By Aidan Neville.
As I listened to the speakers at our recent Content Marketing for the Technology Sector event, which we held in partnership with LinkedIn, I had a wonderful moment of realisation about the parallel challenges content marketing and tech both face.
The hurdle we often have to overcome as content marketers is that people might dip their toe in, go half way at best when implementing and adopting content marketing, and then leave feeling underwhelmed.
Similar challenges face tech companies, in that the implementation of software often also goes only halfway, people don’t use it to its full potential, and expectations aren’t realised.
The tech sector is one that has really taken content marketing on – statistics out of the US (from the Content Marketing Institute) earlier this year suggest that 95% of business are currently embracing content marketing in some way. However, success has been varied with only 30% of these business saying that their content marketing efforts are effective.
To make both content marketing and tech implementation work as well as they can, the following three areas need to be fully addressed.
When selling a solution – be that tech or content marketing – it’s imperative the buyer fully understands what they’re buying; which of their problems it’ll solve and, critically, which it won’t.
The onus really comes back to the vendor here; they must take the proper steps to educate the potential client and have the nouse to push back on unrealistic requests for the solution they provide, rather than promising it’s a silver bullet to get the deal done.
The need for education around what companies are buying into and ensuring they fully understand their motivations for doing so should be paramount, and a great place to reflect this is in the content created at all stages of the buyer’s journey.
A blog post here and there or a 30 page white paper can be great pieces of content in isolation, but do they really serve an overall purpose for helping that buyer become better acquainted with what you do and your point of difference?
It’s in everyone’s long-term interests that buyers fully understand what they’re buying and why, and have a fully appreciation of what it’ll actually do. Content marketing’s role here is to educate the consumer so they can make an informed decision, not go heavy on the hard sell; promising the earth and delivering a bucket of soil.
As alluded to earlier, this is a challenge for tech companies and content marketers. It’s a frustration I’ve experienced working for both content marketing agencies and tech companies – the services you provide are grossly underutilised and the full suite of what you can provide is largely ignored.
Tech companies, of course, want their clients to be using their products to their full potential. It makes complete sense; you’re going to get the most out of it by using it properly.
The quality of the adoption, however, can be linked right back to the sales process and the content that’s fueling it.
We’re big on the proposition of sales enablement content – as touched on before, this is content that helps inform buyers and inform the conversations vendors are having with them.
If buyers are fully aware of the potential and limitations, what’s possible and what’s not, they will have realistic expectations from the outset. More importantly, they will have a very clear vision of just how integral the technology can be in their organisation.
This principle applies whether we’re talking about a printer or software. The more information a buyer has, the more likely they’re going to use it to its fullest potential, and not be disappointed about what it can’t do.
Importantly, your content marketing for that new client you’ve just won shouldn’t cease just because they’re now a customer, but should continue to help reinforce the point that they’ve made the correct decision and become more aware of your wider capabilities, as well as the full capabilities of the product they’ve invested in.
As many in the tech sector know, the tech buying cycle is a long and arduous process with many stakeholders and decision makers involved (as highlighted in research presented by LinkedIn’s Elisa Koch). So, providing the right content to the right people at the right stage of the buying process is critical.
This can only really come from truly understanding who is involved in that buying process and tailoring content accordingly. With account based marketing becoming increasingly prevalent, it is more important than ever to gain that intimate knowledge of your potential customers and provide them with the right content messaging to help build the trusted relationship you need to close the business.
As part of this process, it’s just as important to portray the commitment that will be required to achieve the long-term results that you’ll both seek. The last thing you want is them simply trialing your services, not fully appreciating the full potential of what you offer and collecting the right sort of data to show success.
The very same can be said for the commitment to do content marketing – there is little to no point just testing it for a few months and giving up before you can truly see it to its full potential.
Whilst you also need buy-in from various areas within the business, an appreciation that content marketing isn’t a quick fix to replace another form of marketing, but an opportunity to build a loyal audience that can reap much greater rewards over time, is crucial.