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Content Is Key to Successful Tech Marketing

While being a category thought leader creates the potential of competitively differentiating your brand, any B2B tech marketer should be producing informative content for its prospects, leads, and existing customers.

Today's buyers are not talking to sales until late in the purchasing cycle. Tech marketers need to act on this by developing an array of educational materials available online and in print that help gain desired brand perceptions well before sales ever hears from a customer. Branded content must educate and demonstrate category thought leadership while steering prospects toward your solution.

The most effective content or collateral material goes far beyond information. It must address and soothe customers' business pain and help support the buyers' decision in your brand's favor, while not merely hyping products or services. Your content should deliver relevant advice which helps purchasing decision-makers more effectively do their jobs. Provide your prospects with in-depth knowledge on the application of your technology in general and your products in particular. The pay-back will be a competitive edge and increased likelihood of purchase.

On the other hand, pushing self-serving messages will get your brand ignored. This requires listening to your market and helping customers make wiser decisions, which may even go so far as recommending another brand's solution. It's formalized and documented consultative selling.

While there's a strong push for marketers of all types to adopt a content creation strategy, it's frankly been a very successful promotional technique for decades. Companies, including ones in the electronics OEM sector, have developed their own content in the forms of magazines, videos, slideshows, newsletters, sponsored films, newspapers, informational white papers, books, and even comic books. Does anyone remember Captain Zilog? So, the idea of marketers being in the publishing business really isn't such a new an idea, it's just one that's becoming better recognized and that more are investing in.

Borrowing some ideas from consumer brands is also an option. What's truly new and exciting is that Web technologies now make production and distribution far more cost-effective and rapidly achievable.

GlobalSpec, a search engine for the engineering, industrial, and technical communities, says that buyers consume and review over six separate content items before a purchase decision. Companies investing in a content library put themselves in a more competitive position to attract inquiries, nurture leads, and positively engage customers and even retain existing ones.

Among the most effective investments in B2B marketing content are:

  • White papers (not lightly-veiled sales brochures)
  • Research reports
  • Webinars and saved Webinar files for subsequent use
  • Case histories, success stories, and customer endorsements (testimonials)
  • Podcasts
  • Video demonstrations
  • Blog posts

B2B purchasers now behave very much like consumers. They search Google, look at reviews and users' comments, and then decide to buy. However, they may still be weighing multiple brands. If your brand has fresh, informative content for purchasers to review, your credibility and value receive a big boost over your competitors.

What kinds of informational assets can your company create? First, what's your marketing communications strategy? Do you have one? How do you sell, directly or through channels? What areas of interest exist in the circle of decision-makers who affect buying decisions? How would training on how to use your products help build perceived brand value and perhaps sustain re-purchase? What do you already have that can be repurposed? What's in print that could become a video or vice versa?

Considering appropriate media, have you looked at mobile or video communications? Would having YouTube videos posted on your site or blog help move prospects in your direction? Consider all the content and delivery media possibilities that may work well for your particular business, help to set your brand apart, and attract the kinds of customers you need for success. Build a plan and start investing in your content marketing inventory.

8 comments on “Content Is Key to Successful Tech Marketing

  1. t.alex
    May 2, 2012

    Having demo or hands-on videos is a great way to reach out to the customers. Once they see the videos, they will dig out more detailed documentation.

  2. Ford Kanzler
    May 2, 2012

    Yes. Video is certainly a form of content that any organization can now cost-effectively apply. In addition to demos, customer comments (endorsements), how-to-use or educational clips, expert chalk talks and conceptual (thought leadership) segments are all valuable. The trick is keeping them very short, informative, not boring and perhaps even entertainling. Weaving a story into what you want to say makes a huge difference rather than straight, factual delivery. (Think “Once upon a time”…”Far away and long ago”). Also, humor, when done well, can be a great asset. However, many companies have difficulty NOT taking themselves too seriously. Its quite refreshing and disarming when there's some fun injected into business communications. Does your company have a senses of humor?

