As many organizations and publications are making note of this time of year, it’s not just the end of a year, but the end of a decade; one marked by tremendous growth and change, especially in the tech industry, and particularly for those of us working in the world of cloud computing.
For IOD, moving from the “twenty-teens” to the “twenty-twenties” feels especially apt as our company has gone through exponential growth this year in particular.
Gone are the days of growing pains, of trying to figure out who we are and what our purpose is. As we approach the end of this year, and the end of the decade, IOD moves into the twenties with a solid self-identity, and a mission to expand into new regions and new areas of expertise.
Some growth highlights from this year:
- We welcomed new additions to our staff –Slavko and Yeru.
- Our tech expert network expanded and now includes tech experts from Israel, Colombia, Great Britain, Singapore, Poland, Brazil, India, Canada, Finland, Slovenia, Serbia, Costa Rica, Netherlands, Ukraine, Spain, France, Malta, Tunisia, and the U.S.
- IOD was represented at close to a dozen industry events around the world including VMworld Europe, re:Invent, Digital Summit Philadelphia, and AWS Summits in Tel Aviv and NYC.
- Our Philly office has become our U.S. hub for business development on the East Coast. (If you haven’t been to Philly recently, you should. The tech scene there is growing like crazy.)
- We recently launched a brand new web site featuring new expert-based content each week!
Where Were You at the End of the Last Decade?
Some people think it’s a waste of time to dwell too much in the past, and maybe that’s true. But from time to time, I think it’s useful to reflect on professional risks I’ve taken and choices I’ve made, in an effort to both remind myself of my resilience and inform my future decisions.
We on the management team at IOD got a kick out of thinking back to where we were 10 years ago, as the previous decade was coming to a close:
In 2009, the company I founded had just been acquired by ClickSoftware, and I was the global cloud evangelist. At the time, I was already deep in the AWS console, helping the company with technical challenges around adopting what was then known as “the Amazon cloud.” Still, I was already blogging about the approaching industry disruption.
In 2009, Jen Maidenberg, IOD’s head of marketing, had recently founded her own consulting business in New Jersey supporting professionals in the health and wellness industry with marketing, communications, and event planning — all while juggling parenting an infant, a toddler, and a grade-school aged kid.
10 years ago, VP Operations Ofer Prossner was starting out a promising career as a journalist for the Ha’aretz newspaper chain, one of Israel’s largest; and happily writing about sports for a living. He was single, living in the south of Tel Aviv, and still had some hair.
Petar Marinkovic, IOD’s CTO, was as hands-on as it gets as IT manager for Smith Micro Software. That time was B.C. (before cloud), and his organization was still adapting to using smartphones as a daily “tool.” According to Petar, things were way simpler back then, even in the world of data centers.
None of us could have guessed that ten years later we would be collaborating on building the premier agency for tech content creation; not because we weren’t ambitious, but because in 2009 corporate blogs were still in their infancy, and save for Google’s official blog, TechCrunch, Mashable and Boing Boing, there wasn’t much to be said for blogs focused on tech.
Sure, wide acceptance of social media and mobile internet would soon help digital marketing explode to where it is today, but I’m not certain that in 2009 I could have predicted that in 2019 92% of tech marketers would use email to nurture their audiences, 79% of them would use content marketing to educate their audiences as a means of building brand loyalty, and the demand for high quality blog posts, e-books, and white papers for lead generation continues to increase.
(Graph: Courtesy Technology Content Marketing in 2019: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends, via The Content Marketing Institute)
Growth Can Lead to Gaps
All that said, in 2009, I could have already anticipated how difficult it would be for tech marketing departments to produce the type of tech content that would continue to drive traffic to their sites. I was the guy responsible for it in my organization, and at the next organization I worked for. Along the line, a consultant told me we needed at least a blog a week to make a name for ourselves. I already had a personal blog on which I was blogging more than once a week and I could see from the performance there that what he was saying was true. It was my awareness of the challenge of high quality+high quantity that led me to building a system for churning out content that still offered value. Once I figured this out, I started consulting other companies on their content strategy and creation. All this was the foundation for what would eventually be iamondemand (now IOD).
