Cloud providers must fly past 3 challenges to accelerate revenue growth
If the future of tech is cloud, the future has arrived. Why are so many cloud providers struggling to grow revenue at the sensational scale everyone seems to expect? To find out, I recently attended the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Summit in San Francisco, where I discovered that cloud service providers need to address and resolve three burning issues. Fortunately for these folks, those challenges are easily surmountable.
The AWS Summit attendees I met included cloud developers, cloud IT managers, and a broad spectrum of cloud professionals ranging from consultants to analysts to entrepreneurs. I also spoke with dozens of sales and marketing leaders from Amazon and many of their ecosystem business partners.
In conversation after conversation with these attendees, I learned many cloud companies are facing the same challenge: Revenue growth is artificially constrained by three well-understood marketing problems that are routinely solved in other tech industry sectors.
As I listened, it dawned on me that these three problems are worth explaining to people working in the cloud industry.
Challenge #1: Eliminate unnecessary complexity from product and service descriptions
Let’s start with complexity, because cloud offerings are complex, and many cloud experts struggle to convey the value of their offerings with prospects and customers. For example, the suite of solutions that AWS and its ecosystem provide is vast, byzantine—and to the uninitiated, just plain confusing.
To make matters worse, the limited terminology doesn’t accurately describe the breadth and depth of offerings and services. Everything is either a “cloud service,” a “platform,” a “dashboard,” or a “management console.” Everything solves cloud management, cloud security, and cloud scalability issues. The same phrases are used over and over again to describe very different offerings. For some of these companies, a cloud platform might as well be a wooden plank dangling midair from the fuselage of a commercial airliner.
Further, only a limited number of people understand the offerings and how they relate to and fit within the ecosystem. Fewer still have both the ability and the inclination to explain these concepts to prospects and customers. At events like the AWS Summit, those people don’t get any rest. Because they’re able to describe products and services accurately, they get pulled into meetings not just with partners, customers, prospects, and the press—but also with their own sales and management teams.
After witnessing this chaos, I spoke with a marketing executive who felt guilty about asking an articulate colleague to create content. It didn’t matter if the item was a blog post, much less a white paper, solutions overview, or alliance guide, he said. When would she find the time?
Since articulate cloud experts are few and far between, don’t ask them to create content. They’ve got their work cut out for them already. Instead, find content marketing experts with long experience simplifying the complex for the tech industry. Look for a team of tech-savvy writers and editors who can quickly digest background material and grasp the ideas you need to get across.
At TDA, for example, the process works like this: Our writers get content and messaging direction from a subject-matter expert, typically in a telephone interview that takes less than an hour. After that, we transcribe the conversation to guide the narrative. The first draft goes through rigorous editorial Q&A, at which point the content is clean, compelling, and accurate—ready for our clients to review. What’s more, this approach ensures that your articulate colleagues can share their unique insights and expertise with a broader audience than ad hoc trade show and meeting attendees.
Challenge #2: Cure indecision over marketing assets
At the AWS Summit, I also discovered a great deal of confusion about the kinds of marketing assets to produce. Many marketers I met at the show had written their messaging and automated much of their marketing efforts. They had personas, journey descriptions, and some assets. But they needed more content, they told me. One asked, “I know I need more and better assets, but how do I know what to create, and what should it say?”
We hear this question frequently from organizations busy creating the next big thing. They need to feed their marketing automation systems, and subsequently build awareness and drive lead conversion.
First, I told the marketer, look at your messaging. Are your differentiating claims and proof points unique and compelling? Or do you sound like everyone else in the field? When I say differentiating claims, I told him, I mean the value you deliver that’s different and better than your competition. And be sure your proof points back up those claims.
If you’re not entirely sure about the differentiators that are most important, produce more customer case studies. Pay attention to those interviews and the words your customers use to explain why they bought from you. Their reasons are the differentiators you need to capture. Adopt and use their language, and your marketing will begin to resonate better with more of your prospects.
Once you’ve decided that your claims and proof points are solid, take a look at the kinds of assets your audience likes to consume. It’s really that easy—and any organization with marketing automation capabilities should have a good idea about what resonates, and what doesn’t. Then look carefully at your customer journey map and see how your content is performing at each of those milestones. Or if you don’t have content for a particular stage in the customer journey, give careful thought to the types of content assets that meet information needs at specific junctures.
Challenge #3: Solve inadequacies in content production
Having enough content for each stage of the customer journey illustrates the third challenge I discovered at the AWS Summit: Cloud companies can’t produce effective content fast enough. There’s a shortage of professionals who can deliver content that articulates value and drives leads.
These professionals are in high demand, and constant interruptions cause content delivery dates to slip. As a result, the effectiveness of content created in-house has a short shelf life. By the time it’s completed, it’s probably dated in an industry that moves faster and faster.
So, the first step for solving this problem is to recognize it for what it is: A problem. And then, like the rest of the tech industry, realize that outsourcing content to experts is just about the only way you’ll keep up and stay relevant. The people I met at the AWS Summit represent extraordinary change, and their work deserves to be recognized with accelerated revenue growth.
If you were one of the folks I met, I look forward to working with you and your colleagues in the weeks ahead. Otherwise, contact us and let us know how we can help you get your content marketing off the ground.