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How to Learn Your Client’s Industry (Without Knowing Everything)

How to Learn Your Client’s Industry (Without Knowing Everything)

Would you say you’re well-versed in zoology, construction, and acupuncture?

You might be familiar with one if you’re lucky, but odds are you’re not an expert at these three subjects. That’s okay, because it’s expected: it’s impossible for someone to know everything.

Here at BlueGlass, we’re great marketers, thinkers, creators, communicators, and more. However, we can’t pretend to be experts in paleontology, astrology, and every other subject in the world and  its presence on the Internet.

That’s why we make it a priority to learn…

When it comes to our clients, who are from many different industries, we’ve mastered the craft of understanding a client’s work, researching what we need to know, communicating it effectively, and turning our new-found knowledge into results. It’s an involved mission we engage in each and every day.

So how does it work? At BlueGlass, it’s broken down into three stages:

This post will delve into the process during each stage and allow you to see how almost every person at our company has to contribute to reach this goal. When we reach it, though, we see fantastic results, and every second of effort is worth it.

1. Strategy

For insight into this part of the process, I spoke to Selena Narayanasamy, the Director of Strategy Development at BlueGlass. When it comes to strategy, it’s not only about knowing exactly what the clients do —  it’s also about becoming extremely knowledgable about the online space they occupy.

“Becoming familiar with a client and their business is extremely important,” Selena said. “Until you know the ins and outs of the client’s company and vertical, you can’t put together a strong and sustainable strategy that will help them gain visibility in the long run. We want something that works; not something that creates a short burst with no residual effect. ”

Get Their Story

To start, Selena listens to the clients and lets them tell their story. She has a whole slew of questions that vary depending on how familiar she is with the landscape and what she’s already uncovered prior to the initial meeting.

Some basic questions include:

  • What they feel will help them attain their goals 
  • Their most profitable sectors
  • Previous strategies attempted
  • Company pain points
  • General industry struggles
  • Company partnerships and relationships that can be leveraged
  • Most profitable keywords from a conversion and revenue standpoint
  • What they consider a conversion point
  • How they feel potential consumers find them online from a search perspective

These are just some examples that scratch the surface. The more you can understand about the client’s business model and how other businesses function and generate profit in the industry, the more your strategy will be an integral part of growing their business initiatives.

With this information, Selena and the rest of the strategy team can get an understanding of the client’s goals, the online landscape of that particular industry, and the company’s strengths. This can be a useful starting point for then jumping into analytics to understand user behavior in the client’s space.

Know the Competition

Once they’ve gotten a handle on what the client has tried already and why it might not have worked, they can move on to competitive research to discover what will work.

Competitive research involves investigating what others in the space have been doing to gain organic traction and brand visibility- from link building tactics and strategies, profiling backlinks, blogging strategy, social strategy, and more. There are many different facets that go into this research with straight data diving once the above information begins to paint a picture.

If you’d like to learn more about Selena’s investigative tactics, check out her post on competitive research.

2. Production

Now we’re in my territory â€” the production department. Writers (like me) take what the strategy and ideation teams come up with and turn it into content.

However, before the writing begins, the production team has to be informed about the client in three different ways:

  1. Branding style
  2. Overall message
  3. Marketing goals

This information generally comes from Selena’s team and assists the writers in creating content that truly represents the client. Without communicating the right message, the client won’t be represented properly in the industry, and without knowing the marketing goals, writers won’t understand who the target audience is or have an idea as to where the content will be placed.

Having this information in mind is essential because all content should have an intended audience, and without considering that audience, the content will be lost in a sea of clutter that doesn’t provide any value.

Scour the Industry’s Popular Content

Once I thoroughly understand who the client is and what the client wants, I study the industry and see what type of content already exists in that space. It’s important to seek out what type of information is valued as well as what type of content receives a positive response:

  • What are popular industry bloggers saying?
  • What types of relevant infographics get the most shares?
  • What’s on the front page of related subreddits?

Reading industry content also gives us a better grip of the styles, tones, lingo, and subject matter that are common in the industry’s space, allowing us to create articles and infographics that fit into the category we’re targeting.

Rely On Top Sources

When it’s time to actually write the content, we have all of the above in mind while we gather relevant research to support what we create. Using professional, respected, and accurate sources is vital to generating text audiences will read, trust, and appreciate (and thus helping the content to succeed).

I seek out and study credible sources for the same reason I interviewed other BlueGlassers for this post; I’m familiar with every aspect of BlueGlass’ service offerings, but I won’t claim to be an expert. My priority is making sure I get the best and most accurate information and deliver it to you —Ã‚ the audience â€” no matter what it takes.

