Interview with CaseWare: A HeadStart Case Study
By Susan Varty, Founder and CEO
Paul Leavoy is a Content Marketing Manager at CaseWare. We asked him about his experience working with HeadStart Copywriting.
Why did you decide to sign on with HeadStart?
I run the content marketing for two properties, CaseWare International and CaseWare IDEA. Before HeadStart, I was trying to keep up the content engines on both of those properties, largely by myself. I did (and still do) have some help from internal writers. I also worked with some external contributors, but when you find contributors based on their subject matter expertise, and they’re helping you out of the goodness of their heart, the content is great, but you can’t expect to receive it with any regularity.
I was handed some large requirements to build a more global content marketing strategy for both properties. One thing I’ve realised through the course of my content marketing career is that being a “content marketing manager” or a “content strategist” often means you’re not only organizing the content strategy and building the content calendar, but you’re also writing all of it. So, you invariably experience some stress, because you’re expected to guide the editorial agenda, and net create a lot of the content. That’s incredibly challenging.
At the end of the day, I believe the most seasoned, experienced writers, people who have reached the level of a chief content officer, for example, should always be writing themselves. But it’s not easy to balance building a strategy for a global brand with rolling up your sleeves and writing all the content. I told my boss that I could make this happen, but that I’d need some support. And rather than having multiple contracts with a variety of freelancers, HeadStart was the clear option.
We did have to vet HeadStart, just like we’ve had to vet any third-party content contributors. That’s because what you often get from a content shop is a piece that ticks the marketing boxes, but not much more. They’ll send a blog with a CTA and some narrative flow, or perhaps a listicle. But that’s the bare minimum in terms of hitting the SEO requirements. Often, we found that the external content shops didn’t have the necessary subject matter expertise to present the material clearly.
When I spoke with Susan Varty, she assured me that the HeadStart writers came equipped with the necessary level of knowledge and an understanding of the world of financial technology. And this was the reason for the subscription model – to learn our business better over time. We moved forward with a pilot month, and I found that the content I was getting was great. It didn’t need rounds of revisions, and it wasn’t missing the source attributions. It followed the conventions of written communication, it provided sources to substantiate the arguments that were made, and it used language that resonates with our audiences.
How has HeadStart’s subscription model changed the way you work?
With HeadStart on our side, I’ve been able to get a handle on my content calendar, and even get ahead of it. I no longer need to revise it on the fly, and I’m no longer the only writer who’s reviewing and proofreading all the public-facing content. It’s not just content marketing, website copy, and event copy—writing is everywhere, and as an agile department, I’ve had to get involved in lots of other roles. Working with HeadStart has freed me up to do that work. I’ve been able to give those jobs some love because I know the writing is taken care of.
My goal is to make sure our content machine, for both properties, is converting and is up and running smoothly. HeadStart is one of the tools that helps make that happen.
What do you consider the top benefit of working with HeadStart, and why?
For me, the top benefit is that when I get the content I’ve requested, it needs very little attention or modification. I’ll run it by our internal SMEs, and their response is usually, “looks good.” And that’s a dream to me.
I believe every web page, every blog post has a purpose. It might be the CTA, it might be part of a nurturing journey, it might point directly to an asset. HeadStart understands this. HeadStart also substantiates and provides details, rather than writing in broad strokes. They link to the sources they’ve used, and they cite where the information comes from.
It feels like HeadStart cares about each individual piece. They’re not treating them as a checkbox. It’s communication. And that’s critical, because if we lose a sense of that, then we go further down the slope towards the point where content marketing just packs content for SEO, with headlines written by online generators. It should be about more than ranking on Google. That’s important, sure, but we’re not writing for Google, we’re writing for humans. We have to provide value and insightful conversations, and we have to spark curiosity. And that comes across in HeadStart’s writing.
What would you tell others about your client experience with HeadStart?
It’s seamless, and it’s highly repeatable. You do need take the time to submit a good brief up front, ideally one where you’ve envisioned writing the piece yourself. Asking for a post about a topic and only providing a general idea of what you’d like covered isn’t going to lead to rich content, and I think it’s kind of unfair to the writer too. The more you give up front, the better results you’re going to get, the better first-draft content you’re going to have in hand at the end of the exercise. So, my suggestion would be to invest care in putting your requests together.All Posts
Service levels are fantastic, Amanda is amazing! I was running 100mph in December and hadn't had a chance to put pen to paper for a briefing. I talked it out with her and she hit the nail on the head when delivering content back to me.
HeadStart has been a lifesaver in several occasions. Especially, when we can’t afford adding content staff resources to our budget.