Content Marketing: How the Sales Team Should Work with Marketing
In Part I of this series, we talked about the rising popularity of content-based marketing. A reported 93% of B2B marketing teams in North America are using a content-marketing approach, according to B2B Content Marketing 2014 research.
While that’s an impressive number, only 9% of survey respondents felt it was “very effective,” while 33% said “effective.” That tells me people are jumping on the bandwagon without clear strategies, tactics, or implementation.
Definition of Content Marketing
I shared a definition used by Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, which publishes the annual B2B survey:
“Content marketing is the strategic marketing approach of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
Role of Content Marketing in Sales
While Part I focused on tips for how marketing could become better aligned with sales, now let’s turn to what sales can do to align with marketing in order to optimize a content marketing approach.
- Share content broadly. Salespeople who share good content add to their credibility and position themselves as trusted advisors or go-to resources. Such sharing takes the form of regularly posting content on LinkedIn, tweeting about it, emailing it, snail-mailing it, using it as a post-meeting take-away — whatever method works to get content in front of the client.
- Communicate with the content development team. Don’t wait for marketing surveys or the editorial calendar; take an active role in helping the marketing team deliver the content that sales reps need to engage prospects and clients. If one rep is thinking about a certain topic that would be helpful for a blog post or other marketing material, other reps are surely thinking the same thing. But, marketing will never know unless someone in sales tells them.
- Follow up, and then follow up some more. Effective follow-up and nurturing of a lead who has downloaded a piece of content is vital to the success of that particular marketing campaign. Even if the prospect doesn’t have an identified need or isn’t a hot lead, it’s likely there is some interest in the company’s products or services related to the download content. Use the content as a way to connect and build credibility. It may take time, but the only way anything will happen is if sales reps reach out, follow up, and nurture the lead. While it may be tempting to give up and move on to the next lead if there’s no immediate callback or response, slow and steady wins the race — especially with content-based marketing.
But marketing just can’t develop good pieces and send them out. And sales just can’t discount the longer-term effects of a good content marketing strategy. Both must be aligned with the strategy and implementation.
Together, marketing and sales can drive much higher returns on marketing investments and, ultimately, achieve business outcomes.
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