How Content material Helped ServiceNow Develop From Startup to International Model


ServiceNow’s origin story reads like many different profitable tech startups.

They didn’t initially want thought management. They wanted nice merchandise and gross sales.

ServiceNow had that — a cloud-based workflow platform used to automate varied IT processes. However ServiceNow lacked a powerful model identification, says Richard Murphy, who joined the corporate because the editor-in-chief and director in 2017. ServiceNow had 5,500 staff and posted $1.9 billion in income that 12 months.

“We weren’t notably well-known exterior of IT prospects, and our core buyer was a director of IT sitting deep within the IT operate,” Richard says.

ServiceNow’s presence within the market has modified quickly since Richard joined the corporate. It expanded its services and adopted a complete content material advertising technique to help that rising and numerous viewers. At this time, ServiceNow offers an AI-powered platform that automates processes throughout almost each enterprise operate, from IT to human sources, customer support, finance, procurement, and past. In 2023, ServiceNow boasted greater than 22,000 staff and $8.5 billion in income, and it’s on the way in which to $16 billion within the not-too-distant future, Richard says.

Its content material technique labored effectively for the corporate and led to advertising business accolades. ServiceNow and its company accomplice Message Lab took prime honors on the 2023 Content material Advertising and marketing Awards for Finest Content material Advertising and marketing Program, Company/Shopper Content material Advertising and marketing Partnership, B2B Publication, and Finest Digital Publication (distribution). It additionally was a finalist in eight different classes.

Richard was named 2023 B2B Content material Marketer of the 12 months.

Utilizing content material as a progress technique

How did a enterprise journalist and social scientist develop a content material advertising technique that supported and contributed to the speedy growth of ServiceNow?

Richard turned to thought management. However he didn’t produce these run-of-the-mill white papers, e-books, and webinars. As a substitute, he adopted a Harvard Enterprise Evaluate mentality and launched Workflow, a digital publication that covers rising traits in enterprise tech and enterprise technique. Workflow has been a cornerstone of ServiceNow’s technique to place itself as a strategic innovation accomplice to companies and governments worldwide. The content material model now contains Workflow Quarterly, {a magazine} that covers a singular theme every quarter, from the digital expertise to ESG (environmental, social, and governance) to threat administration.

Workflow Quarterly affords a premium editorial expertise, packaging proprietary analysis and deeply reported tales in a compelling format. The result’s {a magazine} that entices readers and educates them about digital transformation. 

When ServiceNow’s thought management program began, some inside ServiceNow questioned why the model ought to put money into constructing thought management. Richard wanted to persuade them it will transfer the underside line.

“No person ever obtained in my face and mentioned, ‘Richard, your work has no worth. Why are you right here?’” he says. “All people was keen to offer me an opportunity, however I wouldn’t say that my job safety was tremendous superior for the primary couple of years.”

It helped that ServiceNow was rising its product strains and increasing its goal audiences. Till 2017, the viewers was made up of IT administrators looking for to decrease their prices. Nonetheless, the growth in product strains and industries meant the client profile developed into folks with C-level titles. Eighty % of the Fortune 500 are ServiceNow prospects, together with authorities businesses all over the world.

These decision-makers are senior leaders who might or might not have technical backgrounds. “They’re a lot much less within the ins and outs of tech — the speeds and feeds of tech — than they’re within the strategic worth of tech,” Richard explains.

Senior leaders need to know the solutions to those questions in the event that they put money into ServiceNow’s expertise for his or her IT operations, HR companies, customer support administration, procurement, finance, and so forth.:

  • How a lot cash will I save?
  • How will it enhance labor productiveness?
  • What’s it going to do for worker and buyer satisfaction scores?

“All these questions relate to the impression of expertise, and that’s what we cowl in Workflow,” Richard says.

Rising right into a model

Workflow rapidly demonstrated non-salesy, product-agnostic thought management wasn’t simply good for growing model consciousness. It additionally constructed belief within the model, which finally translated into advertising and gross sales leads.

That’s when the C-suite at ServiceNow acknowledged thought management was good for enterprise.  

In six years, Workflow’s viewers has grown to 1.5 million distinctive guests and a pair of million whole web page views – up by 1 million views previously 12 months alone. On common, Workflow guests spend almost six minutes on the positioning, up 71% 12 months over 12 months. Senior enterprise leaders — the core buyer — dominate the viewers. The metrics present Workflow readers usually tend to take fascinating actions, resembling visiting the corporate’s web site (, giving up their electronic mail deal with to obtain a white paper, and studying in regards to the firm, in comparison with guests who haven’t beforehand consumed Workflow content material. (Learn extra about how ServiceNow tracks content material efficiency on this 2022 article.)

