social media how toJason Crawford, president of the Parts and Service division of Block Imaging, was upstaged by his six-year-old daughter.

In her ponytailed debut on the Block Blog, Crawford asked her, “Madeleine, do you know how to fix a laser aimer?”, to which she confidently replied, “Yes!”

The pair then demonstrated with charming aplomb a simple troubleshooting tidbit for Block’s medical imaging equipment customers.

block video

Block Imaging Parts and Service President Jason Crawford and his daughter in their video debut.

The video was one of a slew of ideas that came out of a two-day retreat aimed at kickstarting a company-wide commitment to content marketing through their blog.

Since then, Block has seen an increase of approximately 150% in organic search traffic to their site, which has translated to more and better-qualified leads and shorter sales cycles.

Sales volume has increased significantly enough since September that the company—which had been in a slump—hired 13 employees, including 3 additional salespeople.

Organization: Block Imaging International, Inc.

Social Media Handles & Stats:


  • Organic search traffic increased from 4,000 to approximately 10,000 visits per month
  • A single post was the impetus for a $70K order
  • Three new salespeople hired since the company-wide commitment to blogging
  • Over 250 downloads of The C-Arm Buyers Guide in its first 3 months
visits organic search

Block's search traffic increased significantly after a September 2011 company retreat focused on content marketing.

Block Imaging, a 70-person company in Lansing, Michigan, provides preowned and refurbished medical imaging equipment, including machines for MRI, CT, X-ray, C-Arm and mammography, to a worldwide market.

Their sales growth over the past year is to a great extent directly attributed to their focus on content marketing through their blog.

Four factors have contributed most to their blog’s success.

#1: Buy-In From the Top

The atmosphere at Block Imaging in summer 2011 was fearful and distrusting; sales were down and every department had scaled back.

Vice President of Marketing Krista Kotrla articulates that they had two options: “Are we just going to accept this not being a good year and cutting and scaling back on everything, or are we going to go all-in on something to try to grow this business?

She had experimented with getting a blog going the previous December, but participation and results were spotty. “It was kind of relegated to the marketing department trying to get an article from the company president maybe once or twice a month,” she said.

Kotrla proposed a two-day company-wide retreat with a content marketing specialist to launch what she calls a “culture of content marketing.” Response to the retreat was extremely positive, generating a host of ideas for blog posts and videos such as the one Crawford made with his daughter.

“I had never written a blog before, and I had never done a blog video before, but I figured we’ve got to start somewhere,” Crawford said. “It really came down to being willing to be a little vulnerable and a little real with people.”

blog title brainstorm team competition

Block Imaging employees in a team blog-title brainstorming exercise at their company retreat.

“It was a definite intentional shift from leadership saying that this is the way we are going to go, this is the wave of the future,” said Product Manager Chris Sharrock.

#2: Make it Easy for Everyone to Contribute

There is no one-size-fits-all strategy at Block for coming up with content. Sharrock dove in wholeheartedly, and has no problem consistently cranking out two to three blog posts a month, but some others have needed a little more help and encouragement.

Some people can take a list of keyword phrases that marketing has gleaned from Hub Spot and run with it; others work better with a specific blog post title. Others are more comfortable verbally. “Some salespeople feel much more comfortable standing in front of the backwall we set up in the conference room and filming a short video,” Kotrla said.

And if there is someone who hasn’t sent any submissions in a while, “We pull them aside and in a one-to-one meeting, try to figure out what they need,” she said. “Is it more keywords, specific titles? Sometimes they just need permission to stop the daily grind and sit down and talk it out. Other times, they feel more comfortable if they know it’s being reviewed by an engineer, so we’ll take a salesperson and an engineer out to lunch and flesh out a few outlines.”

Block’s ambitious goal of one post every weekday means managers must keep on top of department quotas, but they find that an atmosphere of inclusiveness and flexibility has far better results than reprimanding people for not participating. To date, over 40 people from the 70-person company have contributed to the blog.

#3: Empower a Content Officer

One strategy that has helped tremendously is to have a single point of contact for all blog drafts, someone they have taken to calling the “Content Officer.”

Jordan Batterbee, originally from engineering support, emerged as a natural writer who can take a draft, outline or even a list of bullet points from another team member and craft it into a well-edited, SEO-keyworded post, injecting some humor and personality along the way.

jordan batterbee

Jordan Batterbee, Block Imaging's Content Officer

Having him as the conduit for all posts has been “hugely significant,” said Kotrla, “Because it made it a lot easier for people to contribute very little and turn it into a post that they get recognized for. It makes it easy and comfortable for people to participate.”

