on culture, you can bring your business to a place of long-term growth and productivity.

In This Episode

  • Why you should treat your website should as a content hub
  • How to create consistency of content between various channels
  • Why hiring someone who fits the business culture is more important than hiring for immediate skills
  • How to pick the right content creators

Quotes From This Episode

“There’s way more to this than just words.” — @annabananahrach

“It’s so critical to always have one person who's considering the entire content ecosystem.” Click To Tweet

“Having the wrong person on the team, from a culture perspective, is more detrimental than finding someone who doesn’t quite know all of the skill sets that you need them to know.” — @annabananahrach


Content Pros Lightning Round

Looking back, what will you say that you just did that stood out as an amazing New Year’s Eve?

Anna is just excited to be with friends and family (and her dog and cat too)! She just wants to start the year full of optimism and embrace 2018.

What is something that you did in 2017 that you try to avoid in 2018?

After a pretty crazy year in 2017, Anna would just like to avoid injury 2018!

See you next week!

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Episode Transcript

Randy:Welcome to the Content Pros Podcast. I am Randy Frisch and I gotta change it up this week, because I have a new cohost. I usually get to say Tyler Lessard is my cohost, but if you listened to our last podcast, it was the farewell tour for Tyler, who was a great addition to the podcast over the last year. Today I get to introduce our new cohost. You may not have ever met her, but you can if you go back to summer of 2017 and listen to one of our podcasts, we had from Convince & Convert who helped produce this podcast, we had Anna Hrach and Anna is here today, We are gonna talk a little bit about Anna, get to know Anna, because she's going to be here on a weekly basis with me as we meet various fantastic content pros out there, get their perspective.
I'm really excited about having Anna join, because it'll help us round out this podcast and really bring a different perspective. First of all, we're finally going to have some diversity on this podcast, on the cohost perspective. Way back in the day when this podcast started, Chris Moody had a cohost named Amber, so we started that way and then we lost our way on the diversity focus. So I'm excited to bring the diversity back with Anna and myself hosting this together. But as well, Anna comes with a lot of different backgrounds and she's going to tell us about that today. I'm not going to kill it for her.
Anna, welcome to the podcast. Welcome to Content Pros.
Anna:Thank you, Randy. I am so, so, so excited to be here, especially after being a long time listener. I'm so happy to jump in and fill the cohosting shoes with you.
Randy:Amazing. Maybe for everyone listening and tuning in, maybe for the first time, maybe they didn't listen to the time you were a guest with us, maybe you can tell them a little bit about your journey to Convince & Convert, some of the things that you've done. Let's pretend not that this is an interview, but you're meeting someone for a coffee at a Starbucks and they're like, "Yeah my journey's been pretty crazy here's how I got here."
Anna:Totally. I won't rehash too much of what I talked about back in July, but I've been doing content in some way, shape, or form, for about the last 11 or 12 years. I'm starting to lose count now, but my background was actually I started out as a traditional copywriter, so actually doing billboards, and radio scripts, and all of that; print ads, all that fun stuff. One of the advertising agencies I was at, at the time, started getting more and more web work, and I wanted to jump on board and try it out. I loved it. I then jumped in to being a content creator officially full-time, found my way into content strategy and content marketing, and never looked back. Most of my time was spent at advertising agencies, so I have, pretty much, experience in every vertical you could possibly imagine. Also, on the B2B and C2C side.
Randy:When did ... as you put it, you're kind of in these agencies looking at the full cycle of marketing. It's funny, you talk about billboards, that's what I wanted to be when I was a kid. I don't know if I ever told you this, but I watched Superbowl and I was like, "I wanna do those commercials," or I would drive down the street with my parents and be like, "I could do better than that one." That was marketing to me back then. I have a very different lens to marketing now as I've grown up, or maybe as the world has changed. But when did you realize that content was your baby?
Anna:I think it was actually when I started working on my first website redesign. I was just handed some comps, right? I know, there are probably so many people just cringing out there right now, because they went through the same thing where, as a writer, you were handed fully designed website layouts with just lorem ipsum. I remember just thinking to myself, "Well, what if I don't have anything to put in there? What if that's not enough space?" Or, "What if that's way too much space? Maybe we need directions on this page, not seven paragraphs of block content" And then I just kind of realized from there that the strategic side was just so important to writing and there was so much you could do with content. And then, of course, everybody had a blog all of a sudden, and so it really just kind of snowballed from there. But it was really kind of when I was just a writer and I said, "You know what, there's way more to this than just words."
