Get the Word Out

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Introduction

Spend your time running your business, not your marketing.

By taking advantage of all the relevant marketing opportunities available and spreading the word you can expand your reach to larger audiences, build brand recognition and credibility and start to position your IT firm as a thought leader. This sharing of information and knowledge often results in life-long customers as well as referrals.

The Challenges of 'Spreading the Word'

IT marketing is faced with the challenging tasks of sharing information, building communities, establishing their businesses as industry experts, and standing out amongst a sea of competitors — all within the confines of the Internet. While cyberspace is a vast expanse, building a positive reputation with clients and potential customers online can be easier said than done.

The challenges of getting your brand recognized through word of mouth include identifying and reaching your audience while consistently providing them with relevant, interesting information.

Additionally, lack of time, resources, and the proper skills to create effective marketing strategies contribute to these challenges.

Considering all that is required to maintain a marketing strategy, it's understandable that one's focus will shift from their core responsibilities to marketing initiatives.

Marketing, however, is a necessary part of any successful company that can reap many benefits and contribute to the firm's growth strategy.

How to Get Discovered

One way companies can accomplish the difficult goals listed above is through various online marketing opportunities and the distribution of useful and relevant content. However, many IT firms simply don't know where to start when it comes to effective marketing strategies.

The following offers several tips to help your IT firm effectively and efficiently reach your target audience and get discovered.

Working the Media

Developing a positive relationship with media channels is an important component to effective IT marketing. News organizations and blog networks are always on the lookout for relevant articles, and your company can be the one to provide them. Non-profit organizations have known this free marketing tidbit for years, and the most successful ones really capitalize on free PR from news organizations.

To ensure your content is newsworthy, keep the quality high and the information up to date. Look for online publications and websites that match your subject matter, so your content is more likely to get published. These media outlets are typically viewed by large audiences every day, so content for your IT marketing is sure to get noticed by a significant target market.

Social Media

The social media channels are an excellent source of content distribution.

  • Where to post content: Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter
  • What to post: Your own article or another relevant article from a reliable, known source (be sure to properly cite outside sources)
  • Why you should post: it enables readers to comment on your work and engage with your brand thereby generating added exposure for your company

Multichannel Marketing

Multichannel distribution media and platforms such as Posterous, make it easy to assemble your content in a single effort. After the content is distributed, users can send it out to even more channels, allowing your information to spread throughout the Internet with only minimal effort by your IT marketing team.

Content distributed in this fashion should be clearly branded so that readers can identify the information with your company right away.

Mobile

Mobile apps are a growing trend among consumers today, so incorporating this medium into your content distribution is a valuable tool in your IT marketing strategy.

In a recent survey by King Fish Media, entitled "Mobile Marketing: Plans, Trends and Measurability," only 33% of businesses currently implement a mobile marketing plan. However, within the next year, 62% of companies have plans to launch mobile marketing campaigns.

Mobile-ready content needs to be written and formatted to fit small screens. Instead of sending full length articles through a mobile application, use a condensed version or a teaser as a hook. Also, leverage a QR code so readers can quickly access the full article.

Offering Downloads

White papers, eBooks, and educational guides offer a different way to distribute IT-related content. This approach offers various benefits:

  • You can offer more in-depth information in a single effort. Companies like Microsoft, ACNielsen, and FedEx frequently rely on white papers as a marketing tool.
  • Downloads establish your company as an industry expert

Keep in mind that downloads don't have to be restricted to the written word. Audio and video downloads may be equally popular, especially if you are providing how-to content on a complex IT issue.

Blog Posts

According to studies conducted by HubSpot and Edison Research "businesses that post daily will generate 5 times more traffic than those that post weekly or less." In addition, small businesses are more likely to see more leads and grow their customer base when they post more frequently. In fact, "HubSpot found blogs that post daily generate 4 times more leads than those that post weekly or less" and companies that posted blogs daily or multiple times a day saw the highest percentage of customer acquisition through their blogs.

Distributing valuable content through blog posts is a powerful and effective way to reach your audience and position your IT Firm as a thought leader in the industry. By providing educational material, answering customer questions and solving client issues on your blog you build credibility and a larger following of dedicated clients.

Repurposed Content

Many IT firms have an arsenal of valuable and incredibly useful content in the form of lengthy white papers and ebooks as well as informative blog posts.

  • Repurpose or recycle these marketing materials
  • Use them in other formats, such as blogs and articles
  • Reformat, shorten, or tweak the content so it can be converted into educational articles for upcoming newsletters

Webinars

Company webinars provide an opportunity for IT firms to market their brand, show their industry knowledge, speak directly to their target audience, and ultimately generate high-quality leads.