I’ve written before about the major pain points of creating tech marketing content, and how IOD cures them. But what I want to emphasize today is how common this is across all tech organizations, no matter the size of the company. More and more, enterprise-sized organizations are approaching us to help fill in the gaps they can’t internally, despite having a team dedicated to content creation, and in-house SMEs. Why is this?
Because while the small-to-mid-size tech companies struggle with producing high quality content, large organizations need support churning it out in higher quantities. They’ve seen the results expert-based content brings, they’re committed to content, and now they want more. According to the CMI report, 75% of technology marketers say their organization is more successful with content marketing compared with one year ago. (Only half that amount report kicking off a content plan with a content strategy so there’s some room for improvement there…)
My guess is that they’re more successful with content marketing because they now understand that users trust a brand most when you provide authentic and useful content. How-tos and product comparisons go a long way to positioning you as not only a tech solution, but as an industry influencer. AWS is a great example of this, as is NetApp.
Influencer Marketing 2.0: Moving Beyond Analysts
An area IOD has been paying a lot of attention to over the last year is influencer marketing; in particular, how we can effectively offer this as a service to our clients. 50% of B2B tech brands increased their budget for influencer marketing this past year. Why? Because it’s an ecosystem that benefits all the participants…and when the content is especially authentic and transparent, influencer marketing works especially well. “Pay-to-play” is no longer the go-to influencer strategy. Just as in B2C, the B2B audience is savvy and can smell paid content. They want third-party reviews, advice, and resources. Offer this on your web site and watch your audience grow.
As forward-thinking an industry as the tech sector is, it’s taken a little while for tech brands to catch up to what’s been working in other industries for quite some time: influencer-generated content situated on your blog. Small-to-medium sized tech brands who want to engage with influencers, though, have been challenged in achieving this due to a lack of access to tech influencers or lack of resources for connecting with them. IOD has both the access and resources to overcome this challenge.
In 2020, we are building unique influencer expert packages that will combine the traditional influencer marketing benefits of endorsements and community building, with IOD’s expert-based content model. Additionally, we will be partnering with some major cloud brands with already-established influencer communities in order to access top talent. More to come on that in the first half of 2020.
What’s Your Content Strategy for 2020 and Beyond?
Over the last two years, IOD has incorporated content research and editorial planning into all our content creation. Content marketing succeeds only when adequate research has been done in advance, including analysis of competitors’ blogs and the reading preferences of your target audience. Research is critical especially when it comes to bridging the gap between the marketing professional (or content writer) and the tech experts you are trying to reach. How can a marketing professional confidently choose topics that are technical enough to attract a tech audience? By working directly with a tech expert. This is what IOD does during the content planning stage, as well as with creation.
Knowing how important content strategy is to the success of your content marketing, what are you doing to prepare for 2020 and beyond?
Even if your content is working for you, it’s important to keep on top of how content marketing is evolving, and to consider whether or not your current model should stay exactly the same or shift slightly.
Clients often ask us to provide additional content formats such as landing pages, podcast and video scripts, infographics, LinkedIn articles, and Medium posts. Knowing the nuances of each publishing platform is just as critical when creating an expert-based article as byline, voice, style, and tone are. We carefully work this into our customized content plan and style guide we create for each client.
In 2020, will you be sticking to blog posts on your corporate blog? Will you try video, podcasts, or different distribution channels? We highly encourage experimentation, but we also strongly suggest doing so thoughtfully and in a way that comes with a tracking and reporting of results so you know what’s worked and what hasn’t. Let us know if this is something you could use support with and we’d be happy to discuss!
It’s been an exciting year for IOD and we’re admittedly a bit giddy thinking about what’s coming up for us in 2020 and in the years ahead. It could be that we consumed one too many jelly doughnuts during Chanukah or indulged already in one too many toasts to the new year, but more likely the buzzing we are all feeling is due to being part of a growing organization. It’s exhilarating!
We feel privileged also to be part of the growth of your organization. If we aren’t currently working together and you are a tech brand seeking to grow exponentially in the next decade, we’re here to support you with doing so. Until the end of this year, we’re offering a promotion for a free consult and a discount off one blog post. It’s a small holiday gift from us to you.
As we move into this new decade, may we all continue to grow personally and professionally, achieve work-life balance, and make positive contributions to the world of tech and beyond. Cheers!