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Building Global Business From a Tropical Island - Emília Chagas - Content Marketing Podcast

This is a transcript of the Startup Catalyst, Episode 24 – where Luke Tucker pick’s our CEO’s brain on what’s it like to build a global company from an island and the basis of effective content marketing. The content has been readapted and complemented for the written format.

(2.10) How did you come to found Contentools and why are you so passionate about content marketing?

First off thanks for having me!

That’s a great question:

I’m a journalist and have been a content manager for over 8 years, working with big, small and startup companies.

Everywhere I worked, I noticed the same problem:

companies that do content marketing, tend to overlook one main detail: organization. Processes are messy, tools are outdated and content production inefficient.

That’s the opposite of what happens in newsrooms: when it comes to content creation, journalists are efficient, effective and organized.

Of course, content is their (journalists’) core business, but arguably, it’s getting more more relevant for business as well: when it comes to purchasing a product or service, people want information and they’ll look for it far before getting in touch with any sales rep.

It goes without saying that the companies who share those information are ahead in the buying cycle.

So we can say, content marketing is as important and strategic as it’s new.

Back to the story…

no matter the company, doing content creation always caused more headaches than results, and it didn’t take long to realize I wasn’t the only person feeling this pain.

It was an industry problem, and I wanted to solve it.


I feel in loved with it!

So started reaching out to entrepreneurs and founders from Floripa’s (Florianopolis) startup community – we have a thriving startup community over here – to pitch my idea and ask for advice.

And that was the start of it:

After building a first MVP we figured out it wasn’t just a Brazilian problem, but a global one. This motivated us to look beyond our own borders, apply to 500 startups and open our San Francisco branch.

This was the birth of Contentools as it is today.

A content marketing platform that help small and medium businesses centralise and streamline content creation, distribution and analysis.

Why SMBs?

Because there were other content marketing platform in the US, targeting enterprise companies, but what about mid size companies? They are those who need a CMP the most after all, since they have few resources and need to scale fast.

(6.25) How does Contentools solve SMBs content marketing problem exactly?

We help content managers, they are our heroes.

If they are working at a digital agency or a middle see company, they usually have a content creation process that looks like this:

1 – They communicate with their team through non-content dedicated platforms, like email and slack
2 – They use a second set of softwares to create content
3 – They use spreadsheets to organize content production
4 – When they have one, they use yet another software to manage the calendar

All of this, just for content creation. No planning, distribution or analysis.

What’s the problem with that?

All those steps and all those tools generate a massive waste of time.

We approach content marketing differently; holistically, to be more precise.

That’s why we built an all-in-one platform.

Content managers that use Contentools don’t need to go back and fort unintegrated apps and softwares, looking for content, media and ideas.

They simply grab their morning cup of coffee, log into Contentools and find all their content production in one place: processes, communication, ideas, data.

From planning to distribution, everything is centralized, organized, automated, and managers don’t have to worry about things like:

Has the blog post been approved?
Has the ebook been published already?
Who’s taking care of writing the white paper?

The platform is already taking care of keeping things running.


contentools content marketing platform


(9.30) Who’s using your product today, and how do your metrics look like?

We launched the global product last year, growing at a 15% MOM rate, onboarding customers like Zendesk, Reach Local, ClickSoftware, Hubspot and more.

Our target market are the US – that’s where the biggest opportunity is, but have companies using Contentools in Brazil, Mexico, Portugal, Israel and more.

Speaking of Hubspot, there’s a question I recurrently get asked…

What’s the difference between Contentools and Hubspot?

We serve Hubspot customers:

content is the fuel of inbound marketing, accordingly to use Hubspot full power,  you need to produce a lot of content.

And, keeping in mind what we talked about before, producing all that content can get messy without the proper tools.

That’s where our CMP chimes in: we help Hubspot users fuel to their inbound marketing.

(11.45) Let’s go practical now: what are the main elements to build an effective content strategy?

After helping hundreds of companies streamline and scale their content production, we identified 5 key elements to any content strategy.

  1. Detailed Personas
  2. Clear Goals
  3. Strong Team
  4. Effective Distribution
  5. Unique Messaging

Let’s analyze them one by one.

A quick note before getting to the nitty gritty:  companies that perform better at content marketing are the ones that not only have a content strategy, but keep it documented, updated and available to their team.

To use an analogy:

if you approach content marketing as playing jazz, results won’t come. If you write your music down before performing, you’ll get results.

Case in point: document your content strategy.

1 – Detailed Personas

It goes without saying that having a good understanding of your customers is a first, key step.

Accordingly, the first thing companies need to do is design their target personas.