Randy:I love that. It's interesting, and maybe that's a good way to talk about how we're going to ... I don't know if the word is transition this podcast. I mean, we're going into, I guess, a new season, but we're not really a syndicated show where we get an off season. We're going to go from one week to the next in early January. But one of the things that you and I talked about is kind of broadening the definition of content, and what content is, and how content's used. I think these days sometimes we think about content and we think about content marketing, so it's like our blog, or our video assets.
But I really like, Anna, how you just talked about that for you it even started with the website. I often say that the website is one of the most ignored assets for companies. I compare it sometimes to, I don't know if you've ever been to fancy downtown law firms ... like if anyone's ever been to one of them, this is like the ones that charge you like $700 an hour for a lawyer's time. But if you ever go to their offices, their lobbies are palaces. They've spent millions of dollars on these lobbies, because in their business, that's your first impression, right? You come to the law firm and you're going to evaluate them, so you're going to look at their lobby and you're either going to be like, "Okay, these guys are legit or they're not legit." And I think in so many cases people come to our websites as our lobbies for companies. We kind of think of it as, "Well, we updated the website six months ago," versus thinking of it as the content that people are engaging with first and foremost.
Anna:Totally. Yeah, that I'm right on the same page with you. It is kind of funny, you know. It's like there's just so much that is outdated and ignored on websites and that is really the content hub for a lot of brands, so it can be kind of a weird, overgrown content jungle a lot of times. But then they have some perfectly manicured social outlets and things like that, it's just interesting how people treat their different content assets. I definitely love talking to people about their websites, especially the content that's on there, because I am so passionate about user experience and just how people go through sites, and how people go through content; not to say that a website is the only place that consumers are going to interact with your content. But you're totally right, Randy, it is a lot of times the first place people go.
Randy:Yeah, absolutely. It's really interesting, to your point, the user experience or the way we greet them on our websites and how that's changing. I was actually putting together a deck for a presentation I'm doing, and I was having some fun and I looked at a company. The company I chose was IBM. All of us know IBM, Big Blue, Watson, all those types of things, and I went to the home page of IBM now, which all of you can do. You're probably listening on a mobile device right now. Go to ibm.com and check out their homepage. The funny thing is, is that what you're greeted with is, really, content. I mean, there's a little bit of a hero image at the top, with some really powerful branding, but then it's ... I think the headline, if I remember, it was something like, "In the news today." They've become a company that's leading with content.
Now the funny this is, I don't know if you've ever done this, but one of my favorite websites is the way back machine.
Anna:Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Randy:You can Google it, and you can actually look at a website at different times over the years, because they take snapshots of what a website looked like and what different pages looked like over time. If you go to IBMs site in like the early 2000s, their definition of leading with, say, content back then was all product-based. Even the news section, it was like, "IBM launches a new Linux machine." It was not the ideas, it was not that thought leadership, and I think there's definitely a huge crossover between our content and, as you describe it, that user experience or that user journey.
Anna:Totally, and even extending out beyond that, that user experience, that user journey, and really thinking about how everything branches out into other channels as well. Again, using that site as that content hub and then allowing that content to then live out on other channels as well, where people can sort of organically stumble across it, or people can share it. It's just the user journey and user patterns and behavior in general. It's really, really interesting with content, and I think it's really something that people aren't talking about enough today.
Randy:Yeah, I agree with you. Maybe just take your take ... I mean, you work with a lot of different companies in your role at Convince & Convert, the different agencies you've been with over the years. Are you seeing a shift in terms of who should be owning these different more modern day definitions of content?
Anna:Yeah. It's funny, because content lives in so many different places, in so many different departments. I'm a huge fan of advocating for having a content owner or a content strategist, or a content marketing hub or department that kind of owns and oversees that master strategy. Obviously, within each different channel there's other strategists, there's other pieces of content that go out. But I think it's just so critical to always have one person who's considering the entire content ecosystem.