Batterbee has increased his contribution to the point that he is about to move over to marketing full time. “I wish we had invested sooner in developing a dedicated person to carry more weight in helping to oversee our blogging machine,” said Kotrla.

#4: Make it Fun and Rewarding

The one factor that ties everything else together is consistently celebrating and rewarding contributions to the company’s content marketing, creating an environment where employees are intrinsically motivated.

“Every two weeks at the staff meeting, we reward two content superheroes who have contributed something significant to the blog. We have a Spiderman mask and a Wolverine mask that they put on and we take a picture that we share in the next all-team PowerPoint presentation,” said Kotrla.

superheroes chris and shelly r

Two of Block's biweekly Content Superheroes.

“We also have a really cheesy Plinko board with gift cards at the bottom, so they get a gift card, too. But it’s not really the gift cards, it’s the fun of knowing that you contributed. We try to inspire in the team that all of their efforts are contributing in a significant way to the overall company vision.”

But besides the chance to unleash their inner superhero, the biggest motivator for Block’s employees is success.

Said Crawford, “When we get feedback when someone says, ‘Your answer to a common question helped me make a better decision,’ or when people begin to see that they helped someone get a better result or find an answer to a problem they were having, that’s a great feeling that people want to experience again and again.”

What do you think? Does your company have a blog? What strategies are succeeding or not succeeding in your content marketing? Leave your comments and questions in the box below.

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  • Wow, what an awesome story!!!! More importantly, it’s great to hear how companies are approaching the need to build out a content marketing plan, and especially to see that it’s been successful on a cultural level too. Not always easy to pull off, and I tip my hat to all those employees at Block Imaging for embracing the change.

  • A fantastic story! I love how the whole company’s morale has been boosted and they are working together as a team. More companies need to embrace this aspect of social media – of sharing and interacting with each other.

  • Tiffany

    I picked up lot of great ideas! Thank you for sharing!

  • I think this clearly articulates that content marketing doesn’t live in a vacuum, but rather it is a cultural shift. This is the same concept as social business. For the former and latter to work, everyone in the company must have a vested interest. Awesome post! 

  • I don’t know if the timing is just right for me but this story is one of the most inspiring and helpful posts I have read in a long time. The Block team is hitting on a lot of the same ideas that I have bouncing around in my head. Now, onto to implimentation!

  • Daniella

    Great Story! But I have employees that I have offered to pay them for a blog insert, and still can’t get them to do one. What do you suggest? We decided to get guest bloggers from our manufacturers, which seems to work well.

  • Sarah Bauer

    This is such an inspiring case study!  What I really appreciate here is that from the very beginning, building a culture of content marketing was a unified experience for the whole seventy-person company. And who says that you have to be marketing a glamourous industry to see blogging success? Clearly, the planning and “culture” that was developed through the content retreat, and assigned roles, paid off. 

    Our company has a blog that I manage and edit with a focus for developing our reputation as local authorities for web marketing advice. I think it’s important to create a blog strategy, and maintain it consistently and professionally. Create value, like the outstanding team at Block Imaging!

    Sarah Bauer
    Navigator Multimedia

  • Mhanley

    does anyone have any suggestions for how to get a brand new blog up and running? meaning…start to get followers and more visitors? I know it will take some time for this to happen, but we are trying to post at least once a week and haven’t had many visits since it started.  Any suggestions are appreciated.  Thanks! 

  • This is great news for me. I could pick up some ideas for my future work. Thanks a lot, Louise and the Block team.

  • Louise Julig

    Yes, I think the top-down leadership on this is what really signaled to the company that this was not just something that was tacked on by marketing but that was a new way of thinking in the company. Glad you liked the article,  Nick.

  • There are tons of good posts about this topic, try HubSpot, Copyblogger for starters. But one tip I’ve seen often is to frequent other blogs where you can add value, maybe as a guest author, or at least in the comments section. Don’t overdo it and try to sell your own blog, remember, you’re there to support the author and their post. Building respect will eventually earn you links back.

  • What a great case study! Thanks Louise. It showcases a company in a very specific field that doesn’t seem ‘SM friendly’ yet with an inspired and risk-taking leader, they’ve created an exciting and robust connection with current clients and, quite obviously, with future clients. I think a key aspect is the care that the company has for their employees. My plan this fall is to have the Board and the Staff become contributors for our social media content. This article has some great pointers for me to consider and incorporate. Hanne Lene Dalgleish, Communications Coordinator.

