Content is King

Amid the Roar of Social Network Spam, Good Content Still Rules

Tweet, tweet, tweet. Social media sites and associated spam are growing in volume every day as new-bees jump on the social networking bandwagon in hopes of growing their network and making a splash – or at least being heard.

The point is that we now have a very powerful platform to connect and express ourselves in ways that weren’t possible just five years ago. However, while we have this new distribution mechanism, these new channels don’t necessarily mean opportunity. It is still the potential to share ideas that matter which brings us a further opportunity.

From a business perspective, a large network is of no value unless the members of your network see value in what you bring to the table. By consistently providing value and conversing on a level of transparency and trust, the network will respond. Your network will grow, it will be much easier to spread content (with your name attached) and ultimately, bring in more customers.

Really, this is no different than the days of marketing and PR 1.0. Just because you could write a press release every week and blast it to a large network of media contacts did not guarantee anyone was listening. In fact it was strategic – and still is strategic – to release a steady stream of newsworthy announcements in a digestible timeframe. Otherwise, your communications will be seen as white noise and you’ll be labeled as one who provides little value no matter how many tweets and blogs you can churn out.

A person of few words is often still considered the wisest – and often the most respected.
The real goal, in my estimation, is to develop trust, build relationships, and earn the attention of people in our circles of interest. That’s what matters. Without providing value, internet channels are worthless.

Some key items to remember as you venture into the brave new world of social media and networking:

  • Develop a strategic and targeted list of contacts, blogs, communities and networks. These relationships should be nurtured at all costs – even in this crazy high-tech world, people are always behind the technology. It’s still easier to attract bees with honey than vinegar. 😉
  • Cultivate compelling content, always. Customer case studies and real world scenarios that tie to current events without stretching the truth are always more influential.
  • Spray and pray tactics (as I have heard recently, LOL) are a good back-up approach but should never replace targeted communications and lead generation efforts.

The bottomline is that you need a strategy that incorporates a blend of the old and new but always leverages compelling ideas and content for best results.

Speak the Language of Customers

To effectively market a new product, you must be able to name it and frame it in terms that resonate with your target audience. Potential customers will not buy what they cannot name or understand.

All too often we see technology vendors define their positioning behind closed doors, then cross their fingers and hope the message spreads like wild fire. The end result can be disappointing if not catastrophic.

Positioning exists in people’s minds, not in your words. If you want the market to understand your value proposition, you must frame a position in words that actually exist in other people’s minds.

Too much time spent with your founder and developers can desensitize you and make you believe those acronyms and techno-terms are commonplace, but don’t be deceived. If your friends and family have trouble articulating to others what your products does and why anyone should care, then you may need to rethink your positioning.

So where is a B-to-B tech marketer to find the words to describe the coolest invention since sliced bread? Try listening to prospective customers. Tune into their conversations to find out how they are describing the challenges they face and products – benefits and features – that are relevant to the solution you provide. Then integrate that language into your marketing materials.

Tactical Tips for Learning the Language of Customers

  1. Find the bloggers that are writing about your topic area. Subscribe to their feed, read their stuff and the comments they receive regularly.
  2. Join LinkedIn and industry groups that cater to the market segment you intend to serve. Tune out the vendor rhetoric and focus on user posts and comments.
  3. Use your network to find people who match the profile of your prospective buyers. Ask for 15 minutes of their time to discuss the market issues. Try not to let your viewpoint influence the conversation…just listen.
  4. Monitor discussion boards and forums to understand the real strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. Drinking too much of the company Kool-Aid can be harmful to the health of your marketing messages. A dose of reality will help ground you.
  5. Research keywords that are in use by your target demographics. Tools like Google AdWords Keyword Tool or WordTracker can help you research the popularity of keywords that may be used to categorize your products and services. Be leery of keywords that yield little or no results.

Your press releases, collateral, email campaigns and even product packaging can all benefit from the language used by real life tech buyers. With your new market-aware messaging in place, your founder may miss those special terms that he/she coined, but your prospective customers just might thank you with a shortened sales cycle.