Growing up, I have always admired nurses, doctors, social workers, and professionals who help improve society and the lives of others. I may be an optimist, but I like to think that people generally aspire to do something meaningful with their time.
When I got the chance to interview Katrina Too, Managing Director of Open Door Policy (ODP), I was ecstatic to hear her story. Her dedication to education and helping communities, combined with her experiences in business-to-business (B2B) tech marketing, led her to create this not-for-profit venture.
“Open Door Policy upskills marginalized communities, such as refugees, and connects them to remote digital work,” says Katrina.
Instead of her usual B2B marketing roles and objectives, Katrina uses her business knowledge and marketing skills to connect qualified, marginalized individuals to potential employers.
Though the stakes are different, the blueprint for increasing audience awareness and endearing people to join the mission remains the same: create unique content that speaks to your target audiences.
From B2B marketing to working towards a social cause
Katrina’s career began as a freelance writer, creating fashion and lifestyle articles for several publications globally. “After that, I got involved with startups and helped various tech companies develop their positioning and go-to-market strategies,” says Katrina.
As the previous Head of Global Marketing at ScanTrust, Katrina’s role was to market the supply chain software to consumer goods companies to increase consumer engagement by providing supply chain data transparency.
Her strategy was to have a mix of different marketing channels and activities working in tandem—that includes events, outbound, and content marketing.
“When people think about digital marketing, we usually look at short-term gains and goals,” Katrina elaborates. “In contrast, content marketing focuses on long-term goals, building credibility through thought leadership and unique content, and growing your audience organically.”
When Katrina and her team were re-positioning their marketing strategy, they worked with With Content to map out and develop several content ideas—like pillar posts, educational guides, and infographics—for their blog.
They used content to educate their target audience on the current trends in the supply chain network. They also elucidated on the benefits of digitalizing physical products and capturing supply chain data to enhance transparency and business growth.
Besides content, Katrina and her team participated in many consumer goods trade shows to meet and help prospects understand ScanTrust’s product solution. Because ScanTrust is in the enterprise segment, the team also supplemented their efforts with outbound marketing to establish touchpoints with their prospects and educate them on the benefits of supply chain data transparency.
Curious to know the outcome of their marketing endeavors, I entered ScanTrust into the Ahrefs site explorer tool. This was what I found:
Currently, ScanTrust is ranking for 534 keywords and receiving about 401 monthly organic search traffic. This outcome is no small feat as they are comfortably drawing in a steady flow of targeted traffic every month.
Content marketing is like the black swan in the digital marketer’s arsenal; it complements and supports other marketing initiatives. The results of content marketing may not be instant, but they become evident in the long run.
Typically, marketers will apply metrics, such as click-through and conversion rates, to content marketing. With the ever-growing list of data tracking tools, people expect to see immediate results and return on investment from their content.
While these metrics are crucial, they are not the main point of content marketing.
“Where your content comes into play is in terms of educating your audience,” says Katrina. Whether it’s in the form of blog articles, case studies, visuals, or product updates—all of which have their distinct value—the content should always serve to bring value to your target audience.
Making your content unique and addressing your target audience’s concerns separate you from competitors and keep readers coming back for more content. It will also drive long-term traffic to your website and build an audience base that resonates with your company or brand.
Making the shift to not-for-profit work
Last year in December, Katrina went with several B Corporation (B Corp) entrepreneurs to Bogor in West Java, Indonesia. There, she met and interacted with the refugee community, some of whom were high-potential individuals in prime working-age groups.
Yet, these people are out of work and in need of income.
Covid-19 has exacerbated the plight of these vulnerable groups of people, many of whom are in blue-collar jobs and cannot find employment because of the pandemic.
Inspired by her friend, who runs a B Corp that remotely employs refugees as part of the customer support team, Katrina wanted to scale this mission to more companies.
“These refugees want to work, learn, and grow their business skills. But they cannot find work within their communities,” says Katrina. “With remote digital work becoming the norm, we’re hoping to connect as many qualified individuals in these communities to potential employers.”
Launched earlier this year, ODP uses skills training, mentorship, and employment partnerships to reach its end goal of increasing work opportunities among the marginalized communities.
Maintaining the principles of marketing across diverse goals
Katrina will be the first to tell you that B2B and not-for-profit work are not the same. “B2B focuses on driving leads and sales to generate revenue. Whereas at Open Door Policy, you are creating awareness about the issue at hand and the metrics for measuring social impact are more complex and less direct,” she says.
When switching from B2B tech to not-for-profit marketing, Katrina became aware of this difference in objectives and quickly developed a plan that aligns ODP’s mission and marketing goals. She understands that once she has determined her organizational goals, it will guide and inform future marketing initiatives to support those objectives.
In both scenarios, Katrina recommends these common marketing principles that she has applied to both B2B and not-for-profit practices:
Marketing 101: Identify your objectives and target audience
Talk to any content marketer, and they will declare that the first step is always to “figure out your goals and understand your target audience.”
ODP has a clear mission to connect motivated and qualified individuals lacking access to formal employment with remote work opportunities. While the ODP team works towards their social mission, they are also mindful of their stakeholders’ concerns and objectives.
