Widgets Magazine

Knowledge Is Your Marketing

S. Kyle Davis of AMX on how AV Marketing Should Be Looking to Training Departments for Inspiration
As some of you may know, I work in marketing for AMX, but got my start in the training department. That may sound like a weird switch, but it’s actually not. In fact, in the current market, more AV marketing departments should probably be looking to their training departments for inspiration. I say that not to “sound my own horn” as it were, but simply because it ties into a very important trend in marketing today.
If you’re in marketing, you’ve probably heard of “content marketing,” but if you haven’t, it’s a current marketing technique dominating conversation. Really, though, it’s the latest iteration of several other trends (social media marketing, SEO optimization, inbound marketing, online marketing, etc.) that have been growing and changing since the internet really took off in the late 90’s.
Put simply, content marketing is the idea that rather than spend your time flooding your user with branding messages, which used to work back in the 60’s and 70’s, you create great informational pieces that users then find through search or as the carrot at the end of an email or AdWords campaign. Statistics back up this approach; in just the past few years users went from reviewing 5 pieces of marketing content to 10 pieces of content before making a decision. In fact, business-oriented (or “B2B”) customers, such as corporate AV buyers, are usually 60% of the way through the buying process before they ever contact a sales person.  And you resi guys? Your customers are typically even farther through the process before ever talking to an integrator.
So how do you address this? You create great, informative pieces that may or may not be about your product. This may sound counter-intuitive, or a waste of time, but if they’re going to do the research anyway, wouldn’t you rather them do it where the content reflects your message and goals, and where they can easily find product information when it’s time?
When this trend started to flare up in 2012, a lot of people rightly said, “Hey, I’ve been doing that for years! I know how to write white papers and create blog posts!” These people became the experts, helping out everyone else who hadn’t been on the content train for quite as long. A couple good resources are the Content Marketing Institute and the Resonance Content Marketing blog.
However, as great as all the resources are, there isn’t a lot of information out there on how to actually CREATE the content. The idea has been more of “…and then you create great content. Once you’ve done that, here’s how you distribute it…”
Unfortunately, creating content isn’t that simple. Sure, you can find lots of hints on how to develop a blog post, and there’s information on how to get ideas for content topics, but how do you make sure your overall content development approach ties together rather than going forward with a shotgun approach to content? It’s hard to be strategic with a splatter-gun. In fact, most people feel like they’ve done a good job of being strategic if they’ve identified their persona and used strong keywords. There’s more to it than that!
To be fair, in the past, we haven’t needed to be as strategic with marketing content. Users didn’t do as much research before smartphones and the exponential growth of the internet. Good marketers just needed to have at least one piece of content on whatever clients might want to know. But now, we need to have more top-level planning with multiple, inter-related content pieces that walk through an entire topic. The marketing field just doesn’t have the history or research data to show what does and doesn’t work in that area.
So what do you do? That’s where instructional designers come in to play. The instructional design field has, for a number of years, categorically studied the art of creating and organizing information that informs the user.
Believe it or not, training and marketing are actually very similar as both fields develop content that informs users. In client-facing training programs, like AV manufacturers provide, marketing and training are even more comparable because the ultimate goal of client training is to drive sales of the right products so that more installations succeed causing more overall growth.
I’m not the only one who thinks this. In fact, Schneider Electric has a whole training program that is nothing more than a marketing effort. It’s all non-branded content created by trained instructional designers, and it does nothing more than simply position Schneider as a thought leader in energy management while keeping you close to the Schneider Product tab on the website.
We don’t all need to go to those lengths, but if we look at the tactics honed by the instructional design field through years of research, we too can develop better content. By focusing on goals that are sub-divided into actionable objectives for the user, we can develop informative, helpful content that will keep people coming back and diving in.

About Author

No Comments

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.