Content marketing is gaining popularity lately as companies try to find new ways to educate their customers and potential customers about their products and services. This is especially important in the RF/microwave industry where it is typically a technical sell to get products designed into a system or point out the features and capabilities of software or test equipment. But with limited resources, it is always a struggle to convince the technical staff who is already overloaded with work to generate quality content. Here are some techniques to accomplish the task and get the most use of the content that is generated.
Motivate Technical Staff to Write
Many successful companies make writing technical articles, application notes, white papers, data sheets and other supporting technical materials a priority to the engineers by making it part of the product release process. It is a good idea to formalize content creation into the product release process as a step that is required in order to go to market. That way the marketing and sales groups have immediate access to it as prospects are developed. Scrambling to throw something together at the last minute can lead to mistakes and lost sales as customers move onto other sources if they have to look for documentation.
Another effective motivational strategy is to reward engineers for writing published articles, as these serve as thought leadership for the company and educate customers on the company’s capabilities and products. The reward can be in the form of a small bonus that can be scaled by article type. The content creation can also be incorporated into the goals in the performance review process and be part of the formula for determining raises each year. Motivation via reward or part of a formalized release process can be a critical part of the content generation process.
Types of Content
There are many forms of content that can be used, from technical articles to white papers to application notes for lead generation. Blogs, case studies and data sheets also serve as a more general educational form of content. Interactive forms of content have become more popular recently such as webinars, videos, demos and even animations. If you decide to create interactive media, insist on quality productions that are done by a media company unless you have internal expertise in this area. Be creative and consider other forms of content such as infographics, surveys/polls and mobile apps for certain marketing programs, especially those that happen around key trade shows that can raise the level of your company’s exposure. If you have a PR agency, they can help in the creative process for generating engaging content.
While content specifically for new product releases is very important, material should be created for the whole purchase cycle as well. Application notes about how to perform measurements, design-in existing products or configure existing products into the transmit or receive chain are also important. Case studies are also typically effective after key customers have used the product and been successful with it. Sometimes customers discover new product applications that can be leveraged to get the product into new markets once released and adopted; this can be promoted via additional content as the product matures. Similarly, try to revive a mature product line by developing content around recent use cases for the product that might not have been promoted when it was originally released. The key is to make the content as educational as possible so customers realize the value of the product or service based on its features and performance. Emphasizing the key differentiators of the product or service along with the benefits to the customers is a primary goal in these educational pieces.
Once content is created, use it to its fullest extent to generate leads and provide brand awareness in the market. In addition to utilizing the company’s website and email distribution lists, work with media companies like Microwave Journal to extend and maximize the exposure to your content. Print and online distribution (website, email, etc.) are a normal part of content marketing but consider other options in addition to these standard methods. Develop webinars or video promotional programs with interactive material for lead generation using registration to collect contact information. Include the content in custom newsletters focused on specific markets or applications or sponsor online show daily newsletters around key events where engineers tend to be looking for new products. Use high impact ad units such as wallpaper or roadblock ads to link to the content as part of a marketing program.
Microwave Journal was the first in the industry to introduce an augmented reality (AR) app that allows mobile devices to overlay digital information onto print pages. We can overlay videos and other rich media onto your ads or editorial pages using the AR app Layar to further utilize the content you create as part of your marketing campaign. Links to data sheets, brochures, product landing pages and other useful related information can also be overlaid. This new technology enables reporting the number of views and click-throughs in order to measure the effectiveness of a print ad like never before possible and provides another platform for your content to be used on especially rich media.
Repurpose content to get the most of out the work that went into developing it. Technical papers and customer presentations can often be turned into webinars. If someone at your company presents during a conference, videos or WebEx-type recordings can often be made from these for future viewing and lead collection. Data sheets or press releases can be turned into Tech Briefs published in print (at Microwave Journal, we can do this for you to assist in content generation). People like to digest content in different forms – some like interactive media while others prefer articles. Some like quick reads such as Tech Briefs while others like to read long format, in-depth articles so repurposing supports the needs of a larger audience.
Reuse content in various promotion forms. If your company publishes an article in print, link to the article on the company website and use it in newsletters. Highlight the content on social media sites to increase exposure to new audiences. Find relevant LinkedIn groups that would find the content useful to their focus. Use Twitter to highlight the content at various times when it is relevant to the conversation or trade show in progress. Obtain article reprints and distribute them to customers on sales calls and at trade shows. The articles can also be used in paid promotional programs in custom newsletters, embedded ads and inserts, just to name a few options.
There are many ways to encourage the content creation process that companies can use. Make the content creation process a priority and formalize it into the product release process. Create content in various forms so that customers can digest it in their preferred form and promote it in many places throughout the product life cycle. Repurpose content to get the most out of the work that went into creating it. You’ll find that putting in a little bit more effort at the start of product launch process will result in a much greater ROI over the lifetime of the product.