Events are gone for now. You’re looking to increase sales, bring better leads into your funnel, and have the sales team love you – we’re here to help with your sales enablement.
There’s been a lot written about content marketing. Some say there’s too much noise, others say that it’s all about the distribution. They are both right. But there’s more – there’s the importance of quality. If you don’t grab someone by the first line of your email, ebook, case study, blog post, white paper or social post – you’ve lost them. It doesn’t matter how much money you put into your sponsored content social campaign.
Why building content isn’t enough
Building content isn’t enough. So many people and companies are writing, and often the work produced is meh. It checks the box that keeps their job, but it just stays there, molding on the shelf. To produce amazing results you need to create amazing content. You also need a distribution plan for that content.
There are multiple reasons to build content:
- Great content leads prospects down the funnel into the waiting arms of the sales team.
- Watching who opens and reads your content sends a signal to who is interested in your product and helps the sales team focus their efforts.
- Specializing your content shows you what features, aspects, or pain points (depending on what your content is about) that your prospect is interested in.
- It gives the Sales Team a reason to reach out to leads, “Hi XYZ, I just wanted to keep in touch and send you our latest eBook on CYA.”
- You need to show that you’re influencing sales.
And if your content rocks – it’s working. You can go work on something else now, you don’t need this post. (Let us know if you need a marketing agency to help supplement the awesome content you’re already producing.)
If analytics show people jumping off the content pretty quick, and the content isn’t pushing prospects down the funnel or turning into leads, there’s an issue to be solved. The content is not hitting its mark. Let’s figure out why.
Talk to your sales team
The lack of communication between marketing and the customer in various organizations never ceases to amaze me. Sales, however, always has access to the customer and loves to talk about how wonderful the prospects and customers are. Sales people generally love to talk, period. And they are fun to talk to. Especially when they know you have their best interest in mind and are there to make them more successful.
Sit with your sales team and learn about:
- Their typical sales process (is it the same with all AEs? Different? Why?)
- What materials they use in their sales process
- Who they talk to during the sale
- Where do the Sales Engineers come in (and talk to the SE as well)
- How long does it take from SQL (Sales Qualified Lead, otherwise known as an SAL or Sales Accepted Lead) to become an Opportunity (get into the contract cycle)?
- What content do they think they need?
- If the sale is lost – how is it lost? What % of SQLs versus Opportunities end up being lost?
You can’t fix something unless you know it’s broken. To find out what isn’t working as well as it could, you need to ask questions in a nice, non threatening way. You’re a team, and you’re there to make the whole group stronger.
Who are you writing for?
Using Hunter & Bard as an example – our expertise is in tech enterprise, business-to-business, land-and-expand sales model, and an investment of at least 100k and up annually after the account is expanded. This type of sale typically has multiple people in the decision making process. For most software or services, there are anywhere from 10 to 17 people deciding on any single product or service. Some of that group includes:
- The SME (Subject Matter Expert) who is using the product or taking the service
- The boss of the SME who needs things done and has to show results to whoever is above them
- The Key Decision Maker who often holds the purse strings
- The VP who cares about numbers and The Board
- The person who is afraid of change and will fight your product or service
Each person needs a different type of content. The SME will want the most technical content with the most detail. This makes sense, as they will be using the content. The VP doesn’t have the time to dive deep – they need a short overview. Each position has its own pain points and politics. What do you know about your typical customer? Have you written that down and addressed each benefit and issue?
Sales enablement turbo charges sales
If you’ve followed the outline above you’ll have a good idea on what part of the funnel, or bow tie, you should be focusing on for optimization. Below you can see which content works at that stage.
By now you should know:
- Who you are writing for (Who is your customer? What vertical? Geography?)
- What their pain points are
- What type content you need to be producing
Use the content funnel to create your content calendar.
Distribution of content
Here are a few main methods of distribution for B2B companies:
- Newsletters: typically higher level content that has a broad appeal and is helpful. This is meant to educate the customer and provide value. It is not meant to sell.
- Direct email: Sent by Account Executives directly to the prospect. This is used to keep in touch with the prospect, provide value, and answer questions that the prospect may have, but might not have asked.
- Sponsored content could be on social media, such as LinkedIn, or on a vertical blog that is focused on your industry – like MarketingProfs. Make sure you target efficiently, wherever you spend your budget.
- Share the content, or the landing page the content can be requested from, on your social media profiles. But don’t just have it be your company profile sharing – if you have quotes from influencers in the piece you should send it to them to share as well. And ask people in your company with an appropriate social media presence if they would like to post about it.
- Blogs can also be cross posted to accounts on LinkedIn. The person in the company with the largest reach can post blogs on their LinkedIn even if it wasn’t written by them. Just add attribution inside the copy in the beginning and end of the article.
- The company blog is an obvious place to share blog content.
- Medium is another place to cross-post company content. Many of the magazines inside Medium allow for contributed content. If the piece fits a Medium Magazine, submit it.
- People sign up for webinars because they are interested in the content in the webinar – it’s a self segregating audience that is telling you what they want. If they weren’t interested in the subject, they wouldn’t sign up. You can now market to them via the webinar other things on that subject via email, or inside the webinar.
- Speaking in online conferences gives you the opportunity to provide even more value by giving away high level funnel content to those who go to the landing page you provide. I typically make that the last slide of the deck when I say Thank You.
Writing content isn’t enough to support your sales team. It has to be good, relevant content that provides real value to the customer or prospect. No one likes to be sold to. Great content helps the company you want to work with, and that’s a much nicer way to start a partnership, don’t you think?
Special thanks to Paula Kiger for reviewing this post before it went live.