If you wanted to learn something new about the oil and gas industry 10 years ago, you went to a conference, a training facility or read articles from one of the many print magazines. Beyond that, the rest of your training came from on-the-job experience.
If you’re reading this article, you know the oilfield. Virtually every other industry has dramatically changed the way it learns. People today want instant access to information that can help them with everything from improving their golf swing to fixing their Excel spreadsheets, and even how to avoid stuck pipe incidents.
In the past, the majority of information available to the oil and gas industry was in the form of advertisements. There was very little free information that didn’t come with a sales pitch drowning out the useful information you were looking for.
According to market research firm Meltwater, 80% of B2B decision makers prefer to get information from articles rather than advertising, and 40% of Millennials don’t trust ads.
“80% of B2B decision makers prefer to get information from articles…”
Now think about your market. When your potential customers are looking for information about your products or services, what is the likelihood they get that information from you or your competitors?
If you’re not delivering useful content to your market, there’s a good chance your target market doesn’t even know you could solve their problem.
The good news? It’s never too late to start producing digital marketing content. If you’ve never done it before, it can be a little daunting. That’s why we put together a list of five helpful tips to kick start your digital marketing content creation.
#1 Don’t be boring
This should be one of the most obvious tips when it comes to producing digital marketing content, but it can be quite challenging. How do you make your B2B product or service interesting?
Remember that it isn’t about the “thing” you’re selling, it’s about the benefits your clients get from your product or service when it solves their problem. When you start producing content from a place that focuses on the advantages to the customer, it gets a lot easier to create compelling and entertaining content.
If you can save your customer 20% on production costs, reduce downtime by 50% or completely eliminate hand injuries, you should be able to produce marketing content that gets your customers excited.
Again, it’s not about the steel you’re selling or the number of certificates your training facility issues. It is about the benefit your clients gain by doing business with you and your company.
It’s about the benefit your clients gain by doing business with you.
That said, it’s still possible to bore your target market. Having a compelling story is only part of the equation. Even the most entertaining story can leave your audience scratching their heads wondering what you’re talking about.
How do you actually sound interesting while you’re educating your audience?
#2 Write casually
If your digital marketing content makes people fall asleep while they’re reading it, ask yourself if you’re changing the way you communicate because you’re trying to sound overly professional. Just because you’re creating content for your business community doesn’t mean you have to lose your authentic voice.
When you write or record content, do you change your language? Do you sound different when you’re talking to a close friend over a cup of coffee or drink after work? If so, why?
I’m not saying you should start dropping F-bombs in your marketing, but you should try and speak naturally. If you’ve taken the time to develop a few buyer personas, it will help if you imagine you’re having a conversation with one of those fictional buyers. It not only makes your content less boring but also makes it much easier to write.
Your audience wants to connect with the people who represent your brand more than they want to connect with the brand itself. That means that every person who creates content for your brand should use his/her own voice. Don’t try and make your content generators or brand ambassadors write in a way that doesn’t feel natural to them.
This tip doesn’t come without potential problems. You can go too far and disconnect with your audience.
Try to avoid using obscure references or inside jokes that only a small segment of your market will understand. You want to educate and entertain your audience, not confuse or offend. Rock the boat, just don’t tip it over.
#3 Be helpful
There are several ways your business can stand out from the crowd. In the oilfield, the first step is putting content out for the market. The content you produce can be cutting edge, novel or helpful.
Content that has new ideas or technology has a way of standing out from the crowd. Everyone wants to be the first to say he/she saw something, so your audience will be more apt to consume your content if the subject is new and interesting.
The problem with new content is that it is only new for a short period of time. As time passes, the value of the content you produce that is new and exciting begins to fade. Content that presents new ideas doesn’t have the staying power of novel or helpful content.
One way to get some extra miles out of your content is to re-purpose it over time. An evergreen blog post can be re-posted to social media over and over again and gain new life. There are always new people entering your industry, changing job functions and looking for content that will help them be successful in their careers. Every time you re-purpose content, you open it up to a new audience that might not know that your business could solve their problems.
Novel content is a smart way to interrupt readers’ routine for consuming digital content. When they see something unexpected as they scroll through their digital news feeds, they are more likely to stop and read. I’m not referring to “click bait” that draws a reader in just to inundate him/her with valueless information.
Just like new content, novel content does not have very strong staying power. What’s worse is if you re-purpose novel content, you run the risk of making your audience blind to your content in the future.
Helpful content, on the other hand, is what the majority of the online B2B community is searching for. Businesses want solutions to their problems. More and more businesses in the oilfield are going online to find those answers.
When you provide useful information to your target market, you and your business become a resource. If you consistently provide useful information, in time you become a trusted advisor.
Providing useful content makes your business a resource to your target market.
As mentioned above, repurposing helpful content exposes your brand to a new audience every time those articles appear in a news feed. There is a limit to how often you can repurpose content, but once you have a library of good content your audience gets exposed to your content, old and new.
#4 Be consistent
Every time I mention content in a blog post, I bring up the importance of consistency. Usually, I’m talking about consistency in your posting schedule, which is important.
This time when I say, “be consistent,” I mean in your message and language. Corporate personality is how you communicate with the market. It’s a combination of your corporate culture and the brand you develop for your business.
If your organization is known as a strait-laced, by-the-book company responsible for keeping clients in compliance with various regulatory bodies, your digital marketing content should be professional with attention to detail. If you randomly inject an off the wall humorous tone in your message, you could confuse your customer base.
This is also true when your employees communicate with the market. Each content creator should have his or her own voice and stay true to that message.
As a side note, a business that uses multiple thought leaders to produce its content can effectively benefit from several different personalities in their message without confusing the market. One of your content creators could be known as a goof who always stays on the lighter side of the industry, while another provides an engineering breakdown of highly technical topics. Your audience will develop different relationships with the different personalities in your content and associate your business with both.
#5 Add some style
Try reading a technical paper with no paragraph breaks and long, run-on sentences. You’ll likely lose track of the message and develop a strong disdain for the author. The same can happen with your articles and video transcripts if you don’t add a little style to your writing.
Images, paragraph breaks, headings and colored text all play a part in making your content easy to read.
Apart from the SEO benefits you gain from formatting your text in a Google-friendly manner, your content should be easy for your audience to read.
Use shorter paragraphs than you’re used to (do this with your email too). This allows your reader to consume your content in bite-sized chunks.
Using relevant images, quotes and bold text breaks up the language for the reader and provides visual anchors to keep the reader going especially if the article is rather long.
Try to put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Would you like to read the article you just published?
The oilfield is somewhat behind other industries when it comes to using the strategies associated with producing digital marketing content. Meaning, you have ample opportunity to position your business as the trusted advisor in your sector of the market.
Whether you take this on yourself or outsource your digital marketing, the sooner you act, the sooner you start to set yourself apart from your competition.