Content Marketing For IT Vendors Archives

Making Pesky SME Interviews Worth It

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speed B2B marketing content You know how hard it is to get time from your subject matter experts (SMEs) to brief the writer who’s creating your marketing content. These SMEs (be they sales engineers, account executives or project managers) are too busy meeting their numbers or keeping clients happy to explain it all to a writer.

So doesn’t it make sense to prep the SME beforehand so the writer gets the details they need to write a good draft the first time? That saves the SMEs the hassle of a follow-up call, endless emails or trying to rewrite the copy  themselves.

Killer Questions

Based on my experience working with “first drafts” from SMEs, here are seven critical questions they  must be able to answer if you want good, compelling copy to result from the interview.

  1. What were the business (not technology) problems that led the customer to seek your help or buy your product? The writer needs issues a senior executive would understand, such as reduced productivity, excess costs, lost sales or plunging customer satisfaction.
  2. You claim your services were “unique,” “transformational” and “optimized” the client’s operations. Just what makes them unique? What was the “bad” situation the customer was trapped in, and specifically what did you “transform” it into?
  3. Specifically how did you “optimize” your client’s operations, with dollar or percentage metrics of improvements in business areas such as sales, costs, time to market, or customer satisfaction?
  4. If  the client can’t or won’t share numbers with you about the benefits, can you at least describe examples or anecdotes to show the types of problems you solved?
  5. You list the services you provided, the industry standards you comply with, and the software, processes or frameworks you used. How are any of these better/different than what your competitors offer, and how did these help the client?
  6. You keep mentioning acronyms and buzzwords that don’t show up in a quick Google search. Remember, the writer wasn’t part of the project and doesn’t know the jargon you and the customer lived with every day. Spell out every acronym, explain what each means and how each of them helped the client.
  7. And for every phase of the project, every approach you took, every tool you used, what did you do better or differently than your competitors?

Make the Call

One other tip: Get your SME on the phone with the writer, rather than bounce emails back and forth with them. You may think getting the SME’s answers in writing will be quicker, but in my experience that never works. They often keep repeating the same jargon in each round of frustrating emails.

That’s because they are (justifiably) too close to the work, and understand every nuance of it too well to “pull back” and explain them to the writer. In a phone interview, I can insist on that “who cares?” information, and keep asking in real time to be sure I understand it and thus can explain it to your prospects. And I don’t have to keep going back to ask the SME what they really meant.

Added benefit: If an SME feels the writer is making good use of their time, and delivers content that helps them sell to customers, they’re more likely to give you more time for future content development.

What have you done to help streamline briefing calls with marketing writers?

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Should Everyone Be a Writer?

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finding marketing writersThe insightful Ann Handley recently created ten ways to create a “culture of writing” to get more of your experts creating content for demand generation, inbound marketing, and social media marketing campaigns.

Some of them are useful, others I’m less sure about.

But is the whole idea of getting every subject matter expert (SME) in your organization to write even worthwhile?

Publish or Perish, Guys

On the “yes” side:

  • It can get expensive to hire an outside writer to churn out enough content to fill your blog posts, SlideShare and YouTube channels, not to mention your gated white papers and email newsletters. Why not save money by tapping your smart in-house people to feed the content beast?
  • Even more importantly, these in-house experts have too much great experience, insight and anecdotes from the marketplace not to tap.
  • Finally, it’s hard to find a good writer, and to train them about the fine points of your industry and your differentiation in it. Why not instead tap the skills of our own staff, who we know and trust?

Not My Job, Sucka

On the “no” side:

  • Not everyone has enough writing talent to turn our quality content quickly and easily. For some of your SMEs, using the active tense, understandable language, creating a catchy opener and even spelling out acronyms are second nature. For others, it’s unrelenting hard work. Sure, you can teach them a lot of these skills, but might their time be better spent on vetting ideas and fine-tuning technical content?
  • Language/cultural differences. My hat’s off to the offshore product and project managers who give me the raw material for case studies and white papers. Their English is 12 times better than my grasp of any foreign language, and they run circles around me in technical and project management skills. But there’s an inevitable gap between their use of English and its use for business purposes in the U.S. Their writing is (for good reason) full of in-house jargon and abbreviations rather than the high-level business benefits readers want.
  • Writing isn’t just – or even mainly – writing. It’s reporting, asking the tough questions an outsider will think to ask that that ensure your content meets your prospects’ needs. For example, how does your product or service compare with your competitor’s? How do your fancy features reduce a customer’s costs or increase their sales? It’s often easier and less expensive to have an outside writer do the tooth-pulling than ask the SMEs to do it themselves.

