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How to Repurpose Your Case Studies

Wednesday August 2, 2017

Repurpose

 

Every month, Write Angle posts a “Featured Project of the Month” that showcases newly developed assets.

Our most recent addition is a hybrid white paper for Pure Storage that discusses how healthcare organizations can take full advantage of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) powered by all-flash storage.  We say “hybrid” because the front end of the piece sets the stage for profiling real-world healthcare customers actively deploying VDI today.

Like any good white paper, it opens with an educational discussion of the benefits of VDI in healthcare: improved clinician productivity and patient care, greater security and better IT cost-efficiencies.  We go on to explain the role storage plays in a successful VDI implementation while citing four key challenges to “getting VDI right”.

What makes this piece so effective is the transition from the “why VDI matters in healthcare” to “here’s how it works in production environments”.

So, here’s the kicker. The origin of this hybrid white paper is a direct result of having completed four (previously standalone) case studies featuring Riverview HealthUnity HealthcareObstetrics & Gynecology of Indiana, and St. Luke’s Healthcare. The common denominator among these Pure Storage customers – aside from being healthcare providers – is their usage of virtualization technologies. What became clear in revisiting these case studies is that each organization achieved distinct benefits from VDI working in conjunction with flash storage solutions.

What’s the takeaway?  For starters, this is a highly effective way to repurpose hard-won customer references in the context of a significant market trend.  Rather than writing a white paper that discusses VDI issues in the abstract, this piece blends the theoretical with the practical.  And it does so without the burden of reinventing the wheel when it comes to explaining the customer experience.

More importantly, this piece overcomes two major challenges: 1) addressing the I’m-from-Missouri syndrome among skeptical prospects (i.e., “prove it”) and 2) extending Pure Storage’s credibility as an authority in healthcare and VDI.

We’ll discuss other creative ways to leverage case studies in future blogs.

Why You Need a Content Calendar

Tuesday July 25, 2017

Content Management

Here at Write Angle, one of our long-held assertions is that technology marketers live in a publish-or-perish world.

Simply put, if you’re not producing thought leadership or educational content that can be repurposed on a regular basis, you can’t drive or shape industry dialog. And without a steady cadence of fresh assets that map to buyer personas at specific stages of the purchasing lifecycle, you’re stuck playing catch-up with competitors. Worst case, you run the risk of being rendered derivative, irrelevant or invisible.

Turns out that one of the most marketing-relevant solutions to what we jokingly refer to as “content interruptus” is the venerable (and often overlooked) content calendar, AKA editorial calendar.

If you’re like most clients, you have good intentions to develop one, but never get around to it. Even the more disciplined marketing departments that make the effort frequently fail to use it to best advantage. 

One of the challenges is how easy this tool is to ignore. Editorial calendars are just so 20th century, right? This is an unfortunate rap because the goal of attracting, converting and retaining customers makes a content calendar indispensable. It’s also ideally suited for modern tools associated with social media platforms. Think Kapost, Central Desktop and Contently, among many others out there today.

What it should do

Think of the content calendar as a GPS that maps all your content assets to your prospect “food chain” with guidance on how best to reach them in terms of timing and channels.
 
Say you’re making a blog post on a segment included in an eBook you just published. You may want to use multiple channels to re-purpose this material via email (auto-responder) or sites as varied as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Tagging the material (AKA meta data) with identifiers that label your target’s persona category (awareness, consideration or decision) helps you track the effectiveness of each asset. Same for SEO keywords and content type such as white papers, video or case studies.

Accountability is key. At the risk of stating the obvious, each asset should have a designated owner responsible for production and delivery. Your content calendar should also specify the asset channel: e.g. eBook, blog, buyer’s guide, solution brief, use cases, etc. And, since a calendar is a management tool, factor in workflow processes no matter how seemingly mundane: think proofreading, editing, legal review cycles. Equally important, honor deadlines for creating and publishing your assets. While slippages are a fact of life, don’t make them a habit. 
 

Setting it up

Here’s a 10-step approach to setting up an effective content calendar:

1. Content headline
2. Content type
3. Buyer persona
4. Call to action
5. Owner
6. Final review deadline
7. Publishing channel(s)
8. Publish date
9. Status
10. Metrics (page views, downloads, comments)

Refresh Your Calendar
 
It’s important to stay vigilant when updating your content calendar, especially if you generate one on a quarterly basis. Given the rapid rate of change in virtually every technology industry today, you don’t want to be caught flat-footed with dated material. Publishing yesterday’s news can seriously de-position an organization’s value proposition.

