Content is pivotal for all marketing programs. Done well, it should communicate complicated market trends and nurture relationships with prospects. When done well, this kind of content marketing can make or break lead generation and conversions in industries like cybersecurity that have long sales cycles, fast-breaking technology trends and a hard-to-reach audience.
However, achieving content marketing excellence is easier said than done. Many cybersecurity companies struggle to create enough relevant, authentic content for security leaders to really move the needle on sales. Others try to fill holes in content using low-cost content farms to fill gaps—but these assets end up doing more harm than good when trying to connect with cybersecurity prospects who can quickly sniff out content written by those with no security expertise and who will immediately discount the credibility of the vendor when they publish this low-value content.
Solid creative execution of content marketing of course starts at the strategic level. We explained some of the fundamentals of coming up with a cybersecurity content marketing plan in another recent post. This kind of strategic planning will ensure that future content never lacks focus across intended audiences and serves the business well.
But that’s just the start. You’ll also need a sound tactical plan to come up with engaging, timely topics that will keep prospects interested in reading, watching, listening, and subscribing to your content feeds.
As you seek out ideas to write about, your team should be mapping these into a calendar that tracks topics against audience and asset types, rather than just shot-gunning blogs or whitepapers whenever a good (or mediocre) idea strikes. This will ensure that every piece of content syncs to marketing program needs to focus on existing gaps in coverage of certain SEO categories, buyer personas, or points in the buyer journey. (Looking for a great template for a content map? Get it here.)
The ideas themselves should come from a number of sources. Here are some helpful hints:
In addition to working toward your organic search goals, SEO audits can reveal what prospects are looking for and asking. It can help focus in on the business-relevant themes that resonate with your audience.
Put aside the feature comparison and analyze competitor content. What are the topics they are focused on, what tools do they offer, what are their sales offers and can you improve or take a different tack? Utilize tools to gauge what competitive content is resonating.
Mine Internal Experts, Marry with External Topics
Talk to your internal stakeholders and thought leaders to get a deep dive into interesting news and industry problems that they think will resonate. Marry this with what you are seeing externally from analysts, journalists, customers or others in the ecosystem. Don’t just talk to the CTOs and brainiacs in charge of technology, either. Consider roping in experienced sales pros who have field experience in objection handling—they likely will understand many of the problems faced by prospects out in the field and can offer invaluable perspective for brainstorming topics. But don’t just navel gaze internally or you’ll risk making content too salesy. Also start looking externally not only at what industry publications are writing about, but also what accepted conference talks are discussing. Doing a broad audit like this can start generating fantastic ideas.
With a content calendar in hand, it’s time to actually produce the content. This is where the pedal hits the metal—and can lead to some serious missteps if you choose the wrong people to write and develop the assets. In many cases you may have internal thought leaders who have exceptional ideas, but who have difficulty writing. Either they don’t have the time to be consistent producers, or they lack the writing skills or talent to create crisp copy. The most successful vendors find that their best creative talent may not be in-house—they understand that they usually need help from specialized resources.
There is a great way to maximize content marketing investments. One of the smartest approaches we see cybersecurity vendors take is to pay a premium for the creation of relevant, marquee content produced by security industry creative experts, and then take those centerpiece assets and repurpose, repurpose, repurpose. Additionally, organizations can consider cost effective and relevant joint content efforts with partners, and even adjunct technology vendors, through both informal partnerships and industry consortiums.
Throughout this work it’s crucial to never lose sight of the importance of storytelling. Remember that you are telling a story about your market, about the people who use your products, about the benefits of your products, about the problems your products solve. As you tell those stories, your team needs to keep in mind the crucial element of maintaining authenticity and credibility with the security audience with whom you seek to connect.
Don’t get so caught up in features and technology that your content loses sight of the story that resonates.
Security vendors often talk too much about themselves and are reticent to tell broader stories that need to be told. Talk big picture, produce something different, and THAT will be what differentiates your thought leaders from others that flood the market.
Wondering about the ins and outs of content marketing? Check out this webinar: You Can’t Market Without Content.