Too many tech content marketers get wrapped up in promoting the latest and greatest advances in their product offerings. Here, we break down how content marketing enables a better understanding of audience, providing them with more useful content across the whole buyer cycle.
As a tech marketer, you’re proud of the products and services your company has brought to the market. Naturally, you want to talk about them – the upgrades, the new developments, the nitty-gritty details which separate you from the competition. You want to talk about them all the time, with whoever will listen to you – your colleagues, your friends, your families…and your customers.
What’s important to you, however, might not be the most interesting for your audience. When companies start structuring their marketing efforts around product, they’re heading towards a brand image cliff and inviting audience apathy. To get noticed in an increasingly complex tech buyer landscape, marketers have to put an end to product worship. Through content marketing, they can put audience needs front and centre instead.
Get real about your product or service
Before you whip out your megaphone proclaiming your new product is just that little bit better than that of your competitors, it’s a good idea to check yourself. Is this really the kind of information your customers will find valuable? Is it likely to be the detail that will make them toss out their old systems and switch over to you? If, say, 300 people have read your white paper about that new feature does that mean you should release on these 300 your sales army? The answer is: probably not.
Don’t get us wrong; physical differences between products can and should be stated. But unless the difference is ‘revolutionary’ or addresses a pertinent consumer need, take the time to reconsider.
It’s a principle that applies across the whole B2B field – and one that gels particularly well with the turbo-charged, spec-obsessed tech industry. As Joe Pulizzi said in his popular PNR: This Old Marketing podcast recently, paraphrasing Professor of Integrated Marketing Communications and author Don Schultz, “Everything can be copied today. Your competitor can create the same product and service that you can – the hardest thing to duplicate is how you communicate”.
In other words, the meaningfulness is in the messaging. If you’re giving your audiences real value outside the orbital of your product, chances are they’ll stick around.
Train yourself as a marathon runner; you’re in this for the long haul
Instead of getting lost in the Orwellian arms race of millimetres and inches take a step back. As we’ve argued previously, short-term ad hoc marketing for content is not an effective way to build long-lasting relationships with customers.
Instead, by definition, content marketing is consistent, customer-centric and continuous over the long-term. It doesn’t push prospects, neglect their needs or presume to know what they want. For a tech marketer, it takes patience.
Recognising the beast that is today’s buyer journey
And we do mean quite a lot of patience. As a recent LinkedIn research study found, the buyer journey that modern tech marketers must tap into has become incredibly complex. Rather than dealing with just a single, golden ‘IT pro’, marketers must now engage a cross-functional committee, all with differing needs, purchasing powers, agendas and interests.
And it’s not just that there are more (sometimes fractious) travellers on the journey either – the path itself is longer. From the needs analysis stage to the renewal stage, the cycle has stretched, taking anywhere from a few months to several years. What’s more, even when the cycle is complete and the product happily installed, it doesn’t end there. The journey loops – indefinitely.
For your business, making sure this loop is never broken or compromised should be a top priority. Whether it’s for expansions, upgrades, additional products or maintenance, your customers are likely going to want to re-engage your services. With only 19-36% of customers considering new vendors, holding onto these businesses and growing them over time is your revenue-maker to cherish. Content marketing is the means by which your company can walk alongside their business, establishing a strong, close and healthy relationship.
Build up a tech content library, tailor-fit for all
=For tech marketers then, stamina and a more holistic mindset is key. Take the time to understand what a typical committee looks like across your prospects and clients. Work towards building up a library of content that addresses the needs and issues of each at the various stages of the buying funnel. Finally, centralise this content library and systemise it, so that you won’t have to spend agonising hours in the digital archives. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the latest and greatest advances of your product. To stay in touch with what your customers truly value however, it’s time to take the product out of your messaging, and inject some awareness instead.