By Ofir Nachmani, CEO, IOD
Every marketing professional in the tech industry, every tech evangelist, even every developer with a reddit addiction knows that in this business content is fundamental. Marketing begins and ends with content. Whether that content is a slogan you paid a brand strategist to devise, a hip infographic, or an animation that briefly went viral in 2016; whether it’s a press release carefully crafted to not sound too heavily self-promotional or a standard email from your head of HR rejecting a job candidate, content is what connects you and your brand with your audience.
However, every marketing professional who has spent even half a year working in the tech industry also knows that there are significant pain points to content creation. We are not selling gourmet food or pop music. We are selling products aimed at subject matter experts. Therefore, the content promoting those products must be at the level of expert.
I give a presentation at industry events on this particular paint point: marketeers and writers are not experts. And experts are not marketing professionals. The bottom line? Finding a content strategist or even a blogger who is both a good writer and has a depth of expertise that can hold the attention of technologists is very difficult to do. If you’ve found him or her, keep them, and keep them happy. They’re rare gems.
But the more I meet and speak with marketing executives at industry events (the next one is my 7th re:invent, in Vegas baby!), the more I hear repetition of the following:
Lack of Expertise
It’s not just that there is not enough expertise in the marketing department to produce expert-level content, but most companies need several expert writers in several domains. If you’re lucky enough to find a solid writer who can produce high-quality content, how wide is his knowledge? Is he familiar with both AWS and Azure? Can he write how-to tips for database migration and building a hybrid cloud? How well does he know the Machine Learning frameworks of Google Cloud?
One of our clients is producing multiple blogs per month which naturally will lead to a need for a variety of subject matter experts. We support them in matching them with one expert in data engineering, another in cloud migration, and a third in distributed systems.
Lack of Continuity
Let’s say your company’s CTO has tasked in-house developers to start contributing content to the blog, and let’s say that content is decent enough for you to edit pretty quickly. Has the following happened to you? Two months in there is some disaster that requires time and attention of the developers who were slated to blog for you that week and — oops! — no blogs that month. Lack of continuity or predictability with in-house writers whose main role is not to write is a major and common challenge.
So, you’ve managed to somehow be in the minority of marketing executives who have at their disposal a tech marketing writer who used to be a senior solutions architect at a technology provider in Gartner’s magic quadrant. She has familiarity with the target audience you’re seeking to reach and even has hands-on industry experience. She’s dedicated and when you hire her she knows she needs to produce a blog a week. But then … six months in … a consultant you hired tells you that you need a minimum of two blogs a week to see a significant increase in traffic. The content writer may be able to keep up with this cadence for a short while, but soon, trust me, she will burn out. Especially if she is also responsible for topic creation and the editorial calendar. What we’ve seen with our clients is that when marketing departments succeed with content, higher-ups only want more of it.
No Consistent Voice
You have an unlimited budget to hire as many outsourced writers as you want. You’ve managed to recruit and qualify a few you think will do the job. Each is a decent writer with a solid portfolio of blogs and white papers. This works for a while. You’re proud of yourself for managing such an operation. You’ve practically built a magazine for your company! Except for one thing: There is no consistency in voice or style or positioning across the content you’re receiving. One writer forgets you want title caps. Another is constantly using he when you’ve made it a point in your style guide — you have a style guide, right? — that it’s important to the company that posts are gender-neutral. The third is a Canadian who insists in using British spelling you have to correct every time. Suddenly, you’re no longer the Content Director as much as you are the Chief Copyeditor.
You Are Alone
So who’s left? Are you in the 1% of tech marketing professionals who has not had to deal with any of the above? Then how about this: One of the major pain points I hear from my colleagues time and again is how alone they are. Maybe not completely alone, or technically alone, depending on the size company you work for. If you are a start-up, it may be just you responsible for all of the marketing, including the content. And yes, you’re alone. But if you work for a medium-to-large company, you may have colleagues in the marketing department, but no one is really focused on content the way you are. The writers write. The PR person distributes. The social media managers push. But really it’s you, at the end of the day, that has to show the results of the content. Wouldn’t it be better to not shoulder the responsibility alone? To work with an experienced agency who feels your pain? Whose mission is based on healing your pain?
Yes, this comes off sounding a bit self-promotional, but our claims also feel familiar, don’t they? This was my experience when I was working for a technology brand, and this is what we hear people tell us. It’s why they reach out to us to begin with. If you need help in content creation because of any of the above reasons (or any reason), check out our portfolio, see the blog posts and white papers we have created for technology companies, and then reach out.