Who better to ask about marketing success than companies that have made it into the elite Inc. 5000? In this interview series, I’m asking marketers from America’s fastest-growing private companies how they spend their time, what they’re doing differently and what advice they have for the next batch of Inc. 5000 hopefuls.
First up is Sarah Wengert, creative content wordsmith at Medical Solutions. Medical Solutions offers temporary RN travel jobs to healthcare professionals at top facilities nationwide. Beyond the gig itself, Medical Solutions also provides nurses (or “travelers,” as they’re fondly referred to) with pet-friendly housing, medical insurance and regular bonuses for loyalty and performance.
Medical Solutions has experienced rapid growth over the past decade and is on the Inc. 5000 Honor Roll, a designation given to 5-time Inc. 5000 honorees. In the past three years, the company has added 685 employees and grown its revenue by 300 percent, from $31.6M in 2010 to $126.2M in 2013.
As the primary content creator for Medical Solutions, Sarah is central to the company’s marketing success. Here’s what she had to say about what’s behind Medical Solutions’ winning strategy.
Kuno Creative: How would you describe your content strategy?
Sarah Wengert: I think the number one thing about our content strategy is we want to create a resource for our travelers, whether that's somebody who's just heard of travel nursing yesterday and is curious or somebody who's already on their third business assignment. We want to give nurses at all stages in their journey whatever resources they might need to succeed.
One thing I would add is that this strategy has been in place long before me. I feel lucky to be at this company because I think they embraced content marketing long before it was the cool thing to do
Kuno Creative: What kinds of resources do you have available on your website?
Sarah Wengert: On our MedicalSolutions.com website, there are all kinds of resources for different topics. Are you thinking about traveling? Here’s a resource for you. OK, now you're definitely going to travel. Here are some ways to help you, whether that's how to succeed in an interview, how to travel with your pets or just what to expect. With each piece, I try to mix it up so you can get the information in different ways: you can read a blog, you can watch a video, you can do it in whatever way you want to approach that content.
Kuno Creative: One thing I thought was interesting was that you have three different blogs.
Sarah Wengert: Yes, we have the Medical Solutions blog, Travel Nursing Blogs and the Healthcare Staffing blog. We set it up that way because what appeals to a traveler, what will be a resource for them, is really not going to appeal and be relevant to the client side, so we try to do it in a more targeted way.
Kuno Creative: How do you generate ideas for your blog posts?
Sarah Wengert: I know when I first started, I thought, “How can I possibly write about travel nursing six times a week?” But there are so many things out there to cover that I don't really struggle in that way anymore. To get new ideas, I take a look around the web to see what nurses are interested in. I try to pay attention to what they're talking about in the forums and what's being searched for and that kind of thing, as well.
Kuno Creative: I see that you also use guest bloggers on a pretty regular basis.
Sarah Wengert: Yeah, we do. We're always technically open to more guest writers, but we're really serious about the quality. I get a lot of solicitations from people that don't have any expertise in the industry, and I generally turn those down. But anybody that's a nurse, a traveler or has some unique expertise or perspective on the industry, I will consider.
One of our long-time contributors who the readers really love is David Morrison, RN. He's actually been a travel nurse for about 20 years now. He does our advice column, "Ask a Travel Nurse," where travelers can send in questions directly from the website and he answers them. When you boil it down, there are 20 or so questions you hear over and over again about travel nursing, but every situation is unique, so it's nice for the travelers to be able to get the nuances of their specific questions answered. As I said, David is currently working as a nurse and he also published a book called “The Travel Nurse's Bible.” He's our number one guest author and his blogs are incredibly popular.
Kuno Creative: It looks like you also use some industry experts as authors, as well.
Sarah Wengert: Yeah, I've had a ton lately. We've had other nurses. We had a travel tax expert at one point. There's somebody I was speaking with at a car rental company about writing a lifestyle piece about something that's always on our travel nurses' mind, which is, “How do I get to my assignment?” Like I said, I'm really picky because I want to protect the quality of the resources. I would say I take maybe 0.25 out of every 10 guest posts.