Q: How do you know your content is working?

Wednesday May 20, 2015

 

As writers of content for marketing, we at Write Angle work for companies of all stripe from nascent start-ups to large publicly-held brands. How to best measure the effectiveness of this or that content invariably comes up along the way and there’s never a shortage of opinions on how to do it. Which is the most important metric — click-through, volume of readers, new site visitors, orders, revenue?  We put this question to the Linked In community recently, asking  1) what measurement methodologies do you find to be the most effective and 2) how do you rank order your content assets from most to least effective and why?

We were prompted by Contently who passed along the work by Ascend2 and Research Partners: http://contently.com/strategist/2015/04/27/the-most-effective-and-difficult-types-content-marketing-in-one-chart/ Their research examines the relative effectiveness of articles/case studies, videos, infographics, research/white papers, webinars/online events, eNewsletters, photos/illustration and news releases.

We would now like to know what you think of these findings. Yes, it’s using an awfully broad approach to determining meaningful findings. Still it raises some fundamental questions about content categories and their respective “effectiveness”, presumably in triggering new site visitors, generating new sales leads, increasing conversion rates and driving revenue.

How do do you measure the value of the content your team creates?

1185 Design: A Preferred Partner of Write Angle

Friday April 24, 2015

 

From the beginning (2011), we’ve made a priority of handpicking a circle of preferred partners outside of writing services — in design, public relations, market development and branding.

This isn’t website window dressing. It’s our way of presenting a “bespoke” solution to the gamut of our clients’ marketing needs–beyond written content–personally sourced among the best of the best practitioners we can find.

It’s why we’re especially enthusiastic about our most recent addition: 1185 Design. If you’re unfamiliar with them, check them out. They do great work for great clients.

To say that Peggy Burke and her team at 1185 add further luster to our Partners Page is an understatement. It’s a digital brand agency extraordinaire. In Peggy’s words, “We envision technology brands through strategic narrative and design, creating digital and physical experiences that enable companies to ultimately build massive market cap”.

Hate to say it, but we couldn’t put it much better.

As Big Money Pours into Big Data Start-ups, Differentiation Makes All the Difference

Friday October 18, 2013

 

Standing out of crowd

Big Data is becoming an even bigger deal. And when things get big, it gets more important to stand out from the crowd.

Just this week, a group of Silicon Valley investment superstars, including Ron Conway and Andreessen Horowitz, announced another fund, Big Data Elite, targeted at Big Data start-ups.

 At Write Angle, we’ve done a number of projects for companies in the Big Data realm, including Sumo Logic, Glassbeam and Sensage (now Hexis Cyber Solutions). What’s clear to us is that the term “big data” means different things to different people – which is another way of saying it may mean nothing at all without the proper context. Big Data applications and analysis services run the gamut from information security to customer support to consumer marketing to social media.

As the volume of hype becomes deafening in the Big Data arena, it’s easy for a young company to be grouped together with other perceived players despite having little, if anything, in common with them. Market analysts, journalists and potential customers may not have clue about who does what in which space – or even if the space exists.

Would-be Big Data players must ensure that they differentiate themselves in terms of what market they’re targeting and how they serve that market better than anyone else. If you’re not continuously informing your market about who you are and what makes you worth paying attention to – with constantly refreshed content across your media platforms – competitors who articulate a more compelling story will surely pass you by.

Simple steps to thought-leadership using your B2B blog

Friday August 16, 2013

 

 

How would you like to boost the perception of your B2B brand as one of your industry’s thought leaders, grow your blog readership over 2000% and develop relationships with the who’s-who of your business — all in less than a year?

This is exactly what Drillinginfo (DI) did. Today, DI, a SaaS vendor serving a sector not exactly synonymous with trendy social media, is positioned as a premier source of information in the oil and gas industry. And its forays into social media began only last September.

