Tom Johnson recently wrote a blog post on ‘The Content Wrangler’ about the idea of content marketing and the role of technical writers. Content marketing is a new direction from traditional marketing strategies which are typically focused on selling a product to a customer.
Content Marketing – helpful stories and information that address problems/issues that users might be facing that are not necessarily related to the company’s products at all.
– An example of content marketing is the magazine Furrows which is produced by John Deere. It is a long-standing publication about farming and problems that farmers encounter which does not aim to sell Deere products, but rather to build a relationship/trust with farmers.
Johnson read a book called Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi, which discusses the invaluable role content marketing can play in the success of a startup. Most startups develop a product first and then market it. This can lead to varied results depending on how well you reach your target audience and if your product is well designed with features your target audience wants.
However, if you lead up to your product launch with content marketing you already have a pool of interested customers from your target audience who have developed a trusting relationship with you through your blog about issues that impact them. In addition to already having an established customer pool you also can get feedback on the product beforehand by looking at user comments to blog posts. For example, if responses to an article in Furrows mentioned how difficult it is to remove rocks from fields each year, Deere could develop a tool to do that knowing that there is already an established pool of customers desiring that feature. This means that a startup has a better chance of launching a successful 1.0 product than if they simply launch the product and market afterwards (the traditional strategy).
The article mentions that good content management will come from the perspective of someone who would be reading that content – a farmer’s perspective on farming issues in a farming magazine, for example. Identifying with the audience as a writer of this content is key to building the trust you need with your target audience.
Technical writers can easily turn their information-rich content into blog posts for content marketing. Instead of writing “how to do x”, technical writers can write an article about the “importance of x”. By establishing yourself as a leadership in thought, you can build trust and increase your visibility with potential market segments.
It’s also important that the content and traditional marketing match up for a company. The content should feel similar with the same “messaging, terms, tone, and style” according to Johnson. This will easily transition a customer’s trust from the content writing to the company. Content marketing can be the best way for a startup to succeed in today’s economic climate.