3. Outreach

And now for the grand finale. Once we’ve strategized and created content, it’s time to pitch it to relevant blogs and websites that would get value out of posting it. For this, I spoke with Chris Tynski, our Director of Content Promotion.

Understand the Audience

One of the most important goals of the promotions and outreach department consists of establishing relationships with blogs and websites.

When participating in the outreach process, pitches seek to demonstrate our knowledge of the subject matter and of the people who would most appreciate the content.

“We make sure the content we’re pitching is directly related to the interests of their audiences,” Chris said. “We will not pitch unrelated content —Ã‚ ever.”

Chris stressed it’s important for pitches to convey that the content being offered relates to content posted on the site, whether it was recently or in the past. The pitch’s purpose is to communicate to potential publishers that our content would be a value to the site’s readers.

All of this can only be done if the content fits with the publisher and the client (cue strategy and production!). See, ladies and gentlemen, I told you this post would make sense.

Match Client Goals with the Site

When deciding on who to pitch content to, the outreach team also has to take into consideration the client’s goals: Does the client want to increase traffic, build links, expand brand visibility, something else, or a combination of them all? Placement on different websites corresponds to different ambitions, so it’s always on the mind of those responsible for outreach.

In addition to what the client communicates to us, the outreach team does internal research to see if they can identify any possible opportunities that are in-line with the client’s general goals.

To learn more about how Chris’ team gets to know bloggers within a client’s vertical, read this post about 6 influential bloggers worth connecting with.

Conclusion

You can see how it all ties together. The outreach team can’t pitch our work successfully if the production department didn’t create content relevant to the client and the industry, and the production department’s content would be off-base if the strategy department didn’t thoroughly understand the clients and their goals.

What tips do you have for understanding clients and their verticals?

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  • Exclusive access to the latest tools, tips and must-read posts.From people who have been doing this for years…
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Comments

  1. Anthony Pensabene says:

    This is well written; incorporating different team members to strengthen the literal message was a nice touch! It’s absolutely necessary to immerse in the vertical, to become a student. It allows for all the insights elucidated above and helps determine the necessary in-house resources needed to efficiently address the client’s needs in the respective vertical. Keeping ‘track’ of trends, personalities, and resources helps incorporate people who may become ‘new’ to the client and that space.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, Anthony! I definitely agree — keeping up with relevant news and trends can really help someone new to a particular vertical learn about the subject area.

  2. It’s important to understand the client and their background when getting started with their marketing. I ask clients to fill out a comprehensive form to get started and keep them in the loop when big decisions are made.

    • We ask clients to fill out a comprehensive survey, as well. What I mentioned in my post is just a portion of what we ask the client, and we continue to follow up based on their answers. We strive for constant open communication. Thanks for reading!

  3. Joe Ward says:

    Do you ever meet with a sampling of your client’s clients? I like to understand the characteristics of who I’m writing *to* as well as *for*, in an attempt to achieve all of the marketing objectives, but still resonate primarily with the target reader. Of course, this is much easier with larger, enterprise clients. Online, it’s more of a behind-the-keyboard research exercise. =)

    • It depends on which client we’re working with. Some clients prefer providing the information to us, while others are comfortable with our team contacting their clients if the information’s pertinent to the creation of our strategy. Every client has a different type of audience, as well, and for many of them, outreach and promotion is important (which means a more general audience is targeted anyway). Thanks for the question!

  4. Bill Bean says:

    Amanda, getting to know a client and their industry is such a critical component of long term success. Many times we discover things about their industry they didn’t know themselves. This is a big reason why we prefer long term client relationships (does anyone not?). The longer we work with someone and within their industry sector or niche, the better work we can do.
    Hadn’t thought of the subreddit thing. Sometime I miss the obvious. Thanks for that tip!

    • It’s a great experience to work with clients in the long-term. Not only can you strive to keep on increasing your knowledge of the vertical, you can also see the changing trends within your client’s industry and work to produce content that’s one step ahead of the curve.

      Glad the subreddit tip was useful. :) I’m a pretty avid Redditor, and it always helps me keep up with trending topics.

  5. Keeping the client’s industry makes for more nuanced content and results. It makes sure that any work that you turn up for the client is hinged on what they actually do.

  6. Great post. As you have mentioned establishing relationships with blogs and websites is a very important and never ending process, and if carried out properly can generate traffic and popularity in a short span of time.

    Thanks for sharing.

How to Learn Your Client's Industry (Without Knowing Everything)
e

Like what you see? Let's talk about how we can help your business. Contact Us -->

How to Learn Your Client’s Industry (Without Knowing Everything)

How to Learn Your Client’s Industry (Without Knowing Everything)

Would you say you’re well-versed in zoology, construction, and acupuncture?

