EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is part of our “Smarter Sales and Marketing” series, a regular feature where technology marketing and sales experts will be sharing insight, tools, and best practices to help today’s leaders better integrate marketing and sales strategies for maximum success.
While content marketing is one of the most effective and interesting marketing tactics to come down the pike, I have to confess that I have a bone to pick with it. Content marketing isn’t only about marketing. While marketers have all the responsibility for strategy, creation and execution, which is no small thing, there is another very important aspect that’s missing.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, in their report B2B Content Marketing: 2015 Benchmark, Budgets and Trends , there are five key challenges facing marketers in 2015:
All of those challenges are wrapped around content creation – certainly within Marketing’ preview. But there is another big, and crucial challenge: How does all this content marketing impact and help the sales team? Do we even know HOW sales is using the content that marketers create? I spend an equal amount of time with both the marketing and sales organizations of my clients. What I almost never see in any defined content marketing plan or strategy is the means for getting Sales engaged with the content. How will valuable, usable content aimed at buyers and customers be rolled out to the sales team?
When you ask marketers how they measure content marketing success, the report noted above that website traffic is important (62%), followed by sales (52%). I really think these percentages should be flipped. It’s ALL about sales – and if the content is generating great traffic, how much more business could we close if the sales team knew how to use the content we create with buyers? Just sending an infographic as an attachment is not enough.
Here are some ideas that can help Sales engage with content marketing, and use it to drive conversations with buyers. In the content creation process, marketers need to not only think about the targets’ needs, but also how Sales can use it in prospect/customer interactions. Not every piece of content may be appropriate, so select a defined set of content pieces and deliver them to Sales in a more proactive and helpful way.
The ideas outlined below can ramp up content marketing effectiveness in a big way.
With each selected content asset include a simple profile that outlines for the seller the following: Target Audience (title, role), core theme, buying stage, focus area (business, financial, technical). This makes it crystal clear for reps to match relevant content to the different buyers they are working with. One size fits all fits NO ONE.
3 – 5 discussion questions to use with the prospect/customer that get at the main topics of the content asset. Questions should be focused on engaging the customer to share their opinion, their current state, and their challenges. The questions should not be salesy! The goal is to provide a platform for an engaging conversation for the buyer. Work your value proposition into those questions – as this is always a conversation that sellers want to have.
For the socially savvy seller, serve up a “socialized” set of content in conjunction with the full content asset. Deliver 4 or 5 tweets which include a link to the asset itself that the seller can send out through his own twitter account. Create an introductory paragraph with 2 – 3 bullet points and the link that a seller can cut and paste into a personalized email to the prospect. Provide a short paragraph, an image and the content link that they can send as a status update in LinkedIn.
As part of the planning for this kind of content marketing approach, treat it with a launch similar to what you would do for a prospect. Do not just send this additional content one day, and expect anyone to read it, understand it, or use it. It has to be launched just like any other program. Smart marketers will run it by a few key sales people to get their input before rolling it out to the team. See if you can recruit a “sales poster child” or two that will field test these new tools to streamline and improve them. Then think about getting buy-in from a region first, run it for 3 months, then measure and review the results before moving to a full scale launch.
In summary, content marketing is ALSO for sales people and those marketers that deliver content in an easy and actionable way for sales people will be an important force to achieve what we all are pulling for: more clients, more revenue, and more profit. I’d love to hear about any efforts you make to address this “missing link” in content marketing – I think it’s the next big thing that will drive better content marketing effectiveness.
An experienced salesperson and marketer, Lisa Dennis is president and founder of Knowledgence Associates, a sales and marketing consultancy. Pairing hands-on marketing and selling of information and high technology products and services, she understands what the customer imperative needs to be for communicating information about products and services to varied audiences. Lisa’s philosophy is that the core of successful marketing and sales initiatives is “doing the homework” – making sure that the information side of programs and campaigns are solid.
Prior to founding Knowledgence in 1997, she held publishing, product management and marketing/sales roles at Bolt Beranek and Newman, Thomson & Thomson (a member company of The Thomson Corporation), The Center for Business Intelligence, and World Congress. You can follow Lisa and Knowledgence on LinkedIn and Twitter.
content development, content marketing, content marketing effectiveness, sales and marketing alignment
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