IDG CMO Perspectives: Jim Williams, VP Marketing, BlueCat
By: Rob O'Regan | 01/16/2019
Content is the new advertising, and the best stories are told through the voice of the customer.
DNS (Domain Name System) is a foundational component of any enterprise, serving as the lifeline to a business’s Web presence. As organizations across all industries become digitally driven, DNS plays an increasingly critical, but often overlooked role.
Telling this story effectively can be tough for vendors that offer enterprise DNS platforms and services. Jim Williams, VP of marketing with BlueCat, describes the challenge as a “constant tug of war” between highly technical content and broader thought leadership.
“At the base, we have power users who just want to know how to deploy DNS. They’re not interested in terms like ‘digital transformation’,” Williams said in a recent interview for IDG’s CMO Perspectives series. “At the other end, there are people investing in mission-critical infrastructure who are feeling profound pressure by the disruption that cloud has brought to networks. They are looking for a more visionary-type message: What are vendors recommending as best practices to prepare for this type of innovation they need to have?”
Williams, who joined BlueCat in 2017, has an expansive view of content and its role in marketing to such a diverse spectrum of IT decision-makers.
“Content is the new advertising,” he says. “You’re trying to get ideas to your target market, or even a broader market such as investors or potential employees. People look to what you’ve written and produced as an indicator of the ideas behind the company: The drive, the vision, even the culture is expressed through the content.
“So it’s not just about writing a blog about how our product solves a problem,” he adds. “We need to get ideas out there regularly to convince our buyers that one thing that differentiates us is the way we see the market, and where the market’s going. The way we think about the pains our buyers are experiencing. In order to do that, you need a wide variety of content.”
BlueCat’s content marketing efforts range from top-of-funnel thought leadership content – the company’s recent House Divided campaign, created with IDG, is one recent example – to lower-funnel consideration content designed to turn a DNS purchasing decision in BlueCat’s favor. In between is brand-building content that demonstrates how BlueCat differentiates from competitors and how it solves specific pain points for IT and network teams.
Telling stories from the customer’s perspective is a critical part of BlueCat’s marketing strategy. With sensitive topics like DNS and network security, however, it can be a challenge for customers to advocate publicly about how they use BlueCat’s platform. So Williams and his team focus on user groups and face-to-face meetings to better understand their challenges, and then create content that reflects those pain points. The team supplements this direct feedback with third-party research and tech information sites to help fill out the picture of what’s on the minds of enterprise buyers.
Digital transformation, of course, is not just disrupting IT teams. Marketing teams are also undergoing transformation, requiring different skill sets and an agile mindset. From Williams’ perspective, the ever-changing nature of digital marketing makes it imperative to hire the right type of person, rather than someone with a specific set of functional skills.
“You want to hire inquisitive, curious people,” he explains. “People who ask questions, who have a bias for action, but also want to test assumptions. It comes down to what has always made marketers successful: Do you ask the right questions to get the right answers?”