It has been quite awhile since my last post, but I was moved to add a new post because of a comment by Scott Abel (The Content Wrangler) in a piece called “Keep Your Content Marketing Strategy Ahead of the Curve: New Trends“. The questions posed to several speakers at the upcoming Content Marketing World conference was “What techniques and tactics are you seeing content marketers use now that weren’t being used two or three years ago? Why do you think this change has occurred?”
I’m seeing content marketers realize the value of product content — documentation, user assistance, support, and training materials. As it turns out, many prospective clients use the web to research companies and their products before they buy. Showcasing quality documentation (tip of the day, task-oriented video, simulations, and support materials) helps build confidence, especially when a customer is already dissatisfied with the vendor they have today.
I was happy to see that others are recognizing how valuable training material can be to producing marketing material, which I have been arguing for here on my blog for the past few years, especially in regard to product simulations. What Scott points out, that “[s]howcasing quality documentation…helps build confidence…”, I would say is the crux of how simulations can be effective in product marketing, that is, simulating situations that help build confidence in the prospective buyer that the product can solve his or her problems. Simulations made for training of course can be used for product advertising and marketing, but I think they can miss their mark from the marketing perspective if they are too in depth, which is where they may naturally be if used for training purposes.
My point is not only to echo Scott’s observations, but also present a fine-tuned interpretation of what can be most effective. I think the most effective marketing material needs to have a marketing edge on–namely giving prospective buyers the confidence that the product will solve their problems–but a fertile area for sourcing that content is going to come from good training materials.