  • Gary

    What a fantastic post, I love how your staff members have been inspired by the blogging experience. I’m soon to manage a health scheme that I’ve built from the ground up, I’ll be interested in looking to incorporate this into the scheme and to see what response I’ll get.

  • Christina

    The blog was difficult to find on the Block Imaging website. 

  • This is a terrific story.  During these tough times it’s those who think outside the box and are willing to try something new that will succeed.  I recently revamped my company website and am putting together a social media/content marketing strategy.   One of my plans was to blog on a more regular basis.  After reading this article, I’m even more excited to know that this strategy works.  I’m also brainstorming on how to use more video on my articles.  Thanks for sharing this story!

  • Christina

    When I read Jason Crawford enlisted his daughter in a video, I was looking forward to viewing it. No link was provided in this case study so I attempted to use the Block Imaging blog search. Wow, was that a waste of time. First, I wasn’t able to find the vid – tried searching on the “how to fix a laser aimer”; “jason crawford”; “daughter”. No luck. This blog is also poorly designed visually and functionally. I’m surprised it is as popular as it is. They need help making the blog more user-friendly and, hopefully, you can provide it.

  • Louise Julig

    Glad you liked the story, Emily! I think the key to the morale boost wasn’t necessarily the blogging in and of itself, but that the blogging was successful. Nothing succeeds like success, as they say.

  • Louise Julig

    That’s good feedback, Christina. I agree that it could be more prominent. 

  • Louise Julig

    I’m glad you got some good ideas from the post!

  • Very inspiring! Thanks for the article! 

  • Louise Julig

    Daniella, as I replied to Nick above, I think that the buy-in from the top is crucial to making this a success. The other piece is that they got some training from outside that showed them how it can be done successfully, and the leaders were in the training right there with the employees. By showing that they were learning too, it sent the message that this is not something being shoved down people’s throats from management, but that everyone needs to participate to make it worthwhile. I loved how Jason Crawford made that video with his daughter as one of the first things he did with the blog. It showed that he was a real person and not above it all. The blogging is for everyone, not just employees. I hope that helps, and thanks for the kind words on the story. 

  • If you have customers or suppliers that are active on social media, interview them for a written or video blog post. They will share on social media and if they also have a blog they will likely link to their interview. You can also volunteer to guest post on any non-competitive industry blogs and link back to your site. 

  • Thank you so much, Stephan! The buy-in and support from the leadership team made all the difference in making such a huge pivot in the culture happen successfully all at once. Plus we had a pretty amazing speaker/trainer who came in to help us “get it”. It really is awesome working for a company that believes in investing in their people. We’re simply living in a day and age when the world is moving too fast to NOT utilize all the gifts of your employees.

  • Couldn’t agree more, Nick! Cultural shift, becoming a social business, giving your team a better platform for making a bigger impact… I’m with you 100%.

  •  Ooooo, smart thinking in getting guest bloggers from manufacturers, Daniella! Well done. As for getting more buy-in from employees, it was the outside speaker who made it seem easy and very achievable. He also helped us all understand “WHY” were doing this as a company and believe in the possibilities of achieving significant results together. Intrinsic motivation and having fun with it is key.

  • I highly recommend HubSpot, Mhanley! They make it REALLY easy for non-techies like myself 🙂

  •  Awesome, best of luck to you, Derek!

  • E-mail me and I’ll help you out –

  • Thank you Louise for this wonderful article! More companies are now starting to realize the importance of a content officer.

  •  That is wonderful, Hanne! Wishing you and your team all the best with your own social media content efforts!

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  • Don

    This is such a great article. I can’t wait to
    use the insights you have stated there. Thanks a lot Louise.

  • What a great story. Is a company selling second hand medical imaging equipment can increase their sales via blogging, then there’s no excuse for any business not to be able to achieve the same thing. Not all of these ideas will translate, particularly to a British business. But the basics of it will work for any company.

  • That’s really powerful having that many people contributing to the blog. Staying on top of what’s going on really helps and will usually have positive results.


  • So honored by your comments, Michele! Please keep us posted on how implementation goes for you and your team. Let me know if you have any questions along the way too!

  •  That IS good feedback, Christina… thanks!