Divide and Conquer

If you have SMEs who can write and like to write, you’re lucky. But even then, I would follow Ann’s tip number seven of hiring a dedicated editor. And not just a copy editor who checks facts and fixes minor grammar errors, but “…someone who can give a piece of writing a higher-level read to help improve, expand, condense, or rewrite.”

Unless your organization has a journalistic culture, does outsourcing (or hiring a full-time pro) to do some of the reporting, writing and editing mean higher quality with less total cost and effort?

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.
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how to write effective industry predictionsJust in time (hopefully) for your 2015 industry trend prediction posts, here are five things to do right, courtesy of security and mobile cloud services provider Neohapsis and their excellent list of 215 security predictions. (No, Neophasis is NOT a client and I had nothing to do with this list of predictions.)

Kind of wish I had, though. Here’s what I learned from these predictions:

Get Specific

It would have been easy, and self-evident, to predict that large and embarrassing security breaches would continue. Neohapsis got more detailed and predicted that a U.S. firm will be implicated in a significant breach of EU data. This gives readers doing business in the U.S. more actionable information because, as it points out, “There is an associated cost…from the increased oversight and enforcement actions by” European agencies of US companies handling data about European citizens.

Dig Deep for Insights

“The line between attack and defense tools and techniques will blur,” Neohapsis predicted, as both sides “repurpose each other’s tools and techniques.” For example, attackers will hide behind the network defenses they are trying to attack and use forensic tools (usually used to track attacks) to steal passwords and find valuable data.” Their advice: Create security programs that don’t assume your security technology itself is safe.  I suspect this is new and thought provoking for anyone who isn’t hip deep into security. Such insights are a great way to position yourself as a smart, and trustworthy source of expertise in your industry.

Mash Them Trends

In apps (and music) a mashup combines content from multiple sources into something new and interesting. Neohapsis combined timely buzzwords to create several mashups in its predictions.

One that jumped out at me was the prediction – and even their urging – that the good guys use crowd-sourcing (combining small contributions from many individuals) to more efficiently find and share information about security vulnerabilities. Neohapsis even suggested it’s “more cost-effective to establish a bug-bounty program for…Internet facing services than (to) hire another security consultancy to perform testing.” It argued such payments could “drive a wedge between financially motivated hackers and eliminate threats just as the industry has turned blackhats to whitehats by providing respectable salaries.” This actionable advice gives forward-looking companies a way to outpace their competitors, and inside security staffs to look smart to their managers.

Shake Up the Status Quo

By way of predicting that “Attackers will exploit unassessed system components.”  Neohapsis challenged readers to push security consultants to widen the scope of their security tests. For example, it said, cloud and SaaS (software as a service) infrastructures are often tested for security, but not the controls for the DevOps teams that have access to cloud control scripts. Same for forgetting to test the configuration of the software that makes up a software-defined network, rather just than the network itself. Educating readers that what they think they know ain’t necessarily true is great thought leadership, especially if it includes actionable advice (as Neohapsis did.)

Fess Up

Neohapsis’ prediction that “We will have better communication from security consultants” was actually a confession that “as an industry, we’ve neglected to effectively convey the impact of our discoveries to all relevant parties.” The expert who penned this prediction wrote that “Heartbleed was a great vulnerability for penetration testers to exploit, but that wasn’t what struck my heart. Heartbleed was most impressive for demonstrating the power and importance of good reporting, marketing, and PR.”

Admitting to what you, as a vendor, need to do better is incredibly effective in establishing the  emotional connection so important with B2B prospects. Ditto for the words “what struck my heart.” This person is passionate about security. Isn’t that someone you’d like working for you?

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

What? You Skipped These In Your Case Study?

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content marketing think like publisherWhile revising a series of case studies for a global IT services company, I found myself asking them over and over:

  • What did you do for your client that was different or better than what either the client or your competitors could have done?
  • How did your work help your client’s bottom line?

