Content is your king

So, you’re a start-up with some clever software or a killer service offering, but you're struggling to build a sales pipeline. Worse still, you find it difficult to accurately define your key audience – let alone engage with them meaningfully.

It's not an unfamiliar situation for a new technology company to be in. You may have tried a number of outbound marketing exercises, only to exhaust your budget for a meager return on investment. Same old, same old. The good news is that the new world of online content marketing is at hand and when executed effectively, provides a proven way to drive sales and lift brand visibility.

So what is it?

Put simply, content marketing leverages the inter-connectedness of the online world to create awareness, target interested parties and generate genuine buying desire - and it does so using real stories and real content.

Crouch, touch, pause, ENGAGE

You can rise above the chatter of an increasingly noisy marketplace by creating relevant content and serving it up to the right people to consume when and where they want to. Pushing out generic offers using hackneyed advertising platforms is an old world approach. The secret is to establish inbound interest and to do that you need to engage buyers with the personality of your brand. People want experiences, not just transactional relationships.

Read the interview with Sam Williams

Share in the wisdom. As the former international marketing manager of call centre software company Zeacom, Sam Williams has set up Aamplify to provide New Zealand businesses with the breadth and depth of creative services required to take maximum advantage of the new paradigm of online content marketing.

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Content marketing the key to online lead generation

“You can’t fool Google,” says Aamplify’s Sam Williams.

That’s the nub of his answer to the question of how businesses can best use a full armoury of online marketing tools to generate leads, increase brand awareness and grow market share.

He uses the term Content Marketing as shorthand to describe - from a hard-nosed business perspective - just what businesses need to do to drive sales and brand visibility in an increasingly noisy and crowded online marketplace.

As the former international marketing manager of call centre software company Zeacom, Sam Williams has set up Aamplify to provide New Zealand businesses with the breadth and depth of creative services required to take maximum advantage of the new paradigm of online marketing to deliver what all businesses want: a strong brand, well communicated to prospective customers - and cutting to the chase, LEADS.

“To generate leads online you want to be on the front page of the Google search results relevant to your product or service. That’s obvious. But how you achieve that is not.

“First of all, the world of search engines has changed. It used to be that Google could be easily tricked by a variety of techniques lumped under the umbrella term SEO (search engine optimisation). Today, Google’s search algorithms are not so easily fooled. Google will now rank pages with meaningful and substantial content. SEO has been the court jester fooling Google to get page one. But the fool has been found out. Now it’s real stories, real content, that bear directly on page rankings.”

Increasingly, he says, businesses are using search engines as their starting point for finding what they need to know: to solve business problems, solve personal issues, and learn and explore the world and bring creative solutions to the table. The very nature of how people access information has changed. The search engine is rapidly displacing print, television and radio as the primary engagement point for information.

This, he says, opens up huge opportunities, but it also reveals major shortcomings in the sophistication of business in understanding the importance of content marketing. On the other side of the coin, it highlights the big gap in marketing services for businesses to draw on.

“Marketing, PR and advertising agencies are handicapped by old thinking based on traditional media. Effective lead generation and brand projection today requires a new mind set.

“Here at Aamplify we start out with the business objectives: project a brand, generate leads, grow market share. We then work backwards, if you like, sharpening up the brand and the value proposition, introducing compelling modern design, developing a cost-effective website platform, and then beginning of process of developing compelling content to drive whatever blend of online techniques is most appropriate to our client’s market – both within and outside of New Zealand.”

The ‘what’ of Content Marketing, he says, is not rocket science. The ‘how’ is the really hard part. 

“There are so many new products and services out there. There’s so much noise and clutter. Online content has to be engaging as well as relevant. The new generation coming through have an expectation of short, sharp, moving content - not voluminous white papers and screeds of words. Content has to have depth, but also has to be able to absorbed quickly

“We think it’s very important to bring out the personality aspects of a brand. The left brain needs the right brain. Age and experience need to be matched with fresh millennial perspectives. Business knowledge and experience needs to be married to new thinking, talents and abilities and experience which can span geographic boundaries.

To get that, he says, Aamplify pulls together a whole raft of skills and perspectives: experts in Google and Google Analytics, video production, traditional journalism story writing skills, brand development methodologies, graphic design, traditional PR expertise, advertising copywriting and technical writing.

Critically important, he says, is the experience and business maturity required to really understand the client’s business and the business dynamics of the client’s market segment. A big part of that is having the experience to know what will work and deliver value over time in a way and at a cost which is keeping where the client’s business is in the start up to maturity cycle.

Also critical is the client’s willingness to change old ways of thinking about marketing.

“The reality of CEOs is that they have got to a certain point by doing what they do over and over again until they are good at it. The brave new world of online marketing has new rules, new dynamics, and requires a whole new mind set. Many think that spending some money on ‘social media’ is the way forward. The reality is that a barrage of blogs, tweets and Facebook activities, carried out by someone who understands the technology, but without compelling content and stories, is all just more pointless noise.

“You have to use all the online methods appropriate to your target market - be it Google ads, Linked in, Facebook, blogs and tweets. But these are just tools and platforms. The bottom line driver is the quality of the content leveraged by creative online strategies using all the levers in a way which delivers the business objectives – leads, market share growth, and increased brand recognition. 

“And you have to understand that it is a dynamic process which is developed and refined over time – not a quick fix engagement, but rather a long term partnership based on a close working relationship, underpinned by measurable results,” Williams says.