  •  Yes, we have some work to do on the look, Christina. Here is the link to see Jason’s video and blog along with it if you’re still curious to see it –  There are several types of laser aimers out there so we were really focusing on capturing traffic around the phrase “OEC Laser Aimer”.

  • Wow, I love content and this really shows what a fresh approach can accomplish. Great idea and great story, good luck with continued success.

  • Louise Julig

    Christina, the video is linked in the paragraph preceding the screen shot, ” … her ponytailed debut on the Block Blog,” but I guess it wasn’t obvious enough. Sorry about that. For formatting reasons we only wanted one video clip in the post and we used the example of the branded backdrop in the conference room farther down in the post. 

  • Louise Julig

    Thanks so much! I’m glad it was helpful.

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  • Annie

    Well said Sarah. I also blog for my company though never done it before this, and found out that consistency is the first step to blogging. Really inspired by the Block Imaging story.

    Thanks for the share guys!!


  • Karen O’Lone-Hahn

    Great ideas for a company with lots of people but being an artist all alone and seeking helpful ideas for blog content, this wasn’t helpful at all…

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  • Kim Fennell

    Great story and extremely motivational. I’m curious as to how to incorporate these strategies within a solopreneur business.

  • It’s stories like this that give me hope for the future. As the only person running my business, I struggle with content and marketing and building traffic, not just to my blog, but to my books that are for sale on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. 

  • Kareem.kelly

    This was a very good story! Blogging seems so time consuming that it’s seemed easier to disregard than do. Spreading the wealth amongst the enterprise seems a lot more effective.

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  • This points out obvious options for all types of individuals as you have stated. I agree with the audience in that you hit the nail on the head that making it simple while keeping it rewarding is a key element to successful marketing. 

  • points are Awesome and different but useful from others blogging tips
    Great article

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  • Very inspiring story! Nice change from all the Top 10 and How-To type articles on content marketing. Really love how they turned business blogging from something that can be viewed negatively by employees into something positive that everyone in the company celebrates together. 

  • This is a great case study and can be used for various environments. Rewarding the employees and making them part of content creation is such a valuable resource. I wish more companies recognized this.

  • Great post! It’s so important to make these things fun for the everyone involved. I think people forget that and it’s a great way to get the best out of people.

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  • Louise Julig

    Karen — I appreciate that the challenges facing a solopreneur are different than those for a medium-sized company such as Block. In a way I see it as validation that the solo entrepreneur should give herself a break and not try to do it all. I learn a lot by doing these stories, and when I see the amount of effort that goes in to making a successful blog such as the one they did, I realize that there is no way I can expect the same efforts of myself while I am trying to build my own business as a writer donning many hats. Currently I am evaluating my own social media efforts to see where I get the most ROI so I can focus my energy. Since you are an artist, you might want to focus on one of the visual mediums such as Pinterest, Instagram or YouTube. Best of luck

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  • I have been blogging about being a newlywed for about 3 months. I find that getting comments from 1% of my readers is about average. It was discouraging to me too, but then I just accepted exactly what Charlene said: They don’t have to read and they don’t have to comment. And I kept writing. I was getting a lot of face-to-face comments from friends who said they loved what I was writing but none of those people were posting comments on the blog.

  • Having a collaborative blog is increasingly becoming important. I agree with you. As you’ve stated above, blogs is really be a good channel for organic search engine traffic for our website. Trying to be a diligent and very patient is one of the factor on a business when it comes to blogging strategy. I will bear this in my mind. Thanks for this helpful tips Louise.

  • Louise Julig

    Yes, I have had your same experience. A lot of people just aren’t commenters. 

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  • I think this clearly articulates that content marketing doesn’t live in a vacuum, but rather it is a cultural shift. This is the same concept as social business. For the former and latter to work, everyone in the company must have a vested interest. Awesome post! 

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  • Wonderful tips for maximizing site traffic …I like your idea of surpise rewarding the contributors, will be implementing this strategy in the near future !!

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  • blogging is not as easy as we think & it’s really challenging to make any blog popular but the tips like you are posting can help to boos traffic, popularity etc.

  • Alisa

    This post is really helpful. I am gonna share it with my colleagues. Thanks

  • Luke Hancock

    Congrats Krista! I may have missed it in comments here but how did you know content marketing was the strategy that would succeed? How did you know that writing a blog would generate more leads? Were you simply hopeful or did you have evidence to indicate an engaged blog would help business?

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