Phil Dunn is the lead creative at Synapse Services Co., a simple yet technically-sophisticated company that helps you grow your business with scheduled, measured production processes. We had the opportunity to speak with Phil recently to hear his thoughts on the importance of quality web content and how it impacts businesses in the IT and tech sectors.
Tell us a bit about your background. Why are you so passionate about creating quality web content?
I have a journalism background, so I came at this whole marketing thing kinda backwards. I wrote for magazines and newspapers in the early 1990s and quickly realized who was driving the editorial content: mostly press releases and savvy PR/marketing outfits. There was a fair amount of straight reporting, but the articles I was writing were mostly commerce-driven.
I quickly opened up a marketing company and focused on creating content that reads like good journalism but pushes an agenda, a product, a service, or a cause. The content I create is a mix of persuasion and entertainment. That’s what I’m passionate about: moving people and moving markets.
In the two decades that your company has been in existence, how has web content changed?
We’ve been doing this for 22+ years now, and here’s the big historical takeaway: companies, as well as the media, have finally come to terms with the fact that high-quality, highly-entertaining content is what drives views, clicks, conversions, subscriptions, and everything else. Sure, there’s clickbait and Buzzfeed headlines that are tantalizing. But without serious editorial value, whether it’s a video or a simple article, content will fail if it’s not crafted by skilled professionals. You can’t farm English-language content out to non-native speakers, and you can’t expect non-engaged content producers to create content about things they don’t know about.
The age of the generalist journalist is over. The Internet, of course, is the big catalyst. Data, testing, and social signals have changed the way content success is measured – often in startling ways.
If a business owner were to say to you, “No, I don’t have a blog on my site. No one cares about what I say,” how would you respond?
If you’re a smart business owner, you have a niche business that caters to a very specific group of people you know intimately. You have unique access to that group, and you’re responsible for keeping them transparently informed about the ideas, trends, and issues that help them achieve what they want. You can do that with a blog, vlog, podcast, or whatever. The cost of entry is low, and you already have access to the right audience. You should be meeting the information needs of your audience every week (if not every day).
What constitutes high-quality web content for companies in the IT and technology sectors, and how does it differ from the content seen on websites of businesses in other industries?
High-quality content for the technology industry is not quite like content produced for B2C or general consumption products. The reason? IT nerds are very tough and critical. They can smell BS a mile away, and they’ll bust you for it immediately. Just take a spin through Spiceworks, and you can see all the animosity and criticism of poor marketing. You just can’t fool these folks, so you need to be 100% on your game when writing about technologies. High-quality content that is fact-checked and vetted by IT staff or SEs is crucial for this particular industry.
What’s the most underutilized type of web content today?
People are afraid to utilize video. Most of us don’t want to get on camera and explain ourselves, our companies, our philosophies, our techniques, and our aspirations for our customers. Interview-format video is the best and fastest way to capture this info and put a face to the brand. Plus, you can repurpose transcribed video into all kinds of blog posts, articles, bios, and tip sheets. People need to start thinking about starting their marketing efforts with video.
What exactly are “case studies,” and how can they help improve the visibility [and/or customer/subscriber base] of a business website?
Case studies are great because they let your existing customers expound upon how and why they chose you to solve a specific problem of theirs. A case study is basically a challenge-solution-result format for capturing a customer experience via interview (typically).
Research shows that people buy based on the profiles of others like themselves who previously purchased the same product. Some call this social proof of a certain flavor. We have a herd mentality to begin with, and we want to reduce risk by knowing that someone with a similar problem or dream used a certain product to solve it or realize it. Case studies show the details and get others to identify with your existing customers.
What types of businesses are especially suited for providing visual web content like video, PowerPoint presentations, etc.?
All kinds of businesses can use video, slides, and webinars to offer value to their audiences. Some of the best ones are in the visual trades. I’d lump in restaurants, travel, experience vendors (like spas, massage places, and gyms), and artists into this group. Obviously, photographers, painters, builders, architects, chefs, and bakers can all benefit from video marketing.
That said, people buy from those people or businesses that they know, like, and trust. So it makes sense for all kinds of businesses to use personal videos that address real issues that customers are thinking about before they buy a product or service.
In terms of marketing, how important will quality web content be for technology businesses in the future?
Quality web content is the bedrock of quality marketing. It’s always going to be critical for technology companies (and everybody else for that matter). We’re all reading, listening, and viewing from our phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops these days. More stuff will come along, like VR and in-glasses screens, but good content will always be the differentiator no matter what the medium.
Is your website’s content wowing visitors? Request a free content marketing assessment today to find out.