How to craft a kickass video marketing strategy on a shoestring budget

“The future of marketing and communications.” That’s how one Forbes article described video marketing.

It makes sense, too. 83% of our experience with the world is via our sense of sight. Our second-ranking sense? Hearing, coming in at just 11%. In fact, all the way back in 2008, Forrester made the bold proclamation that “video will take over the world.”

And here we are. Today, video marketing is a powerful tool used by everyone from industry giants to your middle school neighbor with an Instagram account. Video can convey a lot of information quickly, it engages emotions, and it humanizes practically any product or service.

That last one is important for IT marketing. Giving your business and your services a friendly face can be a legitimate challenge. Video can help.

But it’s a scary thing to start doing if you’re new to it. Scary because it’s a whole new medium with completely different rules. Plus, you may be (understandably) hesitant to make a significant financial investment right out of the gate.

No worries. We’ve got you covered. Here’s how to make an amazing IT marketing video with a budget of next to nothing.

General guidelines

We’ll begin with some general video guidelines. These are applicable no matter what you’re marketing. After we cover the basics, we’ll dive into some IT-specific tips.


You probably already have a perfectly suitable camera for shooting your IT marketing video—your smartphone. The quality of the camera on most smartphones is more than good enough for a short video.

That said, you’ll want to make sure you have the settings on that bad boy tweaked for the kind of video you’re shooting. We recommend this guide from The New York Times and this guide from TurboFuture.


You don’t need a fancy lighting rig. You just need the right window at the right time of day.

Sit in front of a nice, big window during a time of day when no direct sunlight is coming through the window. Direct sunlight would be too bright. You want indirect sunlight.

Now, face the window so that the natural light is on your face.


The single greatest challenge of shooting video on a budget is sound. For that reason, we recommend that you drop about $20 on a lapel mic. Get one you can plug into your phone and use it while shooting.

If you plan to forgo the mic and record sound directly on your phone, you’ll need to be within three feet of the phone, max.

Either way, make sure you’re in a room with no background noise.


This one is easy. Just look straight at the camera and talk to it like you’re talking to a person. That’s how your viewer will see you.

Oh, and don’t forget to smile.


The best marketing videos are under two minutes long. In fact, our in-house video guy, Scott Mitchell, says, “One to one-and-a-half minutes is the sweet spot.” So that’s your target.

That will require you to be succinct, to the point, and direct. But don’t rush. That’s the trick. Whittle your message down to exactly what you want to say, and just say that.

The rules for maximum length change for other kinds of videos, of course. A teaching video could easily be longer than two minutes. But a marketing video needs to be short.

IT Marketing tips

Everything we’ve covered so far applies to any kind of marketing video. But here at TRIdigital, we specialize in IT marketing. As a result, we’ve learned a few things about IT marketing videos that may also be helpful to you.


Your video should sound like you.

Maybe you saw a marketing video you really liked. It made you laugh or feel good or it intrigued you. The temptation is to copy that. Don’t.

The thing that makes your MSP stand out most likely isn’t the products or services you sell. It’s how you sell them. In other words, the thing that’s unique about your company is YOU.

Your video should sound like you. It should feel like talking to you. It should accurately convey who you are.

In that vein, do what works for you. If you need a script, use a script. If you can do it off the cuff, that’s fine, too. If you’re likely to crack a joke with a potential customer, then weave in some humor.

Just be genuine.

That may not seem like a terribly sophisticated tip, but that strategy is what’s enabled TRIdigital as a marketing firm to generate more than 100,000 MSP leads. Seriously, be yourself. It’s your most powerful IT marketing edge.


You know your target audience. Keep them in mind while you’re filming. Talk to the camera as if you were talking to just one prospect.

If you work primarily with SMB owners, then talk to SMB owners. If you’re marketing to enterprise-level businesses, then talk to CIOs. Either way, relate your message to a common pain point your target audience feels.

What problems have you solved for existing clients? What are some of the challenges you hear prospects talking about most often? Speak to that.

Just remember not to go into too much detail. You only have two minutes. And avoid too much heavy jargon—unless that’s what your audience expects.

Visual effects

Visual effects can really add to a video, especially in IT marketing. A well-placed video effect can emphasize an important piece of information and make it more memorable. A simple graph can make an otherwise boring stat stand out.

But you likely don’t have a professional videographer working on this for you, and we’re trying to meet a tight budget. So if you want to use visual aids, stick with something very basic.

The Windows Photo App can do basic effects and it’s included in Windows 10. With it, you can add a little bit of flair to your video without increasing production costs by a dime.

We recommend using simple effects to highlight compelling statistics and basic contact information.

One last thing

Video marketing is powerful. It can absolutely help your MSP generate leads and win new business.

And while there are definite advantages to hiring a professional marketing company to produce your videos, our goal here is to make video marketing accessible to every MSP—even if you’re on a tight budget.

