Content Marketing Plan #5: White Papers or Engineering as Marketing
By Laura Cowan
Laura K. Cowan is a tech editor and journalist whose work has focused on promoting sustainability initiatives for automotive, green tech, and conscious living media outlets.
This is Part 5 of our ongoing Cronicle Consulting Content Marketing series, which highlights a few ways your tech company or startup can get started doing content marketing. Check out the rest of the series here:
Research reports can require funding, like this report from EntryPoint's Detroit report on 2019 startup ecosystems. If you have the budget, sponsoring a report can help highlight your participation in your industry without taking in-house time to create.
Content Marketing Plan #5: White Papers or Engineering as Marketing
So you've started a company blog, guest posted for other media outlets and blogs, interviewed with podcasts or mainstream media or created your own, and pursued public speaking at local or national events. That is already a great content marketing plan, one that takes time to carry out and requires longterm consistency far beyond your company's launch. If your tech startup is finding its sea legs on content marketing and you want more ways to get the word out about your great startup, there is one more set of ideas to consider that is customized to your industry or brand. That content marketing idea is white papers or engineering as marketing.
What does this look like?
White Papers: Think white papers, research reports, industry impact reports, or technical papers you could publish or sponsor on your company or industry's research, products, or ecosystem.
Engineering As Marketing: Widgets, apps, extra website features--even IoT connected devices--could be part of your engineering as marketing plan. These are just a few possibilities. These widgets are designed to get the word out about what you do best. Don't tell them, show them. Better yet, get them to tell each other about you because your widget is just that good.
Why White Papers & Engineering For Tech Startups?
White papers or engineering as marketing works particularly well for tech startups because they have the talent in house to publish papers on technical subjects or the engineering talent to create more advanced widgets for attracting new clientele. Just think of the opportunity here. Not every company can pull this off. If you have the time, get together your technical leads or people who can contribute to creating white papers, research reports, or other content or apps your company can uniquely contribute to your space.
Brainstorm. What is your team uniquely capable of offering? What you're aiming for here is to find some type of content that helps highlight your company's expertise or gives a sample of what you can create for clients, such as an app that helps people find new ways to save for the future, for example, or a white paper talking about an important client project you want to highlight to show other potential clients what you would like to do for them. Are you creating a new software product to release in the near future? Think of ways you could release a free limited version, or a related app people might want to test or share as part of the release.
How To Target Content Marketing For The Right Audience
Here are some considerations to help focus the process. Think what particular expertise you want to highlight to potential customers. If you have a series of new biotech products coming out, could you publish papers about a related subject of interest for each product or the current problems you're addressing with the new invention? If you're aiming to be a main community player in the engineering space, are there industry reports you can publish or awards or broadcasts you can sponsor for a kids' robotics competition or a trade show? Did you just create a new COVID or cancer treatment? What do people need to know about what you're doing, and how could you communicate that best?
Think about what audience you are targeting. For whom do you want to be the expert support? End users? Industry experts? B2B clients? Think about the goals you have for finding new clients or making new connections and work backwards. What format of content would help you connect with the right audience? What do you think they would they find useful or shareable? Where are they already looking for this information, so you can be there?
An engineering widget, app, or shareable game can also act as content marketing for your startup. It can serve as a marketing tool while also highlighting other offerings beyond the shareable free option you create to go viral.
The biggest considerations can be cost and deadlines for the projects you're promoting. What budget and timeline do you have for the project in question? This can help narrow the scope of what is feasible. It doesn't hurt to take down all the amazing ideas and save them for the next project. You never know when one idea that doesn't work this time will fit a new project perfectly.
How You Can Create Content Marketing Through Engineering
Let your engineering teams loose to create widgets or extra features in your product that can be branded with a promotion. For example, can your online coaching tool brand create a mini mindfulness app that links to a discount promotion so every time someone uses it and engages with your content, they are connected with potential sales? Can you create an extra feature on your website that gives users a preview of other services to draw in potential clients? Financial adviser and radio personality Dave Ramsey does this with financial calculator widgets on his website that can help listeners calculate potential savings rates with their retirement accounts and insurance options. Software companies like Dropbox do this by offering free storage space if you share their product with a friend. Many online digital art programs have limited free versions that draw potential clients to the company website and keep them wanting more.
You could also think about this beyond a brief marketing tool and create part of your product or service offerings that serve as their own marketing tool. Fintech startups often create budgeting or bank syncing apps or AI-curated financial resources or advice as their core product that connect with personal advisors for further customized advice and services. Could you find a way to build marketing or content into the product or service you're offering, or in the way you distribute it? This is where content marketing and flywheel marketing merge and play nicely together. If you offer content or a widget that creates real value for the customer and motivates them to share it with friends for further benefits, you have yourself an ideal marketing tool. Entire companies have been built on these strategies when the fit is right and the benefit to the customer undeniable.
It's hard to list all the possibilities for content marketing through white papers or engineering in one article, but we hope this has sparked a few ideas for you to get started with your team. Let us know if you use one of these ideas for your company, and how it gets results.
Cronicle now offers content marketing and communications consulting services to tech startups. If you would like a free consultation to learn about the options to get your tech startup started on a content marketing plan that customized to your budget and industry, please contact us to set up a no-obligation call. We would love to help you figure out where content marketing fits in your growth plan.
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