ODP works closely with educational institutions and non-governmental organizations to recruit their cohorts. It also works with industry experts to deliver online training programs that aim to increase digital literacy and business knowledge and improve soft skills.
After a recent 12-week skills training course, an ODP graduate shared a Medium blog post about her personal experience with the program:
View this post on Instagram
𝐏𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐝𝐬 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 @dorcas_nuulek 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐬𝐡𝐞'𝐬 𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐝 𝐆𝐫𝐨𝐰𝐭𝐡 𝐌𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐬𝐞𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐞𝐞𝐫. Lek wrote a touching essay about the lasting effects of a mindset shift - on her own attitude, but also on how she educates her elementary school students. For the full story, check out our newly launched Medium page. https://medium.com/@opendoorlearners
This case study approach not only highlights the program’s success, but it also brings the human element into the story—which is ideal for ODP’s purpose. What better way to make your content stand out and convince people than through an authentic and compelling story?
ODP also collaborates with artists and photojournalists on creative art projects to increase awareness and engagement around its social mission and programs. During this year’s World Refugee Day, ODP worked with an illustrator to feature the completion of the ODP learners’ journey:
View this post on Instagram
𝐈𝐧 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐟𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭 𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐬𝐭 𝐜𝐨𝐥𝐥𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧, 𝐎𝐩𝐞𝐧 𝐃𝐨𝐨𝐫 𝐏𝐨𝐥𝐢𝐜𝐲 𝐡𝐚𝐬 𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐤𝐞𝐝 𝐮𝐩 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐮𝐥𝐭𝐫𝐚-𝐭𝐚𝐥𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝗪𝐢𝐥𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝐍𝐠, 𝐚 “𝐭𝐲𝐩𝐨𝐠𝐫𝐚𝐩𝐡𝐢𝐜 𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐨𝐫” 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐄𝐚𝐬𝐭 𝐌𝐚𝐥𝐚𝐲𝐬𝐢𝐚. Wilson integrated the positive light he saw within each message received from our Open Door Learners and in turn, created ’Chance’, his new piece, in celebration of World Refugee Day. It was their awe inspiring journeys filled with hope that inspired this collaboration. It is through his artwork we hope their voices are heard, opportunities arise, and no one gets left behind. #Refugees #WithRefugees #LeaveNoOneBehind #WorldRefugeeDay
To build these types of content, ODP started by defining its goals and target audience before aligning its marketing strategy with its programs. In doing so, ODP has managed to stay objective, help support the marginalized communities, and establish rapport and confidence with its partners.
Know your communication channels
At ODP, the team remains conscious of different communication channels. “We use Linkedin to connect with businesses, while Instagram is used for connecting with the general audience who care about the mission,” says Katrina. The team does this because these channels attract different kinds of personas.
When asked how she brings the two groups of people together, Katrina pointed out that communication channels do not necessarily operate independently from one another. “Sometimes, when individuals see our content on Instagram, they often represent companies and might connect with us through LinkedIn instead,” says Katrina.
Like the Medium case study—which has been repurposed and shared on Linkedin and Instagram—inspirational content is versatile and adaptable to various online platforms. More importantly, it brings together marginalized communities, mentors, volunteers, employers, and other like-minded people in a communal space.
Aligning your objectives with your marketing strategy—and making it actionable
Once you have defined your goals and understood how to reach your audience, the next step is to lay down specific tactics to fulfill your marketing strategy.
The ODP marketing team constantly gathers quantitative and qualitative data from learners, mentors, and graduates about the programs. From there, the team brainstorms different content ideas and themes and organizes them into a content calendar for execution.
As Katrina points out, “the main objective for any marketing effort—whether it’s content marketing or B2B product marketing—is how it supports and amplifies the products or initiatives already in place.”
An organized calendar enables the marketing team to store content ideas, anticipate upcoming events, and start creating content for their programs ahead of time. It also helps to prioritize their marketing efforts and coordinate the ODP team—which operates globally—on their various initiatives.
“Start planning early” is Katrina’s final marketing advice. Though it takes some time to set up and maintain, having a concrete content calendar solidifies your commitment, and it can save you a ton of trouble should you need to generate ideas in a rush.
Holding yourself to the mark
As we speak, ODP is building on its momentum and expanding its next digital skills training program to the Middle East. It also plans to release a “Malaysia Pilot Impact Report” based on the recent skills training program by the end of 2020. But behind the scenes is a determined team ensuring that ODP’s programs and content are executed smoothly and on time.
Looking forward, Katrina holds herself to the bar that she has set, which is to increase the employability of refugees and marginalized communities. She talks to students, schools, and employers about the changing workplace landscape, skills that are in demand, and how their organization and schools can work together to minimize the gap.
“Rather than simply telling people about the issue, we want to address it and work with companies and organizations to close the gap,” she says.
Katrina adds that she is fortunate to have team members who are domain experts in their fields. While she is familiar with the commercial aspects, Katrina relies on her program management, education, and impact and development mentors and advisors to continually improve on the effectiveness of ODP’s training programs.
I am excited to see what ODP does next with its programs and content as the team strives to fulfill their social mission.