Creating enough content and coming up with original content ideas are some of the major challenges facing companies today. In fact, 78% of marketers said their “…biggest challenge is ‘creating original content,’ and that they don’t have enough time to do it,” according to Michael Brito in his presentation An Analytics-Driven Approach to Becoming an Effective Brand Publisher (CaaS).
This is particularly true if you run a technology consulting company. Your company was probably started by a technical founder (maybe you). You had expertise in a certain area, such as software development or implementing data warehouses, so it made sense to offer these services. But I’m willing to bet writing wasn’t one of your core areas of expertise (and for all you technical founders with writing chops, my apologies).
But now that content marketing for technology consulting companies is hot, you know you’ve got to step up. You know you need content to feed your social media machine. You also know that B2B decision-makers spend lots of time researching content about how to solve their problems.
You may have already hired a content marketing person – and that person is probably cranking away at content all day long. But it never seems to be enough – and the content often misses the mark because he or she is, surprise surprise, a writer, not a developer!
Shocking, I know.
But believe it or not, you have several secret sources that can help you create a never-ending supply of high-quality, engaging content. And it’s hidden in plain sight.
It’s your people. Your technical consultants, your sales people, your customer service and technical support people, and yourself!
I know it’s easier said than done, but bear with me as I walk you through three steps you can use to leverage your internal resources so you can become a content creation machine.
The Media Company Model
I touched on the topic of brands becoming media companies before. It sounds a little intimidating, but hear me out.
In his book Your Brand, The Next Media Company: How a Social Business Strategy Enables Better Content, Smarter Marketing, and Deeper Customer Relationships, author Michael Brito provides insight as to how to achieve this. Brito said:
“If you think about how media companies like the Huffington Post generate so much content, it’s because they have several hundred contributors fueling the content engine day in and day out. You can leverage the support of employees in a similar fashion and help them become brand journalists.”
Sounds easy, but there’s a lot involved. Here are a few steps to start out:
Step 1: Use a Content Collaboration Tool
Your staff may be great sources of information, but they’re not content marketers – they’re consultants, sales people, customer service professionals, and more. How do you get their ideas – and content – into your content marketing workflow?
Consider a content collaboration tool designed specifically to manage the whole content process, from idea capture and content creation, to editing, publishing and analytics.
There are several tools designed specifically for this task. Divvy, Compendium (recently acquired by Oracle), and Kapost are a few that are popular in the marketplace. This article by Curata provides a comprehensive overview of the content marketing tools available on the market today.
Step 2: Recruit Your Content Evangelists
Your next step is to recruit your writers, subject matter experts and idea generators.
Brito says to avoid opening the floodgates of content contributors without first getting employee buy-in for participation. Wise words. Just because Huffington Post and Forbes.com has more than enough volunteer writers hoping to get published, doesn’t mean you’ll have a line outside your door.
But if you pitch it right you can recruit willing participants.
Think about your technical folks. For example, many of them are probably part of the millennial and generation Y generations. They’re digital natives. They’re used to taking pictures of their food, doing selfies, and some even keep personal blogs. With a little direction these natural content creation tendencies can be focused on your content marketing efforts.
1. Your Technical Resources
Your developers, data scientists and implementation consultants spend most of their time on customer-facing projects. They know what your customers want and the daily challenges they face.
If they’re working on front-end development, they’re up on user-interface best practices. If they’re implementing a CRM application they’re integrating with all sorts of corporate applications.
This is the raw material for an endless supply of content, but you need to find the best way to tap into it.
Make it a requirement that at the end of the day your consultants write down 3-5 content ideas based on insights they’ve gained from their work. The result could be content such as: “Usability Best Practices To Make Your Employees Love Their Applications,” or “The Top 10 Enterprise Apps to Integrate Into Your CRM.”
Content from your consultants is ideal for top of the funnel content and mid-funnel content.
2. Your Sales People
Your sales folks also spend a lot of time in customer facing situations, but they get a different perspective. They hear the same questions and objections they must answer every day. As an ex-sales guy myself, it gets a little tiring.
Tap your sales people for these questions. Have them document new questions as they arise. Possible titles that could come out of this process are: “5 Steps for a Perfect Software Consulting On-Boarding Process,” or “How to Make Sure Your Software Consultant Doesn’t Fall Behind Schedule.”
Content from your sales team is ideal for bottom of the funnel content.
3. Your Customer Service Reps
If you have a customer service or technical support team, they’re a rich source of content for keeping in front of your current customer base. As with your sales people they too hear the same stuff every day. But in this case they’re hearing common complaints and issues related to lack of product knowledge or usability issues.
Content from your support reps could be: “How to Trouble-Shoot your ERP’s Reporting Function,” or “5 Possible Reasons Your XXX Is Not Working.”
This type of content is ideal for customer loyalty.
Step 3: Institute a Content Workflow Process
Your employee journalists will be divided between those who want to write complete articles or record videos, those who have ideas but don’t have the time or inclination to create content, and those who have the subject matter expertise and are willing to share their knowledge in a recorded interview.
Institute processes to:
- Capture ideas at the moment they occur to your workforce. I discussed using Evernote as an idea capture tool, and some of the content collaboration tools allow your employees to easily capture ideas at the point of inception.
- Write and edit content. These tools also enable creating first drafts, and if you establish an editing process you can set up a workflow in a tool like Kapost or Divvy.
- Record, transcribe, re-write and re-purpose content. For those employees who prefer working with an interview format, set up a regular recording schedule and turn the interview into a podcast (check out this great guide on producing a podcast). Then get the podcast transcribed and re-write it to turn it into an eBook, blog posts or white paper.
- Turn webinars into a content cascade. One tactic many technology companies use is the monthly webinar. Cascade that content into several different pieces of content of varying lengths and formats, and for different distribution channels. Record each webinar and post the video to YouTube or Vimeo. Upload the slides to SlideShare, one of the most effective B2B content distribution networks on the market today. Transcribe the audio and turn it into an eBook or white paper, blog posts and social media posts. Finally, create an infographic using the images from the presentation.
As you can see, content marketing for technology companies is easier said than done. But you have an eternal spring of knowledge locked away within your human resources.
You can tap into that knowledge by creating a media company mindset (think Huffington Post or Forbes.com), the right tools, and defined processes. You’ll be able to pull far ahead of your competition who’ll still be struggling with how to create enough content and come up with original ideas.