Another thing we do on the Medical Solutions blog is a series called “Clinical Corner.” Those are actually written by our internal clinical staff. We have three full-time clinical resources for our travelers and they’ll write about clinical issues every couple of months or so.
Kuno Creative: Do you find it at all difficult to get your internal people interested or excited about blogging?
Sarah Wengert: No, not really. Whether it's a clinical resource or one of our career consultants, or even a client manager, they're always excited when I ask them to participate. We're lucky to have a great team that really cares about the topic at hand and really cares about the travelers. They're always willing to help with a guest post. I think a trick to that, too, is really singling people out. Don't send a blanket email. Approach somebody specifically because you want their specific knowledge. That's been successful for me.
Kuno Creative: Another blog series you have is the “Traveler of the Month” profiles. Can you talk a little about that?
Sarah Wengert: Every month we have a “Traveler of the Month” winner and a “Rising Star” winner, and that's actually based upon our hospital evaluations of the traveler. If you get an excellent eval, you're in the running to win each month. For the “Rising Star,” you have to be somebody who's on their first assignment.
Of the people eligible each month, our clinical team takes a look and picks someone and then the winners are announced. We just think these people are so awesome. They're doing such a great job at the hospital that we want to learn from them, too. Like I said, in that sense, they're the resource that we want to learn from and that we want other travelers to learn from.
I get in touch with them each month, and just get to know a little bit about who they are, where they've been traveling, and why they like traveling. That's really rewarding because it puts a face with the name, and they're not just numbers. That's something that's really important at our company, that these are real people with dogs and best friends and career goals. It's a really cool way to show that unique individual personality that each of them have.
About a year and a half ago we started asking them for tips, for example, “What tips would you give to a new traveler?”, and we've started creating some content around that, too. Just like with our “Ask a Travel Nurse” column, this is content that’s right from the horse's mouth. I am not a nurse. I've never been a travel nurse. I'm a writer. I could tell you things about travel nursing until the cows come home, and yeah, I've got a lot of knowledge about it, but I've never been out there doing it. I don't know what it's like to go to a totally strange hospital. I've read a lot about it, but never personally experienced it, so we think those tips, especially coming from people who've gotten superior evals, are really some of the most valuable resources out there.
Kuno Creative: You’ve also got a pretty robust YouTube channel. How are you using video in your marketing?
Sarah Wengert: Yes! I love videos. It’s great to offer choices for the delivery of content. Some people may want to read a blog post. Some people won't read it, and instead they may want to watch a video.
Right now, one little series that we have on our website are these “how-not-to” videos. The idea is, instead of a “how-to” video, it's a “how-not-to” video. Like “how-not-to find the right recruiter for you” or “how-not-to travel to an assignment.” So, they're short little snippet videos of somebody just basically spectacularly failing at whatever the task is. They’re just a fun, amusing way to share information.
Kuno Creative: How does your company culture impact your marketing?
Sarah Wengert: We definitely like to incorporate our company's personality in our marketing, I would say we're a fun group. We're group that cares. We're a group that works hard, but also plays hard, and so humor is huge around us, but we also want our marketing to be valuable.
I would say that culture runs throughout our entire company, too. Medical Solutions started out as a small little company, and now we're number three for travel nursing. Something that I know is really important to all of us, and that our leadership has an eye on, is not losing our culture. We feel like why we’ve become successful is that the people that work here aren’t just making it through. They're happy when they come to work, and hopefully, our travelers are happy when they're in an assignment with us.
That's something that's super important to us. It's nothing that we would ever throw away and say, "Oh now we're number three. We have to be serious and button it up a little bit," because as I was talking about earlier, it’s important to us to understand the travelers as individuals and get to know them. We're all individuals, too, and we don't want to pretend like we don't have any personality. I think it's important to be yourself.
Sarah shared lots of great insider information about what makes Medical Solutions’ marketing work. Here are the top five themes from our interview.
Thanks, Sarah for the insightful interview! Stay tuned for the next post in this series, where we’ll invite another Inc. 5000 marketer to share what makes his or her company’s marketing great.