You might be familiar with one if you’re lucky, but odds are you’re not an expert at these three subjects. That’s okay, because it’s expected: it’s impossible for someone to know everything.

Here at BlueGlass, we’re great marketers, thinkers, creators, communicators, and more. However, we can’t pretend to be experts in paleontology, astrology, and every other subject in the world and  its presence on the Internet.

That’s why we make it a priority to learn…

When it comes to our clients, who are from many different industries, we’ve mastered the craft of understanding a client’s work, researching what we need to know, communicating it effectively, and turning our new-found knowledge into results. It’s an involved mission we engage in each and every day.

So how does it work? At BlueGlass, it’s broken down into three stages:

This post will delve into the process during each stage and allow you to see how almost every person at our company has to contribute to reach this goal. When we reach it, though, we see fantastic results, and every second of effort is worth it.

1. Strategy

For insight into this part of the process, I spoke to Selena Narayanasamy, the Director of Strategy Development at BlueGlass. When it comes to strategy, it’s not only about knowing exactly what the clients do —  it’s also about becoming extremely knowledgable about the online space they occupy.

“Becoming familiar with a client and their business is extremely important,” Selena said. “Until you know the ins and outs of the client’s company and vertical, you can’t put together a strong and sustainable strategy that will help them gain visibility in the long run. We want something that works; not something that creates a short burst with no residual effect. ”

Get Their Story

To start, Selena listens to the clients and lets them tell their story. She has a whole slew of questions that vary depending on how familiar she is with the landscape and what she’s already uncovered prior to the initial meeting.

Some basic questions include:

  • What they feel will help them attain their goals 
  • Their most profitable sectors
  • Previous strategies attempted
  • Company pain points
  • General industry struggles
  • Company partnerships and relationships that can be leveraged
  • Most profitable keywords from a conversion and revenue standpoint
  • What they consider a conversion point
  • How they feel potential consumers find them online from a search perspective

These are just some examples that scratch the surface. The more you can understand about the client’s business model and how other businesses function and generate profit in the industry, the more your strategy will be an integral part of growing their business initiatives.

With this information, Selena and the rest of the strategy team can get an understanding of the client’s goals, the online landscape of that particular industry, and the company’s strengths. This can be a useful starting point for then jumping into analytics to understand user behavior in the client’s space.

Know the Competition

Once they’ve gotten a handle on what the client has tried already and why it might not have worked, they can move on to competitive research to discover what will work.

Competitive research involves investigating what others in the space have been doing to gain organic traction and brand visibility- from link building tactics and strategies, profiling backlinks, blogging strategy, social strategy, and more. There are many different facets that go into this research with straight data diving once the above information begins to paint a picture.

If you’d like to learn more about Selena’s investigative tactics, check out her post on competitive research.

2. Production

Now we’re in my territory â€” the production department. Writers (like me) take what the strategy and ideation teams come up with and turn it into content.

However, before the writing begins, the production team has to be informed about the client in three different ways:

  1. Branding style
  2. Overall message
  3. Marketing goals

This information generally comes from Selena’s team and assists the writers in creating content that truly represents the client. Without communicating the right message, the client won’t be represented properly in the industry, and without knowing the marketing goals, writers won’t understand who the target audience is or have an idea as to where the content will be placed.

Having this information in mind is essential because all content should have an intended audience, and without considering that audience, the content will be lost in a sea of clutter that doesn’t provide any value.

Scour the Industry’s Popular Content

Once I thoroughly understand who the client is and what the client wants, I study the industry and see what type of content already exists in that space. It’s important to seek out what type of information is valued as well as what type of content receives a positive response:

  • What are popular industry bloggers saying?
  • What types of relevant infographics get the most shares?
  • What’s on the front page of related subreddits?

Reading industry content also gives us a better grip of the styles, tones, lingo, and subject matter that are common in the industry’s space, allowing us to create articles and infographics that fit into the category we’re targeting.

Rely On Top Sources

When it’s time to actually write the content, we have all of the above in mind while we gather relevant research to support what we create. Using professional, respected, and accurate sources is vital to generating text audiences will read, trust, and appreciate (and thus helping the content to succeed).

I seek out and study credible sources for the same reason I interviewed other BlueGlassers for this post; I’m familiar with every aspect of BlueGlass’ service offerings, but I won’t claim to be an expert. My priority is making sure I get the best and most accurate information and deliver it to you —Ã‚ the audience â€” no matter what it takes.

