Let’s face it: data centers are not easy to differentiate, regardless in which market they operate. Hardware used across facilities is generally similar and is being standardized anyway. Most services that touch upon security and entry have commoditized. And there is almost always some bigger fish in your pond with larger facilities and more real estate. It’s encouraging, however, that every service provider can probably bring something unique to the table. That needs to be conveyed, and that calls for a solid data center content strategy.
A content strategy is a plan for using written, audio and visual means to achieve your goals, mostly by attracting new customers or upgrade existing ones. The key to any content strategy is to reach your target audience and keep them engaged with your business, even after they become your customer.
Not just advertising marketing
One major misconception on content strategies is that it’s not vital to the business. Especially newer or smaller data centers tend to view it as a form of convoluted advertising that is exclusive to large, well-known corporations that don’t know what to do with their budgets. According to this view, quality of services and products should speak for itself. The potential benefit of name recognition simply doesn’t compensate the costs and efforts of a content strategy.
There are a number of fallacies in this line of thinking though. The first one is that it is basically advertising aimed at creating brand awareness. Yes, content marketing does have in common with advertising that it is aimed at creating some kind of name recognition. The goals are however much more long-term and aimed at those with already a passing familiarity with the market. Just ask yourself: Why would larger businesses, who already have name recognition and – despite assumptions they have cash to burn – have been successful by minding their expenses be active in content marketing at all? Even though they are definitely taking it very seriously.
Perhaps the most important difference between content strategy and advertising is that the former is focused on the client, and not on the vendor.
Secondly: the reality is that quality does not speak for itself. Not for those who are prospective clients, but also not for those who might be coaxed into buying more. A data center that is simply available, is often seen as just convenient, because it is around the corner, or because they happened to have a server available. The risk is that most businesses will at one point look beyond the data center they are already familiar with, as they assume it to be just a steppingstone for their needs.
Then there’s the dynamics of the data center market. The competition has really picked up over the years. Even though demand for data center services is growing, bankruptcies are hardly unheard of. There is a definitive need to differentiate.
Elements of a data center content strategy
Differentiation can broadly be achieved in various ways, such as unique services, quality services or great customer care. But commoditization and the technological arms race make the first two very difficult to pull off in the data center market. There is, however, another way to differentiate: being a purveyor of knowledge. A data center service provider that knows stuff and, vitally, can communicate their knowledge properly has an edge in gaining the trust of the potential customer.
So how does a content strategy help achieve that? Well..
- The first step of a content strategy is to identify potential customers, so you can laser focus on what their needs are and reach out to them through platforms and media that they are signed up to.
- After that, it is about getting their attention. Not by cold-calling or flinging topics at them and see if something sticks, but by choosing a main topic that actually interest them and showing knowledge about those themes, something that has been established during the first step.
- Followed by offering insights in adjacent subtopics that address their immediate needs. Needs that they already signaled to your data center by their reaction to your communication efforts.
- And, finally, by appealing to their latent needs (‘I didn’t look at this that way’) or aspirations (‘that’s actually a good idea for the near future!’). The process doesn’t end once someone chooses to become your data center customer either. Presenting yourself as a partner rather than a seller really deepens the relationship, and that is another important goal of content marketing.
One crucial aspect of a successful content strategy is to know when to transition from the ‘general’ approach, or identify the clients and gaining their curiosity, to the individual level. In other words: gaining their attention. The gut feeling would be to take the individual approach as soon as possible, but it should still be done once the need is known. That can maximize trust.
All this requires subject knowledge, marketing knowledge and knowledge about the value of services. This kind of specialization is exactly what we at Cloudsuppliers have to offer, with our years of experience in the data center and cloud space.
Contact us firstname.lastname@example.org! We would be happy to help you define your own data center content strategy.