All businesses struggle with the question of what works in marketing. To hear how one organization made the decision to switch from traditional marketing tactics to a content marketing focus, we turned to Nicolas Antonio Jimenez of Widen. Nicolas acts as Digital Asset Management provider Widen's Marketing Coordinator and has witnessed firsthand the benefits that came from providing quality content to create an educated audience.

Siobhan Fagan: What were the key components of Widen’s online marketing strategy prior to content marketing? What was working and what wasn’t?

Nicolas Antonio Jimenez: Before we shifted our focus to content marketing, most of our business came from “old school” tactics like making outbound cold calls, purchasing lead lists and networking at industry events. It’s not that those tactics weren’t working well. Rather, they just weren’t working well enough. It was a lot of investment for a relatively low return. The problem wasn’t unique to us, of course. Businesses of every kind have found that “spray-and- pray” marketing is pretty ineffective.

SF: What drove the decision to adopt content marketing and what role does it play in Widen’s online marketing strategy today?

NAJ: First, we realized that -- while it had been the case that we needed to introduce the concept of DAM to organizations, then make the case for our particular system -- this software was becoming a mainstream tool. So rather than being faced with the challenge of starting the discussion, we are now in a position where the goal is to be there when people start their search for DAM (particularly online).

Second, we understood that content marketing would also leave us with a wealth of materials that could be used not just to bring people into the Widen story, but also to educate them on digital asset management throughout the process of evaluating DAM systems. This helps us ensure that our customers are more informed before and after implementation. Of course, the extended usefulness of our marketing content also contributes to the higher ROI we get on marketing content than on, say, cold calling.

Our marketing content is an important part of our relationship with our client companies from the moment they download their first white paper, read their first blog or watch their first webinar.

SF: What are some of the key initiatives you use content marketing for?

NAJ: We regularly partner with industry experts to produce marketing content that’s relevant to what we feel are the burning questions of people looking for DAM software. That content comes in a variety of forms, and it keeps us pretty busy.

In addition, our blog has become a core component in the strategy to drive traffic to other content. Every day, we have people find blog posts relevant to their interests, then download materials that will help them make more informed choices. The blog not only helps us perform better in organic search, but also serves as a tool for establishing some credibility before visitors commit to a deeper, long-form, or interactive piece of content.

SF: How were the results from your content marketing strategy different from other marketing campaigns?

NAJ: Of course, there are those who are concerned with the dollar-for-dollar effectiveness. In that regard, content marketing has proven to be far superior to our old methods.

More importantly, though, content marketing has enabled us to establish trust and credibility, which means we are better able to form many more meaningful relationships with people without having to go through that awkward and unproductive “Have you heard about DAM?” phase. Customers and potential customers are able to get to know us, our brand and our work better -- and on their own terms, since building that familiarity through our content doesn’t require a phone call or meeting.

SF: What role does Content Marketing take in customer experience? What value does it offer that other online marketing strategies don’t?

We do have content initiatives that are designed specifically for our existing customers. First, it’s a matter of ensuring that the content adds value to their experience with the product. Our contracts are month-to-month, so we continually earn the business of every one of our customers. Our content is a part of that (although it takes a backseat to product and service, of course).

Second, it’s about producing content that creates an emotional connection to our people, our brand and our story. This happens much more in the one-on-one interactions our teams have with customers, but content helps.

SF: What do you see as the potential of Content Marketing in the future?

NAJ: One of the things that amazes us here at Widen is the way that our B-to-B marketing teams have become more and more dependent on consumer technology. More often than not, the cameras, computers, software and marketing channels we use are ones that are familiar to everyone from high school kids to retirees.

“The future of marketing content” is a pretty broad picture to paint, but we think at least part of that picture involves a greater dependence on consumer tech and informal presentation than we’ve ever seen. This is already happening, of course. Virtually every brand is using content captured on smartphones. We’re putting less of a premium on snazzy web sites and embracing social media. And, of course, the advent of tablets is changing the way we view our marketing content and what it needs to accomplish.

It’s an exciting future, and one that suits us just fine, since our story and culture are all about relating to customers rather than appearing professorial. That’s much easier to pull off when you’re communicating the same way and in the same places your audience does every day.