Webcast Recap: Trends, Tips and Best Practices for Building a Content Plan

By Katie Blanchard

Last Thursday we held our latest webinar on trends, tips and best practices for building a content plan. Our Vice President of Account Services, Lee Chapman presented and our Marketing Manager, Jennifer Dawkins moderated.  

You can download our webinar right here.

Answers to questions asked during our webinar:

What is the best way to gather all of that information that you talked through that defines the persona?

I think that one of the ways I have seen that happen really effectively, is if you take that list of questions that we shared and you send it out to your team in advance and there is probably different people with different levels of expertise on your team that can help pull that together. I think also where we have seen a lot of success with customers who are kind of resistant to start building out personas when we ask them to think about a couple of current prospects or customers who are in the sales pipeline and come at it with that person in mind. It comes easier from that vantage point to start answering all of those questions. So it is really more of a gut check of everything you know about your customers. You can go out and spend money on market research to back it up, but we found that you know who your customers are, you know who your target personas are. So getting in that mindset of one of those personas and filling it out from their perspective is a really great way to get the information that you need to flesh it out.

Do you use the same channels to target different personas or do you go according to what matches that persona the best?

So I think on that one, there is a question in there that asks where they go and look for information. So you want to make sure that if they are finding information on LinkedIn, you want to make sure that you are promoting your latest blog post on LinkedIn in a place where they are going to find it. Maybe it is one of the LinkedIn forms. So you really want to think about where they are looking for information, make sure you have it there, and then you want to have a general idea of where they may be in the buying cycle. So it is pretty complex, there is a lot of facets there. Though, we always encourage people to start small and build up your knowledge, look at the data that supports the work that you are doing when you are targeting your personas and then add on from there.

How do we go about starting a blog, and if we were to start one, what topics would we write about?

When you are starting a blog, hopefully you have maybe a couple pieces of content already, maybe you have a white paper, maybe you have a case study collateral that you may have shared through a trade show. So understanding what topics have been popular interest with your customers in the past can be a great place to start with your team as you start to brainstorm content topics. So what we like to do is have a monthly content calendar meeting where we get in a room with a whiteboard, or you can do this virtually on a presentation online and start brainstorming out content topics that you feel that your audience would respond to. Then of course things like figuring out which blogging platform is going to be the right platform for you. Wordpress is a great platform, HubSpot also has a great blogging platform that includes things like landing pages and dashboard of data and metrics so that you can really see the results that your blog is driving but I think that starting out small with one blog a month, seeing how that performs. It is great when you can have the comments field under the blog. I know a lot of times people are hesitant to have that, but the technology has gotten better so you do not have any of the funky bugs that used to happen with blogs say five years ago or so. It is great to have that two way kind of communication and get feedback that you can engage your engineers in answering questions to your blog posts.

Is video content more effective than written content?

I would say that it is not an either or, but an and. I think some people prefer to consume written content and some prefer to watch videos. So I think it is having a mix of both or to make sure that you are reaching both types of people. Repetition is really important  as wel, and  sometimes people will read it and get an idea or sense of what you are communicating and then when they see it in a video they get something a little bit different out of it. So sometimes people will read both a white paper and a webinar that was created based off the white paper. It is a tough investment but having that mix and again looking at the data and seeing what performs best for your audience is what I would advise. 

What happens when you not able to do case studies for a blog due to government restrictions or if customers do not want to be involved in the case study?

We have come up against that as well and so I would say in that case where you are restricted  and you know that you are not going to be able to get permission, you can keep out some of that specific proprietary information and make something more general but still effective that is not using the company name. So it is unnamed, but something like "a large telecommunication company in Silicon Valley" where you are not naming the company or organization, but you are talking broadly about what your system or service did and hype the results that it achieved at a very high level. It is ideal if you can get the name, pictures and video but we know that more and more people want to keep things close to vest and they do not want their competitors to know what they are doing to achieve results. So finding a more general way to cover that is sometimes the only way that you can get case studies out there. 

How do you manage to reuse a white paper as often as you talked about? Do you keep some stuff from it and use that later or do you pick different sections from the case study to feature, etc.?

I think that one white paper can turn into three blogs. If you think about how you outline your white paper, then you are emphasizing different points throughout. If you take each of those points and turn it into a blog post, it is one that you can get reuse from the white paper. What is nice about that is that as a call-to-action to keep people converting from the top of the funnel content like a blog post to get to your white paper, you include a call-to-action from that blog post that says "read the case study about how we did this" and from the case study, now that you read the case study, go read the full white paper. You want to think about this stuff as a collection of pieces on a related topic that is covering top to bottom of the funnel. The other thing you can do is if you take a collection of white papers, maybe you have two or three white papers on similar topics or products compiling those into an ebook so that a lot of the content is already there so you are creating an engaging cover and you are taking each of the white papers and making them into sections adding images and captions to really make your ebook engaging. Then from each of those white papers you can have a call-to-action to go read that ebook. So it is really thinking about how all of these pieces can work together to help you support you customers needs and questions.

Do you feel that content for engineers should be very technical sounding, or would a more friendly tone appeal to them? What is the right tone for engineers? 

With our messaging service that we have here at TREW we start working with a company in really figuring out who they are as a company. Every company has their own unique culture and kind of way  of speaking to their customers. So it is not a one size fits all approach. I think you really need to look at it on an individual basis that ties to your brand. Though, I do think that mostly for engineers, they do want to hear the facts. They do want to know that your authority on the subject matter that you are talking about. I think that on content like blogs you can be a little bit more light hearted, a little more casual. Of course things like white papers you are going to want to be more technical, but overall you should have a consistent brand tone across the board. It is about the tone, you have to figure out what your company’s voice is.

How do you go about getting good imagery to go with your content?

This is another area where it is really tough, especially when we are working with customers on website design and we are looking for that one banner for your webpage, and unfortunately in some cases you have to use stock photography if you are really limited on what you can show. It is always best if you can use actual images of your products or your end application. I will say that people photos do really well, usually you have these wider images on your homepage having at least one image that has a person in it, people identify with faces. We found that on our website, anytime that we used an image that had a person’s face in it, that the click on it almost doubled. It is kind of like the persona we showed of control engineer Paul in his environment; people identified with that. It would be ideal if you could get your people in the shot rather than a stock image. 

How much content do I really need? For example how many pieces do I need a month? 

That is going to vary by your bandwidth and the size of your team, but I would recommend at least two blogs a month, a one lead generating piece of content like a white paper along with a landing page and a lead form to capture leads. A case study if you can get one, so you are helping to build trust and then an email newsletter to help you amplify and promote all of that content and then sometimes it is hard to get imagery. So sprinkling in new infographics and new images can work, so maybe not quarterly but a couple new ones a year. 

If you want to dive deeper into these topics, you can download this webinar right here and leverage TREW Marketing's expertise to strengthen your own. Also, be on the lookout for our next webinar at the end of this month that will be on the topic of marketing  planning.



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