The only thing left is for you to give it a shot.

How to develop a content strategy for IT (examples inside!)

You’re convinced. Content marketing is the way to grow your MSP. Now what?

To really get the most out of content marketing, you need a good strategy. And you need a strategy that’s going to work for your business. Unfortunately, that means you’re not going to find a one-size-fits-all strategy you can just copy and paste.

In fact, there are some specific best practices for IT companies that will help you stand out.

Fortunately, we’re here to help. And you’re extra lucky if you happen to be an IT business because that just so happens to be our specialty.

So let’s talk content strategy.

Define your goals

Goal graphic concept

The first thing you need to do is define your goals. It’s also important that you set goals that are measurable, because otherwise how will you know if you’re reaching them?

So let’s say your goal is to boost the open rate of your email campaigns.

There are two main ways to measure the success of a marketing email, open rate—the number of people who opened your email, and click-through rate—the number of people who clicked on a link in your email. Open and click-through rates can very subjective as they depend on a lot of different factors, including the platform you’re using to send and track emails.

If you want to improve your open rate by 2%, that’s certainly measurable. Just be sure you don’t set unrealistic expectations. And, of course, make sure your emails are pointing readers to the amazing content you’re going to create.

Know your audience

Step two is to make sure you know who your audience is. This is important because your audience will determine what tone to set when you create your content, as well as what type of content is most effective. This can also help you identify the best channels for distributing your content.

For example, if you’re an MSP looking to market your services to small and medium-sized businesses your target audience is probably the owner of the business. If you’re looking to market to enterprise-level companies, you’re probably trying to reach the CIO or IT director.

Both the tone and technicality of your content would differ depending on who you’re trying to reach. A small business owner may not have the same technical expertise as the CIO of an enterprise-level business. He might also have different concerns, like affordability of technology solutions versus the latest tech trends.

Once you know who you’re trying to reach, you’ll have a much better idea of the type of content that will resonate with them.

Plan your content

You need to have a cohesive plan for your content. Don’t just start throwing stuff together, because trust me, people can tell. Take a little time to do some research on the topics that resonate most with your target audience. Then create content based on those results.

Your initial content strategy can be as simple as creating a list of questions your own clients have asked and then creating content that answers those questions. It may not be keyword-optimized, but it’s guaranteed to be helpful and relevant.

Or you can do it the way we do, utilizing keyword research. If you want to create content that potential clients can find, you need to know what it is they are looking for and that’s what keyword research helps determine. And the results may surprise you. Be careful about going into this process with any preconceived notions of what keywords are best and instead, let the results be your guide.

Our favorite tools are Google Keywords and SEMrush. And since I like you so much, I’m going to share this handy template we like to use, to aid you in your research.

Create your content

Now comes the easy (or hard) part, depending on how you look at it. Creating and distributing your content.

You should go into this process knowing: what your goal is (i.e. to increase your email open rate), who your audience is (i.e. CEOs of small to medium-sized businesses), and what topics they’re interested in (i.e. affordable cybersecurity solutions). With this information in hand, it’s time to create your content.

A guide on creating good content really could be an entire blog on its own. Instead, I’ll just give you these tips and resources that can help you create quality content of all kinds:

Measure your results

This is where the lovely cycle of content marketing comes full circle. Now you get to measure your results based on the goals you set at the very beginning and see whether or not your content is working.

Depending on how much you like data, this can be a scary or fun part of the process.

The purpose of measuring your results isn’t just to see whether or not you’re meeting your goals (although that is important), but it’s also to evaluate and make adjustments to your strategy as you move forward. If you find areas of your strategy that aren’t paying off the way you’d like, don’t give up. Instead, take the opportunity to consider a new approach.

Final thoughts

The bottom line is, content marketing works, but it works differently for every business. You need to be willing to invest in each stage of the process so you can find the way it works best for you. Trust me, your hard work will pay off.

Or, you can just hire the experts to do it for you and save your time and energy for other projects.

What you need from your content marketing service

So, you’re on the lookout for a content marketing service for your MSP.

The good (and bad) news is there are many to choose from. If you’re new to this whole content marketing thing, how do you judge which service will be a good fit for your business? It’s a substantial investment. You don’t want to make the wrong call.

That’s what this guide is for.

Let’s look at a few of the areas you should consider when shopping content marketing services.

What’s in the contract?

First and foremost, know what you’re getting. Don’t just rely on a verbal conversation, either. READ the contract. (Seriously. Read the whole thing.)

That’s the only way you’ll know about any of the following things you should consider, and it’s the only true way to know for sure what you can expect. If you don’t read the contract and then content marketing service follows it to the ‘t,’ any resulting disappointment is on you.

What’s the review period?

