Bredin Report: Q&A: How a Leading Marketer Uses Data in SMB Content

In a recent Bredin Fastcast, our CEO Stu Richards talked with Mackenzie Pedroza, Director of Marketing at Brightflow AI, about the best ways to use data to improve the performance of SMB-facing content. Brightflow AI is a fintech platform that helps SMBs take control of their cash flow and marketing performance.

Pedroza shared her experience developing and using data-driven content to reach SMB decision-makers and getting coverage in the business media.

Stu Richards: Bredin research shows that peer insights are one of the most valuable resources for SMBs when researching new products. How important have peer insights been in your content marketing?

Mackenzie Pedroza: Peer data is huge. For example, when I was senior marketing manager for QuickBooks U.S. at Intuit, accountants were our main audience. Accountants are typically sole proprietors and see their peers as competitors. Research enabled us to give them benchmarking data on things like how others in their field were setting rates or focusing their business. It gave them insights they couldn’t get otherwise if they didn’t have a network of trusted peers.

Richards: How important is content in your SMB marketing strategy?

Pedroza: Content is super critical. And data helps our content be useful in enabling our customers and prospects to make decisions, save and make more money, and advocate for themselves with senior management. For an established industry leader like QuickBooks, high quality is expected. For a newer company like Brightflow AI, data-driven content helps us earn credibility and build trust. It helps us prove our value even before someone begins working with us.

Richards: What content formats lend themselves best to using data?

Pedroza: We use a wide variety of content formats. Guides and whitepapers are great for generating new leads. From these, we can spin off things like checklists or articles. We typically create webinars and videos based on the guide content, and also use the data to generate interest for conference speaking opportunities.

Richards: What is the shelf life of content created with research data?

Pedroza: We try to stretch things out and create content that is as evergreen as possible. For example, we might start by creating a whitepaper and feature it as a gated lead gen asset for a few months. Then, we turn the information into an ungated page on our website to drive results for organic keywords. So far, we’ve created eight pieces of content from a market volatility survey we conducted last fall, including a guide, a checklist, internal and external articles, a webinar, a video, and a speaker pitch that resulted in our CEO being offered a keynote. Next, we’ll be taking verbatims from responses to open-ended questions and turning those into a guide. As we dive further into the insight, we see a lot of great information that can offer real value in prospecting campaigns.

Richards: When you develop a research-based campaign, are you integrating social and PR into the mix?

Pedroza: Yes. Every piece of content that we create that isn’t exclusive to our customers we push out via social. Sharing individual data points in posts is another way to stretch out the lifespan of your content. We do a press release and pitch journalists with the survey results, sometimes offering exclusives. For one campaign we partnered with a contributor to Entrepreneur, and we were able to place survey results into his article. This resulted in a strong backlink in the article to our website, which was super helpful from an SEO and PR perspective.

Richards: What are some ways to get the media interested in your research?

Pedroza: Whenever possible, tie your research to what is happening in the news. Every journalist is looking for their own angle on current events, and your survey could give them a unique perspective. Offer reporters quotes from subject matter experts, such as your own executives or customers, to help flesh out the story. Reach out to not just big publications but your industry’s trade media. If you provide them with valuable material, you’ll build a network of journalists who will come to you in the future, because they see you as a trusted resource.

Richards: What are some best practices for developing a research plan?

Pedroza: Imagine in a perfect world what you’d like to see at the end of the project and work your way back. You can’t manufacture results, but knowing what you’d like to see will help you ask the right questions. Also, ask the most important questions at the top of the survey. And don’t forget to ask different stakeholders in your organization — such as product development or engineering — what they would like to ask. These results can be valuable internally, even if they’re not useful for marketing purposes. And, as a bonus, having other teams invested in the survey’s outcome can help you sell senior management on the cost of funding the research.

Need help understanding and/or engaging SMBs? Bredin can keep you up to date on evolving SMB needs and challenges through quick-turn, actionable market research. We can also help you develop high-value content and social posts to boost SMB awareness, brand perception, leads, conversion and revenue.

Related Articles:

About Bredin

Bredin was founded in 1991 by America's foremost small business expert, author and syndicated columnist Alice Bredin. From its beginning, Bredin was designed to be a breed apart: 50% research consultancy, 50% creative agency, 100% focused on SMB. Based in Somerville, Mass., Bredin helps Fortune 500 companies understand, reach and retain SMB customers through timely, targeted research and award-winning marketing programs.