Randy:Yeah, it's really tricky. It's funny, I mean this is by no way a plug for a job opening we have, but by all means any content pros listening, we've kind of broken out a new role on our team. We're calling it a Director of Content, but we struggled a lot when we were trying to figure out what the title of the role was going to be. The reason we struggled is a lot of the things that you and I just talked about are going to be under this person, so it's like figuring out that narrative and storytelling; things like the editorial content, sorry, editorial calendar and the content creation will live under this individual and the team members. But also things like the website messaging that we talked about. Also things like our analyst relationships and PR will live under this person, because it's all those different pieces of messaging that are going out.
We were a little bit worried that if we went with a Director of Content title that maybe we would get someone who's just thinking about content creation, but not necessarily the mapping of that content, and the user experience, and the journey. Honestly, we couldn't figure out what title to use. Is it a director of digital? It's not just digital. Is it a director of inbound marketing? That feels so 2014, right?
Randy:I don't know what you're finding in terms of the trends of how people are embracing this.
Anna:It does seem like a lot of people have gone with some of the more generic like ... I don't want to say generic, but yeah, like you mentioned, Director of Content, a little bit more overarching, a little bit more generalist. So that way there is a little bit of leeway to kind of work with other departments and still maintain strategy in each of those areas of expertise, but really just have somebody oversee, like you said, that storytelling, that messaging, the mapping.
It's funny, too, I love that position that you're just talking about, because especially when it comes to the user piece, they just think they're interacting with a brand. They don't see it as, "I'm interacting with a brand on Facebook or on Twitter," or on their website. They want to see the consistency, and they don't even know they want to see the consistency. They just want to see their brand in their preferred channels, and so to have one person, like you mentioned, just making sure that that happens is huge.
Randy:Absolutely. Maybe I'll tell you a little bit more about it, but what we're going to do, quickly, is we're going to hear from the sponsors who help make this podcast happen on a weekly basis. We'll hear from them, and then we'll be back with my new cohost, Anna Hrach, on Content Pros.
Okay, so we're here on Content Pros talking with my new cohost, Anna, and we were just talking about the new role of content leader in the organization. It's interesting how we got to this at Uberflip. What we were finding, and you just hit on this before the break, Anna, we were finding that there was this kind of need to develop the brand and define the brand, and create these big hefty projects. But then there was also a need to map things for the day to day, the journey, interface between the sales departments, our customer success departments, and that's why we created this new role.
We now are going to have a Director of Brand, who owns things like our big conference, the content experience, which we do every summer, as well as a lot of the creative assets that we churn out on a regular basis for different campaigns. And then we're going to have a different group that's more responsible, as I talked about for some of that, content experience is what we like to call it here.
I'm wondering, with some of the experiences that you've had, if you, all of a sudden, could jump into a company and lead their marketing efforts or you were leading HR in that company, how would you define some of the key roles that you think an organization should have? I feel like everyone's going to be taking out paper and pen as they listen to this podcast and creating org charts to show to their managers shortly after. No pressure, but what would you [crosstalk 00:14:09]?
Anna:No pressure, totally. Funny enough, I actually, before I jumped on board with Convince & Convert, I was the Director of Content for an agency here in Phoenix. So I have actually had to go through this before. I kind of like to let people know that they can learn from my mistakes that I made, because I was sort of a first time manager and I made a lot of typical, very first time manager mistakes. Hindsight is always 20/20, and if I were to go back and do it all over again and I could recommend exactly the right team structure and the right team org, what I would first say is first and foremost, culture. Fit for culture. I cannot stress the fact that having the wrong person on the team, from a culture perspective, is more detrimental than finding someone who doesn't quite know all of the skillsets that maybe you need them to know. Skills can always be acquired, but attitudes are much harder to adjust. First and foremost, I would just start there.
Randy:I couldn't agree more. We are culture obsessed, as some people may know. Follow Uberflip, you can actually ... we actually have a hub of content, specifically around culture so that people can read about it before they join us. If people wanna check it out they go to culture.uberflip.com, and it really helps us define the right people to bring on. And we've seen the impact of ... one of the things that we say is skill is important, but it's not enough. I had people when I was growing up who said, "Hire for attitude, train for skill," which I agree. We say we need both here.
Anna:Totally. Yeah, you absolutely need both, but I, just from managing people and being in those shoes ... and if I were to have to step into them again, I would rather have somebody be 75% on skills and 100% on attitude and fit, and then work on the rest, or adjust the position slightly to their strengths. There's actually this concept of high performing jerks within organizations. They're actually a part of the culture fit that we're talking about, where they go above and beyond and they're amazing, but they're so hard to work with. And that really does disrupt a lot of work and a lot of progress. Even just pushing the organization forward a lot of times I've seen, too.