These two seemingly obvious questions were often very hard for the “in the trenches” account and project managers to answer. But without that context, any case study is just a “so what?” list of tasks you accomplished. Here’s what’s worked for me in making these case studies matter to prospects.

Why We’re Better

Account and project managers are stuck in the weeds because they’re paid to meet internal processes and delivery goals. To them, implementing an application upgrade, server refresh or shift to an offshore location are successes in and of themselves. The business-level benefits (such as cutting software licensing costs, speeding problem resolution or reducing support costs) are often hammered out several layers above them and long before they started work.
As a result, when I ask “Why are you better?” I hear things like:

  • “Global delivery of seamless service for database, compute, storage, network and applications…”
  • “Performed on-time and on-budget migration of Microsoft Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010, VPN upgrades, XP to Windows 7 and self-service password reset…”
  • “In Q! completed offshoring of Level 1 and Level 2 services to Mumbai, Prague and the Philippines for 24/7 help desk coverage…

By repeatedly asking a) specifically what they did differently than others and b) the specific process-level benefits of their work, I can often drive them to cough up more useful details. For example:

  • “Using our proprietary transition methodology, we provided global delivery of seamless service for database, compute, storage, network and applications…” in half the time competitors had promised in their proposal.
  • Using our custom configuration scripts and customized server imaging tools, we “performed on-time and on-budget migration of Microsoft Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010,
    VPN upgrades, XP to Windows 7 and self-service password reset…” without interruptions to applications or employee productivity.
  • The intensive pre-engagement training of our staff in the client’s systems allowed us, in half the time the customer expected, to “complete offshoring of Level 1 and Level 2 services to Mumbai, Prague and the Philippines for 24/7 help desk coverage…”

How It Helped

It’s also important to dig for quantifiable details about how the service engagement paid off to the business. The first time through, I’ll often hear vague descriptions such as:

  • “Transformation of server, network and application pillars increased agility and optimized operational costs.”
  • “Moving from siloed SLAs to a scalable business services model aligned IT and the business.”
  • “Automation-related efficiencies led to reduced demand, greater performance and improved agility.”

By pushing for a) definitions of these terms and b) quantification of the business benefits we can come closer to something like:

  • “Virtualizing the client’s servers, networks and applications allowed the client to scale their servers 2,000 percent to meet the holiday crunch. Our timely completion of a mobile app generated $2.5 million in additional revenue. Reducing the number of physical devices saved $125,000 in one time equipment upgrade fees and $50,000 a year in heating, cooling, space and management costs.”
  • “Rather than siloed SLAs that track the performance of only part of the IT infrastructure, our business services model lets senior executives track how essential business services (such as order tracking and customer support) are operating. This lets them focus IT spending on the areas most critical to the business.”
  • “Automation in areas ranging from password reset to server monitoring reduced the number of trouble tickets by 46%, increased availability from 97.6 to 99.99 percent, and made it easier to roll out upgrades to their CRM system.”

The earlier in the content production process you can get detailed answers like this, the sooner your internal, or external, writer can turn out compelling case studies. If you can’t get this quality of answer, ask yourself if it’s worth doing the case study at all.

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Content Cookbook #4: Containers

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content sequence containers Over the last ten years or so, virtualization has taken over the world of X86-based servers. Creating pools of “virtual” servers on single physical machines slashed capital and operating costs for in-house data centers. It also let newcomers like Amazon Web Services rent out slices of their ginormous compute, storage and network resources to anyone over the Web, slashing computing costs and creating multiple species of cloud computing.

Today’s emerging buzzword is “containers,” which you can think of “virtualization light.” Rather than using a hypervisor to control complete virtual operating systems on the same CPU, containers run only the components of the operating system needed to run an application. That promises to cut costs even further, speed deployment and enhance security by allowing greater isolation among applications.

Docker has the biggest container (if you will) of mind share, with support from big names such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft, but is facing challenges from newer competitors like  CoreOS. Even as Docker builds out its own management and orchestration services, partners like Google with Kubernetes and Amazon with its EC2 Container service are building their own “platform” of container tools.

The container movement is a classic emerging market where customers are begging to be educated – and, in the process, let you shape the terms of the conversation. What content do you need to inform them, judge their interest and nurture them for a possible sale?

