Case study: Exonar

Using thought leadership content to ensure Exonar stands out

An organisation with personality and positivity, Exonar (now part of NowVertical Group)is deadly serious about how marketing contributes to its sales efforts and overall business value and growth. By establishing a clear and focused strategy centred around thought leadership content, it ensured:

  • Exonar stood out and presented itself as an important player in the market.
  • Pitched the company’s expertise without being salesy or arrogant.
  • Learned from its content on how to engage the target audience in the right way.
  • Repurposed content to deliver more value from every piece.

“Alice is a delight to work with. She very quickly got to grips with our tone of voice and our messaging, as well as understanding the marketplace we operate in. She’s incredibly responsive and just ‘gets’ our briefs. Plus, she’s fun to work with too – oh, and she makes amazing cakes!”

Anna Cotton, Head of Marketing Communications, Exonar

The company

Exonar is an ambitious SME that specialises in data discovery software. It works with some of the most highly regulated, security-aware and data-centric companies in the world, helping its clients to understand crucial details about their data – like what data the organisations has, where it is, and who has access to it. Only once the data has been revealed can action be taken to use what’s valuable and govern what’s sensitive.

Exonar is on an exciting journey, born from the insight that no company really knows what data they’ve got and where it is stored. This created a compelling need to develop software to reveal structured and unstructured data at scale across an organisation’s information estate. The product has been developed with a laser focus to make it accessible to technical and non-technical users, with Series A funding now enabling the company to scale to new heights.

The need

With a newly appointed CMO, Exonar was looking to professionalise and structure its marketing activities to support the sales function – and therefore the wider business plan. Recognising the value of a strong brand, it began with a refresh to establish clear brand values and a strong tone of voice that would underpin its marketing communications and differentiate it within the market.

Then laying down its sales funnel, Exonar started to plot how different types of content would support each stage of the pipeline to convert more leads. As well as using the content to learn more about the market and its customers’ needs, so the messaging and positioning could be refined over time to ensure it resonated with the target audience.

The work

With most of its marketing efforts centred around a content strategy, Exonar looked to outsource to a handful of specialist agencies and freelancers who could encapsulate the brand and bring their ideas to life.

Exonar approaches each campaign by considering what the valuable, central asset will be that all other content will drive to, for example, a report or guide. But rather than create this piece from desk research, it demonstrates its thought leadership by acquiring insights directly from its target audience – either by commissioning primary research or hosting round table discussions.

I took responsibility for crafting these assets. The objective was to ‘sell’ Exonar to its target audience of senior data professionals, like Data Protection and Privacy Officers, Chief Information Security Officers and IT Directors, by demonstrating its knowledge and expertise through thought leadership content.

The guides and reports had to:

  • Demonstrate Exonar’s thought leadership in a way that resonated with what really matters to the audience.
  • Distil the insights shared through the primary research/round table discussions into practical advice the audience could immediately apply to their organisations.
  • Encapsulate the brand values – honesty, ambition, responsibility and positivity – to show what they mean and how they add to Exonar’s offering.

With the thought leadership pieces drafted, we then looked at the opportunity to respin and repurpose them into additional content that would support the sales and marketing efforts.

For example, Exonar has hosted several webinars and a podcast series to expand upon many of the key themes raised in the guides and reports, while I have elaborated further on specific points of interest with deep dive blogs. And after its PR agency successfully pitched editorial to the media, we have combined and repurposed existing content into topical articles that are bylined to the CEO.

The simple process of working together…

  • Exonar’s marketing team plan out the upcoming campaigns and the different elements that are required.
  • Every month we meet for a face-to-face catch up to discuss what content they need (Exonar provides tea while I bake the cake).
  • Exonar provides relevant briefing materials or other marketing assets to be repurposed.
  • If anything interesting/relevant/useful comes up while I’m performing additional research, or I can add a different perspective on a topic, I feed this back into the melting pot of ideas.

“Alice is absolutely central to the success of our content marketing efforts. Her work on our thought-leadership reports forms the core of our content strategy and her blogs and press articles help to attract a wider readership and drive additional traffic to the reports. She shares ideas and learnings and comes up with suggestions that will strengthen our messaging. She adds huge value to our content.”

The results

“We’ve had highly positive feedback from our target audience about our reports with comments on how the content is very relevant and the messaging strong. Over time we are consistently getting hundreds of downloads of all our reports and we are starting to use them in third party paid lead generation activities, which are delivering us good quality leads. We find as many excuses as possible to get Alice to the office so we can eat her amazing cake! (We are all much thinner since lockdown).”

While James McCarthy, CMO, Exonar said:

“Finding the right copywriter is never easy, so we’ve been delighted by Alice’s passion for getting under the skin of key topics that impact our audiences.

“Alice writes engaging thought-leadership content, based on our brief but also substantial research, that successfully attracts people to our brand. After helping us develop the tone-of-voice guidelines for our brand, Alice has authored a range of popular guides and reports for us, as well as ghost-written pieces published in national press.

“We’ve seen a flurry of downloads and received great feedback on our written content and would recommend Alice’s approach (and the cakes she brings to our office).”

Do you have a similar project you need help with?

Say hello!