The sales cycle has completely transformed over the past decade – that much we know. Customers don’t want to have a conversation with sales reps anymore, and why should they? What information can we provide about our product that they haven’t already found online?
The new sales process is defined by the customer. And with the customer in the driver’s seat, marketing and sales teams have to work together to create content specifically for that customer in order to grab their attention.
That’s why we can’t emphasize the importance of a content strategy enough. We need to devote time to defining buyer personas, identifying their problems, and creating content to solve those problems. Without this process, we don’t even know who we should be talking to.
What your content strategy will mean for the sales team
A well-researched content strategy will draw in customers at different stages of the sales funnel with content that directly answers their questions and solves their problems. This content consumption allows the sales team to gather valuable lead intelligence.
Is a customer reading about search engine optimization? As it turns out, your company is full of SEO experts. See what we did there? This lead intelligence is what will start a sales conversation with your prospects.
Content should build interest and add value for the customer, but also should be relevant to the products and services that your company sells. The content strategy is the new starting point for sales conversations.
If set up correctly, your content strategy will harness the opportunity created by the buyers’ position as the director of the marketing process. It will propel a dialogue between your sales team and the buyer that allows your team to demonstrate not only that your product or service can solve the buyer’s problem, but that you are a trustworthy expert who understands the buyer’s needs and responds to them.
[Tweet “It all starts with your content strategy. This is the conversation that drives conversion. “]
After creating a content strategy, you’ll be armed with a full spectrum of quality content, and will be able to meet opportunities wherever they are in the sales funnel with that purposeful content.
Boost your engagement with the Content Strategy Workbook.
Ask any digital marketer what it means to create an experience and you’ll probably get a different answer every time. But as marketers, our job is to figure out how creating an ‘experience’ applies to our customers and prospects, or else our engagement efforts will fall short.
The most forward thinking brands create engagement because they have an innate understanding of their audience and what it takes to get their attention. So whether you’re B2B, B2C, or a combination of both, it all comes down to how well you know your buyer.
True that if you’re a big brand with huge dollars to pour into branding campaigns, it becomes part of the overall marketing mix. But with some evidence that advertising is continuing to have diminishing returns, many of the large brands are adopting big time content strategies.
Behaving like a media company
In the content marketing world, we like to use Red Bull as the premier example in that they’ve come out and said publicly that they’re a media company and not a products company. When on their website, you have to dig pretty deep to find information about the energy drink amidst videos and events focusing on extreme sports. In fact, Red Bull has their own channel on Apple TV — now that’s creating an experience.
Yes, the athletes are wearing Red Bull logos. But that’s about the extent that it’s about them.
Going full media company is probably too extreme for most brands, but you do need to at least marry old line marketing services with more media company tactics.
Think about how a magazine works for example. A magazine has a narrative that’s based on what their readers want. They then map content to those wants.
Thinking experiential in our campaigns
If full-blown media company is too much to fathom, we simply need to adjust our thinking at the campaign level. What can we do to engage our prospective customers in such a way that we generate an experience AND communicate our brand messages?
One great example is a campaign that GAF did to engage their channel partners. If you’ve ever worked with channel partners, you know how difficult it is to get them to pay attention to you, let alone the cost of sending reps out to give their spiel that’s destined to fall on deaf ears.
GAF wanted their Home Depot reps to know six basic things about their roofing material when recommending it to customers. So what did they do?
They created a digital game that incorporated the basic messages they needed to hammer home. To add to the incentive, they offered a store-wide pizza party for the winning Home Depot location after three months of play.
The result was an unheard of 10-minute average user engagement! Talk about creating experience.
The editorial mission statement
So how do you go about creating a more engaging campaign for your customers? A clear and defined editorial mission statement, to start.
Forbes Media is a global media, branding, and technology company, with a focus on news and information about business, investing, technology, entrepreneurship, leadership, and affluent lifestyles.
Cooking Light empowers people to cook more for good health. Built with fresh, accessible ingredients and weeknight-friendly techniques, our recipes enable busy home cooks to make healthy and delicious food choices for their families. Our modern approach to cooking and eating healthfully allows everyone to enjoy all the foods they love in a balanced and mindful way.
Notice that these statements are NOT the mission for the company. They are also not the brand missions. The biggest difference is that company mission statements are about what the brand aspires to be (about the company) and an editorial mission statement is about what the niche audience wants (about them).
[Tweet “Editorial mission statements are about what the niche audience wants.”]
Noticing a trend here? It’s not about us anymore. It’s about the audience.
Why is an editorial mission statement important? Prioritization of content. It keeps you on track for what you should be publishing and what you should not.
With established brands, sometimes the brand strategy gets in the way of what you should be developing to engage your audience. You don’t clearly understand the “who” and the “why” for your content and your brand. Not only does this provide a lackluster and inconsistent experience for your audience members, but it can make you feel like you are creating content for everyone that satisfies no one.
The point is to add value to your prospects and create an experience—that’s what gets them to engage with your brand in the modern digital era.
Creating a more effective customer engagement strategy is certainly not easy — it’s something that we spend all day every day thinking about for our clients and customers. But we do know the foundation of a superior brand experience: keep your brand out of it.
[Tweet “The foundation of a superior brand experience: keep your brand out of it.”]
Learn how to create content to solve your B2B sales problem.