This post is brought to you by guest writer Natalie Smithson. Natalie is a Digital Innovation Copywriter working with ambitious, talented, big-hearted people who want to make the world a better and more inventive place using technology.
Artificial intelligence is everywhere — from the fear of facial recognition and robots taking our jobs, to the excitement of building Smart Cities that we explore in driverless cars.
When your company offers a solution that centers on AI, there’s one giant problem: How do you distinguish your AI product in a vibrant and exploding market?
I mean, AI has its own festival: CogX.
In Kings Cross, London, the festival site sprawls over 200,000 square feet and runs for three days.
The 2019 event hosted 500 speakers on ten stages.
The result? Four hundred hours worth of content about artificial intelligence.
What’s interesting is that there were only 1500 people at the first CogX festival in 2018. Do you know how many attendees there were 12 months later?
Twenty thousand. With representatives from 98 countries.
If you’re overwhelmed by the expanse of AI and how to find an opportunity to stand out, you’re not alone. One thing’s for sure; you need a game plan to do it.
Start With Content
Amidst the buzz around AI, there’s only one place to start with getting your message out there. It’s the place where you should begin with any marketing effort: With your customer. Not the technology.
People don’t ask for an AI solution; it’s an option.
Where your customer starts is with a pressing question that they need to find an answer to.
Typically, it’s a practical problem.
I want X, but I can only find Y.
Or, I need result A, yet I can only get result B.
How do I fix that?
Delve a little deeper, and you’ll find an emotional wound behind this.
In marketing, we call this the pain.
In real life, even the smallest paper cut on your little finger can distract your focus.
So when you tap into a relevant pain point with your customer, you get their immediate attention.
AI is merely the plaster over the wound. It’s a technical tonic to a human irritation. So even though your product is machine-led, your communication needs to be human. Not robotic.
When you learn what your customer’s problem is, you can figure out what they need to hear to move past it. Then you can present that information in a way that assists people.
Let’s look at five ways you can do this:
1. Blog posts to educate your audience
You might read a lot of blog posts — there’s a deluge out there — but many miss the point. Many companies treat them like collections of press releases, broadcasting only company news.
If you take the focus off your own company, however, and put the focus on your customers, blog posts can be highly effective for sparking conversation with your customers and building their knowledge.
People read blog posts as they’re trying to make sense of what you offer, your company or your industry. Or they’re trying to work out if you’re the right choice amongst the competition.
Now is your time to shine, so don’t skimp on the detail.
Use a blog post as an opportunity to tell your audience something that they don’t know already. Or give them a new way to think about a problem.
They should arrive at the end feeling like you’re someone they can trust.
2. Published articles to build your authority
As well as publishing content on your own blog, you can write for others too. You’re still educating your reader. The difference is, when somebody else publishes your content online, it adds weight to your argument.
If others are keen to share your view, it must be worth listening to. Right?
Choose your publisher wisely, and you can break into a whole new audience of potential customers that are interested in your work.
You should always make sure there’s a direct link back to your site with a mention of your company name, of course.
So long as your content is timely and attractive to the right publisher, it’s a way to share someone else’s traffic to boost your own.
3. E-books to communicate complex material in a simplistic way
Where blog posts and articles are read online — often, on the go. An e-book can be downloaded and stored for reference.
E-books shouldn’t read like academic papers. They’re more a gentle introduction to your area of expertise.
Use visuals to direct the reader through the content of your e-book, keeping it easy to digest. Nobody wants to trawl through a wall of text.
That doesn’t mean you produce material that is light on substance. But you must present it in bite-size chunks so the reader can quickly move through it.
Content like this shows your customers how you broach a subject or where you excel. But the most important thing is that it’s relevant to the problem that your reader wants to solve.
Like every piece of content you produce, an e-book is borne out of research:
- What gaps do people have in their knowledge?
- What do they want to understand better?
Make this the focus for your e-book and be sure to brand every page. This is a vibrant resource people will want to keep. You want them to remember who put it together, so they come to you when they’re ready to buy.
4. White papers for customers who want to solve their problem now
When a customer is serious about getting rid of a problem, they need information — lots of it.
White papers are in-depth documents that tell your customers everything they need to know before they’ll make a commitment. It’s your opportunity to make a comprehensive and convincing argument for why your company should be trusted or why your product is the ideal solution.
If your blog post is the trailer, this is the movie.
White papers have a contents page and introduction like a formal report, but they don’t need to be stuffy.
To avoid your white paper sounding like a thesis, write it with your ideal customer in mind.
Give that person a face and a name.
- What did they tell you in the market research phase about what they’re struggling with?
- How are they feeling right now?
Then write your white paper as though you’re having a conversation with that one person. Remove any sense of indecision or confusion that they feel.
Take the opportunity to talk about your technology and how it works, sure. But also show your customer exactly what to expect when they work with you in the long term.
5. Email campaigns for customers who are ready to listen closely
If you’re producing content that’s helpful to people, you become an authority in your field. When that happens, you gain followers — followers who want to see you in their inboxes.
The Salesforce State of Marketing Research Report says 80% of marketers see email as “core to their business.” Essentially your email list is a way of keeping the conversation open.
Once your reader has finished a blog post, divulged your e-book or white paper, your emails can keep on giving them more of what they need — even post-purchase. As a result, loyalty for your brand grows over time.
Use email to speak directly to potential customers, undecided buyers, and loyal customers, too, with relevant, timely content that delights them.
Strategy Leads to Success
For greater marketing success, put together a content strategy first so that you can roll out your AI solution to people who are already primed to listen to and consider your offer.
Here’s a recap:
- Interview your customers to find out about the problems they’re facing.
- Work out what they need to know next. Do they need more information? Do they question your credibility? Are they looking for a more in-depth analysis of AI solutions?
- Finally, marry these two things together. Work out the types of content you can produce to give your customers the answers they need today.
When you put content strategy first, you naturally market to the exact needs of your customer. This gives you an immediate advantage, even in a cluttered AI landscape.
The right content, targeted at the right people makes it easier to attract new customers and meet your business goals.
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