Most content marketing services will allow for a review period after they hand off the content. (If they don’t, that’s a huge red flag.) You should absolutely take advantage of that review period, at least for the first few pieces they produce—even if they have an editor who went over everything.

The content should always be written in a tone that reflects your IT services and your personality. And you want to make sure the writer gets any technical specifications right, too.

For example, maybe you never recommend a specific backup service. You should make sure the articles they write don’t recommend it, either—though mentioning things you don’t recommend is fine.

You need to know what the review period is.

The option to request revisions

You also need to know how liberal you’re allowed to be when requesting changes. Can you request a full rewrite? Or are you capped at 20% of the original copy (which is fairly standard).

Most content marketing services will include at least 1-2 revisions (of up to 20% of the original content) in the initial rate. After that, you may have to pay for additional revisions, and you’ll almost certainly have to pay for complete rewrites if you change your mind about the tone, the topic or the specific elements included.

If you’re requesting a rewrite because the initial copy was just bad, that shouldn’t result in additional charges. But again, read the contract to ensure there’s some kind of guarantee of quality.


Deadlines are critical in content marketing. If you’re trying to post a new article every week, you can’t afford to partner with a writer who is always late.

You know what’s coming, right? The timelines for delivery should be clearly stated in the contract. Read it. If their default timelines don’t work for you, ask if there’s any flexibility there.

Be wary of any service that shies away from explaining the process clearly on in the contract.

SEO/keyword research

You know how you’re always trying to get your clients to understand that technology constantly evolves? That they can’t set up their network one time and just be done with it? SEO is worse.

SEO is always changing. What worked last year likely doesn’t work now. In fact, even SEO experts are just taking educated guesses when it comes to best practices. Highly educated guesses, but guesses nevertheless.

Here’s what you should focus on. What pain points do your clients and prospects feel? Are they mostly concerned about the cloud? Office 365 migration? Cybersecurity? (That’s always a big one.) Don’t focus on what you want to sell. Focus on what they want to buy.

How does that play into your marketing strategy? Easy. You should be producing helpful content that directly answers the questions your prospects are asking. You’ll want to partner with a content marketing service that knows how to do the SEO work on the backend to ensure performance.

Do not partner with someone who just guesses at what’s going to work, and stay far away from anyone who favors keyword stuffing (which hasn’t worked in years) over useful content.

Quality content

Helpful content rules.

As a Content Trends 2018 report summary explains, “In this new world of content saturation and falling social shares, the big winners are sites that have built a strong reputation for original, authoritative content.”

It’s also fine if your service repurposes and reuses content as long as it does so mindfully.

Quality content doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Often, you probably need a service that specializes in your field. (We can tell you that content services that specialize in technology and managed IT services are hard to come by.)

If you choose to partner with someone who doesn’t specialize in IT, be sure to go over everything they produce for you with a fine-toothed comb. You’ll have to play the role of editor, ensuring they get all the tech jargon right.

Content matters

Partnering with a content marketing service is a smart move. If you want traction from this kind of marketing, you have to publish often, and that’s hard for most business owners to do effectively on their own.

Just be sure to do your homework. While working with a qualified content marketing service is amazing, partnering with the wrong service is a frustrating experience.

Why video content marketing is ultra effective for the IT industry

Video is everywhere.

Whether you’re on social media, watching your shows online (I know, obviously) or pumping gas, video seems to be on the rise and in your face wherever you go. It’s not your imagination and it’s not going away. According to Forbes, by 2021, a million minutes of video content will cross global IP networks every single second.

One million minutes. Every. Single. Second.

Take that in a for a moment. That’s 17,000 hours. Or 645 days. Or 99 weeks. Or 22 months . . . OK, I’ll stop. That’s almost two years! Sorry, that was the last one, I promise.

If you’re not using video to market your services, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to engage with your audience. So, as my dad liked to say, it’s time to shit or get off the pot. Here’s why you need to add video to your content as a part of your marketing strategy. (That last part was me, my dad wasn’t well-versed in content marketing or video.)

It works

Like I said before, video is effective. As much as I hate to admit it, anything I write here won’t convince you of anything without the numbers to back it up.

So let’s start there:

  • Cisco projects that global internet traffic from videos will make up 82% of all consumer internet traffic by 2021
  • 43% of B2C marketers say pre-produced video is the most successful type of content for marketing purposes
  • The average user spends 88% more time on a website with video and viewers retain 95% of a message they watched via video versus 10% retained when they read it

Here a few stats for 2019 that should get your attention:

  • 87% of consumers want to see video from brands, 39% of which specifically cited explainer videos
  • 78% of people say a brands video has convinced them to buy a piece of software or app
  • 68% of people say they’d prefer to learn about a new product or service by watching a short video

Those are pretty impressive numbers. People prefer video as a learning tool compared to text-based articles (15%), infographics (4%), presentations (4%), or ebooks and manuals (3%). Why? Glad you asked. That actually leads to my next point . . .

