A Small Business Example of Social Business Transformation

Are you a small business wondering how on earth to “go social”? You’re probably trying to make sense of all the pressure from annoying well-intentioned people saying that your small business needs to be on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram… oh, and my fave, “you need to get an app.” Thaaanks?

social business transformation example

And now you’ve got some schmuck telling you that you need to blog for business.

It is totally overwhelming! Believe me. I was there. (Full disclaimer: I’m now the schmuck mentioned above).

There was a time a few years ago when I didn’t exactly appear qualified to be in charge of Marketing for a $50 million dollar company and yet, there I was.

Fast forward to the present and our company’s unique “all in” content marketing culture and results are now being analyzed for case studies and talked about in university classrooms (okay, maybe only 2 but technically that allows me to pluralize, right?).

We’re figuring it out. We aren’t anywhere near perfect but that’s exactly why I am here writing. Detailing ideas out here helps me get better at what I do and hopefully also helps you. Having a small business example of social business transformation to model after would’ve been incredibly helpful to me 2 years ago so now my mission is to provide one for you.

Where Do You Start?

So how did we do it? I’m about to pull back the emerald green curtain and reveal the 3 pivotal marketing decisions that changed everything:

  1. We started using HubSpot
  2. We learned how to create killer content
  3. We involved our entire team

The best way to camouflage your “where-on-earth-do-I-start–deer-in-headlights-look” is by strapping on a content marketing superhero mask and get bloggin’.


They call it “all-in-one marketing software”… I call it “gift-from-heaven software”. HubSpot makes it super easy for a non-techy person like me to create new website pages, blog for business, improve SEO, master email, post to social channels, and analyze lead intelligence. And I repeat, I have zero technical skills (I thought “html” was a button on the keyboard… j/k… sort of)!

Once you dive into HubSpot, you think, “OH MY GOSH, this is awesome!” Then you realize, “Wait a minute, this might actually be TOO much awesome. Where the heck do I start?!”

We started by blogging.

And that’s when the social business mantra you love to hate comes into play… “Create killer content”. Why thank you, Captain Obvious.

Now for the quest to conquer this nebulous thing called “killer content”… and that’s when I found The Sales Lion.

Creating Killer Content

It was a single tweet, “7 Content Ideas that Will Blow Up Your Brand and Business in 12 Months or Less—Guaranteed via @TheSalesLion.” This. Was. It. THIS was the nebulous “killer content” that was eluding us! This was the type of content that was going to bring results. It didn’t have to be as complicated as we were making it. We just had to turn every single customer question into a blog post and use Marcus’ 7 specific content ideas to get us started.

The more that I read and learned from this pool-guy-turned-awesome-content-marketing-blogger, the more I knew he was my guy. He had been where I was. He had overcome the exact same challenges. He wasn’t just sharing theory and super big brand stories. He and his small business were living it, killing it and now sharing it. THIS was going to be my example to go by.

New challenge: How the heck was I going to get the rest of the team to drink the content-cool-aid?

And then he published this doozy, “11 Hours to Change a Company Forever: A Story about Business and Life.”

Go Big or Go Home

At that time, we had been business blogging for nearly 1 year with only 1 person creating content and maybe 2 blog posts a month. We could do better. We NEEDED to do better (big long story reserved for another time).

It was time to go “all in” and get everyone creating content. And Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion, was just the guy to make it happen.

He came. He spoke. He blew our minds. It worked. He ignited enthusiasm across our entire team and helped us all understand HOW to do this content marketing thing successfully together.

The results: 50+ team members contributing hundreds of blog posts and video that have now quadrupled our website traffic, shortened sales cycles and allowed us to hire more people.

Need Your Help!

Social Media Examiner has asked me to share Block Imaging’s story during their Content Success Summit in February. The line-up of presenters and topics for this event is insanely talented so I’m feeling the pressure. I could really use your input! What questions do you have about our company’s example and what information should I go into greater detail about? Not only will your input help me make a killer presentation better, I’ll also be sure to write answers to your suggestions here on my blog in future posts. Your ideas and questions are GREATLY appreciated.

Much love to you guys, my fellow warriors of enthusiasm!


  1. Another great post!
    Sometimes I feel like I am reading about my life when I read your blogs. I totally relate to being in charge of marketing for a multi-million dollar company and feeling the pressure and YES Hubspot has been our saving grace over the last 12 months. Although we haven’t completely jumped into the inbound marketing “pool” yet, it is my personal goal for 2013! My question to you….How did you convince the traditional outbound marketers in your organization to go all in with inbound?

    • kristakotrla says:

      Hi Kristine,

      Love hearing that you can relate to our story and thank you so much for your question! That is definitely the one I am asked most often and answering it will be a BIG ONE.

      Bottom line, it is a process. Nothing a warrior of enthusiasm like you can’t handle though :)

      Look for more details about that in the future.


      p.s. I look forward to hearing all about how you kill it in 2013.

  2. Krista!

    I’m glad you asked. I have tons of questions. Here goes.

    Besides awesomeness from Marcus is there anything else you did to get everyone excited about creating content?

    How did you turn a bunch of non-content creators into creators? Did you have any quality issues once inexperienced writers started producing content? If so how did you deal with them?

    Did you make editorial guidelines? How did you teach people to write for the internet which is very different from traditional writing?

    Once you got your content machine started how did you make your audience aware of it? Did you do any outreach and guest blogging? If so who wrote the content and where did you outreach to?

    Were there people in the organization that did not participate? What were their reasons? Did they change later or are there still people who do not contribute content?

    Also I have a proposition for you. I really want to expand the post I wrote for the Inbound Marketing Agents contest into a full length book.

    As I was writing it I felt like I had so much more to say. I think Insourcing is a powerful idea that hasn’t really been talked about. I think your story is a one that needs to be shared.

    Also I am pretty sure (if we write it well enough) that we can find a traditional publisher.

    In short I’m asking if you would like to co-author a book on insourcing/content/inbound marketing with me. :-)

    With our powers combined… I think we could produce something on the level of C.C. Chapman and Ann Handley’s book, Content Rules.

    Let me know your thoughts. you can email me: robskidmore85 [at] gmail

    I would love to work with you. But if you decide this isn’t something you want to do right now, I will always be your friend.

    Keep being awesome.


    • kristakotrla says:

      WHOA. Rob!

      Those are awesome questions! Gosh, by the time I answer all of those we WOULD have a book wouldn’t we? Ha!

      Seriously though, thanks a million. SUPER helpful. I’ll definitely be in touch.


  3. Krista,

    Great post and I love your willingness to give back. There are always people and companies that are where you were and where you want to be. Sharing stories and case studies is so helpful for everyone’s learning. Now I’m going to check out Marcus’ links from above. He’s wicked!

    Oh, and as for some questions, I think Rob took all the good ones! jk

    Actually, once question (that may have already been asked above) is how did you filter content when you have so much of it or how did you prioritize what was good vs. great?

    Thanks so much for the info and thanks Rob for the great questions!

  4. Spot on with this write-up, I really believe that this site needs far
    more attention. I’ll probably be back again to read through more, thanks for the information!


  1. […] few weeks ago I shared a bit more detail about this company’s social business transformation and at the end solicited questions from readers. My fellow warriors of enthusiasm totally stepped […]

Speak Your Mind