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If you’re an IT firm, go ahead and search your five biggest competitors. I’ve got a twenty dollar bill that says at least three of them are doing content marketing.

Really. Go do the search. Are three of your competitors regularly producing blogs or written content? My money says yes – but leave a comment if I owe you and we’ll figure it out.

Here’s the point: the reality is that if you’re not doing content marketing, you’re falling behind.

There’s a flip side to that, though. Because of content marketing’s increasing ubiquity, it’s also a reality that if you’re not doing content marketing well, your efforts won’t stand out and they won’t work. There are around 2 million blog posts published online each day. That’s a lot of noise. And things are only ever getting louder.

That’s the struggle with content marketing. It’s critical to success, but it’s harder than ever.

We’re here to help. Marketing for B2B tech firms is what we do, and during the course of over a decade in the space, we’ve seen managed services firms like yours struggle to get the content marketing gears churning – but we’ve also seen what happens when the machine starts rolling in the right direction and great content reaches the eyes and ears of ideal customers.

You can make that happen. But to overcome the struggle of content marketing, you’ve got to stop doing these three things.

First, a Quick Reminder on What Content Marketing Is

Admittedly, content marketing is still a bit of a buzzword. To eliminate the buzz and make sure we’re all on the same page, let’s revisit a quick definition from Content Marketing Institute:

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

To clarify this a little bit further: by content marketing, we basically mean regularly-produced web content that’s designed to help customers find your service and recognize its value. That includes blogs, of course. But social media, email marketing, and even PPC are all channels that could also fall under the term’s umbrella.

With that noted, here’s what your managed services firm should stop doing.

1. Stop content marketing to everyone.

The first step to better content marketing is to narrow your audience as much as possible.

We’ve written about audience targeting before. The gift and the curse of the internet is that you can reach anyone with your content. Remember, though, you don’t need to reach everyone – you only need to reach the people who will buy your services.

For managed IT service providers, here’s what that means: define who your ideal customer is, and write directly toward them. For example, one client of ours only serves offices with more than 20 workstations. For a long time, though, they were producing content that could have applied to anyone with an interest in IT support, which resulted in subpar SEO results on the high-competition general topics they were writing to, and irrelevant traffic when users did find them.

By shifting their content to an explicit focus on a certain type of client, they were able to speak more effectively to certain topics. The result? More (and better) traffic – and ultimately, more (and better) business.

Take the time to hone down your audience as far as possible. Tools like buyer personas and StoryBrand can help.

Is your ideal customer the tech administrator at a 50 workstation professional services office? Write for them – not for everyone else.

2. Stop saying what you want to hear.

With the audience identified, it’s time to speak their language. That means creating content that interests them, instead of focusing on content that interests you.

I’ve written about this in more depth here, but it’s worth a brief recap. There are two basic tenets to a client-centric content marketing approach:

  1. Position your customer (not your company) as the hero in the stories you tell. Create messaging that focuses on how the customer can win with your service – not on how your service is the best because of how many years you’ve been in business, or on how great you are at incorporating certain types of technology. Those things are valuable only insomuch as they serve your customer.
  2. Write to topics that your customers are searching, and use their language. Don’t write blogs around things you think are interesting. Write blogs around what your ideal customers are searching for. And, on that note…

3. Stop using jargon.

This comes back to using the language of your customers. You know firsthand that IT is as jargon-packed a field as you’ll find. Don’t hope to impress customers with language they won’t understand. Instead, impress them with how much you understand them.

A quick way to determine if you’re using too much jargon: give your sales pitch to someone who’s not in the industry. Even, better, give it to a fifth-grader. If they can understand it, you’re doing well. If not, get simpler.

Yes, your clients are almost certainly tech savvy. But the reality is that jargon varies so much from organization to organization – and even from department to department inside of an organization – that it’s always better to speak in plain terms than to risk fanciful obscurity.

Create content marketing that’s clear.

Ready to cut through the noise?

Your managed IT services firm can grow through content marketing if you stop speaking to everyone, focusing on yourself, and using jargon.

It sounds simple, but in practicality, it’s easier said than done. The good news? You don’t have to go it alone. And, really, you probably shouldn’t. It’s really hard to read the label from inside the bottle. An objective approach helps.