Gillies & Mackay make the best sheds in the world. There’s no two ways about it. They craft beautiful, high-quality sheds, cabins, garden rooms and summerhouses that stand the test of time, even in the harsh Scottish elements, and they’ve been doing it for 30 years.

Before Cara took over the running of the company in 2016, Gillies & Mackay had grown and sustained largely on word of mouth. But Cara wanted to take things to the next level, not just for growth’s sake but so that her Dad, John, and Uncle, Grant, the company founders, could retire comfortably when the time came.

Beginning a content marketing journey

She first learned about content marketing when her friend, Col, persuaded her to attend a marketing workshop with him (on the promise of a pint afterwards). The person leading the workshop was Chris Marr, founder of the Content Marketing Academy (CMA).

She was completely bowled over by what Chris taught them that day. It was a long way from the SWOT analyses and 7P’s of marketing that she’d learned about on her Business Management degree…

He explained that 70% of the buying decision is made online before a customer contacts your business. That they’re asking Google for the answers to their questions, before they even consider picking up the phone to speak to your sales person. And that the way to tackle this was to provide the answers to their questions yourself, through blog articles on your website.

Cara was sold. She immediately saw how adopting content marketing could help her attract the right customers and grow the business in a sustainable way. Getting a 25-year-old, traditional manufacturing business to buy into digital marketing wasn’t going to be easy…but she knew it would be worth it.

So she set to work.

‘They ask, you answer’

The honest, educational articles and videos that Cara produces are a shining example of exemplary content marketing. Her sole focus is to answer her customers’ questions without bias, and provide the information they need to make an informed buying decision.

But, like many owner-marketers, her biggest struggle has been consistency. Speaking from my own experience, even when you know how important and powerful content marketing is for your business, it can be hugely challenging to actually get it done. Especially when you are the manager of the business, and your attention is split in a million directions.

Thankfully, by continuing to work with Chris as a member of the CMA Community, Cara had access to the accountability and support that she needed to produce content regularly. And, despite the challenges, she was doing a bloody good job of it.

Gaining traction and seeing results

Within the first year, she saw a 26% increase in revenue, which she could attribute purely to her content marketing efforts, as she had done no other marketing or advertising! In one particular month, she surpassed her target sales by £37,500.

The following year saw another 30% increase in revenue, and a continued trend of smashing sales targets by 25% month on month.

Reaching crunch point

By this time, Chris and Cara were partners in both business and life, and when she gave birth to their gorgeous baby girl, Luna-Rose, in March 2018, Cara knew she’d reached a crunch point.

If she was lacking time for content marketing before, she now had even less. And there was still a way to go before the company could provide her Dad and Uncle with the retirement they deserve.

In order to achieve her goal of creating a self-sustaining company with a steady stream of qualified customers, she had to keep building upon the foundation she’d laid with her content strategy. But she was going to need help.

That’s when she booked a consultation with me.

Time to delegate

We spoke about the various challenges Cara was experiencing, and identified her three main goals:

1) To produce content consistently
2) To create more content with less time
3) To maximise the impact of every piece of content she creates

Our blog management service would help her achieve all three.

 

I knew that with content, it’s a longevity thing. You have to go through the process and build up your content for it to then start to return on you. It’s not a quick fix, it’s not a trick, it’s not going to make you a million pounds overnight.

But ultimately, what happens is it starts to really return about now – 3 to 4 years in. I am seeing massive, massive results from my content and this is thanks to Yva and her team.

 

Ranking on page 1

With the burden of publishing and promoting her content lifted from her shoulders, Cara could get stuck into creation mode. In the first 3 months of working with Content Boost, Cara focused on reviewing the top shed manufacturers in every geographic region of Scotland.

She looked at the information available on each company’s website and social media profiles, and used her extensive knowledge to make an unbiased assessment of whether they’re providing value for money to customers.

She wrote one article per region, and now ranks on page 1 of Google for every single one. In multiple cases, she is within the top 5, and is the number 1 result for both Dundee and Aberdeen.

In other words, whenever someone searches for “garden sheds [insert my region]”, up she pops.

80% growth in operating profit

With that campaign complete, she turned her attention to garden rooms. These are timber buildings that you might use as a garden office, for a kids playroom, or for your own downtime (hot tubs, bars, man-caves, she-sheds, you name it!). She’s been answering every question that her customers could possibly have about purchasing, installing and maintaining a garden room.

And they are selling like hot cakes.

We’re talking a 300% increase in sales during what has, historically, been their quietest period of the year. Their order book for garden rooms is now full for the next 6 months.

 

I have never been this busy in January. Gillies & Mackay have seen huge growth in the past 18 months and there’s no stopping. I’m going to have to employ people – that’s how busy I am! It’s insane.

 

Not only that, but looking at Gillies & Mackay’s financial year end figures for 2018-19, Cara noticed something extremely interesting.

Operating profit has risen 80% in the past 12 months – an incredible feat – but revenue has only increased 10%.

How did she achieve this?

Education.

By dedicating her time and energy to answering their questions, Cara has equipped her customers to make a more expensive buying decision. They are upgrading and adding on to their purchases, because they feel informed and understand the return on investment.

Results take commitment

But don’t be fooled into thinking that every business will see results like this within 6 months. Cara has been putting in the work with her content over a 4 year period. She has built a strong brand and an audience of ‘Sheddies’ who trust her, and are ready and waiting to consume every video and article that she puts out. This takes time.

 

Screenshot from Gillies & Mackay's Google Analytics
Gillies & Mackay website traffic from 1 Mar 2018 to 28 Feb 2019 (blue line), compared with the previous year (orange line).

 

But what it shows is that, if you make the commitment, and you stay consistent, a solid content marketing strategy can transform your business. As a seasonal company, it has enabled Gillies & Mackay to iron out peaks and troughs in sales and provide real security for Cara and her team.

Working with Content Boost to deliver that strategy has given Cara peace of mind. Once she’s written an article and handed it over to our Content Co-ordinator, Paula, she knows that the rest is taken care of. That she’s getting the maximum reach from every piece of content she creates and it’s being produced in a way that totally reflects her brand values and personality.

 

Everything that I would post online is now done by Paula, and it just saves me so much time. It gives me all the time I need to concentrate on my clients and making sure that they’re properly looked after. I wouldn’t do without [Content Boost], I just wouldn’t.

 

Cara recognises that every article is an asset for her business that will continue to pay dividends into the future.

That, one day soon, all this hard work and investment will allow her Dad and Uncle to step back and enjoy the fruits of their labour.

And that’s priceless.

 

Want to talk about how you could create a content strategy like this for your company? Book a consultation here – I’d love to chat.

 

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