Is More than Half of Your Marketing Content Going to Waste?
We read about it all the time – sales & marketing alignment is a struggle for many organizations. According to Forrester Research, only 8% of B2B companies say they have tight alignment between sales and marketing. How depressing! Fortunately, there are many things you can do to improve alignment within these two key functions, and I’ll share several with you in the coming weeks.
Today we’re focusing on content. It’s an age old struggle between sales & marketing. Marketing creates a ton of great content, uploads it to your repository, and sales people don’t use it. According to Corporate Visions’ Q2 2012 Sales and Marketing Messaging Report, 65% of respondents said their sales teams use less than half of the content their marketing department produces. As a marketer myself, I have to ask--why? We worked so hard to create that data sheet or presentation or case study. Our content is awesome! Why aren’t the sales people using it??
Well, in the vast majority of cases, the salespeople want to use our content, they just can’t find it when they need it. Sales people struggle to find what they need in our vast content repositories. I recently heard someone say, “Do you know what Sharepoint is? Sharepoint is where documents go to die.” I like that :). As a result, sales people end up using the generic PowerPoint deck and collateral that’s saved to their desktop. They have no idea those marketing assets are way out of date, but they don’t care--it’s convenient. (check out our infographic on the struggles of a B2B sales person)
Adapt Your Content to Changing Buyer Behavior
The buying process has changed significantly over the last several years. According to Corporate Executive Board, prospects complete 57% of the purchase decision process before their first serious engagement with a salesperson.
This essentially means that marketing controls the first half of the buying process. Consequently, it’s more important than ever to have a strong content marketing strategy that educates and informs prospects who are doing their own research. And by the time a prospect formally engages with a sales person, they will have very high expectations that the content provided by the salesperson is of the highest quality, so it’s critical that the salesperson can precisely execute.
It starts by creating a buyer persona-based content strategy. If you sell to prospects in different industries, with different job titles, it’s likely they have different needs and motivations. If your content doesn’t resonate with your audience and address their specific needs, then it won’t be effective in positioning your company as the best solution.
The next step is to map your content throughout the sales cycle. Once you understand the questions a buyer will have at different points in the sales process, based on the buying personas you created, then you can map your content to the appropriate stage to help propel the buyer forward in the process. This is an important step and requires strong collaboration between sales & marketing. According to Demand Gen Report, only 13.5% of companies are effective at creating content that speaks directly to every phase of the buyer’s journey.
Ensure Your Sales Team Has the Right Content at the Right Time
Here’s the part that companies struggle with the most: You may create great persona-based content and properly map it throughout the sales cycle, but if you can’t get the content into the hands of the sales team – at the right time during the sales cycle – your efforts will be worthless. And the salesperson will revert to using that generic presentation on his/her desktop.
The key is to keep content – customized to every buyer persona and stage – at the sales team’s fingertips, and accessible via their laptop or mobile device. Our customers use sales playbooks to serve-up the right content, at the right time in the sales cycle, to the sales person in real-time. And because the playbooks are tightly integrated with Salesforce.com, the salesperson is only presented with content that’s relevant to the deal he/she is working, and as the deal changes, the playbook changes with it.
There are other things you can do to create an effective content marketing program that benefits both sales and marketing teams, including using analytics to understand the impact of your content on closed business. We recently published a new eGuide that offers six ways marketers can use Content Marketing, in conjunction with Sales Playbooks, to bridge the gap between sales and marketing and tie their efforts back to closed-won business.
What have you found to be the most important part of a successful content marketing strategy? Let us know in the comments below.
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