In other words, they should answer the following questions:

who am I talking to?
who am I trying to engage?

But no worries, you don’t need much data to do that: you just need 5 to 10 perfect fit and run deep interviews with them.

Your goal is understand what their journey looks like, from the moment they feel they have a problem (or an opportunity) to the moment they make the purchase.

If you understand all the micro steps they take, their motivators, needs and goals, not only you’ll have a well designed buyer persona, but also dozens of content ideas for your content marketing.

2 – Know what you want to achieve:  what’s your company’s goal?

We see that companies, startups especially, want to use content to create brand awareness, buzz.

But creating buzz requires a lot of effort and has low ROI.

You should be asking yourself:

is that what I should be focusing on?

You can use content to achieve many different goals, and before writing a single line of content, make sure you know what you need the most.

As a startup, for instance, you need leads, prospects, customers: you need to survive, and creating TOFU (top of the funnel) content to get your name out won’t help with that.

You need to produce bottom of the funnel content.

Content that answers the questions of the people who are in the last stages of the their buying journey, deep down in your marketing funnel.

With that in mind, it comes as a consequence that you need to reverse that funnel: start creating content dedicated to the bottom of your funnel.

On the other end, if you are a big company and want to strengthen your brand and create brand awareness, go with TOFU content.

To wrap up: content marketing can serve many different purposes, make sure you identify the right one.

Content marketing can serve many different purposes, make sure you identify the right one. @emilia_chagas Click To Tweet

3 – The Team

Putting together a team is hard, especially for startups: sometimes is a one man team, It’s you, the founder.

Y’ll be the one planning, writing, editing, distributing, analysing. This is normal, you’ll have to wear different hats.

In case you have more resources and people, it’s important you assemble a team that can cover all the 5 functions outlined before: plan, create, edit, distribute, analyse.

These are the main jobs in a content marketing team.

4 – The secret to effective distribution

This is even more important than content:

it’s not about how much content i publish, it’s about making sure your content reaches the right people.

So the question here is:

how will people find my content when they most need it?

With that in mind, you need a growth team to find the right channels.

Keep in mind it’s not just one channel, you need to figure out what the best channels  are with respect to different stages of the funnel.

what’s the best channel to attract new visitors?

once you have visitors,

what’s the channel that will turn them into leads?

and then

how will you turn them into opportunities and finally customers?

Having different channels for different moments of your marketing channels is really important in your content marketing strategy.

CTA twitter multiplier

5 – Messaging

Especially for startups, one key element is the core purpose.

Why do we exist and why do we deserve a spot in the market?

Your company exists for a reason and this reason should be stated in every piece of content you create.

That’s why when startups approach content marking through just content curation, I get kinda sad…that way you’re not creating anything new.

You have the knowledge to provide unique information to your customers, you have the chance to turn that unique knowledge into content. Add value, have an opinion.

(23:40) Do you see any advantages for building a company in a small tech hub, like Hawaii or Florianopolis?

Floripa is the second tech hub in Brazil, despite its size: there are around half the people that live in SF, (400K), not a big city, but it offers a great life quality.

Tech is the first revenue generation source for the city.

Floripa has always been a tech hub from hardware to software and now cloud apps. Since it’s an island, there’s no room for big manufacturing companies. Also, tech is a clean industry, which perfectly matches the nature preservation policy of the city.

We tested having our operation in SF, but it wasn’t worth it: dev and sales reps don’t need to be physically there, and the cost doesn’t compensate the return.

So we moved everybody from our intentional team down to Floripa, and now we have people from the US, Italy, Portugal and Brazil (of course) working in the same office.

A global team serving a global market.

But that’s not it, next year we’re planning to go remote first, following the example of companies that started locally and went remote, like Trello.

We really look forward to 2017, it’s gonna be a great year.

(27.10) How about 500 startups, how did the experience go for you?

500 startups demo day

500 Startups is like a great family and it’s great how it turned our business upside down (in a good way).

You have access of a network of over a 1000 top entrepreneurs, professionals and founders who want to connect and do business together. An amazing network.

The best asset you can have when trying to build a global company.

The great thing is that, the access to the network doesn’t cease after the program.

Once you are in, you are part of the family.

(28:55) You alluded to 2017 before: what does Contentools future look like, what’s next?

Our product vision is clear, we know where we want to get and we’re confident that our product team we’ll get us there.

It’s exciting to think about next year, since by Q3 we’ll have our full product delivered, covering not only planning, creation and distribution, but analysis as well.

With more and more insights, to help marketers not only work more efficiently but make more informed decision too.

As for our growth, we are putting together a great growth team to acquire even more customers…

…and keep on growing!

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