7 Essential questions to ask when creating technical marketing collateral

November 3, 2012 Comments Off on 7 Essential questions to ask when creating technical marketing collateral

A while back, I put together a list of five of the most typical technical marketing mistakes we see at Think88. Over the years, we’ve also observed that the most successful technical marketing collateral initiatives have a certain number of things in common. We’ve distilled this into a list of seven questions that we ask whenever we work with a client to start the ball rolling on one of these engagements. In fact, it’s a core part of our methodology. These questions include:

  1. How will this new material fit in with the company’s overall messaging and strategy?
  2. How will you present it to the market?
  3. Who are the targeted readers for it?
  4. Will other content refer to this material? Will this material refer to other content?
  5. What do you want the reader to do after they’ve finished reading this material?
  6. How will you measure and quantify its impact?
  7. Will the sales department be involved throughout the design and development process?

Going forward, I’ll be writing blog posts about each of these questions. In my opinion, the only way to succeed and justify the investment in time and money for new collateral is to have satisfactory answers to the above list.

Technical marketing mistake #5: Over-reliance on internal staff

February 1, 2012 § 1 Comment

We’ve now come to the last of the five most common technical marketing mistakes that I’ve observed – expecting internal team members to produce all of your marketing collateral on a timely basis. Given that Think88 specializes in technical marketing materials and sales methodologies, it may seem like pointing this out is somewhat self-serving – and it is. But my observation is valid whether you hire us or someone else.

Organizational politics often get in the way of overcoming this fault. After all, creating collateral is a big part of the job description for many people in the marketing department. Yet if you were to ask the average VP of Marketing (not to mention the VP of Sales), they’d likely say that they suffer from a significant marketing content shortfall.

If so many people are charged with building marketing collateral, why is there such a critical shortage of these materials in so many companies? I’ve seen three primary causes:

  1. Staffing. These days, even the largest technology leaders are trying to run lean-and-mean. Unfortunately, as a cost center marketing is often in the crosshairs, even though it performs vital work to bolster sales.
  2. Prioritization. Let’s face it: supporting active sales cycles is Job One for nearly everyone in the enterprise. Writing collateral is a second or third- level responsibility – at best.
  3. Vision. Sometimes, internal staff can’t see the forest for the trees. Getting a fresh viewpoint can serve as a catalyst for the whole team.

If you’re faced with trying to overcome a marketing content shortage, bear these points in mind:

  • This deficit isn’t due to the laziness or incompetence of your team. It’s most likely because they just have too much to do, and not enough time to get it done.
  • Add two to three outside vendors to the team. Naturally, we’d like to be one of them, but regardless of whom you choose, try to treat them as a trusted, strategic partner. Strive for short projects and long-term relationships.
  • Use these vendors to fill in gaps. This lets you get materials to market faster, and permits your scarce internal staff to focus on more pressing needs – like helping to close business.

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