Since most webinars are interactive, or leverage a live chat feature, IT firms have the rare opportunity of reaching a large audience at once and engaging with them in a meaningful way.

Additional Mediums

Video and podcasts can also be used in your online IT marketing. Sites like YouTube, iTunes or on your own company website are valuable marketing mediums which can be more interesting for prospective clients and may be a better way to explain complex issues.

  • Promote your content on your website and blog
  • Reach your target audience with informative and educational insights and updates
  • Gain the best possible exposure for your IT marketing efforts by posting videos and podcasts on the Internet
  • Leverage social networks, such as YouTube, Facebook, etc. for more positive exposure

Content distribution is a key component of effective IT marketing. While the type and quality of the content you produce is essential, the location of that content on the Internet is equally important. There are many options in content distribution today, but the wealth of choices can make it confusing to know which venues are best for your marketing strategy. By using these tips for content distribution, you can get the maximum exposure for your IT marketing efforts for the least amount of investment.

Success Stories

How Today's Businesses were Found Using Marketing Strategies

A look at two companies who leveraged valuable marketing strategies to increase awareness to their brand and build stronger customer relationships.

InfoStructures Revamps Their Newsletter and Builds Awareness

President and CEO of Maryland-based InfoStructures, Guy Wassertzug, had been creating an email newsletter in-house for nine months. The email campaign which included 3 to 4 articles was sent once per month and took his team, including some whose billing rate is well over $125 per hour, a collective 10 to 15 hours to produce. This included writing the content, editing it, and producing the newsletter.

Furthermore, it required his staff to shift from their core responsibilities to create the newsletter. Not only was the in-house production a distraction for the employees but it came with a high cost in terms of lost billable time. After 9 months of sending these newsletters and receiving zero results or leads, InfoStructures decided to make a change.

They were presented with the option of outsourcing their content creation and distribution strategy. At a fraction of the cost of the in-house production, a team of professional writers and journalists were able to carve out engaging and educational stories that the InfoStructures customers wanted. By interviewing employees of InfoStructures and discussing the background of both the company and its customers, the journalists created compelling newsletter content.

With the new strategy for their email campaigns, InfoStructures saw dramatic results immediately. The unique content coupled with a sleek updated newsletter design using the company's colors, themes and style resulted in more interest from their readers. On the very same day the updated newsletter was sent, InfoStructures immediately received three responses.

Mint.com Adds a Blog and Increases Their Following

Mint.com launched in 2006 as a personal finance website alongside the already well-established site Quicken. Despite the fierce competition, Mint quickly became the market leader in online personal finance and was sold to Intuit for $170 million.

How did Mint make the leap from a small start-up to triumphant business? They did it by leveraging their blog to connect with their audience in a meaningful way and provide extremely valuable content.

Mint started and maintained a blog called "MintLife" which was ultimately the core of the company's operation.

"Mint dedicated significant resources to its blog, including a full time editorial staff and a slew of freelance contributors. It invested time in social news sites like Reddit and Digg, and after months of seeing consistent, quality Mint content, readers in those communities began trusting Mint as high quality, reliable, and cool to share. Eventually, those users turned into Mint customers, even advocating Mint in their personal networks."

MintLife was constantly updated with news, announcements and helpful tips. Their editors and writers contributed slideshows, videos, as well as infographics to keep Mint's content strategy fresh and unique. Mint provided real advice to their customers and leveraged their blog to distribute this content thereby solidifying their place as a thought leader and industry expert. Once readers became accustomed to visiting MintLife for all their personal finance needs, Mint built its online credibility which encouraged even more followers and converted readers into clients.

Conclusion

Marketing solutions such as blogs, white papers, ebooks, email newsletters, webinars, social media, and mobile are effective means to reach your target audience and generate more leads for your IT firm.

In order to consistently deliver interesting and original content consider the following:

  1. Get in-tune with your customers or target audience and define what it is that they want from you. This is important in order to deliver the information that they actually want to read.
  2. Dedicate time and resources to producing and delivering high-quality, useful information. This may include working with freelance writers and outsourced marketing platforms.
  3. Leverage a variety of mediums. From written content such as blogs and white papers to media formats including podcasts, video and social media platforms, there are limitless marketing opportunities to take advantage of.
  4. Organize your marketing strategy with an editorial marketing calendar. This will help you to plan and keep track of all customer-facing marketing materials.

Follow these basic guidelines and the results will lead you on your way toward becoming a trusted, well-known thought leader.