You’ve seen the Wizard of Oz, right? Well, just in case it’s been a while, here’s a recap:
Dorothy finds herself plonked in a strange, unfamiliar land where she picks up some equally clueless friends. They make a long and difficult journey to find a revered and supposedly all-powerful figure who can sort all their problems for them, and give them the skills and character traits they’ve always felt they lacked. Only, when they get there, they realise that the wizard isn’t all powerful after all – it’s all an elaborate performance. And it turns out that they already had everything they needed to achieve their goals. They just didn’t know how to use them.
You start out feeling totally at a loss, like you’ve been thrown into a world you don’t really get. You and your colleagues are preoccupied by the things you feel you don’t have, rather than what you do. When you look for a marketing partner or agency, what you’re really looking for is some all-knowing, infallible expert who can click their fingers and hand you a ready-made solution on a plate.
Instead, you learn the hard way that the tools you need to make your marketing campaign work have to come from within your own company. A great marketing agency will help you coax out those strengths and spot the ways that your team can contribute effectively to your strategy – but they can’t wave a magic wand, and they can’t take over and do everything for you. That’s not how it works.
This can be a bittersweet pill to swallow. No one is ever thrilled to find out that the solution to their problem is hard work and careful planning. But there aren’t any shortcuts here, I’m afraid.
The first step is to recognise that your success hinges on your ability to create compelling content that genuinely adds value for your audience. That means publishing blog posts and eBooks, creating videos, recording podcasts or making content in any other format that educates and/or entertains. It means offering up knowledge and insights that are going to help potential clients solve problems, increase their understanding of their subject, or make their working lives easier.
The second step is recognising that no one is better placed than your own team to develop that kind of content.
Think about it. You guys are the ones that really know your stuff. You have deep-level technical expertise. You know where your industry is headed. You know how to get the most out of your products and services. You know what approaches, ideas and technologies would help your clients to serve their own customers better. So why not share this knowledge with them?
The third step is figuring out how to draw out these ideas and information from your team.
Here’s some top advice from Michael Gerard, CEO of Curata, which has done a TON of research into effective content marketing strategies for B2B and tech companies:
“Identify the location of pockets of insight and content to help with your content development process: The best situation is to identify the individuals that are passionate about the topics that are part of your content marketing strategy, and where these individuals’ MBOs (managed business objectives) align with the objectives of your content marketing program. You may be surprised at the amount of content that already exists across your organization, and simply needs to be repurposed.
Look for help within product marketing if you’re a technology company. IDC research indicates that 19% of marketing staff within technology companies are product and solution marketers; and that translates into a lot of marketers that are highly motivated to help build content within your organization to increase sales of the products that they represent.”
In other words, if you want your team to get on board with your content marketing plans from the word go. And you need to make it clear how this is going to directly benefit them, too.
Let’s start with the people on the frontline of your business: your sales team. Ask your sales and business development colleagues what kinds of materials would help them to pitch products to customers. What are some of the most common questions and concerns that clients put forward, which you could cover in a blog post? What fields are most of your customers working in – and what are they going to use your products and services to achieve? Could you publish an eBook that specifically deals with this purpose/sector?
For example, let’s say you’re a remote sensing company and you pitch your services both to oil companies and to organisations dealing with disaster response.
Each of these types of clients are going to want essentially the same thing – a reliable way of mapping an area to analyse risks and to track developments on the ground. But the way they approach this will be very different.
In this situation, wouldn’t it be super handy for your team to have one eBook that’s about best practices for using satellite imagery for pipeline planning and management, and a second eBook that repurposes much of the same content and technical explanations, but explains this in the context of containing the impact of natural disasters like floods or forest fires, mobilising emergency services and so on.
Having in-depth, expert knowledge like this at their fingertips could seriously help your team to close a sale – and that will make them much more excited about putting in the effort to help you produce the content.
Tech Support Teams
Or take your tech support teams. Which issues are they contacted about most often? Are there any problems that affect a lot of clients, but are super easy to fix once you know how? If so, creating a series of “how to” videos troubleshooting common problems means you’d be providing something incredibly valuable to your clients while easing your team’s workload at the same time.
Bear in mind, though, that you need to make a distinction between the best people to contribute ideas and the best people to make them happen.
You might be lucky enough to have an R&D expert who also has a natural talent for writing, or a sales director who comes across brilliantly on screen. If you do, then fantastic – the more people see their faces and hear their voices, the more engaged they’ll feel with what you do.
Most of the time, though, you’ll need someone who has a flair for this stuff to take that raw material and polish the edges. Whether that’s an internal marketing person or an outsider, pick someone who understands your industry and can hone and shape your content to make it as engaging and compelling as you possibly can.
The trick is to keep your colleagues’ voices and ideas intact, but to edit what they give you to make it really jump off the page or screen.
Remember that content marketing is an ongoing project. Encourage your team to fire over ideas on a regular basis. Take the time to really listen. Keep honing and building on these ideas. When customers comment or ask questions about the content you’ve put out on social media, ask your team members to reply, deepening the relationship and giving them ideas for the next blog post, video or so on.
And lastly, always, always credit individual team members for the work they’ve put in, thank them and congratulate them on great content. Let them know when a particular post has had a ton of clicks. Pass on great feedback.
[ctt template=”5″ link=”OQo1f” via=”no” ]Content Marketing is an ongoing project. @Eballball #Geospatial #Marketing[/ctt]
If you want to keep the ideas flowing, you’ll need your team to stay excited about the role they play in your content marketing strategy. That means making it clear to them that their input is valuable – and totally valued by you.