When IBM faced the challenge of changing people's perception of AI from a niche technology to having every day use cases, they used content in the form of stories about where it was being applied. My old customer, Jeremy Waite, led much of that effort as their Global Evangelist, delivering keynotes bringing these use cases to life.
Changing peoples perceptions from "that's interesting" to "how could this help our business" is a challenge technology companies face before their markets become commoditised. How you move potential buyers from inquisitive interest to the realisation that this could significantly change the way they do business can be challenging but also really fun.
So what sort of content actually works? Simply telling people what you do repeatedly will quickly switch off any audience. So IBM hosts large-scale events about the life changing results of Watson's AI, including medical and education use cases, which touch most hearts. These are the types of events that companies the size of IBM typically do very well - so called Hero Content. By re-purposing this over time companies can extend the benefit from this significant outlay of budget. IBM also have the resource to repeatedly bring out white papers and other thought leadership pieces.
IBM's recent financial results exceeded analysts expectations for growth and much of that growth was driven from their Watson, Cloud and Social divisions. Practicing what they preach about social selling and content marketing could well have shifted the needle.
But what if you're not IBM and don't have the budget to create events with global audiences logging in to follow them? Content can be as simple as blog post or short form video. What's key is getting the authority on the topic to create it/ deliver it, ensuring it's timely and produced on a regular basis, if the aim is to become recognised as an expert in the field.
How you share and target content to your audience is the next step in sophistication. Not all of us have a Jeremy, but we can be smart about sharing, tagging and forwarding directly. Relevant content, delivered at the right time from a known contact can change a prospect to a client, excited to explore new possibilities because they suddenly realise how this could apply to their business.
When you step into a brand new market, chances are people may not even know what category it belongs to. This was the challenge faced by IBM for their artificial intelligence offering. Many of their prospects thought of AI as a niche technology - this isn’t the case. Instead, the use cases for AI are everywhere. Because of this, IBM adopted the approach of telling stories of how other companies were applying IBM AI so customers and prospects could understand. This would give them that 'a-ha' moment and make them recognize AI was a tangible thing which they could apply to their respective businesses.