It’s easy to understand

As an IT professional, you probably have to repeatedly explain complicated processes over and over again to your customers. This makes sense because most of your customers don’t know that much about IT or they wouldn’t be talking to you in the first place.

As a business owner, there are few people that can explain your business better than you can. You have the passion and confidence that comes with years of experience. You can cite examples of problems you’ve solved from memory at the drop of a hat. So while your sales team is highly trained and knowledgeable, there’s nothing quite like hearing about the service you provide straight from the horse’s mouth, especially with something as complex as IT.

That’s not to say that you or your sales reps should disengage from facetime with clients. Rather, a professionally produced video with all the graphs and charts you could ever want is an easy way to deliver a consistent message or explain a complicated process or service.

That means your customers get a better experience and you can focus on selling the benefits rather than explaining the technical aspects.

It can be used more than once

Recycling isn’t just for cans and paper products. Once you’ve taken the time to produce a video, you can use it as much as you want as part of your overall marketing strategy. So aside from putting it on your website, you can use it for social media, email campaigns or in ads.

Social media

In addition to YouTube, video is evolving with services like Facebook 360, Instagram videos, and Periscope. 48% of people say they’re more likely to share a video as opposed to posts (23%), news (16%), or product pages (3%). If you struggle to find content to fill your

Email campaigns

According to Adobe, 61% of people prefer to be contacted by brands via email messages that deliver information rather than promotions. Videos in email can be a great way to provide relevant,  informative content that your customers want in a format they enjoy.


People who visit a website after clicking on a pay-per-click (PPC) ad are 50% more likely to make a purchase compared to an organic search result.

With numbers like these, you’d be crazy not to leverage a video you’ve already produced across as many platforms as possible.


A video is an effective way to market your services, especially when marketing B2B services.

By leveraging video content across your website, social media and advertising, you can make your marketing investment go even further and improve your ROI.

Video’s influence is only going to get bigger and more effective. As more and more businesses take advantage of the opportunities, don’t hesitate or you could be kicking yourself for not starting sooner.

5 must-have B2B content marketing tactics

It’s one thing to say you’re all in on this content marketing thing. It’s something else to actually start doing it. Which naturally leads to the question, “How does one do content marketing?” We’re not talking high-level strategy here. We’re talking about the nuts and bolts of an actual, usable B2B content marketing plan. These are 5 specific suggestions for ways you can start content marketing right now.

Build up an engaging story first to bring people in—sell the product later

Everyone loves a good story. Nothing imbibed the spirit of Apple computers back in the 1980s more than their incredible TV advertisement that parodied the classic film 1984. Within a matter of seconds, they drove their brand message deep into the minds of everyone who saw that ad. It gave a clear idea of how they wanted to change the world with their products. While they presented this advertisement to both consumers and businesses at the time, it was especially relevant to businesses because it focused more on long-term relationship building and the potential of the company as a whole. The power of this particular B2B content-marketing tactic is exceptional when you execute it well. After releasing this ad, Apple sold 72,000 computers in 100 days—twice as many as expected, according to Forbes. First, tell the story the best way you can. It’s easy to sell your business within the content later.

Start by offering your strongest problem-solving product first—then show how it fits into their long-term business model strategy

Today, your goal is to make a sale. However, you have to give your clients a reason to keep coming back for more added value from your company in the long run. While your business relationship must begin with one concrete, valuable offering, don’t leave it at that. Demonstrate the potential of your business by presenting your prospective partners with a list of all the possible applications for your goods and services—including those that are still in development—so that they have more to anticipate from you as your business relationship grows in the future. For example, our ability to craft content and mind-blowing designs has given us a global reach. But we still developed Honey, the first CRM just for MSPs, and we were excitedly telling people about it well before it was ready for general release. As a result, people were ready when the official release hit.

Collaborate to share your content while building your online exposure

It is hard to prove yourself as an authority online when you don’t have the obvious backing of others. Which is why it’s super helpful to find people who agree that your content is valuable enough to publish on their own websites to build credibility. Guest posts and other collaborations are key B2B content-marketing tactics. Make your collaborations more creative and engaging with educational webinars. Studies show webinars effectively generate new leads. When you work with others in your industry to publish useful content on multiple websites with, you’ll instantly extend your own reach to a wider audience. (For example, check out #5 in this article. That’s our CEO.) And don’t forget to use engaging images, infographics, webcasts, podcasts and videos. Adding videos to your content has helped companies achieve 49 percent faster revenue growth than their competitors who didn’t use videos.

Create a content checklist to evaluate your material

Never assume your content marketing is working without assessing it from time to time. When you assess it, wrestle with the following questions:
  • Does this content include value in and of itself so that even someone not buying your product would want to read it?
  • Does this content directly address the specific needs of a smaller, focused market of the companies most likely to work with your company?
  • Does this content create long term value for the reader?
  • Does this content demonstrate your expertise in your field and prove the added efficiency you’re offering to your business partners?
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Be the company who listens

In today’s digital age, everyone has something to say but very few make the time to listen. You can bridge that gap through webinars that directly address their questions or by replying sincerely to people with the information they want to hear. That includes addressing their real concerns in everything from online articles to social media posts. Always respond in a personal way, giving back based on what your audience really needs to know. That non-self-centered approach will make you stand out. If you’re looking for a solid example of this, we’ve got one. No one knows more about listening to others well than Oprah Winfrey. Oprah built her empire around “speaking to people about their struggles and the most vulnerable times in their lives . . . to build a community.” When you find ways to show your clients that you care about their real pain points like that, that takes the B2B relationship to a whole new level.

Hey, IT businesses: Avoid these 8 fatal web design mistakes

Is anything more painful than a poorly designed website? Answer: yes. Many things, actually. But that doesn’t change the fact that poorly designed websites hurt your eyes. Sometimes, they even hurt your soul. (Or so our designers tell me.) But here’s the problem. You’re most likely not a designer. So if you choose to build your own website (a totally reasonable plan), how can you be sure you avoid fatal web design mistakes? Easy, peasy. I already talked to our designers for you and I have their top 8 tips for clean, professional web design. Follow this simple guide, and you’ll avoid the majority of the bad-design mistakes we see non-designers make.

Mistake #1: Horrible use of the space above the fold

When you first arrive on a website, the part of the page you see before you scroll down is considered “above the fold.” (It’s an old newspaper term.) The space above the fold matters the same way a first impression matters. You want that space to clearly convey (1) your company’s name, (2) what you do, and (3) some indication of how you’re different. Bonus points if there’s a CTA (Call to Action) above the fold. Just remember, the space above the fold isn’t the end-all-be-all of web design. Cramming everything in above the fold looks messy and chaotic. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Make it a good one.

Mistake #2: Navigation that’s hard to use

A visitor should never have a hard time finding the main pages on your site. Your navigation (usually buttons along the top edge of the screen) should be easy to spot and should clearly indicate where to find your About, Services and Contact pages at the very least. Why does this matter? Because website visitors are impatient. If they can’t easily find their way around your site, they’ll just leave.

Mistake #3: No clear CTAs

A CTA is a Call to Action. CTAs include things like contact forms, newsletter subscription forms and other kinds of information exchange. CTAs are how you generate leads directly from your website. So, yeah—they’re pretty important. There should absolutely be a CTA on your homepage (we recommend a contact form), and CTAs should appear on all your Services pages, as well. But remember that, like all good things, you can go overboard with CTAs. Don’t shove them down a visitor’s throat. Just make sure CTAs are easy to find and readily available in places that make sense. Namely, places where someone might be thinking about contacting you or buying from you.

Mistake #4: Really bad readability

It doesn’t matter how good your content marketing strategy is if visitors can’t read the actual words on your website. All kinds of things can derail readability, but the two biggest culprits here are font and text size. Some fonts render better for online reading than others. We recommend sticking with Google fonts (simply because they’re universal). We can’t recommend an ideal size because fonts vary so much. 14 points in one font is huge while it’s tiny in another. The best thing you can do is take a look at your site on multiple different devices (PCs, smartphones and tablets) to see how the font looks on different screens of different sizes. If it’s easy to read on all of them, you’re good to go.

Mistake #5: Forgetting about the mobile experience

Dovetailing off that last point, the latest data tells us that a whopping 52.2% of all web browsing is done from mobile phones. That means visitors are more likely to see your site on their smartphones than on their computers. Which is why the term “mobile first design” has gained so much traction in the last couple of years. Mobile first design means designing your site primarily for the mobile experience. It makes sense as that’s where most of the traffic happens. If you’re building your own site, just make sure you’re using a theme (on WordPress, for example) that’s mobile responsive.

Mistake #6: Way too little whitespace

Whitespace is important in web design. It keeps a page from looking cluttered and it helps make long blocks of text less intimidating to non-readers. So what’s whitespace and how do you include it? Whitespace isn’t always literally white. It’s just the space on a web page where there’s no text or images. Resist the urge to fill your website with tons of images. It looks messy. And when you’re writing copy, be sure to keep paragraphs short. (Look at this article. See how all the paragraphs are pretty brief? That’s what you want.)

Mistake #7: Inconsistent branding

The branding throughout your site should be consistent. That means your name should always be spelled the same way, using the same font and the same logo. If you have multiple logos, pick one. Just one. And if you sometimes use your full name and sometimes just use initials, decide which way you would prefer to write your name on your site and stick with it. Inconsistent branding is confusing to visitors and it makes a website look amateurish. By contrast, consistent branding is clean, professional and confidence-building.

