Kathryn Hawkins is co-founder and principal of Eucalypt Media, a content marketing agency that focuses on online marketing strategy and content development for tech startups, universities, and Fortune 500 brands. She previously worked as a freelance journalist for publications including CBS’ BNET.com and GOOD Magazine. She lives in Scarborough, Maine with her husband and business partner Jeff, and their two young children. (And yes, there’s still snow on the ground.)
We caught up with Kathryn for our latest Masters in Marketing interview:
Tell us a little about your firm, Eucalypt Media, LLC?
We are a content marketing agency in Scarborough, Maine that works virtually with clients all over the US and internationally, focusing in areas including B2B technology and education, among others. I run the business with my husband Jeff, who has 15 years of experience as a website developer, and I worked as a freelance journalist for many years before focusing on content marketing. We work primarily on a retainer model, so that we can invest the time to truly understand our clients’ businesses and needs to develop effective strategies and engaging content on their behalf. We have a team of 10 or so experienced freelance writers who we work with regularly.
What is your ideal type of client and why?
We like to work with clients that are passionate about what they do, regardless of the industry. They understand the need for content marketing, they just don’t have the time to do it themselves. We typically have some brainstorming sessions with them to develop topic ideas and general content strategy, and appreciate it when they send us links and resources to inform the work. We enjoy the collaborative process and having the chance to work directly with the business and help it grow—that’s why we rarely subcontract to other agencies, even though there’s a big market there.
You work alongside your spouse. How has that benefited your business?
It’s been great for our business. We have complementary skill sets—Jeff has a highly technical background, whereas I have a strong background in writing and editing. This allows us to not only develop content for clients, but to make recommendations for the best and most affordable technologies they might need for their online marketing efforts. While we’ve eliminated website development from our offerings to focus solely on content marketing, Jeff also does all of the website development for our own company. He also focuses on managing overall business operations, while I focus on the editorial and client side. It’s also nice that we can have an impromptu business meeting any time of day or night—we’re always tuned in to what’s happening with the company.
You are a virtual company. What has been your biggest struggle with being virtual? What has been the biggest advantage?
Being virtual, we fly under the radar a bit compared to other local agencies. I wouldn’t necessarily say that’s a bad thing, as our audience is national rather than regional, but we’re looking to raise our profile here a little more. The advantages are huge—there’s no daily commute, no cost for office rent, and we’re able to bring on the best talent anywhere to work on our projects, rather than being limited to our immediate geographic area. Most of our clients are used to working with remote teams these days, and aren’t bothered about the fact that they can’t meet us in person—tools like email and Skype can be just as effective for communications.
You are based in Maine. What do you love about the state?
It’s a beautiful state—we have a farm with yaks, chickens, cows, and horses just behind our house; there are gorgeous beaches and lakes just 10 minutes away. We’re only a 15 minute drive from Portland, which is a great little city with fantastic restaurants, and 2 hours from Boston. We have two young children who love it here, and really wouldn’t want to raise them anywhere else. It’s the perfect place to build a great work-life balance: We can head out for a walk or bike ride any time of day between calls and meetings.
What business services do you feel are vital to running your firm?
Managing a remote team of workers, we live on a project management system called Teamwork. It makes it easy to track tasks and deliverables, and keeps all project-related correspondence in a central system. All of our content is delivered through Google Docs, so that’s crucial to us as well. We also use tools including FreshBooks for invoicing, Moz for SEO analysis, Hootsuite for social media management, and QuoteRoller for sending out proposals.
How do you measure ROI for clients?
We use Moz and Google Analytics to track metrics for articles, to see how many times articles are read and to track keyword rankings and domain authority. We can track social media follower counts and clicks through Hootsuite. We can also set up sales funnels to show when a lead or conversion originally came from one of our pieces of content. Some of our work also involves developing and placing articles on high-traffic third-party sites, so each placement represents a success. More than that, it’s also about overall brand image and authority, which is harder to track directly but just as important as all of the other metrics.
What is the PR industry missing?
I believe traditional media relations is on its way out, as I wrote about recently. Press releases and pleas for coverage rarely get noticed; instead, you need to develop a story of your own and control the narrative. When you do that properly, the audience will come.
What is next for you in 2015?
We’ve just hired our first full-time employee, who will be able to take some of the project management responsibilities off my hands, so I’ll have more time to focus on business development and our own content marketing efforts. Jeff and I are planning to launch some of our own sites that we’ll seek sponsorship for, and we’re also looking at expanding our services in graphic design and video in the near future. We’re excited about the future of content marketing, and are eager to play a big role in helping organizations develop this powerful marketing channel and tell their stories.