Content Marketing

Great content marketing is a critical part for any company targeting enterprise customers. While there are many forms of content marketing, one of my favorites which has delivered consistent results are thoughtful survey pieces that give insight into the markets that are relevant for customers and are refined and improved with each release. Some of these surveys work quarterly, other work annually. The time frame needs to be long enough to make the changes interesting. The best annual pieces are captivating and impactful because they serve to really educate customers — often including competitors — and are authentic and largely objective. They are clearly aimed at pushing a larger agenda like a technology shift (which is why I say largely objective) — so they do have an agenda but they are not vendor focused. The survey and studies that are based on third party input gives a direct / objective view into the market and as a result has more inherent credibility and value to a larger audience.

There are three key components to these content campaigns:

  1. Authenticity — They are relevant and grounded in the market.
  2. Objectivity — Information that is objective and based on facts will always be more valuable with knowledgeable customers.
  3. Cadence — Most content is episodic so when a company can create objective and authentic content that can be updated, the value compounds.

There are two examples from our portfolio over the years that I think have done a great job with this and gained quite a large audience. I am sure there are many others outside the portfolio as well (if you have great examples please send them to me and I will post an update with links).

The first was from Appcelerator which was a mobile application and development platform that ultimately was sold to Axway. They did a great job with their Mobile Trends Report. When the team started the survey it only reached a small audience but with the quarterly release it gained momentum, including attracting the attention of IDC. Appcelerator branded with IDC in exchange for some proprietary survey questions that were made available only for IDC clients and it became an even bigger success. Customers and developers were looking for insight into the mobile trends as that was a very dynamic landscape at the time.

Another example is AtScale with their Hadoop Maturity Survey. There is a tremendous amount of marketing noise and claims in the big data market as everyone is trying to stake a claim against the potential opportunities that businesses have with all the data being generated. AtScale is part of the landscape and was able to put together a survey, that was novel at the time, simply by looking at hadoop adoption and usage patterns across companies and vendors. Gradually, AtScale has been able to get the other players in the ecosystem to participate like Cloudera, Hortonworks, Mapr etc. Similar to Appcelerator, this survey provides information for good industry articles like Businesses eye cloud for big data deployments from CIO/IDG.

When companies give their audience knowledge (not biased marketing), they set up a powerful foundation for sales in the future. The survey or something similar to it can build great brand awareness and credibility with future customers, partners and even employees. If you can manage to find something that builds in value as these two companies did — the effort is a content marketing home run. Authenticity, objectivity and cadence. Please send me other examples of campaigns that impressed you.

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