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Avoid the Content Marketing Scrap Heap through Personalizing Insights for Prospects

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richardsonsalestrainingMarch 17, 2014Blog

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The business world is being over-run by content marketing. Prospects are being overloaded with information, and e-mail response rates are in the tank.

If you succeed in getting the attention of your prospect, your next challenge is to grab them with something that will keep them on the phone and engaged long enough to warrant a deeper conversation. Upon picking up the phone, inevitably, your contact’s guard is up while giving you only a portion of their attention as they wait for you to give them an opening to say, “No thanks, I’m not interested.”

Thinking from your prospect’s perspective requires you to consider why they would ever want to invest their precious time to meet with you. You need to offer them something of value that makes it worthwhile. Providing an “insight” is one of the best ways you can add value. This is especially true if you work across a number of organizations and can bring some outside perspective to an issue that is a priority for your target. Or, maybe you can enlighten your prospect on a growing trend that will impact them and provide more depth based on your experience.

Adding value through your ideas and experiences is sharing insight. While delivering insights has grown as a sales and marketing buzzword, few really grasp the concept. Make no mistake — an insight is only an insight if it is insightful to your prospect. This is similar to when salespeople or consultants refer to themselves as “trusted advisors.” I’m sorry, but that title must be earned. You’ll know that you’ve earned their trust when your client starts behaving differently. Their defenses will start to lower, they’ll reveal more about their business and situation more freely, and they’ll probe not just with challenging questions, but in a more collaborative tone that hints that they could envision working with you.

Research reports and pitch books are not insights. Nor are product dumps of marketing materials and internally focused sell sheets. These can substantiate your claims to helping to solve a problem or take advantage of an opportunity, but you cannot lead with them with preparing an insight.

Provocative content and ideas typically break down into one of the following categories:

  • Research reports, white papers, or articles licensed from a research company
  • Research reports, white papers, blog articles, surveys, ebooks, or infographics published by other credible sources that you find online
  • Marketing content, blog articles, surveys, white papers, ebooks, infographics, or research reports from your company
  • Wisdom, experience, and stories — either your own or others’ in your organization
  • Diagnostics or benchmarking studies customized for your prospect
You’ll know when you’ve delivered insight when your prospect reaches an enlightened state, opens up to your new way of thinking, and begins to seek you out. Getting them there is not easy!

While these are good starting points, the challenge lies in really understanding your prospect, forming a hypothesis of need, identifying the best points from your content or ideas, tailoring the content or ideas to the prospect, and engaging in dialogue that leads to enlightenment. The graphic below helps to illustrate this process.

The Insight Blueprint


An insight bridges a prospect’s needs with your ability to help them. Creating insight requires you to determine the challenges or opportunities your prospects face related to what you sell and then identify your unique differentiators. Then, find marketing content, surveys, research, articles, studies, wisdom, experiences, and stories or diagnostics that will pique your prospect’s interest, which ultimately leads to the “aha moment.” The ensuing discussion should help them to better understand and heighten the sense of urgency around an issue or get them to think differently about an issue and the best solution for it (yours).

This process will help you to create a series of “generalized” insights that you will personalize to the specific needs of your prospect. This generalization will help you scale your efforts more effectively because they cover most current issues that many of your prospects will likely face.

However, I cannot stress enough the importance of preparing and delivering a personalized insight. You cannot expect to further a relationship through impersonalized, bland content and messages that indicate they’re just one of many fish in the sea to you. We all want to feel special, like we’re being spoken to directly, even if we intuitively know that you are casting out several lines hoping that someone will bite.

At work and at home, we’re being content-marketed to death. Information overload is ever-present, which has dulled our senses and raised our defenses against any and all unwanted solicitations. How can you break through? You need to literally personalize it by first understanding their unique situation and positioning the relevance of the insight for each prospect. Otherwise, you’ll end up in the growing scrap heap of content marketing and sales pitches that fail to land.

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