Mistake #8: Annoying, distracting nonsense

We’re talking about two kinds of things here: pop-ups/pop-overs (those boxes that appear out of nowhere, hijacking your screen when you first land on a web page) and videos that automatically play with sound. Honestly, we don’t know why so many companies are such big fans of pop-up and pop-over boxes. They’re maddening. We strongly recommend not using either. And it’s fine if you have a video that automatically plays. Just make sure it’s muted by default. No one likes the experience of browsing to a page and gettings scared out of their skin by sounds they weren’t expecting.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing, in a nutshell, is all about connecting with your clients. It’s not about selling one specific product over another. It’s about positioning your business as a valuable and relevant resource that your clients have already come to trust and depend on, even before they buy anything from you. An effective content marketing strategy can do a lot for your business. Providing quality content makes it easier to be found by the right people. You’re able to build an interested and engaged audience, which can also help build loyalty with existing clients. And content marketing can also be cheaper and more cost-effective than traditional marketing methods.

Content marketing vs. traditional marketing

Successful marketing is all about influencing a person’s decision during the consumer buying process. The 6 stages of the consumer buying process are:
  1. Identify problems
  2. Search for information
  3. Calculate alternatives
  4. Decide to purchase
  5. Purchasing
  6. Evaluating
The goal of traditional marketing is to convince someone to pick one product over another. It’s focused on the third, fourth, and fifth stages of the buying process: here is my product, here is why it is better than the other options, and here is why you should buy it right now. Content marketing, on the other hand, focuses on all the stages of the buying process. It’s about building brand loyalty by providing high-quality, relevant content before the consumer even recognizes their need for your product. It’s a long-term strategy that is focused on building relationships and brand loyalty before, during, and after the buying process. But making that connection can be easier said than done. That’s where another key element to content marketing comes in: storytelling.

The art of storytelling

Humans have communicated for thousands of years through storytelling. When you come home in the evening and tell your family about your day, you’re telling them stories about what happened to you. You’re painting a picture that they can visualize in their mind so they don’t just know what happened, but they can feel what you felt as you went through it. A Stanford research study found that statistics alone have a retention rate of 5-10%, but when coupled with anecdotes, the retention rate rises to 65-70%. When you tell a story effectively, you don’t just connect to the thinking part of the brain, you connect to the feeling part. Incorporating effective storytelling into your marketing techniques is where content marketing really outshines traditional marketing methods.

Content is key

Content marketing is focused on telling the story of your business in a way that connects with your clients on both an intellectual and emotional level. Because that’s what is going to make them remember you. And the best way to do that is by providing them with content they find valuable and interesting. The three keywords from the definition above are valuable, relevant, and consistent. You want content that consumers find interesting enough to read and then come back for more, even if they’re not in the market for your product or service. Because tomorrow, next week, or even next year their needs may change and you’ll be the name they know and trust. No matter how good your graphic designers are or how much money you throw behind an advertising campaign, you’re throwing your money away if the content you’re promoting isn’t connecting with your audience. Luckily, there’s an easy way to fix that. Answer the questions you know potential customers are asking. Address their pain points. Give away your secrets. And do it without even pitching yourself. They’re on your site. They know you’re the one helping. And we promise, in the end, a solid content marketing strategy will pay off.

High-performance IT marketing step 12: Don’t give up

  The IT marketing one-night stand. It’s a thing. Seriously. And it’s ruining business owners everywhere. But what exactly is an IT marketing one-night stand?

It’s exactly what you think it is . . . but not

When it comes to IT marketing, there’s this unrealistic expectation that fame is fast, traffic is inevitable, and success is guaranteed. But that’s not necessarily true. And when business owners realize this, they’re quick to ditch their marketing strategy and give up completely. We’re here to make sure that doesn’t happen. IT marketing takes years to get right, and it’s really no different than building an effective sales team or service delivery department. You need goals, processes, a strategy, KPIs, a team, and so on . . . But more than anything, IT marketing is about time, patience, and dedication. Without those three things, you probably won’t see the results you’re hoping for.

IT marketing prosOkay, okay . . . but seriously, how long does IT marketing take?

There is no hard and fast number when it comes to IT marketing and the time it takes to see results. And really, the only thing we can tell you is that it just depends. HOWEVER, there are benchmarks. For example, Fractl says that on-site content marketing should start to deliver results within six months (this includes blogging, whitepapers, case studies, and traditional website content). Off-site content marketing, on the other hand, takes about six to 12 months (this includes awareness campaigns, off-site blogging, etc.). In other words, you need to wait at least six months to decide whether your marketing is working. But we’re about to hit you with another however . . .

