Traditional marketing, as most people understand it, happens when a company distributes thousands of ads, commercials, emails, calls, texts, and notifications to consumers, interrupting their work and life and constantly pushing for a sale.
Unlike traditional marketing, “inbound” is a marketing tactic that uses content – such as success stories, videos, blogs, events, social posts, and more – to create brand awareness and attract potential customers. Inbound marketing engages audiences by suggesting solutions to their problems and nurturing them non-invasively through the buying cycle.
Over the years, marketers have shifted more and more from traditional tactics to inbound. As a consequence, conversion rates have increased almost tenfold. Content is the life blood of inbound marketing. Whitepapers, datasheets, e-books, landing pages, emails, graphics, infographics, videos, podcasts, and blogs are created every day to grab the attention of the self-empowered prospective customer, get him to subscribe to a mailing list, and then stay top-of-mind until he is ready to buy.
Millions of brands now use inbound marketing. Consumers and B2B purchasers who only recently learned about ad-blocking apps are still being inundated with content. Educating people on how to solve problems with products and services and gently nudging website visitors into the sales funnel is just something everyone does.
Inbound marketing alone is no longer enough. Brands have to strategically position themselves as true thought leaders if they want to cut through the noise. Potential purchasers can compare products or read comprehensive reviews with just a couple of clicks. Besides, product features are not really what determine decision-making anymore.
Every engagement with your brand is like a job interview. Your brand must demonstrate experience, expertise, leadership, innovation, compatibility, and communication skills if it wants to get hired.
How to Help Your Company and Boost Your Reputation
You have discovered by now the many advantages of participating in a customer references program if you are happy with your technology vendor, as well as creating content and doing marketing activities to increase your professional visibility and to generate leads for your organization.
Most of these programs have an internal leader or a team that manages the customer relationship – the relationship with you. Often, agencies create the actual content. From case studies to blogs, video production, podcast production, or just polishing your slides and quotes – everything falls in the hands of a marketing or media agency (like us!). And that is good for you, because specialized agencies have the expertise and the means to produce compelling content for your brand.
If your technology provider works with a professional agency, the source files used for production can be re-purposed for creating extra pieces of content – in your brand identity, in your voice, and at minimal costs.
Existing Content and Possible Next Steps
If you did a case study for your vendor and it was published on the vendor’s website, the marketing agency can write the same story differently for use on a different platform. For example: Use a different voice or another format, with more emphasis on your brand and less on the enabling technology. It can be presented in a document or landing page that has your brand’s colors and identity.
The production costs would be less than a write-up from scratch, because the journalist is already familiar with the story and the technology. He does not have to interview again, research again, and verify the accuracy of the statements and metrics. All of that was already done for the original deliverable. With many hours of work saved in the process, your marketing department can get strategic content about your investment to better serve your customers. This is quality, custom content aligned with your brand guidelines at a fraction of the market price.
How about video? Whether you are willing to speak on-camera at an event or you have a dedicated crew filming on your premises, the cost of producing high-quality videos can easily reach five figures. A video crew typically films one to several hours of interviews, plus b-roll, to produce final footage only a few minutes long. Here, a wealth of information remains hidden in the footage that your technology vendor will never use. That footage could be used for your own marketing efforts. You don’t have to pay for the video crew to visit you again. Simply ask the team to review the interview transcripts and get your custom video – again, at a fraction of the market price.
Have you released a press statement? It requires above-average writing skills to transform a corporate story of success into something the press will pick up and distribute. The story your vendor presented was perfect and caught press attention, but it covers mostly one side of the story – the one that shines the light on their product. And while your company is mentioned, it’s probably not cast in the role of the hero. Your marketing department or external agency could easily write the same release in your words. This offers journalists more meat for an article. Outlets primarily interested in short news articles won’t need all this information, but they are not your primary target. But journalists who write longer editorials, investigate business culture, or report on how businesses and their audiences interact, will pick up this additional information and use it willingly. This is the type of content your brand wants.
Did you agree to do a billboard, banner, social media poster, or any other kind of graphic asset for your vendor? Produce a set for yourself. The designer can make minor adjustments, such as changing the brand colors or text on a banner without doing an entirely new design. You can use the result for your own events or for the wall behind your front desk. You pay for the printing, but save costs on design fees.
How About Activities That Involved no Crew and No Designer?
Ask your technology vendor if they can tape your public speaking presentation for future use. You can leverage that to deliver the pitch privately, if needed, without spending extra time to replicate the presentation. Or, if you do this repeatedly, you can create a collage of your speaking engagements that would look cool on your resume. If more than one person from your organization speaks at the same event, you can make a collage that represents the expertise you collectively possess. Or, use it to attract talent by presenting a corporate culture that empowers growth, freedom of expression, and collaboration.
We already discussed how you can use one-to-one conversations to help peers and analysts. If you schedule a call, record it and have it transcribed and edited by a professional writer. Use the edited transcript for future information requests or send it to peers who need your help during busy times. You can take a few minutes to answer follow-up questions later and still reap all the rewards.
Are you hosting a site visit? Ask your vendor to send a small crew who can document the visit. You will have great b-roll to use in all marketing activities. You can then produce a short documentary of the meeting and the questions you answered for your visitor. This saves many hours of work by reusing content or just adding to your content library for future use. It’s great marketing for you and your vendor alike.
Whatever you do, do it on the record – media assets are interchangeable. The recording of a webinar or any one-to-many conversation is just as good as a one-to-one call. A meeting with a local or virtual user group can be documented as well as a site visit. Every opportunity to showcase your corporate culture – the way your brand takes time to help peers, and how you collaborate to find solutions and bring the industry forward – is priceless.
No rock star or movie star ever flies solo. They have an agent who represents their interests in front of music and movie studios, finding them the best gigs, and making them famous. They also have a personal wellness team: a chef, a trainer, a makeup artist.
We want to be your team. To be honest, our cooking is not that great, but we are highly skilled marketers that can represent your best interests when joining your vendor’s customer references program. We make sure that you and your brand shine in all content that is created, get you the best opportunities, and help advance your career.
Get in touch! We’d love to hear your story.