Content Strategy

Verizon’s Colleen Brooks on Creating an Organization-Wide Content Strategy

By Skyword Staff on May 28, 2021

Verizon Business Group is a global B2B business with multiple audiences across multiple product lines and geographies. Achieving differentiation at this scale requires incredible speed and agility.

Colleen Brooks, Director of Digital Marketing at Verizon Business Group, spoke with Skyword's Senior Vice President of Strategy, Dan Baptiste, about how the Verizon team has built an organization-wide content strategy and implemented a research-driven top-of-funnel approach that keeps their audience engaged early and often in the sales funnel. Take a look at the full interview video or the transcript below for more insights into her strategy.

Note: this transcript has been edited for concision and clarity.

Q: Colleen, let's start by digging into your business and the customers you're going after. Who are they? And how do you think about them?

Colleen Brooks: So I sit on the B2B side of Verizon. We're known as the Verizon Business Group. We have multiple audiences across multiple product lines and multiple geographies. We're a global business. We serve enterprise, small business and public sector, and we support a variety of industries who all have very specific needs. On top of all that complexity, we've expanded our target persona. Historically, we've sold to IT stakeholders. But given how technology is radically transforming business, we now have to speak directly to business stakeholders as well. Speaking to that new buyer persona requires new value propositions, new styles of communication and different styles of content. It also puts a lot on the plates of our sales teams who need the power to flex expertise in all areas of our customers' organizations.

Q: So as you look at that dynamic, what are some of the key challenges that your prospects and customers face that you're looking to solve for?

Colleen Brooks: The pace of the changes is overwhelming. They're under pressure to make the right technology decisions, and these are long-term decisions in order to set up their success. So they're asking, "What should I be doing now? What should I be thinking of next? And where is this all headed long term for me and my industry?"

Q: So it sounds a lot like consulting work, right? The sales team has to come in and be subject matter experts, listen to the customers, and really apply solutions versus sell specific products. How has this demand for, essentially, consulting work shaped your approach to content?

Colleen Brooks: Well, it became clear that our content strategy needed to meet prospects where they are, providing guidance in early research before they're even in the funnel, and carry them all the way through the sales funnel. We needed to partner with sales—first and foremost—to get clarity on what they're hearing. And then we also needed to turn to Google to see what questions our prospects are asking. Then we speak to both areas with high value content.

This approach not only satisfies the demand for information and guidance, but also draws prospects into us via search, all the while building trust and credibility with every interaction, which is so key. This collaborative, insights-driven approach allows us to bring in Verizon solutions when appropriate, to address the meaningful challenges and opportunities our prospects are researching, and keep them coming back for more.

We apply the same philosophy to the distribution of our content. We partner with teams across the organization—social, email, PR, website merchandising and paid media—to help with that distribution, and also ensure all of our channels are creating value for our customer and our prospects. To ensure we're all in lockstep, we started having strategy meetings to get all of our key Verizon stakeholders across our functional business areas together, and we mapped out strategy, assets, campaigns, key messaging, and more.

Q: I want to dig into that last point. I've seen a lot over the last 10 years in the enterprise content space, and I've been blown away at how you've taken folks from multiple functional areas within the business, multiple industries, multiple responsibilities, content pillars, job responsibilities, sales functions, and you've brought everyone together on the same same page, same playbook operating in a way that is creating momentum for the business, all in a matter of really three to six months. So for those of us who are working in complex organizations or have lots of audiences that's largely felt out of reach, because you focused on the job that you have at hand versus a unified organization working together. So how did you do it? What did you learn?

Colleen Brooks: Well, this is core to our Verizon-wide content strategy. We've aligned all of our content efforts to a common set of pillars—eight of them—that we documented, and we shared, so all stakeholders are operating off of the same blueprints. We then mapped out the customer journey for each functional area and identified content gaps that we prioritized in our content creation plans. From there, we looked at our maturity and search within each pillar to help us with additional content prioritization and filling some of those content gaps.

Along the way, we've learned, and we've proven, that unifying a large organization isn't impossible, but it is difficult. I found you need to strive to have a universal "why" that all the team members can buy into and give them a voice in it and show progress and value quickly and consistently so they stay involved and bought in. We don't want to let them down at any point or we could see something start to unravel.

So we're fortunate to have stakeholders from across the organization who have bought in and are participating actively. I've valued their time and energy. So I use that participation to put even more pressure on myself to reciprocate with content that they love.

Q: So now that you have a unified organization, tied together sales, marketing and product, and a content machine, what's next for you?

Colleen Brooks: Now and next, we're laser focused on the customer experience. That includes digitizing all of our assets for seamless access and search visibility, and closely partnering with sales to create conversations and activate content with direct outreach.

As we build up more and more insights-driven content, this library gives us the opportunity to personalize the experience for audiences. We can serve up the next best piece of content based on what our customers are consuming, we can serve more effective CTAs based on their behavior, and we can build in requests to talk directly to our sales teams at any point in the journey, even to the point of being prescriptive in when we insert a sales CTA into the journey based on the signals we've captured.

This approach creates multiple paths into Verizon and makes it easy for our sales teams to serve as true consultants who can pick up right where the content left off. It also makes it easy for them to solve problems and have solutions-based conversations rather than just pushing products.

As we continue to evolve, we'll be leveraging data to go after more opportunities in the market and continue to build off of our leadership position in search. We will strengthen areas where we see prospects dropping out of the sales process and introduce new asset types and creative ways to present information.

Even though we've made a ton of progress in a relatively short amount of time, we still believe we're in the early innings. The future for Verizon is powered by enterprise-wide unification and a best-in-breed brand experience, which is really exciting.

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Featured image attribution: Pixabay on Pexels.