It’s been a given that a B2B brand’s social efforts are a long-term slog, so DI’s results merit a closer look. In fact, this report suggests that the company’s approach amounts to a study in best-practices that might be replicated in any industry, especially when it comes to blogging. To our way of thinking, these practical steps are actionable for any B2B blog:

  1. Get your employees to contribute ideas and content.
  2. Set an editorial calendar — don’t assign topics, assign people and let them write about industry-relevant subjects that they’re interested in.
  3. Involve them in brainstorming topics and angles relevant to your products and customers.
  4. Involve your contributors so they feel ownership. Teach them “blog-consciousess” by explaining what blog-friendly writing and content are all about.
  5. Push content out to your email lists and social accounts (Linked In, FB, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.).
  6. In your email to blog subscribers, include the full blog post, but include a custom call-to-action for readers to go to your website and make comments.
  7. Compile interest-groups on Linked In (and elsewhere) of relevance to your industry and post your content there. Caveat: be absolutely certain that what you’re sharing is of genuinely useful value. If it isn’t, it’s spam.
  8. Find out who the influencers are in your industry and publish your own Top 20, 50 or 100 list(s).
  9. Set a big goal for your blog: Aspire to thought leadership.

What are you doing to promote your blog?

Is ‘Silicon Valley Speak’ annihilating everyday language?

Friday April 26, 2013


No-Jargon

 

Now in our third decade of technology marketing in Silicon Valley, we’ve been exposed to our unfair share of linguistically challenging content and mind-numbing jargon.

You’d think we would have been de-sensitized at this point.  But a recent email containing a slew of cringe-worthy zingers inspired this blog posting.  It was as if we were previewing a script for a sitcom on “Valley Technobabble”.  Like us, even the laugh track was groaning.

No matter how many times we call it out, tortured business language continues to pollute even the simplest communications.  Like cockroaches, taxes and acronyms, it just won’t go away.

The peculiar dialect now permeating every avenue of communications is something that might be best described as “Silicon Valley Speak”, a bewildering vocabulary that redefines (or it is “defies”) grammar, tramples well-established definitions and creates an entirely new glossary of befuddling terminology that would leave even Anthony Burgess, author of A Clockwork Orange, slack-jawed.

What punched our buttons in the aforementioned email was the word “onboarding”.  No, this is not a variation on the CIA’s torture tactics, but it might as well be linguistically.  The term may not exactly be new, but with all due respect to HR folks, do we really need yet another ham-handed concept to convey “a systematic and comprehensive approach to orienting a new employee to help them ‘get on board’”?  What happened to “hiring” or “orientation”?

Alas, we’re not alone in our incredulity at the insidious invasion of the “jargon-slingers”.  Credit goes to Christopher Steiner for creating that gem.  He penned one of the funniest and most astute articles titled The Most Annoying Business Jargon that takes the business world to task for “cutting its anchors to the English language.”

Let’s face it.  We’ve all heard the usual suspect lingo clanging around web sites, press releases, conference presentations and the like.  But do we have to stand for it?  At Write Angle, we certainly hope not.

To quote Mr. Steiner, “Let the jargon slinger know that you know who they are:  a vapid, message-clouding, English-avoiding, communications nightmare.”

Amen to that.

What SV-speak do you hear around the cubes or watering holes these days that cause you to cringe? What do you do to stamp it out?

The five worst practices in B2B technology-content marketing

Monday March 25, 2013

 

1.  Shove a datasheet into a prospect’s face right after you introduce yourself.

When a qualified prospect on a fact-finding mission enters your tradeshow booth, you introduce yourself and inquire about their business and their familiarity with you (read: you qualify them). What you do not do is dive right into a spec-sheet monologue. It’s the same with content. Just as your marketing material should be calibrated (and designated) according to the prospect’s stage-of-purchase, it must be sequenced accordingly.  In the same way, the best “family” of content begins at the primary level and gradually moves up to more advanced material.  Caveat: don’t always assume that a relatively well informed prospect won’t find use for introductory materials. Savvy shoppers will contrast and compare competitors every step of the way and cross-check competing claims. Hint: vendors showing the most proof-points with the most relevance to the reader usually win.

2.  Emphasize your features and benefits rather than their problems and issues.

A variant of #1 above, it’s no secret that content with user themes earn the most favor with users. But you must go further. Don’t talk about your offering per se so much as the solution it represents to problems vexing the customer. There are nuances to being perceived by a customer as “one of us”, rather than being seen as just another vendor.  You want them to receive you as a partner rather than a supplier. Your content will either validate one perception, or the other.

3.  Assume they believe you have no competition

If you think this is a no-brainer, then why is so much vapid marketing content floating around? The first step in breaking away from the pack is to acknowledge that it’s there. Customers understand you only in terms that they’ve already come to understand–by virtue of what they’ve learned and continue to find out about alternative offerings.  Besides, if you’re the only solution, how can a viable market exist? The worst impression you can create is that you don’t know your competitors as well as your prospects do.