  3. syedzunair
    May 2, 2012

    @Ford: 

    Video content can prove to be valuable for companies if they can keep the users engaged throughout the video. The content should be such that it appeals to the consumers plus also instils in them the urge to buy the product. 

    Making the consumer go the last mile, i.e. making the buying decision is the most difficult part and only a strong conceptual and engaging video can do it effectively. 

  4. Ford Kanzler
    May 2, 2012

    Syedzunair – I believe we agree. As mentioned, keeping it short and perhaps even entertaining are keys to maintaining engagement resuling in persuasive effects. Suggest any video, no matter how compelling, won't be the only factor that helps move the various B2B purchasing decision-makers to the close. Videos, perhaps even a series of them, as well as print, blog content, speeches, articles in relevant media, Web site copy and direct sales contact will all contribute to marketing and sales success. There aren't any silver bullets in B2B content marketing, since there are a variety of customer buying interests and perspectives. Marketers need to understand who the influencers and decision-makers are and appeal to them all with various forms of content applying a range of media.

  5. Ariella
    May 2, 2012

    Twitter has proved very useful to companies in distributing links to content, whether it appears on the site, blog, or YouTube. Hashtags are very helpful in drawing the attention of people interested in related topics.

  6. t.alex
    May 4, 2012

    Not really having a sense of humour 🙂

    Yes, keeping the video short (perhaps 5 mins or less) is important. Most people when the go to youtube they may skip the video if the duration is too long.

  7. SteveCummins
    May 7, 2012

    Ford,

    Great article. I agree that content is an important approach to Tech Marketing, and as you say, it's been around for a while. The interesting thing is that it's now much easier and more accessible to create and publish.

    For anyone wondering how to get started, you should consider starting a blog on WordPress. It's an easy way for multiple members of your technical marketing team to contribute and can be used to highlight unique benefits or applications of your products, to answer common questions, or discuss trends in the industry, The rules for engaging content haven't changed – must provide value and not be too “salesy”.

    We've been using this approach for a few months at http://www.PIDTechInsights.com for some Panasonic products. We still have a lot to learn, but it's a good way to get your feet wet. I would say the toughest part is convincing people that they have something useful to say, and giving them the confidence to put it in writing. But it's well worth the effort.

  8. Ford Kanzler
    May 7, 2012

    Steve – Agree heartily. Blogging is certainly another valuable and cost-effective media channel for brand content. I once worked where the need for and the management resistence to, diving into the blogosphere was challenging. However, once management has been persuaded that thought leadership and market engagement via blogging are good ideas, perhaps after the competition has begun doing it, then it becomes a question of “what” and “who?” Content topics should be laid out based on what the market (your target audience/business community) is interested in. Listening to what other bloggers are talking about at first and then replying to those ideas are useful first steps. The topics you select may be existing ideas of fresh ones designed to generate controversy. Being contrary and pointing out what's wrong or what's needed, if well supported, can boost interest. Topics or an “editorial calendar” of potential blog posts can come from a variety of perspectives including engineering (naturally), marketing, sales, customer service and perhaps even finance. Since there are multiple decision-making people on the customer side, it makes sense addressing ideas of importance to all buying influencers.

    Next, I suggest creating a solid team of informed, enthusiastic bloggers who will consistently support customer engagement with some of their time as bloggers. This is essential to answering the question of who will blog. Laying it all on one person may not be the best approach. Hoping that various people will volunteer is also unlikely for success. As a company grows, a key blogger may arise as the main voice, as occurred at Microsoft, National Semi, Comcast and others. Enlisting a team with clear assignments and deadlines is best.You're in the publishing business, so some discipline is essential to the job.

    There's been a ton written about how and why to blog, so I won't go further than saying its a natural way of deliving valuable content, raising brand credibility and customer interest. Not the only way but one many companies can benefit from.

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