Flipping over to the skill-side, when it comes to writers, I would just say that, again, the other thing that people have a tendency to do is just assume that a content creator is a content creator is a content creator. That is absolutely, especially in my experience in working with people and being a writer by trade myself, absolutely not the case. So really understanding what types of digital content you're going to be creating, and where that person's skillset is. The best example I like to give is, especially when it comes to the SEO side of things, somebody who has an SEO background definitely understand some of that user demand. They understand a lot of technical capabilities, but maybe they've never had to write on voice and tone. Not that they can't learn that skillset, but maybe that's just not what they love to do. Maybe they love the technical side, and not so much the more artistic side of things.
And vice versa, if you hire a really super creative, traditional copywriter, maybe they just don't really love the technical side of SEO. Maybe they really love creating campaigns and brainstorming, but when it comes to actually implementing 301 redirect mapping, maybe that's just not what they love to do. And so if people aren't loving ...
Randy:But that stuff's so much fun.
Anna:Well, we find it fun, because we're nerdy. But finding people ... finding what they love to do and playing to a writer's strengths is always going to be a win.
Randy:So let me ask you this. We have people who listen to this podcast who work in very small organizations, and then we have people who listen to this podcast who work in very large organizations. Let's go to the small org, you're running the small org, small startup, maybe you even have a marketing team of three people. You can have one content writer. Are you going to hire for the tone, or are you going to hire for that technical? What's your lean? Which one do you want to train on?
Anna:I would hire for tone, because my background would be in that sort of traditional branding/copywriting side. I think the technical side, while there are nuances, I feel like sometimes that can be picked up a little bit easier, or there might be other people on the team who understand it and can jump in and pitch in.
Randy:I agree. I know it's [inaudible 00:18:50] when we always agree on these things, but I agree. Even beyond that, I would say that some of that more technical stuff, if you needed to, if you didn't have it in your org, there's a lot of great service partners who can help you on those things, who can help you assess the content, do audits. One of my favorite guests that we've had on this podcast over the years is Andy Crestodina at Orbit Media. They are rockstars at that type of stuff, and there's a lot of companies like that who can help guide you. And then, to your point, those people learn over time. They figure out how to approach that better, and maybe I'm just ... I'm definitely a more creative marketing leader than I am technical, so that's my lean.
Anna:Yeah, and for anybody listening, we're definitely not discounting SEO or the technical side.
Randy:It's important, I will give it to you. It is actually crucial. So let's go to the larger org. Same question, larger org. How do you approach it? Let's say you could have two different people. Do you find those two different employees, those two different personas, if you will, in your organization, do you find that they work well together? Or do you need to find people who ultimately have a balance of both in that larger org?
Anna:That is an awesome question. I think if you find two people who are so starkly different in their skillsets that's fantastic, because then you can go very, very deep into those skillsets and you're getting the best of the best. But again, like you just mentioned, they have to be able to work well together, right? I mean, there's a lot of times where reaching across the aisle can be really hard, especially when you have two different perspectives. Maybe you have somebody that's very technical and they are very stuck on the technical side, and you have someone who's so creative and they're very stuck on the creative side. That doesn't bode well either, right? You're not going to get anything done. You're going to get a lot of internal fights and tension.
In that case, if that's your only option, are two people who are extremely deep and narrow in what they do and know, but can't work together, I would go more general and actually just find people who are willing to pick up those skillsets and work together.
Randy:So we've got a little bit of time left here, what other roles would be key to your content org? We talked about the writers. Who else is in there?
Anna:I think every team needs a really good generalist. Somebody who knows just enough about the entire digital ecosystem to be a little bit dangerous. Somebody who knows everything from user experience, down to conversion rate optimization, down to keyword selection. I'm a huge fan of just people who know a little bit about everything. Because they just have a tendency, I think, to come up with brilliant ideas out of nowhere, and that's always helpful in a pinch.