Step 1: Awareness/education

Assume the reader has never heard of containers and provide a concise, “why should I care” explanation. Compare containers to virtualization, highlighting the benefits (greater reliability, lower overhead) as well as the costs and possible risks (the need for new skills, fast-changing marketplace, unproven vendors.)

Provide a high-level or summary overview of how easy or hard it is to implement containers on various operating systems, such as Microsoft vs. Linux. Show your expertise and thought leadership by “framing” the container conversation. Are they the next big thing? Hopelessly overrated? A raw technology that needs to settle down before committing to it? What unique insights can you provide your prospects based on their size, vertical market, installed technology base, or tolerance for risk?

Offer this ungated (no registration) form and promote it aggressively through social media, paid adwords, and SEO. End it with a link to the second piece, for those ready to look at specific container products and services.

Step 2: Consideration

Drill further into the different flavors of containers from various vendors. Compare Docker’s “platform” approach to CoreOS’ focus on “just the container, m’aam.” Discuss specific implementation scenarios (say, hybrid cloud, or a mix of Microsoft Azure and Rackspace clouds) and what it takes to deploy and manage containers from various vendors on each of them. Discuss in detail whether, when and why containers plus virtualization does or does not provide better security than virtualization alone.

Your aim is to equip the reader to issue an RFP, or at least ask killer questions as they evaluate products.  How, for example, does a vendor provide for backup and restore? How does each platform isolate sensitive applications in a multi-tenant environment, where multiple customers share the same hardware, storage and networks? What are the “must-have’s” vs. “nice to haves” to look for management tools? What new skills will the customer need to handle containers?

Again, the more you focus this piece on the needs of your specific prospects the better. Sure, talk about the stuff you happen to do well but focus on being even-handed and knowledgeable. End with a gated tease to your third story, focused on those ready to buy.

Step 3: Evaluation/Implementation

Here’s where you show you’ve thought through the deployment and use of containers so thoroughly the reader absolutely, positively has to consider you.  Get wicked tactical and detailed. Tailor this very specifically to your prospects’ specific concerns, such as complexity and cost (if they’re small) to security and compliance (if they’re a bank) to scalability and management (if they’re a cloud provider.)

If in doubt, drum up some lists based on your real-world experience:

  • “Top seven mistakes our customers made with containers.”
  • “Eight questions to ask about your current environment before choosing a container platform.”
  • “Our five favorite open-source container management utilities.”
  • “Five easy ways to enhance container security.”

Consider rolling in case studies with specifics of your customers’ before and after environments, the time and cost required to implement containers, and of course the business benefits. Gate this with a request for basic contact info (if you haven’t already) or ask for more detail if you’re into progressive profiling.

If you have a marketing automation platform, you can of course score readers based on which of these pieces they read. Any or all of these can also of course be “re-purposed” into Webinars, videos or podcasts, or split into blog posts and Tweets.

Let me know what you’re doing content wise to promote containers, or what other technologies or services you’d like to see a sample template for.

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

When Content Turns Off Buyers

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best content B2B buyers Recent research  from on-line IT marketer Spiceworks says yes.  Their users don’t give a hoot about spray-and-pray email blasts or mindless product promos on Facebook. What does keep them caring about and buying from vendors, says Spiceworks, are personal, technical responses to their questions from someone who sees them as a person, not just a number.

It’s important to note that Spiceworks sells infrastructure-oriented (not business focused) tools to a fairly tactical audience. Close to two-thirds of their respondents are manager or director level, rather than the C-level execs that sign off on the biggest purchases. And just over half work in companies with fewer than 100 employees, with only 25 percent at enterprises with more than 1,000 employees.

But even if you’re selling higher-level business-focused software or (shudder) “transformational” business-focused business services, you can learn from Spiceworks’ findings.

Tip #1: Lecture, No. Discuss, Yes.

The survey showed that Spiceworks users rely heavily on peer recommendations, ratings and reviews and free product trials. Several respondents said they listen most to people that respond personally to their specific questions in a technical way. (Emphasis added.)

In the typical enterprise sale, this is where vendors rely on a sales rep, cite case studies, or arrange a one-off call with the reference customer if the prospect is serious enough. Another option, taking a page from Spiceworks, is to get that reference customer to do a Webinar answering questions from multiple prospects. To ease the path with their PR folks, stress that they will not endorse your product, but just describe their experience, the factors that went into their evaluation and their lessons learned. The resulting themes and tips can be repurposed into blog posts, white papers or “Top Ten” checklists.

