Squeezing juicy content from a dry industry – a case study

by Sonja Jefferson on March 15, 2013

A smörgåsbord of valuable content for Ascentor clients

A valuable content marketing case study

Ascentor is a fantastic B2B consultancy firm working for government and commercial clients to help them manage their information security and reduce business risk. With a growing number of cyber attacks against UK organisations this is a vital service, but not the sexiest of subjects to create content around – or so you might think.

Think again. Squeezing juicy content from a ‘dry’ industry is absolutely possible. We’ve been working with Ascentor for the last 18 months, and by focusing on the issues closest to their clients’ hearts we have helped them to create compelling, lead generating content that is raising awareness and driving sales.

Here is the story of how valuable content is helping Ascentor to thrive. 

The business challenge

Faced with tight public sector budgets as well as new opportunities in the private sector, Ascentor was keen to clarify its message and develop a marketing strategy that would help to bring in new business.

“Before we started, we didn’t have any marketing strategy as such, we just used our existing contacts to try and get new business. Now we have a proactive marketing stance and I can see the benefits. It means we can scale up. Now we have the foundation, we’re finding a little bit of effort can reap big rewards.”

Dave James, MD, Ascentor | February 2013

MD Dave James wanted a marketing infrastructure that would support and power the entire sales process. The strategy had to stem from a compelling core message that would encapsulate the Ascentor approach. Their website needed a total overhaul — it was previously a static site with limited information and an awful lot of jargon.

Ascentor wanted to educate its target audience about the potential business risks associated with information security. Their content had to answer the questions of everyone from directors at board level in a big corporate to users in SMEs, and from Government departments to the MoD.

“Like a lot of people in our industry, we knew what we were talking about but we couldn’t always convey it clearly to others. We also had to change the emphasis of our message so it was less security-focused and more business-focused.” Dave James

The marketing solution

With advice from Watertight Marketing strategist Bryony Thomas and support from the team here at Valuable Content, Ascentor adopted a marketing strategy firmly focused on creating and sharing valuable content. This is how this has worked:

  • The core message: The first job was to clarify the needs of Ascentor’s target market by talking to clients and creating a compelling proposition: a unifying story to unite their content around.

“We had to really break down what we do so that we could communicate more clearly what we offer. We realised we were there to help people de-risk their projects and make them more secure. Hence our new, very positive strapline — Secure your information: Strengthen your business.”

  • Website creation: Content marketing needs the right web platform. This meant developing a new, content-rich website – www.ascentor.co.uk - a welcoming home for all their content. Clear, helpful, and engaging, the new site meets the different needs of each of Ascentor’s key client groups.
  • Regular blogging: Ascentor’s consultants write and publish up to four blog articles every month.
  • Sales content: Ascentor produces a wealth of valuable resources from online tools, useful e-books and guides and research that pull in leads from the website and power their outbound marketing activity.

Image taken from Ascentor’s Human Face of Information Risk research

  • Monthly email newsletter: The Ascentor Information Risk Round Up, published each month is attracting more and more subscribers, and winning them work.
  • Social media marketing: Consultants are active on Twitter and LinkedIn.

The sales results

“We are finding that the work we have done on our content has greatly increased our brand awareness. Now people are coming to us instead of us always going to them.” Dave James

  • Ascentor now knows exactly what its selling proposition is.
  • Their content is attracting good leads from the web: in the last 9 months they’ve seen a steep rise in inbound enquiries and have secured 6 good projects from the interest generated, with more still in train.
  • Their content-led proactive outbound sales campaigns are opening new doors and delivering more sales.
  • The Ascentor website ranks in the top three on Google searches for niche terms.
  • More and more people are subscribing to the email newsletter and this has brought in new sales leads.
  • Ascentor has had press coverage in the specialist press and on the BBC.
  • In two recent successful bids —for the Houses of Parliament and for the MoD —the feedback said that it was the content on the Ascentor website that ticked the box for innovation.

Ten lessons to take away for your business

We’ll leave you with a few words of advice from MD Dave James and some tips to take away for your business.

“Content really is king — and I am not just parroting Sonja! We can see how valuable our content is compared to many others in our sector who do a lot of tweeting but don’t have anything interesting to say.

And don’t be afraid to give away stuff for free. This was a challenge for us — we thought why should we share our expertise with our competitors? —  but it has clearly worked.” Dave James

  1. Get your website right — it is the hub of all your content
  2. Know your customers — ask them for their views and feedback before creating content
  3. Create a strong message and galvanise your content around this (in plain English!)
  4. Provide relevant content to each of your target audiences
  5. Give knowledge away, generously, for free
  6. Start a blog and keep sharing relevant content
  7. Add deeper content too — surveys, guides, infographics
  8. Use valuable content, not brochures, to open doors and build relationships
  9. Keep in touch with an email newsletter
  10. Get serious about social media

You can draw out valuable content, even from the driest of industries. And if you make this the focus of your marketing activity you’ll generate good leads and more sales.

You can find more about this content-based approach in the Valuable Content Marketing book. Download a free sample chapter here.

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Sonja Jefferson

Sonja Jefferson is a consultant, writer and founder of Valuable Content. She helps good businesses to create and share great content so they win the business they deserve.

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