3. Outreach

And now for the grand finale. Once we’ve strategized and created content, it’s time to pitch it to relevant blogs and websites that would get value out of posting it. For this, I spoke with Chris Tynski, our Director of Content Promotion.

Understand the Audience

One of the most important goals of the promotions and outreach department consists of establishing relationships with blogs and websites.

When participating in the outreach process, pitches seek to demonstrate our knowledge of the subject matter and of the people who would most appreciate the content.

“We make sure the content we’re pitching is directly related to the interests of their audiences,” Chris said. “We will not pitch unrelated content —Ã‚ ever.”

Chris stressed it’s important for pitches to convey that the content being offered relates to content posted on the site, whether it was recently or in the past. The pitch’s purpose is to communicate to potential publishers that our content would be a value to the site’s readers.

All of this can only be done if the content fits with the publisher and the client (cue strategy and production!). See, ladies and gentlemen, I told you this post would make sense.

Match Client Goals with the Site

When deciding on who to pitch content to, the outreach team also has to take into consideration the client’s goals: Does the client want to increase traffic, build links, expand brand visibility, something else, or a combination of them all? Placement on different websites corresponds to different ambitions, so it’s always on the mind of those responsible for outreach.

In addition to what the client communicates to us, the outreach team does internal research to see if they can identify any possible opportunities that are in-line with the client’s general goals.

To learn more about how Chris’ team gets to know bloggers within a client’s vertical, read this post about 6 influential bloggers worth connecting with.

Conclusion

You can see how it all ties together. The outreach team can’t pitch our work successfully if the production department didn’t create content relevant to the client and the industry, and the production department’s content would be off-base if the strategy department didn’t thoroughly understand the clients and their goals.

What tips do you have for understanding clients and their verticals?

Want to Get Inside?

Become a BlueGlass Insider Today!

  • Be the first to know about BlueGlass events, meetups, and surprise releases. Before they’re made public…
  • Exclusive access to the latest tools, tips and must-read posts.From people who have been doing this for years…
  • Insider perspective on the latest trends in digital marketing. Info that you won’t get anywhere else…

Enter your email below to join for free!




Comments

  1. Anthony Pensabene says:

    This is well written; incorporating different team members to strengthen the literal message was a nice touch! It’s absolutely necessary to immerse in the vertical, to become a student. It allows for all the insights elucidated above and helps determine the necessary in-house resources needed to efficiently address the client’s needs in the respective vertical. Keeping ‘track’ of trends, personalities, and resources helps incorporate people who may become ‘new’ to the client and that space.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, Anthony! I definitely agree — keeping up with relevant news and trends can really help someone new to a particular vertical learn about the subject area.

  2. It’s important to understand the client and their background when getting started with their marketing. I ask clients to fill out a comprehensive form to get started and keep them in the loop when big decisions are made.

    • We ask clients to fill out a comprehensive survey, as well. What I mentioned in my post is just a portion of what we ask the client, and we continue to follow up based on their answers. We strive for constant open communication. Thanks for reading!

  3. Joe Ward says:

    Do you ever meet with a sampling of your client’s clients? I like to understand the characteristics of who I’m writing *to* as well as *for*, in an attempt to achieve all of the marketing objectives, but still resonate primarily with the target reader. Of course, this is much easier with larger, enterprise clients. Online, it’s more of a behind-the-keyboard research exercise. =)

    • It depends on which client we’re working with. Some clients prefer providing the information to us, while others are comfortable with our team contacting their clients if the information’s pertinent to the creation of our strategy. Every client has a different type of audience, as well, and for many of them, outreach and promotion is important (which means a more general audience is targeted anyway). Thanks for the question!

  4. Bill Bean says:

    Amanda, getting to know a client and their industry is such a critical component of long term success. Many times we discover things about their industry they didn’t know themselves. This is a big reason why we prefer long term client relationships (does anyone not?). The longer we work with someone and within their industry sector or niche, the better work we can do.
    Hadn’t thought of the subreddit thing. Sometime I miss the obvious. Thanks for that tip!

    • It’s a great experience to work with clients in the long-term. Not only can you strive to keep on increasing your knowledge of the vertical, you can also see the changing trends within your client’s industry and work to produce content that’s one step ahead of the curve.

      Glad the subreddit tip was useful. :) I’m a pretty avid Redditor, and it always helps me keep up with trending topics.

  5. Keeping the client’s industry makes for more nuanced content and results. It makes sure that any work that you turn up for the client is hinged on what they actually do.

  6. Great post. As you have mentioned establishing relationships with blogs and websites is a very important and never ending process, and if carried out properly can generate traffic and popularity in a short span of time.

    Thanks for sharing.