Let’s first define content marketing. It’s what happens when a brand provides information that is of value to, and resonates with, customers and prospects. There are many ways to deliver content – an infographic, article, eBook, webinar, video and many more. But for content marketing to be maximally successful, choosing how to tell that story can be as important as the message itself.
What approach should you take to resonate with your customers and prospects? Choosing what’s best for your product or service comes down to two primary factors:
1. What information do you have to share?
2. What are your goals? That is, how will you measure the success of your efforts?
For the first element, ask yourself: What’s new?
Think of questions or comments you hear often from your customers. What trends do you see in your industry? Where is there confusion? Another point of consideration: Do you have a very satisfied customer who wants to tell their peers in public safety how much your product or service helped them?
At the heart of content marketing is a tension between brand or product promotion and something more akin to objective journalism. It’s worth noting that the less self-promotional, more objective and helpful a piece of content is, especially on a timely subject, the more reach it will typically achieve.
This is particularly true in public safety, where the market tends to be tight-knit and skeptical. This runs contrary to many a marketer’s instincts, who would prefer to see their brand talked about rather than informing the market about a topic related directly related to the brand.
Some new products are, by their nature, of interest to the market. If this is the case for you, or if you’re new to the market or the readership, a product feature makes a lot of sense. This is an article exploring the use case and detailing the features and benefits of your product or service to help readers understand how they could use it.
REV Ambulance Group provides an excellent example, exploring the importance of seatbelt restraints for ambulance safety, while introducing readers to their Per4Max Controlled Decelerator system. The article features quotes from practitioners, scholarly research and an objective analysis of the problem before introducing readers to their new and innovative product.
A piece detailing how to buy a product/service, using yours as the example, is another great way to showcase what you have to offer. It might not get the biggest audience, but the gearheads out there appreciate this approach. This article on how to buy a knife as a police officer is brand neutral but clearly sponsored by a manufacturer – and the article has drawn strong traffic (while bylined by the manufacturer).
The less self-promotional, more objective and helpful a piece of content is, especially on a timely subject, the more reach it will typically achieve.
Is there a new law or emerging challenge that your customers need more information to understand? What are they asking about? This is a great opportunity to provide thought leadership that helps your customers navigate the issues they face in the field and demonstrates your commitment to serving them.
Case in point: Smiths Detection makes X-ray and other detection devices used in jails. Last year, they collaborated with Corrections1 on an article that examines trends in narcotics and other contraband in detention facilities, the risks they pose to inmates and staff and means for mitigating those risks. It’s a timely and important piece for the corrections market that provides useful information to help readers do their jobs.
Finally, the testimonial of a satisfied customer can be a powerful content marketing strategy. Identifying the right customer for a case study can take a little finesse – they must be willing and authorized to go on the record – but a peer who champions your product or service can resonate strongly with readers. This case study of a metropolitan EMS agency’s response to active shooter threats provides an excellent example; so too this report on how an app that helps first responders to identify conditions and disabilities that might make routine interactions either impossible or unadvisable.
As we approach metrics for success, it’s important to consider your goals for building brand awareness and capturing leads. But, again, successful content marketing tends to take the long view, putting emphasis on content. Particularly in public safety, loyalty is strong and earned over time.
If sharing product information and building brand awareness are top of mind, an article or article series is the fastest way to get your story out there. You might also consider a fun quiz that covers an issue related to your product/service and points the reader to your website via the results page. For example, here’s a (sponsored) quiz on the right knife for your lifestyle.
If capturing leads is a key goal, you may want to consider an asset for download, like a white paper or eBook. These take more time to produce, but you’ll get the contact information every time a reader downloads the piece, plus a professionally designed PDF that you can distribute.
Market surveys can be a great way to learn what readers – your potential customers – are thinking. Surveys also capture leads, and the results can be segmented by job title, region, etc. You can follow up with a custom infographic to report the findings and collect more leads.
Content marketing provides value to your customers and prospects. When done well, the value provided to the reader lends credence to your brand and products or services, now and into the future. In public safety in particular, good content marketing demonstrates your company’s investment in first responders. Earn their trust and you just might earn their business.
Contact the Lexipol media sales team to learn more about content marketing opportunities available through our digital media communities – Police1, FireRescue1, EMS1, Corrections1 and Gov1 – and how we can help you reach your customers.