I’ll admit it—sometimes when I see companies doing really interesting things with content, I develop crushes on them. It all starts innocently enough...I might notice a great headline attached to an email autoresponder or a piece of UI copy that goes out of its way to speak my language. From there—much like the high school girl who starts noticing the guy she likes every time she passes him in the hallway—I’ll unconsciously start paying closer attention to that company’s content every time I come across it.
The enterprise software sector might be the varsity football team of the business world, and I haven’t been immune to some of the key players’ charms. Let’s take a look at three of the content crushes I've developed lately.
Note: I’m not affiliated with these companies in any way other than being a fan of their content marketing.
Who They Are: A data visualization company that has ranked on the INC 5000 for the past 5 years in a row (and most recently came in #888.)
Who They Are: Acquia ranked #8 on the INC 5000 Fastest Growing Companies, and it’s not hard to see why. The brand acts as Drupal experts and offers paid services designed to make managing Drupal easier and more cost efficient. (If you’ve ever worked with Drupal, you’ll understand how valuable this is.)
Web copy that's personable, accessible and—perhaps most importantly—fun.
A lively blog with great features like categories that speak the user’s language, “featured” posts and the option to view related content with every post.
An interactive tool on the homepage offering a free Drupal site performance scan. The tool lets users grade their websites’performance speed, SEO and login security. (Bonus points: if your site scores an A+, Acquia will send you a free t-shirt!) For more on the importance of interactive tools, check out this Smart Insights post by Danyl Bosomworth.
Who They Are: A software development company that comes in at #1424 on INC 5000.
A high-quality blog. Some of Relevance's employees are published authors who have written best-selling texts about computer science and programming. Their experience as writers shows; the team manages a rich, thought-provoking blog that looks at software development as a craft. For inspiration, check out posts like "The Real Secret Behind Project Failure" and "Help, Even When it Hurts."
An innovative podcast series. The series creator, Craig Andera, explains its evolution in an introduction to the first podcast: "I find I'm constantly having interesting conversations with my coworkers, and it's not always about tech stuff. More than once I've had a random hallway conversation and thought, 'Wow, if I had recorded that, it would make a pretty good podcast episode.'" The podcasts don’t necessarily always cover topics related to custom software development, which makes them all the more endearing.
A “choose your own adventure” approach to explain the company’s services. Relevance provides three “perspectives” on how it builds software, which takes a true buyer persona-based approach to information delivery. It also demonstrates the company’s versatility and empathy intelligence. From this simple tactic, a user understands that Relevance “gets” the perspectives of all the different stakeholders involved in any given project.
Recurring features. There’s the podcast series as well as a “Where to Find Relevancers” series, which lists events Relevance employees will be at in the near future.
So, now that I’ve gushed about three of my top content crushes, let’s talk about what they’re doing right. Of all the great content marketing strategies these companies employ, the one that popped up again and again was a frequently updated blog featuring high-quality, diverse content. If I have a “type,” it’s clearly companies that devote significant resources to their blogs. In crush terms, a great blog is like a British accent or a dimple; it’s irresistible and it absolutely makes you stand out.
Beyond blogging, what else can you do to make your content crush-worthy?
Study the masters. Add these companies (and others like them) to your RSS feed so you can study their blogging efforts. What are they writing about? How and why is it successful? Which posts really impress you?
Brainstorm simple ideas for interactive tools, like Acquia’s Drupal performance scan. An interactive tool might be something as simple as a calculator or calendar widget, but if it gives your users a way to interact with your company, it’s a step in the right direction.
Show personality. Whether it’s through your Twitter feed or a podcast series, let prospects see what you’re all about. And, like Relevance, if you’re brave enough to embrace conflict, do it —there’s nothing that does a better job building trust.
Blog often. I know, I know—I said this was a list “beyond blogging”—but it’s so important I couldn’t help repeat it a few (dozen) times.
I’d love to hear about your own content crushes (please tell me I’m not the only one who gets them!), so if you’ve got a shortlist of brands with crush-worthy content, confess your feelings in the comments below.
Stephanie Kapera is a special projects coordinator for Kuno Creative and the co-founder of Up All Night Creative, a Raleigh-based content marketing agency that helps B2B and B2C companies develop magazine-quality web content. Connect with Stephanie on LinkedIn and Twitter!