The Growing Commoditization of Content Marketing Strategies

As content marketing goes mainstream, it is growing more and more challenging for marketing organizations to differentiate their downloads from the competition. Next generation agencies that specialize purely in content development are leveling the playing field in many of the software subsectors.  As a result, even the “dinosaur,” old-tech companies are putting out decent content on a regular basis.  Everyone now has the infographic-style ebook, the animated explainer video and the interactive ROI model.

So how do you differentiate your content from the competition in this era of rapid commoditization?  One approach is to try to develop better quality materials with more insightful recommendations, more powerful analogies and more compelling illustrations.  But that only works if you get people to thoroughly read (or watch) the content.  Today, the content getting the most eyeballs are the ones with the catchy title or the flashy cover image.  The true substance or “meat” of the content is rarely a differentiator with end-users.

Another differentiation strategy is to embrace new, emerging content formats such as augmented reality and interactive web pages.  But the good thing and bad thing about these emerging formats is that they are not yet mainstream.  While they are sure to differentiate they do require the user to invest a bit of time to learn, which many are not willing to do.

A third approach to differentiate yourself is to share a deeper level of intellectual property than the competition.  Most content marketing programs are designed to move prospective customers through the buying journey.  As a result, the content is limited often to topics relevant during the buying process.  For example, most vendors have an eBook explaining the value proposition of their new software category; an ROI tool to help justify investment; and a vendor selection white paper to guide the buyer’s decision making process.

But few software vendors bother to write content about what happens after the sale occurs and the customer begins to implement the new technology.  Interestingly, however, buyers are just as concerned, if not more, about the implementation and realization of the value as they are designing the right strategy up front.  By exploiting this untapped white space in the content landscape you can differentiate your company from the competition.

What are some examples of the types of “post-sales” or “implementation” content that I am referring to?  Consider a sample project plan in Microsoft Project format.  Or a sample testing plan in Microsoft Word.  Or perhaps a sample Go-Live Production Readiness checklist in Microsoft Excel.  Share some of the practical, “real world” expertise and best practices you have developed working with other customers.  I’m not suggesting that you need to share all of your IP, but perhaps 10%, 15% or 20%.  You can differentiate your content marketing efforts by revealing just enough of your expertise to prove to your prospective customers that you know your stuff.

“Open sourcing” your IP will not only differentiate your content.  It will differentiate your company during a sales cycle as well.  Most software provider focus their content marketing efforts on materials that help a customer choose a vendor.  But buyers are just as concerned, if not more, about the implementation and realization of the value as they are designing the right strategy up front.  By showing off the “real world” expertise you have gained through working with other customers you are establishing credibility and proof of your ability to execute.

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