6 months or 6 years . . . it is what you make it

That’s right. It could take six years for you to see any results. Then again, it could take six weeks. (And no, it won’t ever take six days. That’s just ridiculous.) Sure, you need time, patience, and dedication—but the amount of effort you put forth will also have a big impact on whether or not you’re successful. In fact, Search Engine Journal says this: That’s a lot of traffic for anyone, especially for a managed service provider. But for that to happen (and in less than six months), there’s a lot of work involved. SEJ says there are four main steps involved in this:

1. Quantity

You must create a lot of content (at least more content than your competition is creating)

2. Quality

You must create content that is valuable, timeless, and relevant (but also SEO-friendly and strategic)

3. Consistency

You must update your content often (or at least as often as your competition updates their content)

4. Longevity

You must keep at it and not give up (or at least keep at it longer than your competition keeps at it) You probably get the point. You need a lot of good content, consistently and for a long time. But you only need to be ahead of your competition. Not every site ever created.

But why just the competition?

Well, we’re glad you asked. Every industry is different. Every target market is different. Every tilt is different. Every geographic location is different. You don’t have all the time, money, and resources in the world to go full beast mode on marketing 100% of the time. And luckily, you don’t have to. That is, unless your competition does. You need to be strategic. You need to do your research. And you need to understand what your goals are. If your goal is to rank #1 for the search term “Cloud computing in Dallas,” then you first need to figure out who’s currently ranking for that. Take a look at their page, examine it from top to bottom, and start from there. However, if your goal isn’t to rank anywhere on Google but instead to receive 1,000 unique visitors every month with a conversion rate of 20%, your wires might be a little crossed. How do you expect to get that many visitors every month without a solid presence on Google? Unless you’re Gandalf or you have a massive social media following (or both), that probably won’t happen without some degree of SEO strategy. However, if the latter is true, a byproduct of that will most likely be you rising in the ranks on Google.

IT marketing teamworkSo what’s the moral of the blog?

Don’t give up. That is all. Keep at it and knock off all those one-night stands. Understand that marketing requires time, patience, and dedication. If you don’t have those three things, then you’ll see no results. But we believe in you, and we know you can do it. And if you ever need help, we’re right here. Don’t hesitate to reach out.

High-performance IT marketing step 11: Marketing accountability

  Few things get in the way of productivity like excuses. That’s true whether you’re talking about your marketing strategy, training for a 5K, or finally finishing that DIY project you’ve been working on for the last 6 months. If you’re making excuses, you’re not making progress. Excuses can thrive in a team environment. Everyone feels a sense of responsibility and no one wants to be left with the blame if things go wrong. But the problem is you can’t make excuses and move toward solutions at the same time. The success of your marketing strategy is a time-sensitive thing. If you hit a snag, it’s far more important to find a solution and move on than to dole out blame or make excuses. So how do you handle accountability?
-Benjamin Franklin

Why accountability matters

By its very nature, accountability opens the door for excuses and blame. If you hold your team’s feet to the fire to ensure your marketing strategy is a success, someone will inevitably respond to that accountability with either an excuse or an attempt to shift blame. Some leaders just drill down, forcing their team to identify the person at fault. That’s a bad, bad call. It will completely destroy the energy and passion needed for a successful marketing strategy. Other leaders avoid accountability so the issue of blame never comes up. Also a huge mistake. Accountability matters because the only way to turn your marketing strategy into a well-oiled, lead-generating machine is to make sure everyone’s doing their part. Said another way, you don’t want team members to slack off, and you don’t want them to waste time pointing fingers, either. Here’s how you pull that off.

Promises, promises

Promises are good, provided that everyone on your team knows exactly what they are committing to. At each stage of planning, implementing, reviewing and revising your marketing strategy, go out of your way to make it crystal clear who’s doing what. We’re serious. End every marketing meeting with a recap. Go over all action items, including the point person for each task, the due date, any other team members who will provide support, and the targeted outcome. Do that with your internal team and with any external vendors or partners. If you’re used to being a little more casual, that may sound nit-picky. It’s not. Give it 2-3 meetings, and you’ll fall in love with this kind of communication. Everyone will know what’s going on and what they’re responsible for. If someone drops the ball, they’ll know it. They all know what’s expected of them. There’s no need to berate anyone, and there’s really no reason for them to give excuses. Just get things back on track and keep moving.

Document KPIs

In step 2, we covered KPIs. KPIs serve as a gauge for the success of your marketing strategy. If you’re hitting your KPIs, you’re in the clear. You have goals, and your performance lines up with them. But if you’re not hitting your KPIs—well, then it’s time to make some changes. Of course, the only way to know if your marketing strategy is meeting your KPIs is to document and check in with your KPIs. It seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many marketing teams forget this critical step. Then one of two things happens. Either marketing efforts don’t really achieve anything but everyone feels good about them, so no one notices. Or the marketing strategy achieves the stated goals, but no one realizes it and there’s absolutely no celebration. Both will suck the life right out of your marketing team. And undermine your goals. So track your KPIs. When you don’t meet them, huddle the team and have a productive conversation about what went wrong—so you can adjust and correct course. Steer clear of blame and bat away excuses. Make sure everyone knows you’re not looking to blast anyone. Instead, you’re trying to help the team to adjust and get things back to where they should be.

