Content Marketing For Social Enterprises

By Russ Stoddard / Mar 28, 2017

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Just how does a branding agency in Boise, Idaho, gain a new client that’s an international online giving community based 14 time zones away in Singapore?

Two Words: Content Marketing.

A few years ago, our branding agency bought into content marketing as the best strategy to reach purpose-driven social enterprises beyond our home base of Boise, Idaho.

Content marketing is a serious investment for sure—designing a new website for marketing automation, creating consistently deep and frequent content, managing inbound leads and website analytics, and promoting your content using tools from e-newsletters to social media.

It’s a lot of work, but it works.

To give you an understanding of just how it works, I’ll share the process we used to connect with B1G1, a global business giving initiative with a mission to create a world full of giving.

B1G1 847 Darkened

B1G1 Project

Content Marketing is a Process

It started in September of 2015 with a provocatively titled blog we published called “It’s Time to Kill Cause Marketing.”

The title alone was a pretty decent carrot, but we didn’t simply rely on our own social networks and email lists to promote it. We invested in a marketing program with Triple Pundit that drove significant traffic to our website.

We also got a singular email from Singapore, from one Paul Dunn. Paul and his wife, Masami Sato, are co-founders of B1G1. Paul wrote to say he was intrigued by our take on cause marketing, which aligned with his views. Would I care to have a phone conversation about it? Hell yes, I would. 

B1G1

B1G1 Co-founders Masami Sato & Paul Dunn

We had a great conversation via Zoom video and web conferencing (the latter of which Paul was good enough to introduce me to and which has become great tool for our agency). Paul came across as bright, experienced, and thoroughly engaging. Masami and he had a purpose—to change the world through small-business giving. What’s not to love about an opportunity for a Trans-oceanic conversation with a person like Paul, with a purpose like that?

Content Marketing Takes Time

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  • Should be Empty:
  • I thought it would end there, no real chance to bend an ear over a bent elbow and a beer, and it did go quiet for a while, though we occasionally bounced items of interest back and forth via email or direct message on LinkedIn.

    Several months later, Paul emailed to ask if I’d speak via Zoom to the annual B1G1 Member Conference to be held in Bali. Pity I couldn’t actually attend, but I did share my thoughts with B1G1 members on how to build a socially conscious business and had a wonderful time doing so.

    To timestamp the process, this was in June of 2016, eight months after we’d initially spoken.

    Several weeks later, Paul tapped out a message to me wanting to discuss a re-branding assignment for B1G1. After about a month or so of back and forth around strategy and project parameters, we gained a fantastic new client that fits with our focus area of social enterprises—almost exactly a year from Paul’s first email.

    That was about six months ago, and we’re excited to unveil our rebranding and web design work for B1G1 in the near future.

    B1G1 605

    B1G1 Project

    Content Marketing Makes Connections

    But that’s not the point of this story. Our aim is to show how a company from Idaho could market its way beyond Boise to connect with a new client in an internationally sophisticated city such as Singapore, 14 time zones away, through late night meetings for us and early morning meetings for B1G1.

    Mind you, we’ve still never met Paul and Masami in person. (Though, we’re planning to meet them this June in Miami as they hold their first-ever North American member event in celebration of B1G1’s 10th Anniversary.) Yet Paul and Masami entrusted us with a major assignment and budget for their growing online community of small businesses. And they gained that trust in us through our intentional actions as a certified B Corporation business, our deep thought leadership around content marketing for social enterprise, and several fun get-to-know-you Zoom video conferences. (And yes, they were also fans of our branding and web design as well.)

    It’s interesting to note that even with the technological connection that brought us together, B1G1’s perspective on the marketing process indicates that content marketing still requires a human touch. Here are excerpts from an email that Masami sent along with her signed client contract:

    “Just so that you can understand what made us choose you (I thought it might be useful for you to know these):

    • You made nice caring updates throughout our communications.
    • You kept to your promise each time (e.g. letting us know when you’d get back to us and you followed through).
    • There is a structure in your work style but it’s simple.
    • We liked the examples you shared.
    • You are confident, yet very down-to-earth.
    • We also liked the fixed pricing approach rather than time billing.

    And because both Paul and I felt that we like you as a person.”

    B1G1 Business for Good

    You can bet we’ll be sure to let you know when our new work for B1G1 launches.

    In the meantime, if you’re looking for an easy and effective way to incorporate business giving into your small business, we can’t recommend B1G1 highly enough. (Confession: We’ve become B1G1 members and are now using our business to create giving impacts ranging from providing school books for children in Cambodia to micro-loans for women entrepreneurs in Malawi.) Go ahead and give a little—it’ll mean a world to your employees, your customers, those in need, and at the end of the day, to you as well. It feels pretty damn good.

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    Thumbnails People Russ Stoddard

    Russ Stoddard

    Russ started Oliver Russell in 1991. He’s committed his career (nearly 30 years) to social responsibility, first inside the corporate world and then as an entrepreneur who’s started four companies and five nonprofit causes. Russ is the author of "Rise Up - How to Build a Socially Conscious Business," and his creative work has been honored with local, regional, and national creative awards. These days, Russ focuses on brand strategy for clients, spreading the Certified B Corp love, and connecting kindred spirits to multiply social impact.