Content marketing advice from the best: An interview with Lieberman Software
By Stephen Reilly
- Lieberman Software ranked 5th in our Inbound Marketing Top 50 report
- Highly ranked for the strength of their website and blog
- Interview with Director of Marketing, Jane Grafton and Marketing & Comms Manager Kevin Franks to gains some advice and insight on putting together a slick marketing operation
C oming in fifth place in the 2016 edition of the Top 50 Inbound Marketing Excellence report was Lieberman Software. So, why did they score so highly and what’s the secret to their inbound marketing success?
We already know that a big reason for their high ranking was the strength of both their website (73/100) and blog (an even more impressive, 87/100). We called up Jane Grafton and Kevin Franks – Director of Marketing and Marketing Communications Manager at Lieberman, respectively – to see how they went about putting together such a slick marketing operation.
Perhaps we could start with a brief background of Lieberman Software and how your online publication, Identity Week, came into being?
Kevin Franks: “When we first started the blog, one of our main goals was to do less direct company promotions and more raising awareness of the niche that we’re in, in the cyber security market. At the time we started this blog, about six years ago, there was some uncertainty about what the Privilege Identity management market—as it’s called—really is, so we wanted to start a blog that would be educational and tell people what these types of products do and why they’re needed; what’s the unique differentiator that our type of product does versus all the other security products in the market.
So, we started looking for ways that our product fit in with a lot of the cybersecurity news stories going on at the time—the hacks that you might hear about and what’s behind the hacks—and discuss what we give you as a way to prevent that. So, it was, in a way, a ‘soft sell’ of what we do.“
Jane Grafton: “Also, it should be added that it was an opportunity to do some cross pollination and build good backlinks to enhance our SEO and get us up the search rankings.“
How do you generate new ideas for your blog?
Kevin: “Well, a lot of it, certainly at the beginning, was a certain amount of ‘news-jacking’: where you find a current event—for us it’s a data breach that’s in the news—then you write about that breach with your own niche or angle. That’s probably the main thing. Also, there’s a focus at our company on different things now than when we started. The cloud and the Internet of things (IoT) would be good examples of that. So more of our blog posts now reflect more cloud-focused and IoT issues, in addition to continuing to look for current events that align with what we do as a business.“
What Lieberman Software does is specific. Was it easy, then, to determine your target audience?
Kevin: “It was relatively easy for us to determine our target market. There’s largely an overlap of those who are reading our blog and customers who are buying Lieberman Software products so that made it a lot easier. But then there’s others things; like, those who are reading IT media, to a certain degree are our audience as well. Some of our posts have been republished in different IT security magazines and online publications, etc. So, there’s that aspect of the audience, too.“
You’ve clearly got a content strategy in place. At the beginning, did you ever struggle to form a consistent style?
Kevin: “I don’t know if it was very difficult, but like anything, at the beginning it was a challenge. One of the issues that kept coming up was generating enough content to get two posts a week—even three. When you’re first starting it’s a new assignment that you take on and have to make time for. And for the article or post to be meaningful it requires getting valuable information from our security experts here in the company, and being able to turn that information into an engaging post. So, when you start, it can be difficult because you have to work across departments [to get this information], often with people who have busy schedules, so there can be coordination issues. But after doing it for a while, you can get into the right rhythm and a schedule that works for everyone.“
How strict is your content strategy?
Kevin:“I don’t think there’s necessarily a strict structure to it. We do have a loose editorial calendar planned out a little in advance, and we know generally the types of topics we want to write about. And then, in the news cycle, things that are in our realm bubble up and become something that we might pop in immediately in our calendar. I read something by David Meerman Scott that I found really good regarding our new online-dominant world and the opportunity for companies to think like a publisher in what they are doing. That by having your own online community, you don’t have to rely on the traditional news media—that you can put out the content that you want, for the world to see, in your own format. Whether it’s interviews with executives you can turn that into long-form articles, or shorter blog posts or whitepapers… whatever it might be. So, you can kind of control your own way of messaging the world without having to rely on external parties.“
Jane: “Plus, there are two consistent places where you do get content: one is from the surveys you do at trade shows and events which trim into very good content that seems to do well both on the blog and on our website. And two is the ‘Top of Mind’ for our newsletter.“
Kevin: “Yes, that’s absolutely right. And I guess it goes back to what you were asking before about our audience. One thing we do, two or three times a year at the trade shows we attend, is surveys among the attendees there. Largely speaking, those in attendance at these trade shows are in our target market. So, we are surveying them on topics that might have an impact or an interest in their line of work. We’ll take those surveys and spin them out into different things, like articles, press releases, etc. The latest one we did was from a recent show focusing on a cloud security topic, which is becoming more and more important for us at the company.
And as Jane mentioned, our monthly newsletter goes out to our customers and subscriber list. A mainstay of that is a column written by one of our executives and those columns are very good to use for other content [blogs and whitepapers, etc].“
In the Microsoft Partner Network, we find many partners struggle to maintain and regularly update their blog (and content marketing in general). What’s the one piece of advice you’d recommend for starting a blog?
Kevin: “I think it would be having something to say. Not focusing on what your products do. But look for broader issues that are of interest to your community in general and focus on those. If you can get people who read your content to like it, then that will lead in to a more direct type of interest in what you are doing as a company, which will naturally generate more leads. A lot of the traffic that we generate to the site is through the social media outreach that we do too. So, that’s a big part of it now. “
Thanks to Kevin Franks, Jane Grafton and Lieberman Software for taking part in our interview. We hope their advice on focusing your content more effectively will increase your readership and help you drive leads.