An even easier way to get the conversation going is to have a product manager, technical lead or (in professional services) engagement lead do a Q&A on trends in, say, health care regulatory compliance, stress-testing for banks or the use of Big Data in retail. Begin with the questions or pain points bothering your current clients, and then open it up for questions. Make sure your subject matter expert comes across as a real person, treats the attendees like real people and can drill into either technical or business details. Again, mine this for “top tips” or “industry trend/thought leadership” content.

Tip #2: Facebook, No; Forums, Yes

Spiceworks found that while close to 90% of marketers use “mainstream” social media like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to build brand awareness and promote products, only 16% of IT pros turn to these channels to research new products or services. For them, Facebook and the like are or entertainment or other non-work topics.

“On the flip side,” Spiceworks found, “nearly all IT pros (92%) are using IT forums during the buying cycle, while only 61% of marketers are investing” in them. Just like a good survey should, these results neatly showcase Spiceworks’ differentiator: A large and active community built around its free cloud-based IT management software. Users provide the valuable, technically rich answers for the satisfaction of helping others, to make human connections in a sometimes-lonely profession, to gain “expert” status and (most importantly) so they can in return get fast, free and expert help.

If you’re selling very high-end or customized software, or very “customer-specific” service engagements, you may not be able to create such a community. (Or maybe Spiceworks has one for you.) At the very least, Spiceworks says, “invest the time and find out which social destinations your customer uses…” and don’t waste your efforts on blatantly useless networks. However you network (see Tip #1) keep the focus on answering specific questions from real people, not one-size fits all marketing messages.

Tip 3: Tell? No. Show? Yes. 

Spiceworks’ users scored videos and Webinars higher than any other content type in every stage of the sales cycle. This figures, since their users are the ones who have to live with the “look and feel” of apps that must deliver specific, well-defined functions.

In emerging, less well-understood area such as the use of Big Data in analyzing new health care models, or the impact of DevOps on databases, longer-form written text such as white papers is still essential, especially in the research and awareness stage.

What Content IT Managers Want, Throughout the Sales Cycle (left-hand columns)) and In Specific Phases.

What Content IT Managers Want, Throughout the Sales Cycle (left-hand columns)) and In Specific Phases.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t illustrate concepts with an illustration or video every chance you get. Don’t just claim the new reports you provide help uncover business trends – show it, with screen shots that are big enough to actually see. If you’re a high-level business consultant, do a quick video comparing the “before” and “after” of the process flows you simplified. Keep whatever you do short, sweet and clear. Finally, don’t be afraid to mix up your formats with variations such as ebooks (heavy on illustrations, short on text) and to tease longer-form print from shorter-form video and vice versa.

Marketing Must-Haves

In my view, Spiceworks’ findings hold most true for sales of tactical products sold relatively far down in the organization. For prospects further up the org chart, more of the care and feeding would need to be done by a sales rep, backed up by more conventional content.  But getting more interactive and personal, showing rather than telling, and choosing social media channels carefully are musts to all prospects groups.

What’s your take?

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Overusing “Transformation”

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transformation marketing

Transformation, or just flabby marketing?

Everywhere from interior decorating to education to healthcare, everyone’s claiming they deliver “transformation.”

But when it comes to  selling information technology and services, is the “T” word an effective value promise, or a vague buzzword that sets both the buyer and seller up for trouble?

I’m curious to hear from other marketers about how your customers respond to the term, and whether it helps deliver more and better prospects.

Definition, Please

According to the Oxford English dictionary, the primary definition of “transform” is “to change the form of; to change into another shape or form; to metamorphose,” with a secondary definition of “to change in character or condition; to alter in function or nature.” (Emphasis added.)

It is this second definition I think most people assume, and that gets marketers into trouble. It implies not incremental improvement but a fundamental, wide-ranging improvement that lasts.

Consider the idea of a “transformational” president. Franklin Roosevelt made the cut in the 1930s, some argue, by changing “the basic assumptions of national politics for a generation or more” in favor of a greater role for the federal government. You could argue Ronald Reagan was “transformational” in the opposite direction. Whatever your politics, both changes met the “transformational” criteria of being fundamental, wide ranging and lasting.

