Content Marketing and Social Media Spell Differentiation for Channel Players
This week we are pleased to include a guest blog from Jeff Hine, Founder and Managing Director, Clear Sight Consulting. Jeff is a Technology Writer, Marketer, and Consultant, focused on IT Services, Channel Routes to Market, and Emerging Trends in Cloud Computing. His expertise is grounded in a 20 year career of selling technology to Fortune 500 firms in the New York Metro area and building IT Services businesses for Solution Providers. Connect with Jeff on LinkedIn and Twitter @CTCjh
Eons ago, I ran marketing for a fast-growing data management solution provider. I was fortunate enough to work with an aggressive management team that aspired to turn the firm into a new breed of what everyone was calling “SSP’s” or Storage Service Provider. We launched one of the first remote managed services businesses to come out of the reseller community. But alas, the tech bubble burst and the company was acquired prior to achieving our goals.
While we were building the firm, we invested time and money in what we called “thought leadership”. We figured if we seemed smarter than all the other resellers out there, then folks would do business with us. We sold the same stuff that everyone else did, but we talked about it differently and created “content” proof-points illustrating our differentiation. This meant developing white papers, coining methodologies, and building visionary presentations about the future of storage and data protection.
Savvy resellers do this every day. Some better than others. But what most don’t realize is that this is what modern day marketing gurus refer to as “content marketing”. And today – it’s powered by social media. The principles today are the same as they were back then: don’t push your product in the customers face, educate them, explain to them your point of view, build trust, add value, then they will buy from you.
Back in the old days, it was a big investment in time and money for a solution provider to build great content. And when developed, it was difficult and expensive to get it out to the masses. But with the advent of blogging, video/audio platforms (podcasts and youTube), and the ability to leverage social media – it has become a practical imperative for solution providers striving to differentiate themselves to create and broadcast compelling content. Whether developing it themselves or leveraging their partners’ content, success demands finding new ways to draw customers in.
I see too many solution providers completely reliant on the demand marketing support fed to them by their technology vendor partners and not enough of them embracing content marketing to build their own brand. As trends such as cloud further challenge how resellers add value to clients, building your own brand is a must.
So next time you see a tweet or post on content marketing — read it! Don’t assume it’s going to be about impractical B-school marketing strategy or approaches that are too expensive to implement. Get blogging and have your marketing folks start thinking like publishers and journalists. Bring valuable content to your customers and they just might reward you with their business.