What to listen for

When you talk to your marketing team, there are some key things to listen for to know if they get the whole marketing accountability thing. You’ll know they’re making the kind of adjustments they need to be making if you hear the following responses to common marketing activity issues.

When your email open rates are low . . .

Your email open rate refers to how many people open the marketing emails you send out. In theory, this translates to how many people actually read (or at least start reading) emails. The subject line for marketing emails is often the tipping point. A good subject line makes it far more likely that someone will open and start to read an email. So if your open rates are low, you want to hear your marketing team say something like, “We’re going to A/B test subject lines to improve open rates.”

When your email click-through rates are low . . .

Email click-through rates indicate how many people click a link (usually a CTA of some kind) in marketing emails. If no one clicks through, your emails are failing to set you up for conversion. Click-through rates (CTRs) are dependent on open rates. People aren’t going to click links in emails they haven’t opened. But once the email is open, design and content determine whether a recipient is compelled to click on a link. Low click-through rates usually mean there’s an issue with design and/or copy. So if your click-through rates are low, you want to hear your marketing team say something like, “We’ll make adjustments to the copy/design to make the content more appealing.”

When the bounce rate on your website is high . . .

When someone goes to a website, the hope is they’ll stay on the website for a while. If they show up and immediately leave, in marketing terms, they “bounced.” A high bounce rate means folks are leaving soon after arriving. All kinds of things can contribute to a high bounce rate. It could be the copy. Or the design. Or the layout. Maybe people just don’t like that your contact form is at the end of the page. Or the beginning of the page. It’s hard to say. But there’s an easy way to find out. On-page analytics, especially heat maps, can help. Heat maps show where a visitor’s cursor goes while they’re on the page, as well as how far down into the copy they scroll. Using that information, you can typically tell where a visitor bailed. So if your bounce rates are high, you want to hear your marketing team say something like, “We’ll dig into the on-page analytics and heat maps to figure out why people are leaving.”

When attendance at your events is low . . .

Events are usually easy to fill. If you have a good venue, a fun activity (like a movie), and clear communication, it’s easy to hit capacity. So when there’s poor attendance, that’s a problem. Like high bounce rates, there’s a lot that can contribute to poor attendance at events. But unlike bounce rates, there’s no easy, automated way to analyze attendance. Instead, you have to roll up your sleeves and have actual conversations with actual people. You should always invite at least 2-3 solid, long-term clients to every event you have, even if you’re targeting prospects. Invite people you know will show up . . . and who you know will give you candid feedback. When an event doesn’t go well, turn to these people first. Ask what they liked and what they didn’t like. Ask how other events have been better. Ask what they would change about the poorly attended event if they could. That feedback is your best shot at isolating the problem. So if attendance at an event is low, you want to hear your marketing team say something like, “We’re reaching out to some key clients to get their feedback.”

When closing rates are low . . .

When your marketing strategy generates leads, you should be closing deals. If you’re getting leads but no new sales, there’s an issue. This is one place where things can easily get sticky. Often, the issue at this point is a sales issue—either a lack of follow-up or a lack of sales skills. Neither is fun to address. We love salespeople. Successful salespeople are among the most talented, driven, innovative, creative and hard-working people in the workforce. That said, there are some common excuses to watch for when dealing with sales. The biggest one is this: the leads suck. Leads are leads. Some are hot and some are cold. All of them can be worked, and all of them have the potential to turn into deals. If you’re getting a steady flow of leads, hot or cold, but nothing’s closing, you need to hold your salespeople accountable. Don’t allow for finger-pointing. Instead, talk about follow-up and follow-through. With the right kind of sales activity, you should see new deals closing. So if your closing rates are low, you want to hear your sales team say something like, “We’ll do a better job of following up on every lead ASAP—even if we think the lead sucks.”

Keep things positive

Marketing accountability done right requires finesse. Hold people accountable with precision and care, not with a sledgehammer. You don’t want anyone to feel like they’re not valued. Instead, you want to position yourself as someone who’s on their side, ready to support them, and committed to overall success for the sake of the team. Focus on solutions, not problems. Focus on the root cause, not blame. Focus on improvement, not lack of performance. Strong, empathetic marketing accountability can turn an entire marketing strategy around and pull a team closer together. That’s what you’re shooting for. To help out with that, feel free to download our free resource below. It’s a quick recap of how to handle the five common accountability situations we discussed above. Use marketing accountability to build your team up. This is a key ingredient for ongoing success with your marketing strategy.

Free resource