In a totally different vein, “Transformational Weight Loss” implies (and it seems the author tries to deliver) lasting improvement loss through fundamental, wide-ranging changes in lifestyle and attitude, not just in diet.

Transformation that doesn’t make the cut, I’d argue, is the South Carolina Department of Public Education’s “Office of School Transformation” whose goal is “to change the structure of schools to better serve students.” Their Web site seems to promise only tweaks to improve existing processes. Useful and valuable perhaps, but not transformation.

Are We Overselling “Transformation?”

In my own IT field, respected researcher Gartner advised outsourcing firms to ban the use of both  “transformation” and “innovation” because “they will only lead to misaligned expectations.”  For example, Gartner said, an outsourcer might lose money trying to solve problems it never agreed to tackle, while the customer wastes time and effort without achieving their goals. Or, “a customer might choose the lowest-priced provider and be left wondering where the innovation and transformation are.”

For what it’s worth, my small survey of PR and marketing respondents showed 40 percent agreed that transformation is a “fundamental, wide-ranging improvement that will last over time.” But a third believed marketers just throw the word around without thinking, and 22 percent said marketers use transformation as a synonym for “improve.”

In your experience, do customers get a warm and fuzzy feeling from the word “transformation” and click through to learn more? Or do they drop out of the sales funnel (or complain after the purchase) when they find transformation has been oversold?

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Content Cookbook #3: Selling DevOps

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content marketing DevOps(One in an ongoing series of sample drip content marketing campaigns for IT vendors. Feel free to steal this sequence or, if you’d like help customizing one for your needs, email or call at 508 725-7258.)

DevOps is the process of combining historically separate development and operations functions to speed application deployment. This is especially useful for companies that need to rush consumer-facing mobile or social applications to market, or those that  need to roll out or test new features quickly.

But DevOps is a major change, especially for large organizations with complex and/or highly regulated software environments. That means opportunity for vendors that sell tools or services to help them make the shift.

Here’s a quick, and relatively easy, content marketing sequence to identify and rank prospects for your DevOps offerings.

Story One, for those at the “top of the funnel/awareness” stage: Explain DevOps and how it’s different and better than what came before. Describe how a DevOps org chart is different than a conventional environment where development and operations are separate. Explain, based on your actual experience with customers, to what extent DevOps is hype or real. Be realistic and honest about what types of organizations and business cases it is best suited for. Cite case studies and examples of how actual customers made the shift and the benefits they realized.

Offer this ungated (no registration required) to establish yourself as a trusted and knowledgeable advisor. Promote via your Web site, email newsletters, content syndication, social media, etc. The call to action is a link to a second, also ungated story, for prospects that are moving into the consideration phase.  

Story Two: Use the ever-popular checklist format for an “Is DevOps for me?” piece. Questions for readers to ask themselves might include:

  •  “Have I missed a market opportunity in the last year because I couldn’t field a new app quickly enough?”
  • “Is my A/B testing of new application features taking too long? How much would it be worth to speed that up?”
  •  “Do I have the stomach for the organizational and skill changes required to move to DevOps?”
  • “Do I have executive backing to make these changes and force my developers and operations folks to work more closely together?”

Promote this piece as you did story one, offering it ungated to attract the widest audience. The call to action can ask reader to register to read a third, gated piece that contains more detailed implementation guidelines.

Story three: A DevOps reality check for those in more serious consideration mode. Based on real-world experience, describe what it takes to implement DevOps in the real world. Make this a detailed implementation guide that doesn’t shy away from the tough changes in both process and technology needed to implement DevOps. Include sometimes-forgotten considerations such as security and how DevOps may affect databases. How much training, in what areas, and at what cost are required for your staff? Where do companies typically go wrong in their shift to DevOps and how can other companies avoid these mistakes?

Gate this with a short two to three field form (for example, name, email address, company name) that captures basic tracking information without scaring off too many readers.  (You can profile them more carefully later with additional questions.) Since every prospect’s needs are unique, the call to action can be to offer a detailed assessment of their specific DevOps readiness. For those who stopped at stories 2 or 3, continue to marinate them in other useful content until they’re ready for further engagement.

Note: In place of “story” in this sequence feel free to replace with “webinar,” “video”, “podcast,” “white paper,” or other format.) And if you have a product or service you’d like to see a sample sequence for, drop me a line or call at 508 725 7258.

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.
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