“There is no marketing today without content.” That’s the reflection of Helen Whelan, an expert content marketer at Apigee, a leading API management and predictive analytic company. Whelan has helped shape Apigee into an industry innovator in #content marketing strategies and publications. Apigee offers content in every form, from webinars, to eBooks, to whitepapers, self-publishing in some cases, and using external third parties in others. Apigee has even created its own research arm, the Apigee Institute, a research and strategy organization that provides analysis and content for businesses striving to succeed in the digital world. At the base of all of Whelan and Apigee’s marketing is the understanding that content feeds the marketing engine from awareness to demand gen, and that this content is integral to the overall success of the business.
For Whelan, content marketing is not solely about promoting a product, nor even the business as a whole. Rather, it’s about brand cultivation and positioning the business as an industry and product thought leader. To accomplish this, a company has to be committed to developing a multi-faceted content strategy for all stages of the business’s lifecycle. I recently spoke with Whelan, and she offered some helpful tips and tricks for developing a #content marketing strategy that works for your business in the long-term.
1. Start With Thought Leadership
When producing content, your first priority is your audience and to provide guidance and clarity for solving the problems they face in the market. Thought leadership programs aim to show market and product leadership and awareness. Apigee gained a reputation as an industry thought leader by demonstrating its deep understanding of the challenges businesses face when transforming their businesses to survive in the digital world, and by providing innovative approaches and solutions to navigating this new world. This bought Apigee credibility as a leader in the space and as a company that was well equipped to partner with companies across industries to guide them through digital change.
2. Pain Is Your Pal
Just as a good doctor listens intently and empathizes with his patient’s pain, successful content marketing demonstrates a thorough understanding of industry pain points. Identifying the every day problems customers experience guides the content you create so that it’s both educational and relevant to customers. Remember, your customers are trying to solve business problems. In Apigee’s case, the best content offers an innovative perspective on how companies should do business in a digital world, as well as the strategy, best practices, and products that will get them there. As Whelan said, “[we] focus on the customer like crazy.” That’s why interviewing customers and telling their stories is especially effective.
3. Give ’Em What They Want
With social media ever present in our lives, and our eyes constantly glued to a screen, we are all consuming more content than ever before. As a result, marketers need to recognize that customers are doing a lot of research on their own—all the way through the buyer journey and even before their first interaction with you. Quality content is crucial to ensuring those initial impressions are positive. The goal is to provide your customers, both current and future, with the information they’re craving and expect. If your content marketing is boring, too self-promotional, or fails to provide a value-add, customers are sophisticated enough to write you off.
4. Variety is the Spice of Life (and Content Marketing)
Intrinsically, we all recognize that different people have different media preferences. The moviegoer who loves X-Men is often not the same one who revels in silent films from the 30s. Thus, creating content that can appeal to the likes of many different customers is key to a sound strategy. That means publishing in all forms, from webinars, to infographics, to blogs. The goal is to maximize the audience your content can reach and provide an exceptional experience, whatever the channel.
5 .Turn One Gold Nugget into 2, and 3, and 4….
Great marketers like Whelan know how to take one piece of great content and atomize it into many other assets. For example, Apigee might conduct an interview or create a webinar, which they expand into a series of blogs and eBooks. This strategy is successful because the story and point of view underlying the initial interview or webinar is compelling and persuasive. It also makes your content visible to a wider audience, across channels and content forms. Customers won’t tire of a story if it’s a good one and relevant to them. Content feeds off other content.
6. You Are Your Own Best Asset
Content is best when it’s genuine. Genuine content stands out by providing value in the form of a unique point of view or solution to a problem. You should rely on your in-house expertise to shape your content. Identify the thought leaders in your company and enlist their help. Facilitate their contribution in whatever way is most comfortable for them, whether that be an interview or having them co-write a whitepaper. This helps to produce better, more authentic content in a shorter timeframe.
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Helen leads content strategy and content marketing for Apigee, helping increase awareness of products and market opportunity, driving new business, and educating and supporting prospective and existing customers about the role of APIs, apps, and data in creating competitive digital businesses. With more than 15 years of experience as a content strategist and broad experience as corporate and technical communicator, Helen has built Apigee’s content-fueled marketing engine from rapid growth and pre-IPO phases through IPO. Prior to Apigee, Helen held leadership roles in content operations and strategy at Adobe Systems and BEA Systems. She started her career in technology as a technical writer at Hewlett Packard. Helen holds a B.Sc. in Industrial Chemistry from the University of Limerick in Ireland and a PhD in Biochemistry from the Ohio State University.
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