Are you ready to take on the responsibilities of content marketing for your business?
The KMB Communications team has been seeing increased demand for content marketing and content creation (including photos and video) services in 2016. We’ve been offering social media management as part of our comprehensive marketing strategy retainers for a few years now, but social media efforts require content to produce. (Yes, it’s back to the old “content is king” claim – and it’s still true.)
If you’re a manufacturer or a custom integrator just getting into the inbound marketing game, and all your previous efforts have been through traditional marketing and public relations channels, it might feel overwhelming. Let’s step back, first, and define inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing are marketing efforts that bring leads to you. Rather than intruding on your prospect’s lives (sometimes known as “push” marketing) through commercials and advertisements, you offer information your prospects can use, and they begin to come to you, seeking out more of that information.
Content marketing, a subset of inbound marketing, is, specifically, creating content with the intention of attracting sales leads.
Of course, if you have a website, you want to use it to attract leads. The need for content marketing becomes obvious. The question remains: Do you do it yourself, hire a firm, or form a hybrid relationship that maximizes your budget while alleviating some of the burden on yourself and your team to become content creators?
We won’t go so far as to say you can “fire your PR” (or content marketing or strategic communications) agency. That would be silly, because, obviously, we have some interest in growing the pie of AV integrators and manufacturers who need strategic marketing, communications, PR, and content services.
But it also doesn’t mean your marketing efforts should suffer if you can’t (yet) afford to have an agency handle it all. You certainly can do it yourself – and there are plenty of resources out there to help you learn how. But do you want to spend time writing articles and blog posts, making videos, taking photos, and sharing social media posts?
Or would you rather stick with what you’re good at, and the reason you started your company: Designing and installing quality AV and smart home systems? The choice really is yours, and it comes down to time, budget, and the necessary trade-offs.
Do it yourself or hire someone?
Let’s explore each model to help you make the right decision for your business. That doesn’t mean this model won’t change down the line. Evaluate your business and your budget to determine what is best right now, and, if you decide to hire an agency, find one that can scale their offerings as your needs grow.
Content Marketing DIY
If you have a certain level of marketing savvy, there’s a strong case to be made for managing your content marketing yourself. There’s a wealth of resources out there to help you – from this article by Commercial Integrator’s Tom Leblanc to podcasts, webcasts, and seminars, both within and outside the industry. You know your business and your customers or prospects better than anyone else, so the level of knowledge, personalization, and transparency you’ll bring to your content probably can’t be matched by an outside firm.
But content marketing is more than just writing articles people care about. You also need to:
- create a monthly or quarterly content plan with deadlines so the work actually gets done;
- have some knowledge of SEO so the search engines will see your posts;
- be adept in WordPress or whatever platform you’re using to post your content;
- be able to source photos to make your posts more enticing;
- have someone on your team willing and able to proofread for you (spellcheck doesn’t catch everything!);
- promote your posts after they’re done, or even get them placed on a relevant third-party website.
If this sounds like it may take more time then you’re willing to invest, you can always consider getting some help.
Hire a Firm to Manage Your Content Campaigns
From content writing agencies to strategic communications firms, a number of choices exist for integrators and manufacturers who don’t want to go it alone. With minimal direction, a strategic communications and content creation firm can help you identify the stories worth telling, create articles, blog posts, videos, and social media collateral, and even build your network (even from scratch!) to share your brand’s stories.
With a one-hour touch-base meeting monthly and a quick phone call whenever you have something exciting going on (for instance, a high-profile installation), a strategic communications firm will write an editorial calendar built out of the marketing and PR strategy you devise together, create the content, and execute the plan. All that’s left is for your sales team to follow up on the leads that come in as a result of your increased branding and outreach efforts.
Regardless of the size or scope of your business, whether you’re a commercial or residential integrator or a manufacturer in the industry, hiring a strategic communications firm allows you and your team to focus on what you do best, while allowing the same for those that specialize in making content work for you and your brand.
Share the Love (and Responsibility)
However, we fully recognize that having a full-scale strategic communications and PR agency to do it all may be out of the budget of many integrators or smaller manufacturers. That’s where a hybrid, per-project, or scaled down relationship works well.
By taking over some aspect of the writing or social media outreach, you’ll save money but still enjoy the benefits of a guiding hand to keep you on the right track with your efforts. You may even be able to split the duties between several people in your organization who enjoy writing and have stories to tell.
When you’re looking at cutting costs, though, don’t skimp on strategy. As KMB Communications’ Chief Strategist Katye (McGregor) Bennett says, “We help people identify and articulate their message, then we elevate and amplify it.”
Even if your own employees are producing content, having a strategic communications / PR firm to oversee those efforts ensures a consistent message, voice, and personality across platforms, a critical component of a successful communications strategy.
Writing is (relatively) easy. Strategy, however, takes a unique ability. Even the most marketing savvy CMOs or business owners can benefit from another perspective. Sometimes, these individuals are just “too close” to their company to see the big picture. The benefits of using an outside firm – even for a portion of your inbound marketing efforts – are much greater than just having someone do the legwork to get content written and published. It’s about having a partner by your side to ensure those efforts are moving in the right direction for your brand.