When Your Audience Distrusts Marketers

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What would you do in this situation?

You’re a marketer with a product that’s Number 1 in its category. And the people who know about it rave about it.

The trouble is, you’re a startup. Few people are aware of your brand. And you must cater to a highly technical audience that clamps both hands over its nose the instant the slightest whiff of marketing wafts in its direction.

That was the challenge facing Druva’s marketing department. Founded in 2008, Druva provides integrated data protection and governance software for enterprise laptops, PCs, smartphones, and tablets.

“It’s a fun challenge. We’re leading a new conversation and talking about a new space—moving data governance to the cloud,” explained Jennifer Burnham, Director, Marketing Communications and Content at Druva. “But there’s no built-in audience, no established conversation, no standard keywords. We’re bringing something fresh that people haven’t thought about.”

A Foundation of Content

Burnham, who started at Druva in May of this year, set about meeting the challenge by designing and implementing a targeted content-marketing strategy and then promoting the content with carefully chosen social-media and integrated-marketing campaigns.

The cornerstone of the effort was hard-hitting technical content. Burnham’s group commissioned fresh surveys and research from analysts such as IDC, Forrester, and Gartner. They then fashioned the results into thought-leadership content and reports chock full of new insights.

“With a technical product, you have to lead with well-informed opinions and new research to educate audiences. You can’t get away with fluff,” said Burnham.

In addition, Burnham created content based on conversations with customers in their own words about their challenges, experiences, and the benefits of the solution. “Listening to our customers talk about their experiences, challenges, and successes keeps us rooted in the real world,” explained Burnham. “We use this information to create content that’s in their language with no buzzwords. It helps build rapport.”

Burnham’s team is also working hard to create an ecosystem with partners. When they bring on a new partner, they work with their blog editor and communications people to collaborate on joint blog posts and webinars so they can tell a bigger story. For example, said Burnham, “Talking about the challenges of moving to mobile is more compelling when you include viewpoints from a partner like Mobile Iron, and it allows us to play in a bigger sandbox.”

Integrated Campaigns and Social Media

With research and case studies in hand, Burnham created integrated campaigns that reuse content in different ways to maximize its impact. First, Burnham makes the most of the content by repurposing it into blog posts, infographics, and podcasts. Then, she sends content to prospects in the company’s email database in an effort to entice passive members of the database to engage with the company and become activated.

Social media also plays an important role. “It’s been a trial-and-error effort,” explained Burnham. “We’ve talked to front-line end-users and asked them, ‘Are you on social? Where?’ If I was going to put an effort into a channel, I wanted to know why.”

This research told Burnham that Twitter didn’t make sense for day-to-day customer conversation, but is a good channel for reaching media and analysts. Spiceworks is a great forum for customer engagement. Facebook works for recruiting. And the team can best reach prospects and customers by participating in the appropriate LinkedIn Groups and developer communities.

“Developers are pretty heads down,” Burnham explained. “They use LinkedIn to stay connected, not to build a social persona. And we find it’s best to be on communities like Spiceworks, Quora, and LinkedIn Groups. And we’re researching others. It’s less about one-way broadcasting and more about participating in groups and sharing valuable content.”

Data in the Wild

One campaign that’s been particularly successful has been the company’s “Data in The Wild” campaign. As part of that campaign, the team created a SlideShare deck called “40 Scary Stats of Data at Risk.”

The team has been very happy with the results. “For the SlideShare presentation, we got 5,000 views in the first 48 hours and our slide deck made it to the first page of SlideShare. It was picked up by the press. And our regional teams have used it,” said Burnham.

Blurring the Lines between Social Media and Customer Advocacy

The biggest lesson Burnham has learned from her efforts is the importance of tying all of its content-marketing, lead-generation, social-media, and public-relations efforts together in a careful manner—and of ensuring that customers play a central role.

“I’m seeing a blurring between social media and customer advocacy. Content created in the voice of the customer makes the company’s social efforts more powerful. That content becomes even more powerful when it’s connected to your PR strategy,” said Burnham. “The overall challenge is to find advocates, and then stoke the fire by listening and involving them in your marketing efforts through case studies, blogs, video and, of course, in-person events. At that point, the company is in a really good place.”

Do you have a fascinating story about content marketing, lead generation, demand generation, or social media? I’d love to share your story in an upcoming post.

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