How would you like to find a salesperson who never needs to sleep, who can close deals 24/7, and doesn’t ask for commission or salary?
Well, you already have this salesperson on your staff. It’s called Content Marketing.
Sales folks may be naturally resistant to anything with the word “marketing” in it, but content is the key to engaging customers before, during, and well after their purchase. It works around the clock, and if it’s done right it can be repurposed repeatedly to connect with prospects on their phone, tablet, computer, and beyond.
Integrating content marketing with sales isn’t really optional anymore, even if it means getting sales and marketing to join forces. Here’s how to start down the road to around the clock closing.
Why Content Marketing is Crucial for Sales and Marketing Alignment
The vast majority (75 percent) of B2B purchasers are relying more heavily on content to make their buying decisions. That means content plays a major role in qualifying leads as well as converting them.
In fact, a majority of those looking for B2B solutions now investigate their options through seven different types of content:
It’s silly to think that buyers only look at content at one or two points early in the buying cycle. Obviously content plays a role at every stage from awareness down through evangelism, which means that sales and marketing both need quality content to do their jobs.
But having content created independently by each department is a recipe for disaster, because you’ll end up with two discordant voices and inconsistent messaging.
As Jim Collins so astutely points out, “The signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.”
If your sales and marketing departments aren’t working together to create content, you’re setting yourself for nothing better than mediocrity. Both teams must work in tandem.
I’ll pause now for the shocked gasps.
Ok, let’s move on to how we achieve this fanciful goal.
Make the Right Content For the Right People
Establish one or two key assets for each of the major points in the customer life cycle, and assign a few people to create them.
These must be interdepartmental teams.
Whenever possible both teams will commit to using these high quality, jointly-created assets first.
You can get more specific based on your specific buyers’ journey, but these are always great points of departure:
Focus on evergreen, thought-leadership pieces that will work well outside your brand’s own website (because general exploration is not necessarily going to happen in branded space).
This includes ebooks, white papers, SlideShares, webinars, podcasts, and videos. Basically anything that can be located externally yet still controlled.
Prospects are now preparing to compare their specific options, so you’ll be adding more product-driven topics to your existing stable of content.
In addition to all of the content types from the exploration phase, you can add branded blog posts, case studies, and testimonials as well. Each piece of content should, like the lead itself, progress from a general level of interest to one that is more focused on the specific solution you can offer.
The content has now, hopefully, guided the consumer through general exploration and decision making into readiness for a purchase. Of course, the buyer’s journey in the twenty-first century is anything but linear, and all of our content needs to be structured so that it can speak to a consumer at any level.
Generally, however, content centered around a purchase is going to very focused on the benefits of the purchase. It will reinforce the great decision the customer just made, and further cement their relationship with the brand.
This often takes the form of emails, but you can also consider printed “thank you” materials or other unique ways to engage with your new customers.
If you were successful in establishing a strong connection with a customer, and your product was as exceptional as all of your content promised it would be, you can expect at least a few advocates to emerge.
These folks want to share their great experiences with their social circles, and you should create content that enables them to do so.
Beautiful social content does a great job at this, but again you can go beyond purely digital pieces and provide tangible proof of how great your product or service is.
Find the Core of Your Content
Accept that your prospects and customers will remember only 10% of what they see. Your job is to identify the 10% of your content that will remain consistent to improve its long term stickiness.
A great way to determine this core message is to figure out what you want your customers to be able to repeat about your product or brand when you’re not around to prompt them.
Do you want them to remember that you’re environmentally friendly? the cheapest option on the market? a more exciting experience than your competitors?
Whatever it is, all your content should maintain a focus on that core message.
Make the Tasty Content Coating
For the other 90% of your content, which people will not retain for very long after they see it, create content modules that will help engage prospects with the important core.
Content modules are smaller bits that marketing can combine into larger assets (such as ebooks), or sales can use one at a time (possibly in emails). Practically all the modules should be capable of several combinations with minimal editing.
Turning your content into these easily consumed bites makes them infinitely more versatile, and it makes them available for far more purposes than if they are created just for marketing, just for sales, or just for a particular channel.
There are several big wins here that make it completely worthwhile to tackle the long-standing feud between sales and marketing.
After this integration over content marketing, both groups will be offering a consistent message using common language and jointly-created content.
That means success and failure are contingent on content for which both departments are responsible, so there’s less blame, and hopefully less fighting.
Other Articles You Might Be Interested In:
- Content Marketing 5 Unforgivable Content Marketing Sins That Pollute the Internet
- Content Marketing How to Structure Your Content for Scannability and SEO Benefits
- Content Marketing What is Content Marketing and How to Measure It Effectively
- Content Marketing What the Vince Vaughn Stock Photos Mean For Visual Content Marketing