This post is the third in my series highlighting great marketing content from the architecture and engineering community (with a few notable pauses in there). In each post, I highlight great content, share our opinions on what makes it great and offer suggestions on how it could be used more effectively (if that’s feasible).
Array Architects: A Quick Summary
The firm’s LinkedIn page pretty much says it all, “We’re not architects who do healthcare. We’re healthcare architects.” It’s worth noting that I’m writing this on an airplane without Internet access, yet I can remember this brand message (I say this all the time, narrowly focused firms are much more memorable than their more generalist peers).
Summary of the Content
In is post, I want to highlight the firm’s entire thought leadership collective. I’m going to isolate a few pieces of content, but I really want to highlight many aspects of their efforts. Here are a few sample pieces of content I particularly like:
- Real Estate Strategies in Ambulatory Health Care
- Does Your Design Team Have a Deep Enough Bench?
- Oncology Design Book
What’s Great About Their Content
- It’s Thoughtful — It sounds silly, but the firm has taken a very thoughtful, strategic approach to how it develops content. Content isn’t based solely on an editorial calendar and driven by a schedule. It’s much more organic. Knowledge percolates internally. Many of the public-facing articles are the results of collaborative internal dialogue between associates from different disciplines. This approach probably produces a little less content than a more rigorous editorial process, but what’s being published is often produced collaboratively — therefore, it tends to be well vetted, well written, and therefore quite good.
- It’s Feeding Different Stages of the Buyer’s Journey — While the vast majority of the firm’s content is educational in nature, it has started to produce some content that is more evaluative (see, Does Your Design Team Have Enough Bench?). The firm is starting to use its content to help shape the buyer’s journey — while I don’t know if the firm necessarily thought about things this way, it has begun the process of producing content that helps a buyer transition from learning to being inspired to evaluating. Not many firms are doing this well, yet. If and when the firm decides to invest in marketing automation, this type of content will be extremely valuable towards helping it identify potential late stage buyers from its pool of web visitors.
- It’s Both Educational and Experiential — I particularly like the firm’s Oncology Design Book because it’s doing some things most viewbooks don’t do. Most viewbooks are nothing more than a collection of the firm’s projects. This book does that, but it actually goes a bit further. It provides the firm’s unique perspective on this sector categorically — the section on healing gardens is useful and informative to a buyer. This reinforces the positioning quite well. “Yes, weve done a lot of work in the oncology arena. More importantly, every time we do a project we build accretive knowledge that is valuable to the next client that hires us.”
What Could Be Done Better
- Not Much — In all, Array is doing a really good job with its thought leadership. Content is thoughtful, well written, authored and, most important, useful to the firm’s ideal clients. Content is properly optimized for search and readily found through search engines.
- Calls-to-Action — One thing that could improve the value of the content to the firm would be some earlier stage calls-to-action (CTA). I would expect that the firm gets a fair amount of organic search traffic from their content. Yet, the only readily apparent CTAs are direct contact inquiries — telephone numbers and contact forms. But, those CTAs are only valuable to the minority of site visitors that are in the later stages of buying (they’re evaluating potential firms to invite to a conversation). The majority of site visitors are in learning mode — they’re looking to solve a problem or understand a firm’s perspective about a particular challenge they might have. They’re early stage buyers. Usually, the best CTA for an early stage buyer is an email sign up form. Some percentage of the firm’s site visitors (based on our past experience, usually 3-5%) are interested in receiving content in their inbox assuming they find value in the first few pieces of content they consume. A CTA of this sort helps a firm turn a faceless site visitor into a known individual it can market to over time. See our article, Why Conversions Matter, for more insight on this topic.
- Research — The majority of the firm’s thought leadership appears to come from the experience and expertise of its clients. While, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, the firm would likely derive more value from what it’s doing if it combined its deep categorical knowledge with some targeted, primary research. Substantial research on this topic done by thought leadership marketing firm, The Bloom Group, has found that thought leadership programs that include primary research as the basis for thought leadership are likely to generate more online leads from their efforts. This is logical when you think about it. Even the most seasoned category experts tend to learn useful insight when they interview a collection of clients (or their clients’ customers) on a topic of interest — this added insight would logically deepen the value of the firm’s content. All that said, research is not always part of a firm’s culture. Or, it may be simply not a fit for how the firm sees its content strategy developing over time.
Wrapping It Up
Array is building a very effective body of content around meaningful issues to healthcare companies. It has effectively built a culture of content (encouraging upwards of 30-40% of the firm’s people to contribute). Much of this content has been picked up by industry publications. And, it’s already producing content for various stages of the buying cycle — this will prove very valuable if and when the firm considers investing in a marketing automation system (if it’s not already). Some of the other posts in this series: