Insights in Action
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Jul 7


Episode 8

John Collins

Head of Content and Communications at Ramp

Head of Content at Unicorn

John Collins is a legend in content marketing. He was first to take on the role at Intercom, starting from a team of one to produce 1,200 blog posts, over 200 podcasts, and 12 full-length books, reaching a monthly audience of over 150,000.

Today he broke down building a content program from scratch, standing out in a noisy and fragmented space, and the right way to measure content effectiveness.

Building Intercom’s Megaphone

John joined Intercom in 2010  as the first dedicated content hire. John was a bit of an unusual hire for a startup this early to make. He came from tech journalism. There weren’t really any other startups hiring tech journalist in house at the time.

However, content was at the core of Intercom’s very early success. The first ~100 blog posts were written by the founders themselves. And engrained in the early culture of the company was an appreciation and understanding that content could drive top of funnel, sales, and strengthen customer relationships. This sounds obvious from where we are today. But nearly a decade ago, this was a revelation.

John was the perfect hire to continue to scale this effort. Under his leadership, the company became a pacesetter in content marketing’s early days. They cultivated an audience of over 150,000 monthly people, through rapid and consistent experimentation across many different mediums – including blog posts, full-length books, and podcasts.

When asked on how to start a content strategy – John borrowed from one of Intercom’s very own blog posts; start with a cupcake. What is the smallest, simplest thing you can give that adds value to your reader?

Experiment rapidly, stay consistent

What was Intercom’s success was quickly copied. There’s been an explosion of new content (this included :) ) and it’s harder than ever today to stand out. John’s advice:

Rapidly experiment. Find a medium that will connect with your audience; blog posts, podcast episodes, tutorial videos, and even tik toks if your target market skews younger. Pursue multiple channels as you learn more about what your viewers want. Research how, where, and when people consume the content you make.

Stay consistent. At Intercom, at first they would release podcast episodes as soon as they had them done. They then switched to releasing them on a regular cadence – every Thursday morning, and the audience doubled in just three episodes.  

It’s ultimately about connecting with your customers

By now, everyone knows that producing powerful content is one of the biggest things you can do to achieve growth and strengthen your brand. I saw firsthand how John used content to transform Intercom’s position in terms of sales, thought leadership, and customer relationships.

If you’re building a content strategy, do yourself a favor and watch this talk. Some key wisdom is to roll out a minimum product as soon as you can; you’ll get valuable information from everything you publish. Play with different topics, media and personalities as you discover what your customer culture looks like. Lastly, always align your content strategy with attracting a product-compatible audience, not just a big one!

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