When thinking about how best to serve my clients’ content marketing needs, I always try to keep in mind a simple axiom I learned a long time ago.

Don’t waste your time trying to sell a hamburger to a vegetarian.

It may seem simplistic, but the message is very important: Know your audience. Successful content marketing gets that way because its audience finds value in it. Vegetarians won’t find value in food they won’t eat, so they won’t buy it.

Niche appeal = Greater impact

You’ve probably never needed Indium Corporation‘s specialty alloys, solders, and solder pastes. However, Indium’s Marketing Communications Director, Rick Short, has crafted a corporate blog strategy that hyper-targets the people who do need his company’s products.

In a fairly recent podcast with Bernie Borges, Short discussed the impetus for implementing a very comprehensive blog strategy that has ballooned into 10 blogs by 15 writers. Short started out at Indium as a tech support specialist and acquired first-hand knowledge of Indium’s customers. Indium has a corporate culture of helping people understand how to use its products in relevant ways. Short commingled the acquired insights with the corporate culture and determined that social media would be a good way to reach potential customers.

Now Short oversees blogs such as the Halogen-Free Assembly Blog and Semiconductor Packaging Blog. Not exactly mass appeal. Knowing that the audience for industrial solders is educated and detail-oriented (tech support experience will teach you a lot), Short chose to provide content on subjects not getting a lot of coverage in local papers.

Know the goal, produce results, or what’s the point?

Producing 10 blogs is a big task. Managing 15 writers, especially those whose specialty isn’t writing, is probably even bigger. But Short’s strategy seems to be paying off. In the podcast, he discusses a recent tradeshow that Indium attended. Instead of the usual flashy booth, Indium cut 75% of the tradeshow budget and just talked with attendees, eskewing the usual sales-heavy tactics.

The result of their more socially oriented approach to customer interaction was an equal number of leads as generated in previous years — at 1/4 the cost. Short reports that while he uses very standard web metrics to gauge the performance of the individual blogs, in the end, the true measure of success is leads.

By simply being social, Indium managed to cut costs without sacrificing revenue.

Know your customers to know what they want

It makes sense that a successful social media campaign was devised by someone whose job it is to listen to and help customers, not to sell them. The sale had been done already. Tech support specialists are in the best position to learn what existing customers want out of whatever you’re selling. Importantly, that knowledge applies to potential customers as well.

This can inform not only how to sell more, but also how to improve the product and operate the business in a more effective way. Indium’s blogs may not always be selling Indium’s products, but they always talk about matters relevant to Indium’s customers. To gain trust, a company must be completely honest in all communication with its customers.

The takeaway

Indium Corporation’s blogs are a great example of successful content marketing. Indium’s niche content has narrow appeal but is incredibly valuable to potential customers. By choosing blogs as their messaging medium, they allow longer-form communication for what is often very technical content. And the exchange through comments adds to the overall value and engagement.

My questions to you

What’s your corporate blog/social media strategy? What prompted you to launch it? What value are you seeing from your engagement in this space?