From working in-house for major corps to launching her own content agency, Shelley Hoppe is an ambitious woman – not to mention creative, eclectic, passionate, inspiring and ‘jazzy’ according to a team member (seriously, she could be the content marketing industry’s answer to Beyoncé).
But above all else, she’s Southerly’s top boss lady. Since 2009, Shelley has used her smarts to bag an impressive range of clients including Shell, RBS and assorted parts of the UK Government. She’s also put in the work to ensure her company is a friendly, sociable and supportive workplace for her employees.
We caught up with her to find out what she loves about her job and her thoughts on content marketing in 2018.
What do you enjoy most about your job as the founder and CEO of Southerly?
For me, I like the variety. I’m a person that gets bored really easily. When I used to do in-house corporate jobs, I found that I don’t like to get stagnant, I don’t like to do the same things over and over again. So, one of the things I love about content agency life is lots of different clients, lots of different challenges, lots of different goals and aims and sort of the detective work of trying to figure out what people want.
How is Southerly different from other content marketing agencies?
We are incredibly flexible. The way we measure our time and report on jobs means we can, and we do (for a few of our clients), work within a set retainer but deliver completely different services every month. That’s how flexible our systems are, but also, that’s very much a philosophy of ours, that we want to work in an agile way, because we know that everything is constantly changing. There’s no way we’d want to deliver a strategy that seemed right four months ago, but it’s now stagnated or the world or market has moved on.
Another thing I think that’s different about us is we really think both holistically and digitally about content. There are a few other content agencies out there that have been around for a long time that I think have got some legacy publishing systems and approaches. I’m not saying these aren’t valid, because they are. Old school marketing still has a place in the modern marketing mix. But I think there are some suppliers trying to modernise an old way of doing things, rather than doing things in a completely new way.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your role that you would offer to clients?
The biggest lesson I would say is, don’t second guess your audience. Don’t think you know how they’re going to react because you don’t. I recommend you test and learn and listen to your audience. Try a few ways of engaging your audience, see what they respond to, see what they like, and then evolve with them. Don’t try to force your strategy on them and if it’s not working, just carry on. Be agile and adapt.
What’s your favourite area of marketing?
There’s one thing I love that hasn’t been harnessed fully yet; and that’s working with employees on external marketing campaigns. Bringing the inside out. We’ve done a lot of work recently on helping companies communicate externally what it’s like inside a big company. I think brand and employee ambassador programmes are the next big things that companies are going to need to get right. You can’t actually separate your internal from your external anymore, and that’s just going be a trend that increases. If you’re launching a big external marketing campaign that is telling your customers about something new and you haven’t told your employees about it or haven’t asked them to help you with it, you’re behind the curve. That’s something that I’d love to help more companies with, thinking about how to bring the internal out.
Finally, what do you hope to see this year in the world of content marketing?
There’s so much out there, so I’d love to see clients being a bit ‘less is more’. So just saying, ‘you know what? There’s hundreds of things we could be doing, but we’re going to focus on a few key ones that we think are right for our business and for our customers and for our employees. We’re going to find the right tools and the right technology to help us with these three or four things, so we’re not going to try to do everything. We’re just going to consolidate and focus on delivering’.
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