Life at Roam: Mar(c)keting

Marc Kranendonk
Marc Kranendonk
Content Manager
December 27, 2022

I’m interviewing myself, and having not done this before:

This was the final piece of content I needed to do before the year ended, and since we’ve talked to the sales and tech guys I thought we’d give marketing some attention too.

By the time this gets published I will have consumed an aggressive amount of holiday season food and beverage, and have watched the greatest Christmas film, Die Hard (but realistically Love Actually again. Like seriously? Professor Snape is in both of these films but at least in Die Hard he’s fighting Bruce Willis in a non-stop, bullets flying, things-exploding action masterpiece, and not cheating on his wife).

That aside, my focus right now is about the experience of marketing with and not my family quarrels.

Why did I have to interview myself? No one was available to interview me, apparently everyone had an ‘Office’ Christmas party? I know, I thought it was a strange coincidence too, but it was Christmas and maybe ‘The Office’ themed Christmas parties are still popular nowadays. To be fair, it is a good show.

With that answered, my next question is, how does one approach a self-interview? Do I come out of the gate critical and hostile in an attempt to avoid looking like I’m going easy on myself?

Exhibit A

Question 1:

What’s stopping me from doing this? Probably a couple of upset colleagues and bosses who’ll be seriously questioning my sanity. Don’t worry, we’ll be answering profession related questions, relax. (‘We’ll’? I’m starting to sound like Sméagol.)

1. What is your process for researching and planning a piece of content?

First of all, incredible question man you’re off to a great start.

Brainstorm meetings, plenty of reading, and a content calendar. That’s the main gist of it. I have meetings with the Sales team and some of the Tech team members where we discuss the content we want to cover for the next given period. Once we’ve decided on topics, I go out and do a little reading and research, and then I come back with a content calendar that includes set topics and dates for publishing. This includes the blogs, newsletters, Twitter posts, and LinkedIn posts. Once we’re all happy with that I’ll go off and start writing and planning for the blogs, making sure I have an outline and all the information I need so I can just concentrate on the writing (and the gifs). In that time I also try to inform our Product Designer, Hitesh, about what I’ll need in terms of visuals, so that he has time to come up with ideas and final drafts.

2. How do you balance the need to create engaging content with the need to meet business objectives or target audiences?

Although b2b and b2c marketing are different, they both share one basic trait. That is, marketing is about storytelling (American author Seth Godin is big on this).

Whenever I think about storytelling and marketing I always have Mad Men pictured in my head. Not the constant smoking, drinking, and casual adultery stuff though. Just the classic Don Draper pitches. Sure, it’s old fashioned and specifically about advertising, but that fictional guy could sell a story like no one else. Some would say he was just really good at lying. That’s a critical and fair look at it, but in his defense, it would be a lot harder to sell something if there wasn’t a good story behind it. Don could make you sentimental about using a kodak carousel projector, without talking about the product or its features.

Don Draper (Jon Hamm) smile Gif

In my case though, I have to talk about the product because we’re a b2b SaaS business. Developers need to know about what our products provide for them to improve the location intelligence of their business. Selling and marketing to developers is similar in the fact that we both focus on how our product can solve a specific problem or meet a particular need. So, I need to involve highlighting features or functionalities that are relevant to the problem/need. That’s the major goal with our marketing.

Whilst reaching our target audience and meeting our business objectives is the main goal, when I write content for Roam I’m also focused on the idea that I have to make a story out of it, like Don Draper. Gifs and pictures help with that. Whether they are relevant or not, visual mediums help me tell the story and hopefully get people thinking “where’s this going?”

In this day and age, digital content is constantly around us and people’s attention spans are dwindling (thanks TikTok). I’ve come to realize that everyone is seconds away from getting distracted by something else, so I have to try to create engaging stories.

3. How do you write content about Roam’s location SDK and APIs?

Tech software is a technical language. It uses long-winded words, and abbreviations that are not always self-explanatory, and are mostly understood only by developers. Writing for a developer is a little easier in terms of that their general knowledge on the subject field is greater than the average Joey Tribbiani. But, not everyone who knows/discovers us will be some veteran developer know-it-all. I wasn’t, that’s for sure.

When I started at Roam I was unfamiliar with most of the words and terminology that my colleagues threw around the office like it was everyday language. What is a pub/sub messaging, location SDK, geocoding, and a nearby API? I had to understand those terms in my own words, and my own words are simple ones.

Me on my first day at Roam:

I’ll try to find the balance between describing the subject matter so that a grandmother could follow as well as a developer. Only way I figured that would work was to keep the language as simple as possible, but without getting rid of all the tech related terminology. I’m not going to replace ‘geofence’ with ‘virtual circle’, in fact, that makes it sound more vague. But I am going to try to explain it in simpler terms so that the casual reader can follow along too. We know that our business at first glance is not the easiest to grasp, so the goal is to write content that explains what we do with transparency.

It’s also easy for the content to get dry sometimes, hence the humor and casual tone of voice go a long way to avoid this. We don’t just want developers to be informed about what we do, we’d like to explain it to those curious and unfamiliar too.

Commercial Break

Simpsons commercial break gif

Alright, so up to this point I thought of three questions, but then got a bit of a writer's block and didn’t know what to do. Hemingway would have gone to Paris, had himself a glass of wine by the river Seine, and then would have fought a bull. My alternative version to that is asking ChatGPT (the AI thing) to generate questions for me to answer while I have a glass of water and a ham and cheese sandwich.

4. How do you handle writer’s block or struggle to come up with ideas for content?

ChatGPT, that’s why I’m using you. The easy answer to this is that I have the internet, but I do follow one piece of advice from the aforementioned famous writer, Ernest Hemingway. He would stop writing when he knew what was coming next. I don't have the luxury to take long breaks, so I can't just pull a Hemingway and watch dog racing in-between writing, but I do take smaller breaks when I know what to write next, and that has worked out for me so far.

I do get help as well. When I wrote a blog about Galileo, GPS and satellite navigation, it was my colleague Louis who approached me with the idea. He said:

“Marc, watch the Netflix documentary on GPS, I think you can base a blog off of that. Also, why do you have so many M&M wrappers all over your desk?”

5. How do you handle revisions and feedback?

I get irrationally upset and take it very personally. Like a true professional.

6. How do you stay up-to-date on industry trends and changes in best practices for content writing?

To stay up-to-date with industry trends it comes down to reading the news and staying informed. I’m like the dad at the table in the morning with his newspaper out, except it’s a computer. Newsletters and websites such as TechCrunch have become my go-to sources for news. I'll also ask Hugo, Louis, Joe, Manoj, and members of our tech team if they have any news/updates that are of interest to look into and incorporate for future content.

When it comes to best practices for content writing I do think about SEO and link building. Both are critical in the way we approach our content. The goal is to increase relevance and for others to talk about us or link to us. In the end, it comes down to making sure our relevance remains high. Often I'll use tools like AnswerThePublic to get an idea about what people are currently searching for in topics related to location. For instance, last-mile delivery has been a trending topic for the last two years, and through tools like AnswerThePublic, we'll have a concrete idea about what people are looking up in relation to that topic. As a result, we can improve our blog titles, metadata, Open Graph data, and incorporate better keywords.

The ChatGPT had a bunch more questions but I think this Q&A has run its course.

Want to read more?

If you enjoyed this blog and would like to read similar articles, check out our previous two Q&A’s:

Unlock Location Technology

Marc Kranendonk
Marc Kranendonk
Content Manager
December 27, 2022