Content marketing isn’t a new concept anymore; most of my readers will have at least a basic understanding of the concept. In fact, I consider it to be very much a mainstream marketing technique at this point. But a good number of senior executives and startup entrepreneurs still view it as ” too expensive”; at least in terms of executive and staff time consumed. Frankly, if your content marketing strategy is poor or you just “don’t know what you’re doing”, it can certainly be a huge waste of precious time. This is especially true if your company is a resource-constrained hardware or software startup. Others complain that they don’t know what to write about, or express concern about who will do the writing. On the surface, these objections may seem reasonable, but we’ll discuss how you can easily overcome them below.
First, we’ll discuss overcoming common internal objections to committing to content marketing. Then we’ll outline the MANY benefits of content marketing, which may have not been fully understood by those reluctant to commit to this marketing method.
OVERCOMING INTERNAL OBJECTIONS TO A CONTENT MARKETING STRATEGY
Objection #1: Content marketing is too time-consuming
Time is what many tech executives – especially senior execs in large tech companies as well as those heading up software and hardware startups – just don’t think that they have to spare. Make no mistake about it, time is a crucial, scarce commodity in these business scenarios.
But content marketing is an opportunity to turn all that hard-won knowledge executives have built up in their industry and functional area and use it toward building authority and influence for your company. What could be a more important use of time than that?
There is definitely an “upfront” time cost to creating the content used in content marketing campaigns; saying anything else would be disingenuous. But when done well, the ROI on the time spent is exceptional and highly leveraged downstream, when compared to other aspects of a typical marketing mix.
Objection #2: What will we write about?
A second objection that I often run into is the “what would I write about?” question. When I talk to most seasoned tech executives, I find that I usually learn something interesting from their perspective or the many lessons that they have learned in their career. Those are the things to write about!
So write about WHAT YOU KNOW and WHAT YOU HAVE OPINIONS ON. Just like you might discuss if you were entering into a one-on-one discussion with an industry peer. And if you really don’t have anything unique to put out there, then frankly your business may have deeper problems to consider.
Objection #3: Who should do the writing?
This is the area that I see companies often get wrong, even after they make a commitment to adding content marketing to their mix of promotional tactics. Who should write? As many people as have “something to say”!. Remember, you’re trying to establish thought leadership. Regardless of whether in a small or a large company, don’t simply delegate content creation to a junior person in the organization who has little in the way of experience, relevant viewpoints, or industry perspective.
In a large company, due to greater available resources, I generally advise that a number of folks are involved in writing and other forms of hands-on content creation. The more the better, really. The more content creators that you have, the richer and more diverse your content will be, opening up broad possibilities for your content marketing campaigns.
Having many creators also spreads out the “pain”, with many busy people doing just a little bit of writing. The more senior the content creators are, the more credible that they will be seen by prospects. Because of their experience and knowledge, they are usually well-suited to create truly authoritative content. That’s not always the case, but it’s a good rule-of-thumb to start with.
In a startup SaaS, hardware or mobile software company this generally means that the CEO or another senior team member such as the CTO or CMO needs to be a key content creator. I know that using senior management cycles in this way seems painful to many. It may even seem unthinkable to some, given all that needs to be done in a startup with precious few senior resources to execute.
But it’s crucial to keep in mind that if well done, content marketing actually has a very positive ROI on the investment of the time by senior executives and other key individuals in the organization.
THE MANY BENEFITS OF CONTENT MARKETING
More robust and interesting website
I visit many websites that immediately “get to the point”. Often too quickly. Many B2B websites are no more than digital product brochures. Often B2C sites are simply vehicles to order the company’s products online. Both of these might work great if somehow you already have huge amounts of traffic coming to your website. And these visitors are universally already well educated on your product category and ready to buy.
Unfortunately, life isn’t that simple for most tech companies. For continuous, long-term success, it’s important to market to prospects who are currently in every different phase of your marketing & sales funnel. From this perspective, your website as simply a sales brochure or eCommerce cart just won’t do.
A content marketing strategy can fill many marketing gaps in your funnel. You can create individual pieces of content aimed at demonstrating to current non-prospects that your product category has benefits to them, bringing them in at the top of your sales and marketing funnel. Another category of content might be aimed at educating them on the specifics of what to look for when considering a purchase of your type of product. A third category might focus on your own product’s specific differential benefits, for prospects who are already down the bottom of the funnel and nearing a purchase decision.
