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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.
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 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.
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.
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
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:
- 9 tips to write high-quality, helpful content
- Secrets for the most successful IT marketing emails
- 9 tips from a video production team
- 14 social media tips all the posting pros are using
- And don’t forget to check your grammar and readability
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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-producedvideo 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.
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.
Build up an engaging story first to bring people in—sell the product laterEveryone 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 strategyToday, 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 exposureIt 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 materialNever 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?
Be the company who listensIn 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.
Mistake #1: Horrible use of the space above the foldWhen 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 useA 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 CTAsA 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 readabilityIt 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 experienceDovetailing 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 whitespaceWhitespace 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 brandingThe 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 nonsenseWe’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.
Content marketing vs. traditional marketingSuccessful marketing is all about influencing a person’s decision during the consumer buying process. The 6 stages of the consumer buying process are:
- Identify problems
- Search for information
- Calculate alternatives
- Decide to purchase