Launching a Mentoring Programme to Drive Talent Strategy.

Mentoring

In the Summer of 2017, I started to plan how we could increase the percentage of females in our leadership team within Sagittarius – I wanted to see more women on the Board, more women being thought leaders in the industry and more women supporting the Women in Tech movement. We are a growing digital agency, a highly technology-focused business with the classic split of male developers and females in support type roles.

I went out on the road. Attending events, seminars and round table discussions on equality, the gender pay gap, gender bias in AI, diversity and inclusion, sexual discrimination in the workplace… I really did the rounds.

What I found within our own company did not surprise me. We didn’t have a gender pay gap, my adverts and job descriptions ran fine through gender bias checkers, my hiring managers didn’t display any bias - unconscious or otherwise at interview. So I looked to data – and it all became clear… We just didn’t get enough female developers applying. The reason for this? Not enough female devs on IT courses through school and at University and therefore not enough female devs out there in the marketplace. If they are not there – we can’t recruit them.

I needed a new strategy.

Along came “Women in Tech” – ah ha! I said – here is a gong I can bang. So by the summer of 2018 I was actively promoting Women in Tech events within the business – getting the women in our teams to blog, self-promote, go to seminars, go out and talk – I hosted some internal educational events promoting “Women in Tech” eventually the chaps (and the women) in the office started to groan as soon as I mentioned Women in Tech – the thing was …I genuinely think that we have a level playing field and equality in the company that they really didn’t see it was an issue for them.

I was happy that this was my problem – but I still had no strategy for getting more women on our leadership team and eventually onto our board. Then I heard Sarah Rench (EY) talk about exactly this at a round table event, a strong inspirational woman in a highly technical role, clearly at the top of her game and she offered to help anyone interested enough to ask. So I did. A couple of weeks later my MD and I had a couple of hours with her over coffee and she spoke passionately about the determination she had displayed on her journey, but also the help she had received along the way from remarkable mentors. She gave us the idea of a mentoring programme for our women to accelerate their development and promote themselves internally and externally.

It was a real light bulb moment.

We have just launched a companywide mentoring programme – not just for the females but for everyone – this idea was just too good. There are so many benefits for mentoring – both personally and for the business – driving your own personal development, broadening your horizons, quality advice and guidance, innovation and looking at challenges with our business and industry from a completely different perspective.

Some of our mentors are inside our business – and some are from different sectors and industries altogether – it’s like having a big, diverse board of non-exec directors at your fingertips. We have produced a structured programme – with workbooks that include how to find and select a mentor, the structure and agreements required for meetings, how to set out the clear guidelines and parameters of the mentoring agreement.

We are actively promoting and supporting the programme internally, however, this is driven by our employees – they want to participate – they are finding mentors, setting up meetings and sharing their successes. I have researched and put real time and effort into designing the programme and producing some guidelines (in the workbook) for them, however, the joy of this is seeing it just taking off on its own .. and the best bit… some of the women involved have got some really awesome mentors ...I can’t wait to see the outcomes of this.

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.” - Benjamin Disraeli

Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.

 

Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

 
Claire Battle Thumbnail
Claire Battle
Head of Talent
Claire is the agency's Head of Talent and is responsible for employee recruitment. Claire has a long history of working in recruitment and IT and enjoys working in a dynamic agency environment!
Claire Battle Thumbnail

Claire Battle

14 Mar 2019 - 5 minute read
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