For the Issue 3 (May 2010) of Digital Forensics magazine’s newsletter, I posted a short article about content marketing, the best way to share your expertise with clients and prospects alike. Here, I want to go into more detail about each of the five points I raised.
1) The people you serve come to trust you. Content shows the thinking that drives the service, the combination of knowledge and personality that sets you apart from competitors. These days, it’s not just the product that’s valuable enough anymore. Customers are cynical about being “sold to,” and in the event that your product doesn’t quite meet expectations, it’s important to provide value in different ways so that your customers will keep the faith that the next time around, you’ll improve.
Of course, this begs the point that you know in advance what content your customers (and prospects) need. This kind of market research can come down to Internet polls, informal surveys or interviews, social media monitoring, and other means of information gathering. It can come from your most loyal customers – who are usually more familiar than anyone else with how your product or service solves their problems – and from your most coveted prospects, which may appreciate challenging you to help them. The best content is tailored to each group’s specific needs.
2) Social media make it easy to share. Whether a slide or video presentation on SlideShare or Prezi, a white paper on Scribd or DocStoc, or customer success stories on YouTube or your blog, your content is now available to a wider community.
This can be very important when you’re targeting different market segments. One of the most popular social sites for digital forensics examiners is Twitter, and to be part of this community is a good idea. But what if you’re not selling directly to examiners? What if, instead, you’re selling to law firms or banks or small businesses? You’d want to find the social sites they’re on, become part of their communities too, rather than expect them to come to yours.
Content variety is also important from the standpoint of search engine optimization. YouTube is a particularly powerful SEO, so video content tagged with those all-important keywords, embedded on your website, can potentially accomplish two things: 1) drive traffic back to your site and 2) raise your site’s search rankings.
Just make sure the keywords you choose are the ones your customers are actually using, or are likely to use. (Hint: if you’re using Google Analytics to track site performance, take a look at the searched-on keywords that brought people there.)
3) You can highlight new or underrated aspects of what you are doing. This is the “marketing” side of content marketing – what services help your market, and why?
This goes hand in hand with #2 above, but also with #1, as it helps both existing clients and prospects get to know you better. However, be careful not to “sell,” but rather to educate, to show people how the products or services solve their problems both large and small. A case study about how data recovery helped a small business recover from a breach, or about how a customer got creative and figured out how to use your software in ways you never anticipated, does the “heavy lifting” in terms of showing – not just telling – about the relevance you have to the market.
4) You can highlight problems your community or target market is facing. What do you get the most calls about? What kinds of cases do you most frequently work on, involving what types of technology?
As with #3, here it’s important to educate. Without giving up clients’ or citizens’ identities, you can talk in general terms about an interesting question involving employees’ personal digital devices in the workplace, or trends you see among victims of a certain type of crime (for example, identity theft), or even little known, but important facts about investigations, security, and so forth.
5) An ounce of prevention… show people how to protect themselves, and they’ll call you just when they really need you. That saves time and money, along with your staff’s brainpower, for true challenges!
Back to #1 and trust building. It’s easy to get frustrated with victims. “Don’t they know better?” you might complain after your password-integrity training falls on deaf ears, or the media has been covering identity theft extensively, yet you still get calls from people with drained bank accounts or maxed-out credit cards.
People hear and process information differently, so use your cases (where feasible) to improve your training. Use a series of short blogs or video entries to focus in on specific aspects of password integrity, or target identity theft education to small groups in your community – teenagers, seniors, parents, and business owners.
Talk to them using language and concepts they understand, and they’ll not only remember the information, but you’ll be the one they call when their best efforts fail.
Content marketing is well worth the time and effort put into it. If you know your subject and can present it for average people to understand, you’ll build loyalty for the long term. Do create a schedule for regular content production, do know who in your organization is most capable of producing the highest quality content, and do integrate the content into your other marketing efforts.
By Christa Miller
Christa M. Miller is a public relations strategist specializing in digital forensics and law enforcement. A trade magazine journalist for nearly a decade, she now works with clients on content strategy and creation using a mix of traditional and digital media. She resides in South Carolina, USA with her family. Visit her website at http://christammiller.com