Fergus Stoddart is the Director of leading digital and content agency Edge. With his sights set on changing an industry from within, Edge has been recognised as the largest independent publishing agency and was named one of the top 15 content marketing agencies in the world. The agency’s impressive list of clients includes Virgin Money, Invictus Games, Mitre 10 and AAMI.
Fergus imparts his wealth of knowledge and decades of hands-on experience through teaching IQ’s Content Strategy course. We caught up with him recently to pick his brain about… well, content.
On the global arena, which brand’s content inspires you?
I really like Wholefoods. They know exactly who their audience is and how to reach them. They put so much heart into it, they’re truly passionate and connect to their tribe in a really meaningful way. They speak directly to their customers on issues that matter to them. They nail it. I am also a big fan of LEGO and the way they turned their entire business around to be content and customer engagement first – there’s a good lesson and opportunity for many businesses in this.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Well there have been lots of firsts, but the real thing that I am super proud of is the continuous reinvention of our business. Every year we’re very different because the market has demanded different things. We’ve always been on the front foot embracing new tech, learning and platforms. We’ve been willing to take risks – trialling new software and this has really set us apart. It has been incredibly challenging to continue to evolve considering the pace of change - but we’ve done it well. It’s been pretty exhilarating!
We’ve had lots of massive breakthroughs too. We were the first content agency to win major social accounts like Optus and AAMI – these were a really big deal early on; game changers for us. We were one of the first agencies to develop custom magazines for iPad – the list goes on…It’s been 16 years now.
Is content strategy and production adequately funded in most budgets you encounter?
Content is still young, it’s still growing. Most budget spend is still coming out of traditional advertising and media. But what’s really important is understanding the integrated needs of the business across channels – you’ve got to understand the full customer funnel. Once you have a good sense of the customer journey and a good read of this, you can start to see where the spend needs to be for impact.
What do you look for when you are recruiting talent?
Diversity, passion and a good work ethic or attitude. You’ve got to be willing to get in there and really grab hold of the task and get it done. With content it’s also all about connecting to passion and emotion – and we need content strategists and producers that get this instinctively.
What’s your advice for people looking to push their careers forward in content marketing?
Understand strategy and integrated marketing. Then look for creative opportunities. There is lots of conventional content out there – but it’s pretty bland. So find a small creative opportunity that you can really crack and hang your hat on it.
And before we finish – tell us about your career path?
I started out pursuing anything that was entrepreneurial. I was inspired by my dad who was self-employed and a real self-starter. Then I fell into publishing then travel publishing. After realising we would never be a leading consumer publisher we changed tact and set up a content focused agency – and it’s continued to evolve from there.
I’ve never wanted work in a major corporate or anything like that. Actually I’ve wanted to drag people out of that mindset. I like to be a bit more provocative and push ideas further! These are definitely good traits for the world of content strategy and production.