Randy:Yeah, for sure. I feel like I've been a little too nostalgic today. I talked about inbound marketing manager, but it's ultimately, the full stack marketer was the term that I was hearing back in 2012. It's like everyone wanted a full stack marketer who could do it all. It's interesting, some of the things that we're really trying to encourage companies when we talk to them here at Uberflip is who's going take all that content and make sure it's being leveraged in your organization, right? I've talked to people with so many different perspectives. Some people have told me they feel like that's the future of the social media marketer, move them from just trying to start conversations to packaging out content. Other people, I think, are stuck with there's no right job title for that person so they either go to the generalist or the role that we've described is almost that content experience manager.
Anna:Yeah. There's a lot of opportunity in general. I'm excited to see where roles are changing and how they're shaping up.
Randy:For sure. I think that's going to be the fun thing about this podcast going forward. Anna and I both have a lot of great contacts between customers and different stops in our journeys along the way, and we're going to try and bring a lot of these different content leaders onto the podcast as we go into this next rebooted season with Anna at the side here, to bring people in with different perspectives as to how they'd approach these problems. Anna, maybe you could just talk about some of your goals going into the new podcast that we're going to have together.
Anna:I'm really excited to carry on the torch, continue this amazing, amazing podcast that I've been listening to for forever, bring on maybe some new and different areas, maybe go in depth on some verticals, talk a little bit more about that customer experience side of things. I'm excited. There's so much opportunity, and I'm just excited to be here and talk to everybody.
Randy:Yeah, myself as well. I think one of the things that we're really going to focus on is ... and this came from a lot of feedback from people I've talked to and I met at events and they tell me that they listen to the podcast, is really getting more and more practitioners onto the podcast.
Anna:Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Randy:Don't get me wrong, we love the strategists, we love the people working at agencies, but I think one of the areas that people really benefit from is people who, like them, are living in the weeds, running programs, giving us examples of what's worked, what has not worked, and their ability to go back and reiterate on those. We're going to bring a lot more of that to the podcast on a regular basis. So Anna, this is the end where we get to know you a bit. What we've done in the past, and we've actually done this with you, we got to know a little bit about you, where you vacation, things like that. We know that you live out in Phoenix. We're going into the holiday season, still a little bit of down time. By the time people listen to this podcast they'll be starting their new year. What are your new year plans? Looking back, what will you say that you just did that really stood out as an amazing New Years Eve?
Anna:Okay, so actually on New Years Eve what am I going to do?
Randy:Yeah. This podcast will come out after New Years Ever, so you've gone into the future and your New Years Eve heading into 2018 was amazing because you did what?
Anna:My New Years Eve will be amazing because I spent it with friends and family and my amazing dog and cat, who I love dearly. I just want to be surrounded by people and go into the new year with a ton of optimism and positivity, and just embrace whatever comes in 2018. That sounds like such a cheesy, cliché answer, but it's true.
Randy:It was pretty cheesy [crosstalk 00:25:41]. What is something that you did in 2017 that you try to avoid in 2018?
Anna:Something I will avoid in 2018 that I did in 2017.
Randy:Yeah, like what do you have to change? Because we gotta get ... to your point, you gave the cheesy answer.
Anna:I know.
Randy:This is the harder answer. It's like what is that item that you're gonna try and ... maybe it's like a snack food that's just like your done with it. No more aspartame in your soda.
Randy:It can be any of those types of things. What are you going to try and avoid?
Anna:One of the things I'm going to try to avoid, it's actually kind of funny and hilarious, I'm going to try to avoid getting injured. 2017 was so random. I went through my entire life without breaking anything or getting any kind of major injury, and then at the end of 2016, very end of 2016, broke my foot.
Randy:Oh man.
Anna:I know, right? So I got the rad scooter and I got a cool boot for a couple weeks, which was cool.
Randy:Oh, wow.
Anna:And then in 2017 early, I actually was doing some weightlifting and I had been lifting for about three years. And not Crossfit, like actually just dead lifting. I herniated a disk in my back, so that took forever to recover, so I'm finally back. I'm back to lifting, and so I'm just trying to stay injury free.
Randy:Yikes. The impressive thing about it is 90% of the time when someone hurts themselves you're like, "You need a better story," but you were like lifting a crazy amount of weight, which is pretty hardcore and definitely not cheesy. Kudos on you, I think that's a great focus for 2018. Lift some serious weight and be healthy.
Anna, I can't wait to kick things off. We are gonna have some great guests on this podcast. I encourage everyone to listen back on some more of Anna's insights earlier this year on the podcast. You can find all of the other Contest Pros podcasts at contentprospodcast.com. Please let us know the type of things that you want to hear going into the relaunch year, and until next time, I'm Randy Frisch from Uberflip. I've got Anna Hrach joining me, on an ongoing basis, from Convince & Convert, and we look forward to talking with you more.
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