I recommend creating a variety of content using multiple media types including text blogs, podcasts, slideshares and videos to appeal to the widest range of prospect’s preferred learning styles All of this content will build on your brand awareness, while creating greater customer connection to your brand as well as building strong relationships with your target prospects.
Greater website engagement
I discussed above how good content leads to a more robust and interesting website. What does a more interesting website lead to? More time spent by prospects on the website, as well as higher brand recognition
Industry statistics show that 89% of buyers view at least 5 different pieces of content before purchasing, while 62% of B2B buyers make their purchase decision strictly by viewing digital content.
So again, create content for all parts of the marketing funnel. You might create a quick video to draw prospects into the funnel, utilize a detailed blog post to educate and create brand authority and end it with a call to action (CTA) for a special offer or free trial. In this way you will maximize engagement with your website visitors, enabling interaction throughout their purchasing journey from beginning to end.
Thought leadership and category authority
To me, this is where the rubber really hits the road. Obtaining thought leadership and authority in your market segment should be the goal of nearly every content marketing effort. This isn’t easy to pull off, I must be honest. But if you can achieve this goal, nearly every benefit listed in this article will likely fall into place for your company, and there are many of these benefits. This is the reason why I have stated several times that it’s important that your “best minds” are active in your upfront content creation. Everything downstream in content marketing is dependent upon the creation of enlightening, thought-provoking content.
Increased Search Engine Visibility
The search engines, notably Google, LOVE great content. If you utilize a great content strategy, you will almost certainly rise to the top of the search engine rankings, leading to higher website traffic. If you create great EVERGREEN content, that flow of website traffic will last for a long, long time, with almost no downstream effort or investment by you. Done right, this is a beautiful thing for any technology business, large or small.
Fuel for your social channels with links back to your website
Content marketing is to social medial marketing as peanut butter is to jelly. They go together really, really well. I’ve written extensively on Social Media Marketing, so I won’t go into great detail here.
But a good content strategy promoted via social media channels leads to greater social engagement. The articles promoted on social media platforms will also lead to an even higher flow of website traffic directly from your social channels. Last but not least, all the website backlinks, likes, retweets, shares and the like will factor into further increasing your website’s search engine visibility.
Content marketing fuels both search engine and social media marketing, creating a “virtuous circle” of demand driven by the intersection of all three of these complementary online marketing activities.
More efficient marketing
As I’ve mentioned a couple of times, the upfront costs of a content marketing strategy are real, and not insignificant. But if done well, these costs are overwhelmed by the downstream benefits of well-done content marketing.
For one, the downstream, incremental costs in both time and money required to actually execute marketing campaigns are very modest, once the subject content has been created.
Secondly, if your content creation efforts focus on creating evergreen articles that aren’t tied to a particular event and thus stand the test of time, you can utilize this evergreen content over and over again in future marketing campaigns.
Third, utilizing low-cost content marketing automation tools will provide even greater leverage in distributing and publicizing the content.
All of this will lead to enhanced conversion rates of your website visitors at an ever decreasing incremental cost, as your content creation and marketing activities mature.
If successful enough, content marketing activities may even enable you to reduce reliance on digital advertising activities. With this comes the added benefit that content marketing is immune to the ever-increasing problem of Ad-blocking, which is driving up digital advertising’s effective marketing costs.
So with all we’ve discussed above, what’s the bottom line? Like any other business, a software or hardware tech business cares about PROFITS at the end of the day. Good content marketing can improve profits due to the following:
- Higher sales – driven by scalable content marketing campaigns with very inexpensive incremental costs
- Higher prices – driven by enhanced brand recognition and authority
- Brands with high recognition and authority build loyal customer bases and decrease “real” competition
None of this is theoretical or futuristic in nature. Content marketing is driving excellent results for a large number of tech companies today. Check out Hubspot as an example of a successful software company that heavily leverages content marketing in their marketing mix.
I hope this discussion about overcoming objections to a content marketing strategy as well as highlighting its many benefits – that often aren’t fully appreciated – has been helpful to those who are still “on the fence” about committing fully to content marketing. What’s been your own experience with content marketing? Positive or Negative? I’m well aware that not every company has had a positive experience. Sound off about your own experiences by posting a comment below.
Follow Phil Morettini and Morettini on Management via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, RSS, or the PJM Consulting Quarterly Newsletter. To ask a question or discuss a consulting or interim engagement, contact Phil directly at [email protected]
If you liked this post please share it with your colleagues using the “share” buttons below: