April 18, 2018
If there were 10 Commandments for technology consulting firm marketing, “Thou shalt publish content” would probably be listed towards the top. Maybe right after “Thou marketing strategy shalt be solid”.
Yes, content is that important.
But what does it mean for a technology consulting company to publish content and how can content play a role in the marketing success of your business?
It’s important to remember that while you may think you are focusing on a B2B market, you are still selling to individuals. When these individuals investigate the problems your firm can solve, they are going to spend time online. Using Google, ratings and review sites, social media, and other online tools, your prospects will be consuming content. If you are not publishing content it obviously will not be found by prospects, and your competitors, who are publishing content, will be the ones influencing the decisions your prospects are going to make.
Technology consulting companies need to have a solid content strategy that both attracts prospects and helps to convert them into customers. The Marketing Hourglass™ provides a logical framework for your content planning. This framework helps you evaluate what is needed at every step of the buyer’s journey. Top of the Hourglass content will help your prospects get to Know, Like, and Trust you. Middle Hourglass content will help transition leads into customers, and bottom of the Hourglass content helps retain existing customers and helps them refer business to you.
Thinking of how you will use content in the context of the customer journey as represented by the Marketing Hourglass ensures your content will have a purpose. Your content also has to connect and resonate with the audience of your business. The ability to communicate that you understand their problems and have solutions to solve those problems should be the highest priority for your content.
That doesn’t mean that search engine optimization isn’t important; it is. But what good is it to rank high for a keyword, draw traffic to your site, only to ignore the concerns of your audience. There is a reason a prospect visits your site; they are seeking to gain a better understanding of how to solve a problem, or validate that your business has the chops to solve it.
Don’t ignore the importance of content. If you do, you’ll miss the advantage of one of the most valuable components of tech consulting marketing success has to offer. Demand Metric reports that content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about three times as many leads. That means you investment in content marketing will pay off. And, according to a recent LinkedIn report 78% of IT buyers require education in order to make change decisions and they favor companies that provide educational material at each stage of the buying journey. That same report states that prospects will consume five pieces of content before they are ready to talk to sales.
Content is the fuel for your marketing engine.
Without content you aren’t going very far.
Notice how we aren’t gauging content success by volume. There used to be an industry inside joke about consultants attempting to be paid by the weight of the reports they delivered to clients. Volume seemed to matter more than substance and PHD amusingly meant “piled higher and deeper”. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking more is better. Instead think these two thoughts: deliver the right content at the right time and quality over quantity.
Two outcomes that matter the most in the tech consulting industry when it comes to content: building trust and educating prospects and customers. These two outcomes, building trust and educating, require very specific forms of content.
Trust Building Content
Trust is necessary to remove your prospect’s or customer’s vulnerability. Without trust they will hesitate to move to the next steps of the journey, as outlined in the Marketing Hourglass. If you want your prospect to move from ‘Know’ to the phases of ‘Like’ and ‘Trust’ you’ll have to demonstrate that you are capable of solving their problems and are aligned to their desired outcome. If you want the prospect to move to the state of ‘Customer’ you’ll need to make deposits into the trust bank.
Those deposits are made with content.
Articles and Blogs
Having a blog for your technology consulting firm is possibly the easiest way you could get started with content. Establishing a set of themes that are important to your audience should provide you with ample ideas of what should be developed into articles. Lacking ideas? Look at questions your prospects ask the sales team (ask them to examine their sent emails or common questions during calls or presentations).
Your themes could be fairly simple: Who, Why, or How. Or could be built using common business cycles: What and When. Building a collection of expert articles will help build trust with your prospects and with search engines.
Once your blog grows and gains some solid content you can repurpose that content and improve and expand it. You can turn the content into a video, a more advanced article, a supporting piece like a checklist, or even combine several articles into an eBook.
Videos are becoming dominant in the content marketing space, and for good reason. They are shown to have much better with prospects and are more engaging.
In the technology consulting industry, much of what you’ll want to tell your clients can be visualized. That means your field already lends itself well to this medium of communication. Videos can explain typical projects, best practices, where technology fits within the customers’ business goals, or other topics. And, new video generation tools are making it easier to create videos from your existing articles and other written content.
The source for generating high trust building video content can be found within your customer list. Prospects that see and hear your customers speaking about the same problems they have, and the value of your services, and how your company has solved these problems, will engender trust in your business.
Create a profile on YouTube and other video sharing sites and showcase some of your content, including testimonials, project overviews, demos, and so on.
Testimonials and Customers Stories
Speaking of testimonials, they don’t all have to be in video format. Few things build trust like relatable people who have used your services describing the value they obtained.
Ask your existing clients to give testimonials or allow you to write stories about your projects and services. It can be in the form of text (or videos). The point is to capture how your clients have become more successful as a result of your expertise and solutions.
These are somewhat related to testimonials, but are slightly different. The main difference between reviews and testimonials is that testimonials are typically found on your website and are positive – you wouldn’t have them there otherwise – right? Reviews, on the other hand, are found mostly on review aggregator sites like AppExchange, SuiteApp, and Capterra, and can be both positive and negative.
As a firm, you have less control over review sites than handpicked customer testimonials. However, that doesn’t mean you should discount or ignore them. Actively seek reviews on sites that help raise awareness about you and your services. Always respond to your reviews, both positive and negative.
Press releases may seem a little old fashioned for modern tech consulting firms but they play an important role in building trust with your audience. Announcing alliances and partnerships, project successes, executive or staff news, and recognition or awards is a great way to promote your business.
Building trust is essential but you need to also look to educate your audience.
Educational content is all about creating value for your prospects. Building trust only works if you actually have something to offer to your target market.
Educational content can take the form of articles and videos (like above) but also lends itself to more in-depth and detailed content.
Webinars are common in the technology industry, and since you sell expertise and solutions, they are a natural fit. Information needs to be packaged in a way that people will understand it and be able to respond to. You can conduct live webinar presentations emphasizing engagement and interaction and also record the event for later distribution and use. A well thought out webinar plan can create awareness (and build trust) and also deliver detailed knowledge to your audience. Having regularly scheduled educational events delivers great value to both prospects and existing customers.
White Papers and eBooks
Do you have a unique approach to or outlook on an industry issue or problem? What makes your firm uniquely qualified for prospects and helps you to stand out against your competition? How did you gain deep industry or domain knowledge? The answers to all these questions and more can be put in a white paper or an eBook.
Although those questions are you oriented, this type of in-depth content should be focused on informing and educating your audience.
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. A well-designed and constructed infographic is a thousand words multiplied. Visual representation of a complex topic is hard, but the work required to use this means of communication is well worth it as audiences appreciate simple and easy to understand representations.
Email is one of the best methods to educate prospects and customers. A well-designed email campaign can engage and educate a prospect about the nature of a problem, ways it can be solved, decision criteria for choosing a solution, and why your approach can work best for them. This type of incremental, bite-sized learning can also be used to introduce existing customers to updates, new offers, or premium services.
Podcasts / Audio
While you make think of podcasts as content, they can be valuable sources for both educational material for your prospects and content that can be repurposed. Having a podcast that speaks to the problems your prospects and customers are struggling to solve provides you the opportunity to describe your unique approach and skills, and also provides the opportunity to introduce other experts that support your values and contributions. Audio content can be repurposed into transcripts and articles and entries into your growing list of frequently asked questions.
All of the above types of content are examples of what can be collected and used to form a comprehensive content strategy. That said, your content is unique to your audience and business. Maybe some types of content are more important than others. Or maybe some of the types of content will not be needed at all. The identification of the types of content that work for your business will be a product of the first steps of building a successful marketing system: Strategy and Customer Experience.
Your audience will begin engaging with you as soon as they feel like they are getting value from your content. If you do it right, you don’t have to produce a large volume of content, because content quality trumps quantity. Your audience and their behaviors (engagement) will tell you where you need to concentrate your future content efforts.
A note on Social Media
Social media is another area of your content strategy that requires attention. The purpose of content on your social media profiles (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) is twofold: engage your audience and promote content that builds trust and educates. Your posts can be considered content and should be well crafted. Both trust building and educational content can be promoted using social media.
Need help with creating content for your firm? Checkout this free resource: The Crazy Busy Marketer’s Guide to Content Creation.Continue reading →