Building a Technical Marketing Library: Q&A with Richard McClurg, VP Marketing at Dejero
In the August edition of the Crommunity Round-Up, we wrote that Dejero had completed their technology marketing tripod—meaning that they now have technical marketing resources covering three foundational technologies (these three are part of a larger technical marketing library).
We thought it might be helpful for marketers at start-ups and scale-ups to learn from Dejero’s experience, so we remotely caught up with Richard McClurg, Dejero’s VP Marketing, to pick his brain about the recent and rapid progress his team has made developing their technical marketing library, some of the challenges they encountered along the way, and the impact that these assets have made.
Richard and I met back in *checks notes* April 2016 when I presented at a Communitech Marketing P2P. I shared lessons learned and experiences gained managing the marketing activities around two acquisitions made by my then-employer. Richard was in the audience and he shared some of his own experiences; we chatted briefly afterward and, through P2Ps and Communitech events, stayed in touch—and in 2018, Dejero became one of Cromulent’s earliest customers (thanks Richard!).
This technical marketing library is a fairly new addition to your content portfolio—what was the genesis behind its creation?
The reality is, we hadn’t explained our technology well in a customer-facing format. Early on in our start-up stage, we didn’t need to per se. Our founder was out there speaking directly to customers and evangelizing what we were all about, and he was—and still is—very effective at that.
But that’s not scalable.
Our founder was out there speaking directly to customers…but that’s not scalable. We needed our sales and business development teams to be able to explain our technology.
We needed our sales and business development teams to be able to explain our technology. Plus we also found ourselves expanding our partner ecosystem, and naturally our partners wanted a deeper dive into our technologies.
Furthermore, we began expanding into new markets with new channels, so expanding our technical resource library quickly elevated in importance.
Ah, the bottleneck of subject matter expertise. Paper and PDFs are certainly more easily scalable than people. Your library has come a long way in a short time—how did (and do) you choose and prioritize what topics to cover?
Well, we had a backlog to work through, but the first one we did tackled a very specific question that kept coming up: how does Dejero fit into the SD-WAN realm? We addressed that with our Enhancing SD-WAN Performance whitepaper, and followed up with a deep dive into our Smart Blending Technology.
We then tackled Field Connectivity in a 5G World, to address many questions from customers that were popping up at the time, and to temper expectations and dispel myths. This one is more of a thought leadership piece, but still doesn’t shy away from getting technical—we needed to provide a crash-course in 5G so that readers had the requisite knowledge to understand the rest of our message.
You can learn a bit more about specific projects in How Dejero uses content to create technical differentiation and Dejero Controls the 5G Conversation.
As for the others, the prioritization was really driven by the broadness of the technology in question. Our Hybrid (hardware/software) Encoding Technology is applicable to our video transport solutions, while our most recent whitepaper on Resilient Wireless Technology focused on key challenges and trade-offs when designing a multi-network portable device for sending high-quality video used in broadcast and public safety applications—so it was more product focused.
So to summarize, we prioritized through a combination of addressing timely topics and starting with broader technologies before moving to more narrowly focused ones.
We prioritized through a combination of addressing timely topics and starting with broader technologies before moving to more narrowly focused ones.
Creating technical resources can be a challenge, not least because doing so usually involves getting marketers and engineers to work together by stepping into each other’s worlds—how did the writing process play out at Dejero, and were there any obstacles that needed to be overcome?
Let’s start with the key challenge: it’s likely no surprise it was getting the commitment from the subject matter experts. We needed to tap into their deep knowledge. They have enough demands on their time already, so we made the case that their effort here would lessen their need to repeatedly get pulled into customer conversations.
Before we engaged with Cromulent, our initial whitepaper draft was structured more like a technical paper. This was a format that the SMEs were familiar with, so we rolled with it. Cromulent took that initial concept and transformed it into an information format that was more appealing and digestible to a broader audience.
It was critical that Cromulent had the trust of the SMEs because we didn’t want to be seen as wasting anyone’s time. Fortunately, this came very quickly through understanding the principles behind the technology and having the ability to ask thoughtful questions. With trust established from the first go around, developing the other whitepapers was much easier. Cromulent had built the rapport.
We had checkpoints along the way to ensure the whitepapers were on track directionally from a technical perspective and to ensure they were aligned with the marketing objectives, and Cromulent’s nudges were helpful to keep things moving. That process worked well, with several rounds of iterations.
One thing to remember is a project like this competes with the day jobs of the SMEs, so it was important to balance our asks with their other priorities and be patient and understanding with the timeline.
Well, for what it’s worth, your team and the SMEs were all great to work with! I know from experience that measuring the impact of specific resources is very tough, especially in more complex B2B sales cycles—how do you assess the success of particular resources and the program in general, and what benefits have you seen by introducing these new assets?
Yeah, measuring impact is a challenge beyond basic, mostly vanity metrics like number of downloads and social shares.
After talking this through with Cromulent, we made the controversial decision (at least internally controversial) not to gate our whitepaper content. That went against every urge we have as marketers, but it was a rational decision. Our goal was to build awareness of what Dejero does, and ultimately to shine light on what is unique about what we do—showcasing our technical differentiation and, most importantly, why that differentiation matters.
We wanted to do this in existing and new markets, and we didn’t want to throw up an obstacle that is easy to skirt around with BS contact info.
So while the basic metrics help to give the marketing team a bit of a sense of what content is attracting attention, they don’t really tell us if the content truly resonated, or created a favourable impression, or changed perception.
If only a single person viewed that whitepaper, was it a waste of time? What if it enhanced a key influencer’s understanding of your offering, which led to a major deal in a year? Likely that decision didn’t just hinge on the whitepaper, of course, but it did play a part during the consideration stage within the buyer’s journey.
What we do have though is anecdotal evidence that major stakeholders have found our technical content to be extremely helpful, not only to understand our technology, but more importantly to understand why our differentiation matters, so we are happy with that.
There are of course other benefits. The content not only helps your customers and prospects understand what’s unique about what you offer at a deeper technical level, but helps to build the confidence of your sales team, helps educate your ecosystem partners and potentially attract new ones, and builds credibility with potential investors—who you may need to help fuel your rapid growth.
The content not only helps your customers and prospects understand what’s unique about what you offer at a deeper technical level, but helps to build the confidence of your sales team, helps educate your ecosystem partners and potentially attract new ones, and builds credibility with potential investors.
I hadn’t even thought of the investor angle until you mentioned it, but it’s a great point. Many organizations hesitate or simply wait too long to build out a technical marketing library, for a handful of reasons—what advice can you offer to the start-ups and scale-ups in our community?
Start now! And I say that fully understanding that there are a lot of things competing for our attention as start-up and scale-up marketers.
Our jobs are to understand the market, build the message, and enable the messengers. A technical marketing library plays a key part in helping your organization stand out from the crowd.
As mentioned above, it doesn’t just help your customers and prospects understand what’s unique about what you offer at a deeper level, but also helps to build the confidence of your sales team, helps educate your ecosystem partners and potentially attract new ones, and builds credibility with investors and other key stakeholders.
While it can seem daunting to tackle, it really is worth it. And for what it’s worth, I think Cromulent is uniquely positioned to kick-start and run with the project. With a refreshing external perspective, and with the technical chops to interact directly with the subject matter experts on highly complex technology, Cromulent will help you make it happen.
Start now! While it can seem daunting to tackle, it really is worth it.