A sure-fire way to get important information about products and services into buyer’s hands is an ongoing quest for federal marketers. What is the perfect thing? Is it a product sheet, a blog post, a webinar? The truth is, it’s not just about the channel. It’s about the right content delivered via the right channel. The question when marketing to the federal government is, what kind of content and what channels?
Market Connections, in partnership with Merritt Group—an award-winning strategic communications firm specializing in public relations, marketing, digital and interactive and research and measurement—came together to find some answers. The 2015 Federal Content Marketing study sought to learn how federal decision makers consume content and what kinds of content contractors are providing for this audience.
On March 17 at the 2015 Federal Content Marketing Review, we will share the results of this survey. And we have invited an expert panel of federal agency decision-makers and content marketers to discuss the results.
Matt Donovan, Merritt Group Vice President, Government, is one of the organizers for this event. FedPulse caught up with him to get a preview of his thoughts regarding content marketing in the federal market.
FedPulse: What are the biggest content marketing challenges for your clients?
Donovan: First, content marketing is a term so big, people sometimes have a hard time wrapping their minds around it—it feels overwhelming. There have been changes in the way people take information to market—it’s moving beyond product sheets. Users want educational, useful information—they want content that will help them do their job more effectively. Creating this requires a shift in mindset.
Developing good content doesn’t necessarily directly sell product, but establishes you and your company as a valuable resource to existing and potential customers.
FedPulse: How can contractors start working this high-value content into their strategies?
Donovan: Start with a small project—don’t try to do it all at once. Begin by defining the message—answer the questions of what your customers are really struggling with and what unique perspective you can bring to the discussion. And then decide what format would make this information the easiest to consume. Perhaps it is a timely eBook on an emerging trend, a research study, or an animated video that simplifies a complex topic.
The thing to remember is that developing this type of content requires upfront research on the right distribution channels. What types of topics have resonated with customers in the past? Where do our customers interact online? Which social channels should we use to amplify the message? The answers live in the data that we’re now able to collect.
FedPulse: They’ve got their content, now what?
Donovan: Measure, measure, measure. It’s a great time for marketing because there are so many marketing automation tools that enhance our ability to gather data on what strategies work and what don’t. That said, gathering and analyzing data takes time. Trust me, it’s worth it. You will be surprised by what resonates with your audience and what doesn’t. Measuring the return on investment helps make better decisions.
FedPulse: Any advice about how to develop good content?
Donovan: Start with the customer problem and work back. Is it efficiency? Compliance? The ability to make better decisions? Product slicks and features are for later in the buying process.
Start with letting the customers know that you understand their challenge and deliver insight that can help.
And it doesn’t always have to be flashy. Webinars can feel “old school” but with a great educational topic and they can still be very effective. We continue to see great lead generation from webinars, in addition to more interactive digital formats like blogs, apps, interactive eBooks and videos.
FedPulse: Anything else to add?
Donovan: The results of this survey are interesting—there are some significant gaps between how federal decision makers want to consume content and the kind of content marketers are providing.
FedPulse would like to thank Matt for talking with us.
Learn more on this topic! Register for the 2015 Federal Content Marketing Review.