Why in the name of Ebenezer Scrooge do technology marketers rate collateral as their top content-marketing priority for 2012?
If you haven’t read Part 1 of this two-part post, please give it a quick read now. You’ll discover that surprising finding from a recent survey by IDG, the technology media and research company. You’ll also find a couple of theories around why high-tech marketers might be focused so intently on what some might consider an old-fashioned, outmoded marketing tactic.
If you’ve read Part 1 and are looking for the 7 collateral planning considerations it promised, here you go.
How can your organization take its collateral to another level of effectiveness and efficiency in 2012? Try building a New Year’s Collateral Resolution around one or more of these ideas.
“In 2012, I resolve to start making our organization’s
collateral more _____________.”
Start with your core sales presentation. If the first few slides, or first dozen, are all about your company — tenure in business, employee headcount, hyperbole around being “biggest, leading, largest” — either delete or move them way to the back. On second thought, just go ahead and delete them. Then create fresh content that synthesizes what’s going on in your customers’ world. What’s causing businesses in their category to flourish or fail. What’s making people like them get promoted or fired. Carry that mindset over to sell sheets, putting benefits and features in proper order and balance. Instead of making your organization the hero of case studies, make the person who hired you or bought your product heroic.
Collateral doesn’t have to sound, look or be dull, dusty and corporate. That’s just the way we’ve chosen to create it over the years, assuming that credible and convincing content is one thing, while entertaining and engaging are something different. If it’s been a while, consider hiring an outsider to take a crack at telling and visualizing the story in a fresh, unconventional way. Not necessarily your story. THE story. The one that will grab and resonate with your target audience, as they look for a solution to whatever nagging need or untapped opportunity your product or service solves.
If you’re betting against mobile devices becoming more prominent within the sales process — on your side and the customers’ — you’re going to lose that bet. In the past week I’ve spoken with marketers and sales reps from three Fortune 500s that have made the move to tablet devices as a primary sales support tool, or plan to do so within six months. Will you be among the first in your category to optimize collateral for mobile in inventive ways — or will you bring up the rear?
If Lincoln had asked a B-to-B sales rep to deliver the Gettysburg Address, she would have done some quick rewriting to make it suit her speaking style. Rumor has it that when God handed Moses 10 commandments, Moses suggested some quick rearranging before they were set in stone. In other words, even the best sales presentation or collateral kit won’t fit every sales user just right. Focus on ways you can provide brand-approved, on-strategy content building blocks and templates, while allowing users some freedom to create and personalize.
Are you creating the same parts and pieces of content over and over within multiple silos? Your collateral system gets smarter as soon as you find ways to create the same piece of content once, then redeploy it from a central repository into multiple applications — website, collateral, proposals and more. Collateral gets even smarter when you can update all those implementations automatically each time one of those core pieces of content gets changed at the central library level.
Video is the logical next big collateral step for many organizations, but don’t forget calculators, generators, custom mobile applications, widgets and other tools. Remember, content isn’t only information. It’s also interactions and experiences. Whatever it takes to move a customer or prospect forward in their engagement with your brand.
Make 2012 the year you begin marching toward a point where you no longer send a package of print pieces, or even e-mail attachments, as follow-up to customer or prospect inquiries. Instead, you empower sales reps and customer service agents to quickly compile custom website experiences for customers and prospects. As your audience visits those sites, you track content consumption patterns and plan future follow-up accordingly. Turning collateral into a navigable, measurable online experience truly makes it part of an overall, strategic content marketing continuum.
Thanks for taking the time to read Touch Point City’s first-ever two-part blog post. Did it make a difference in how you’re thinking about collateral going forward? Have you already substantially reinvented what collateral is, and what it does, for your company and its customers? Please share your thoughts and best practices in comments.