Welcome back to HERstory, where today’s spotlight shines brightly on Briana Dilworth, a marketing powerhouse whose journey leaps from Florida to France, embodying persistence and creative zest. In a candid chat, Briana walks us through her roller-coaster internship hunt during a global lockdown, landing at AssoConnect with intentional applications and a rapid learning curve.
Briana shares her toolbox of strategies for crafting ‘spicy’ content, rejuvenating old pieces, and weaving a narrative that resonates with the audience. From leveraging sales and customer success insights at lemlist to envisioning the future of content strategy roles, her story is full of invaluable lessons and infectious enthusiasm.
Let’s dive in!
Welcome, Briana! I’m so excited to chat with you about your career and finding great jobs as a digital nomad.
You went from Florida to France, landing an internship at AssoConnect. How did you find an international internship? What was the biggest challenge you faced once you started?
It was definitely an uphill battle, I applied for over 100 internships before finding that one. I was applying right in the middle of “lockdown” in France, but regardless of that, I would say the key is to be mindful about your applications. I started getting positive responses once I stopped trying to apply to as many internships as I could and started being intentional about applying to the few that really interested me and fit my skills.
The biggest challenge once I started my internship was trying to be helpful and strategic with little real-life experience. We were a marketing team of 2 trying to expand to a new market. My goal was to not only show up for work but do everything I could to move the needle by the time my internship ended.
The key to doing that was really coming with a learning mindset, knowing that I had a lot to learn and doing my best to learn it fast.
What advice would you give to someone looking to transition into a content strategy role from a completely different background, similar to your transition from the hospitality sector?
First, before day one you should prepare yourself a little bit. Start looking up how SEO works and follow some valuable content marketers on LinkedIn. Even a little bit will help you loads in the first weeks.
Second, be open to failing. Don’t think you’ll know it all because you won’t. Research, test, and improve will be the biggest help here. Learn from others every chance you get, but understand that their situation might be different from yours.
In your role as creative marketing manager at lemlist, you worked closely with the sales and customer service teams to determine customer and ICP priorities. How has this collaborative approach influenced your content strategy and resulted in a cohesive brand narrative?
It influenced it across the board. We were lucky enough to have our ICP directly in our team, the sales team. We used them as SMEs as much as possible to understand pain points and see what kind of content a sales rep might be looking for. And even more, we were able to use their tips for successful campaigns and share them with our audience.
We shared the exact tactics, templates, and tips that our team had used to succeed. They were shared all throughout blog posts, led to the creation of an extremely successful masterclass, and later inspired influencer webinars. When talking to our customers, I was constantly told “You guys are the only ones willing to give this level of helpful content for free.”
On the CS side, this was instrumental in creating helpful “how-to” content for our customers. When we were writing an article or filming a YouTube video we would check our support chat to see what questions were asked about the subject that we could answer in our content. If a new product or feature was going to be released we would stay in constant contact with the support team to see what questions were consistently being asked. Then we would create content to solve that as soon as we could.
I still use my sales and customer success teams as much as possible with Big Interview at Skillful Communications and it’s been pivotal in how we communicate with our audience!
In your role as the Head of Content at Skillful Communications, how do you ensure that the content remains “spicy” and engaging? How do you find that balance for a brand?
The key to spicy content is content that entertains but that also shares enough value for it to be useful.
There’s a few ways we do this:
- Using language directly from our audience
- Doing an audit of our content after it’s finished
- Adding “zazz”
Regarding language, we talk to our audience as much as possible. Whether it’s formal interviews for an article or simply getting TikTok ideas from the everyday life of someone looking for a job.
There’s a lot of jargon and fluff in the world of interviewing, and we try to cut that out. Our mission as a company is to give equal access to fulfilling careers, regardless of background or experience, and this should carry throughout our content and messaging.
To ensure we’re squeezing as much value as we can, we do a “before and after writing” audit. This includes things like analyzing the emotions people will be feeling when they find our content, identifying what they are really trying to get out of it, finding the important subjects that came up in our interviews, and determining where we can expand the content.
Lastly, “zazz” is embraced by everyone at Big Interview to make sure we are being as creative as possible. For marketing, this translates to wanting people to think “Woah, that was cool” after seeing our content. Sometimes this can be things like adding animations to a video. Other times it means creating a supplemental piece of content that will help the audience.
For example, we were creating a free course to cover the must-haves to prep for an interview and (thanks to all of the three steps I mentioned) I realized that most people at this stage also struggle with creating a good resume. So I took all of our resume advice and applied it to a simple Google Doc resume template, then attached it to the email with the free course link. People went nuts over it, I still get responses about how helpful it is.
It’s not something fancy or crazy difficult to do, but it’s one step above what people expect.
It’s not a talk about content without touching on SEO. What innovative SEO strategies have you found that have worked well for you in enhancing content visibility?
We have a few strategies we’re using now that have helped us more than double our traffic this year:
Update old content – Identify blog content that is hanging out on the first page of SERPs but not making the cut for the top traffic takers. Clean these up to make them skimmable, include FAQs, add in expert opinions, link any new articles, and cut any fluff you were too proud to cut before.
Recycle every piece of content – We take all of our content and recycle it into a bi-weekly newsletter and (many) social media posts. This has been so helpful for distribution! We’re now getting our content in front of our audience on their terms.
Backlink-oriented content – We have a lot of universities as clients on the B2B side, so we try to maintain backlinks on their .edu websites. In the past year, we recreated an old “student guide” our university clients had linked to on their websites. We don’t have an active backlink campaign running, but we do have plans to create more backlink-focused content. These work so well for us because they are extremely helpful for this audience while also boosting our site’s credibility.
None of these are “revolutionary” but they’re all things that content teams kind of push aside. It’s not sexy work, but it definitely leads to results.
How do you envision the evolution of content strategy roles in the coming years?
For me, I’ve started to see a shift to a new level of focusing on your audience. A focus to not only produce the type of content your audience wants or needs, but to speak their language. I think this will be a huge strategy facilitator in the next few years.
Instead of just creating content around everything we’ve been taught, it’ll be more focused on creating content that people will show up for.
Less ebooks, more video breakdowns. Less “comprehensive” case studies, more targeted landing pages. Less content creation based on hunches, more content based on real conversations.
Especially with all of the technology we have, there is really no reason not to.
BONUS: Check out Briana’s Content Intention Checklist!