You hear often in marketing circles about the value of hiring journalists to support — even lead — corporate content marketing programs. Many of the marketing strategists and content directors here at Hanley Wood Marketing are journalists by early professional training, so we’re definitely strong believers in the idea.
So, too, is Travis Justice. With two decades of experience in TV and radio broadcasting, Justice recently made a career move into corporate marketing, taking a job with MCL Construction, an Omaha, Neb., building contractor. Today he spearheads a content strategy that leans heavily toward his core competencies, video and audio storytelling. And as we discovered recently during a discussion in the B2B Content Marketing group on LinkedIn, he and MCL are redefining what it means to share their valuable content.
Here’s Travis to tell you about it:
Q1: Give us an overview of your content strategy and cadence at MCL Construction?
A: I spent 20 years on TV and radio so my company’s content strategy is heavy into video and podcasting and light on blogging. My journey to producing content for MCL started when I realized I needed to find a different way to drive business development. Having the skill set of being able to write, shoot and edit stories, I convinced our company president that this was the right direction. Right now I am producing one to two videos per week. I promote them in a targeted way to our e-mail list of business owners, architects, developers and subcontractors. We also distribute the videos on our social medial channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn.
The videos range from project updates, to project completions, to construction tips. We also have a year-long campaign going in 2012. In celebration of MCL’s 25th anniversary, I’m producing a monthly video that features employees. Our brand is “The people you build with.” This campaign shows our people outside of work, doing what they love in a personal setting.
Q2: You’re taking a somewhat different approach to “sharing” content. Tell us about that.
A: I try to shoot each project at least four times. That way I can show it in a good number of stages. Each time I produce a video I brand it MCL, but also with the lead architect and their logo. Ninety-five percent of the time the architect will use the very same video I produced on their website and social media channels.
I also share the video with our main clients, the business or building owners, so it can serve as a marketing tool for them, including as content they distribute to employees and investors. I really see a huge impact with our non-profit and religious clients in their fundraising. They use the videos for project updates to stakeholders, and to ask for more support to help drive their missions.
At the end of a project I give the owner and the architect all the raw video free to use for their own marketing purposes. They all understand the value, as video production is expensive. Not having to pay for it is a bonus to them. So it helps foster a good working relationship.
One more thing I’m doing is including project partners, subcontractors, in our stories. Interviewing them on the job, but also making the story a little about them. If you go to our YouTube channel, or our media channel on mclconstruction.com, check out the Drake Williams Steel story. This is a piece about how MCL selects quality subcontractors to do our work. It was a hit with architects, as they ask a lot about our subcontracted work. It was also a hit for Drake Williams, because it showcased their company. And again, they get all the raw video and can produce their own video or contact me to customize it for them.
I guess you could say we’re not just trying to create content at MCL. We’re trying to build partnerships and relationships.
Q3: You attribute $15 million of new business to your content marketing efforts to date. How so?
A: The last shoot I do on a project is always with the owner of the company we’re building for. This way I’m sure to get their testimonial on video. I now have a testimonial library where our clients not only talk about the quality of construction work MCL produces, but how our videos benefited their communications process.
When MCL is being considered as the contractor for a new construction project, this “shared content marketing strategy” is always part of our presentation during the final contractor selection interviews. This is good because the owner and the architect are involved in the interview process. When I show them how they benefit from a content standpoint, their eyes light up. The interviews in which we’ve presented the shared content strategy, we’ve won the business. And in the last year that is $15 million worth of work.
Is it 100 percent what closes the deal? No, and it shouldn’t be. But it’s something nobody else in our field is doing, so it allows us to stand out. When we ask for feedback from the interviews, sharing content is one of the first things that comes up.
Q4: What are your indispensable hardware and software tools? (See Travis’ studio in the photo above.)
A: The Digital Age has allowed us to produce great looking and great sounding content. I use a high end Sony HD camcorder that has a mic input. This allows me to use a wireless microphone on interviews and get a much better audio recording than using the camera microphone. My editing system is an EDIUS, a Grass Valley product. I have a studio microphone for podcasts and a dual mic digital recorder when I conduct podcast interviews in the field. For video distribution I use YouTube and Vimeo. For podcast distribution I use Sound Cloud and for my email campaigns, Constant Contact.
I keep adding gadgets and gizmos, but I’d say the total investment to date is $5,000. That’s a very small investment to be able to produce the quality of content we have.
Q5: If we’re reading your LinkedIn profile correctly, you’re the director of business development at MCL, you host a morning sports talk show on radio, and you own a coffee shop. When do you sleep?
A: It should also say I have four kids ranging in age from 16 all the way down to 5. Believe it or not, my schedule is a lot lighter now than it was three years ago. I’m finally getting six to seven hours of sleep a night! It’s all good. In fact, it’s never been better.
This post, originally published on Hanley Wood Marketing’s Content Is Marketing blog, is cross-posted here for subscribers to Touch Point City. For more marketing ideas and insights from my colleagues at HWM, be sure and subscribe to Content Is Marketing.