4.  Presume everything you slap a logo on makes it inherently “must-see TV”

Happens all the time to product managers who look at a user through the lens of their product when they should be looking at their product through the eyes of the user. It’s no coincidence that so many marketers of this persuasion tend to be hyper-competitive, obsessing on how the competition is marketing, what it’s saying, doing and achieving. Make your customers’ issues your issues and your content will naturally reflect a customer-centered POV.

5.  Believe that everything is as good, or as bad, as Sales says it is.

Snarky, maybe, but this old saying has been around too long to dismiss it out of hand. Your sales force is inherently focused on the deals and crises of the moment. This means perceptions can become quickly and easily distorted in the heat of the transaction process. It’s only human to project what we want to see and hear from our prospects and customers, rather than take a breath, stand back and understand a situation for what it really is. Look at large pattern of data points, not just the ones you’re infatuated with, or most alarmed by, at any moment. Which, after all, is fundamental to the marketing mission and the marketing content it depends on.

So what are your content-marketing practices?  How do you ensure a customer-and-market focus?

The first step toward making your B2B marketing content drive revenue

Friday March 15, 2013

Gear Lever Stock Images - Image: 9250854

©

So when an authority like Marketo weighs in on why a steady stream of great content is key to driving B2B revenue today, we’ll pay attention.

Marketo is a leader in marketing automation (MA), the software that more and more companies use today to make their marketing teams more measurable and accountable, more engaged with customers and better enabled to scale time and resources. In other words, it makes the companies that use it better at marketing and selling. And it’s been good for Marketo, and for Eloqua, to name the two biggies in MA.  If the trend continues, according to Gartner, money spent on this type of software is projected to exceed corporate IT budgets by 2015. 

At Write Angle, we were struck by something Marketo had to say via a recent post by Heidi Bullock: “Technology is awesome, but it really is only as good as the people who implement it and manage it on a day-to-day basis. That’s why it is important to think about your team structure when putting software systems in place”.

So what was first on the team list they cited? It was the day-to-day manager of content.

No matter which member of your team is tapped for the job, the skill-set is the same: It must be someone who can conceive and create a steady stream of compelling content, from written web copy, case studies or white papers to engaging video that showcases your value proposition from all angles — and re-purposes this content across all media and platforms. Whether you have the talent on hand for this key task, or choose to outsource to a content writing service, the overarching need for marketing content in today’s content-marketing world is clear.  The question is: How clear is your content today and how do you know for sure?

Easy ways to boost visibility of your B2B marketing content

Friday March 8, 2013

Social Media Key Royalty Free Stock Image - Image: 23350976

 

No argument here with PR veteran Len Stein that it pays to be click-smart in a click-driven world. So what does this mean for B2B marketers tasked with creating content that sells?

Plenty. Because every company is now a publisher (as well as a merchant), marketing troops are the tip of the spear in this publish-or-perish era.  They’re charged with creating authentic content that speaks directly to the information needs of your market. As obvious as this might seem at first glance, it’s a deceptively simple prescription that all too often falls prey to what the company wants to say about itself rather than what a customer needs to hear or learn. It also calls for social media savvy that’s a must-have for your content team.

Successful marketing organizations push their content well beyond their target publications and media that now represent only one conduit among many in reaching hot prospects. Today, by proactively posting links on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and elsewhere, you encourage readers to relay these links among their followers and communities via the familiar share buttons prominent on their sites.  This “network effect” increases online visibility, in some cases by orders of magnitude.  And this dramatically improves your “connection rate” with the right readers in your market category. These simple techniques help your marketing team expand the presence of your content well after it goes live.

Put these steps on your check-off list each time you’ve updated your web site, built out a new micro-site, published a strategic white paper, generated a new series of case studies, posted new video, or earned feature-treatment in key media:

  • To drive optimum traffic, include keywords in every piece of content. Caveat: craft carefully to ensure you pass muster with new search algorithms — here’s where an expert outside writing service can contribute.
  • Never fail to use your blog to reference all your new content . Think of yourself as a columnist.
  • Promote links to your content across your communities and social media channels, including customer councils, Linked In groups and all relevant industry associations.
  • Encourage your customers not to hesitate re-tweeting links.  For example, most would be only too glad to give visibility to case studies that feature them.
  • See that your PR agency does all of the above vis-à-vis the communities in their own social-mediaspheres.

And continually ask yourself what more you can be doing to make your content larger than life in a click-driven world of look-alike, me-too content. What can you add to the list above?