I’m Steve McQuaide, and I would love to be the next Senior Digital Content Manager at Brooks.
Because I’m all about the run. For the last 22 years, running has been the guiding thread of my life – from coaching to working speciality running retail to becoming a Search Engine Optimization expert to going back to school at 35 – running has been my beacon to fulfillment and happiness.
Now, finishing my Masters of Science in Sports Product Management from the University of Oregon, I am ready for the next lap, next mile, next race of life.
I have a skillset that sets me apart from others: 7 years of search marketing expertise, 8 years of specialty running retail experience, coaching experience with competitive and fitness athletes, an education specific to sports products, and an unwavering passion for running.
A Love Connection?
I’m in it for the long-haul, so it’s important to me that my next career step is a true match – not just a functional one.
I believe that aligning one’s personal values with the brand they work for is essential and, well, we look like a pretty good fit.
Running is a gift. Run happy.
Running has been truly been a gift to me. It has taught me so many important life lessons: hard work, planning and executing, dealing with failure & set-backs, working as a team, accountability & consistency, and, possibly most importantly, finding enjoyment the process.
When I’m not running regularly, I’m a mopey lump of human. So, for me, Run Happy is a very literal statement.
We do one thing: build great running gear.
This aligns really well to my personal value of “be purpose-driven.” To me, that means “Focus on meaningful actions and work with meaningful people and organizations.”
Brooks is a meaningful organization. The dedication to creating the best gear for runners, and only runners, reinforces the purpose of the organization. A company with such a singular focus is inspiring to me (as a potential candidate) and resonates strongly in the market (from my experience in specialty running retail). Beyond that, the dedication to push the industry forward from an environmental, social, and corporate responsibility standpoint is truly meaningful.
We’re obsessed with the body in motion.
No joke? Me too! In fact, I enjoy it so much that I studied Sports Medicine while in undergrad, obtained a personal training certification, completed the USATF Level II certification, coached high school cross country and track (distance, mid-distance and… throwers? Yep.), and have coached adult training groups through local running stores.
I believe so deeply in the power and benefit of running that I wanted to share it with groups of new runners – free of charge! I still read articles about sport science and training principles regularly, despite not currently coaching anyone. It’s just so fascinating to me!
We sweat every detail.
A clear vision is essential to defining the details worth sweating. For Brooks, the vision is a better run than yesterday. That informs which details are worth laboring over and which can be ignored or pushed aside.
Clarity of vision is essential for me to work effectively and helps me to identify the details worth sweating. Sweating every detail will lead to wasted time and a fragmented focus, so having a singular vision or goal which all work is aligned to makes the details worth sweating very clear.
The planet is our home.
Sustainability is a primary focus of the M.S. Sports Product Management program I am completing, and it has become an important focus of my approach to the sports and outdoor industries. While materials and processes continue to evolve to become more environmentally friendly (especially end-of-life and circular lifecycle processes), it is important that product creation focus on quality and durability.
It is clear that Brooks is committed to being as transparent in their supply and manufacturing processes and relationships, and working to improve the impact they have on the environment while creating top-quality performance products. This is one of the major reasons Brooks has made such an impression on me and why I want to work at Brooks.
We’re runners, too.
Well then, I think we’ll get along swimmingly.
Values and culture match are clearly important in selecting the right candidate for an open position, but cultural fit amounts to a hill of beans if the candidate can’t get the work done.
I can get the work done.
The Consumer Decision Journey
The framework I use when creating digital content strategies revolves around the consumer decision journey. This evolved version of the traditional sales funnel incorporates behaviors that users have developed through increased access to information.
Stages involved in the CDJ include consideration, evaluation, purchase, experience and advocate. It is essential that a digital content strategy address user needs at each stage of the journey and be incorporated into all touch points of a digital marketing strategy.
An effective content strategy that aligns to the CDJ requires a deep understanding of the consumer, market trends, market position, and brand identity.
Consumer data and information can be helpful for advertising targeting purposes, but data doesn’t tell a full story. It is essential to know the story of your consumer to develop an effective content strategy.
Demographics begin to paint the picture, but what is required are insights to the consumer’s needs, desires, wishes, and motivations in order to truly connect with them. Without a deep understanding of these aspects of the consumer, your messaging and copy will not connect or resonate with them, and it’s unlikely a purchase will be made.
Qualitative and quantitative consumer insights are needed to inform the content strategy. These insights are gained through in-depth interviews, surveys and observational research. These insights should be refreshed often to ensure that consumer trends are accounted for, and as such, content may need to be updated to ensure it reflects changes in consumer needs or behaviors.
Collaboration & Alignment
A purely external focus for consumer insights misses a massive opportunity to understand how your customers and consumers are connecting with the brand. Sure, there are many valuable tools and platforms from which you can extract consumer insights, however these are often brand-agnostic (Google insights/trends, keyword research, marketshare analyses, etc.).
Mining for consumer insights within the organization can be supremely insightful. Talk to the customer service people, the account management & sales teams, talk to the eComm & IT team, talk to sports marketing, talk to the sports science and testing folks. All of these functions can provide specific consumer insights relevant to each function and can help to identify content opportunities that are currently not being met.
There will forever be a need for new content and collaborating with various functional departments within the organization is a great way to identify the content that needs to be created. Sharing these insights and content strategy across departments will help to ensure alignment of efforts between functional groups (e.g. paid marketing landing pages & keyword research).
Analytics & Strategy Refinement
The beauty of digital content is the insights you can gain through analytics. Using platforms like Google Analytics or Omniture, you can dissect user interactions with content, track their behavior onsite, and quantify the impact of a single webpage in the overall consumer decision journey.
Using analytics to evaluate the effectiveness of content is essential in fine-tuning and optimizing your content strategy. Analyzing click-paths, bounces, and exits from the website will uncover potential friction in the user-experience, a gap between the content and the user-intent, or perhaps a conversion that is too hard for that stage of the journey. Discovering these inadequacies of content will provide quantifiable data to guide the optimization process.
Furthermore, integrating the content strategy with paid media efforts should trigger new cookies/pixels that categorize the user and update the ad messaging they are being served.
It’s clearly difficult to summarize the entire approach and process I take when creating a content strategy, but hopefully this has given you some insight into how I work. I would love an opportunity to discuss my process with you and how I would apply it in this position.
I have the skills required to take brooksrunning.com from a product experience to a brand experience.