The return of content marketing: why content is still your most powerful marketing activity
For organizations in the field of energy, there’s a significant need to provide information to a variety of stakeholders. Your customers and prospects might be your “top” target groups, but you also have a wide assortment of other audiences that you need to communicate with, ranging from your local community to government regulators. As a result, your content strategy might need to cover everything from educating your audiences on your technologies and services to developing position papers that articulate your company’s position on government policy or regulations.
It sounds like a lot. But this hunger for information also represents a powerful opportunity for your organization: to use content marketing to position your company as a trusted expert and advisor.
Operating a business in the energy sector can be very complicated.
Even your most important customers might not understand everything relating to your industry or product. Technologies are complex, and they’re always changing. Government policies can drive or reduce demand. And consumers can react emotionally to pricing changes, or even to claims from activists about the nature of your business.
By taking the lead and developing a strategic content marketing program, you can counter these challenges, and build a strong position for your company. The right content marketing program will allow you to:
Educate your audiences on the technologies, markets, frameworks in which your services are delivered.
Energy services and products are often delivered through complicated networks involving different organizations, subsidies, etc. Make it easy for your stakeholders to understand the framework, and exactly where your organization fits in and what you supply.
Be the expert on trends and new developments.
You’re perfectly positioned to explain the development, and what it means for different groups (i.e. what will the impact be on your customers, society, government, the climate, etc.) You’ve got the expertise and experience to understand the implications, while some of your audiences may not – help them out by explaining in a way that everyone can understand.
Have an opinion and share your position on technologies, regulations, trends, etc.
Is a government policy making it tough for your technology to break through? Do you believe your government is supporting the wrong technology, or not paying enough attention to a certain type of technology? Outline your position in a position paper, with evidence to support it. This ensures your prospects and customers know exactly where you stand, and the reasons behind your commitment to a technology or program.
So how can you strengthen your approach to content marketing?
Try these steps to get a clear snapshot of the current scope of your program, and identify any areas you need to expand.
1. First, list all the content you already have.
Create a spreadsheet with the type of content, where it is kept, the audience it was created for, the additional audiences who use it, and how much it cost.
2. Then, make a list of all the stakeholders that you communicate with.
Your list might look something like this, with subcategories under some of these headings:
- Your local communities – near your office, plant, regional locations
- Your customer sites, and the communities near them
- Industry associations
- Regulatory bodies
3. Compare the content you have, against your list of stakeholders.
Do you see any gaps? Do you have a lot of content for one group of stakeholders, for example, and none for another group? Now that you have a clear overview of your current content, you can define how you want to expand and strengthen it.
4. Choose your key audiences, and define your key messaging.
Decide who your key stakeholders are, and what types of information they need. How do you want them to perceive your company? Do you want to be known as a “green” organization, or is cost-savings the most important criteria for your customers? Define your key messages, for each target group.
5. Choose the content types you need for each stakeholder group.
List all of the content you’d like to have for each stakeholder group. Don’t worry about budget yet. List everything, and you can prioritize once your lists are is complete.
Keep the focus on storytelling and people
And lastly, as you develop new content, remember to keep the focus on people, even if your solutions are highly technical. While your solar project might produce over 9,800 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity per year, for example, make sure to highlight what it means for the people who use it – that this would be roughly equivalent to the amount of electricity 7,000 people would consume every year.