“We have now seen that the extra of our content material they devour, the extra probably they’re to purchase,” Richard says. “As a result of on the finish of the day, regardless that we’re not pushing the merchandise instantly, every thing we discuss on the thought management stage does want to offer mental air cowl for particular merchandise.”

Rising to satisfy the following problem

A little bit over a 12 months in the past, ServiceNow launched RiseUp, a program to create one million expert professionals who can function ServiceNow options inside a corporation and thrive on this digitally reworked financial system by 2024.

It grew to become an enormous alternative for thought management. “Instantly, you’ll be able to analyze the entire world of abilities improvement and reskilling in a world the place AI and generative AI are quickly altering how organizations function, how they go to market,” Richard says.

ServiceNow partnered with Pearson AI, which makes use of machine-learning algorithms to crawl census knowledge, job boards, and different financial knowledge units worldwide. They used AI to foretell how AI goes to vary the mixture of abilities wanted for people and corporations to succeed within the international financial system.

The analysis developed into an immersive content material expertise that includes the findings, explains their impression, and relates the tales by means of consultants utilizing video, graphics, textual content, and extra. “We had been in a position to place ServiceNow as an organization that not solely offered AI options however was additionally keenly conscious of the impression of AI on folks and organizations,” Richard says.

ServiceNow advertising and gross sales groups can now use this thought management bundle to handle the labor disruption dialog and speak in regards to the options the corporate offers to attenuate the impression.

Getting the work completed

When Richard launched ServiceNow’s thought management program in 2017,  he was a group of 1 with a small price range to rent an company — that’s when Message Lab got here on board. At this time, the inner group totals 15 and sits within the international model group. Richard co-leads the initiative with writer Sheila Dowd. The pair operates in a standard editor-publisher partnership. He focuses on the content material, and she or he takes care of viewers improvement, paid and natural search, and so forth.

With a strong editorial group, Richard has broadened his focus from creating unique thought management content material to shifting the viewers alongside a content material journey. “It’s all about serving to construct this holistic story that goes from model all the way in which to demand,” he says.

Now he spends his days speaking to colleagues throughout communications, together with product, business, and accomplice advertising, in addition to exterior companions, resembling Accenture, Deloitte, and PWC, who implement ServiceNow options in organizations worldwide.

The group’s company roster now contains Message Lab for model journalism content material, Barretto for artistic design, and Thought Lab for analysis assist.

“It’s discovering the proper stability between your exterior companions and your inside group, then it’s about bringing the proper abilities. All of it collectively is the place you get the success,” Richard says.

Specializing in what’s subsequent

Richard grew up within the Center East and Southeast Asia, the place his father labored as a U.S. diplomat. He studied literature at Harvard and later earned a doctorate in social anthropology from Oxford based mostly on fieldwork in Pakistan. He began his journalism profession as a contract reporter in Afghanistan and went on to cowl enterprise, tech, and worldwide affairs for The New York Instances, The Wall Avenue Journal, and Fortune, amongst others.

Richard served because the editor-in-chief of Fortune Small Enterprise journal. When that publication closed in 2009, he shifted his path barely. Working as an editorial technique marketing consultant, he discovered a few of his most attention-grabbing tasks had been creating thought management content material for administration consulting companies like McKinsey and Bain.

When Hewlett Packard Enterprise spun out from HP in 2015, Richard joined the brand new enterprise tech firm as editor-in-chief on the worldwide model group.  He helped outline HPE’s editorial voice and launched a publication known as Enterprise.nxt to coach enterprise leaders about IT technique and the way forward for computing.  

That journalistic, thought management, and branding expertise served him effectively when he moved to ServiceNow in 2017. Over the six years, the sources have grown, enabling Richard and the group to broaden and deepen the protection, publish extra unique reporting, and conduct proprietary analysis.

“In the end, that’s what issues to me. I’m 100% a journalist and an editor by way of simply my background and the way I feel. And it’s at all times about advancing the story. If you happen to’re not advancing the story, what’s the purpose? You’re not a thought chief; you’re a follower.”

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Cowl picture by Joseph Kalinowski/Content material Advertising and marketing Institute