Content marketing could be the nexus of sales and marketing. I often hear sales reps complain that what marcom creates doesn’t quite fit the need. Then along comes content marketing with a specific goal—to provide content that nurtures and helps convert prospects in the sales funnel.
Without input from sales, isn’t marcom creating one-size-fits-all B2B content?
Rebekah Donaldson, CEO and Director of Business Communications, LLC says its best, “I worry every time I meet with a potential client that B2B marketing won’t move the needle because of a gulf between Sales and Marketing.” Her team helps develop sales communications that the sales team will actually use and content that drives sales.
What makes content usable?
Usable content is developed within the framework of a business strategy and integrated marcom plan that maps content to buying cycle.
Content marketing is about lead capture, nurture, converture (o.k.… I made up that word) using content designed to appeal to the buyers’ needs at each phase in the buying cycle. The ultimate goal of content marketing is to shortening the buying cycle and help sales close more deals faster. That would imply that marcom has a dialogue with sales. Who are the buyers, what are they looking for, how do our products and service help?
One way to become more effective content marketers is by collaborating more closely with sales to develop content that buyers want to see, when they’re ready to see it, and that sales will use. The trouble with content marketing is that some marketers think it’s about pumping out white papers, blog posts, tweets and other content formats. The content not only lacks the voice of customer but also lacks strategy needed to sustain an effective enterprise content marketing program.
Visionary versus quarterly content… how do you think?
Marcom tends to operate from a longer term visionary / brand perspective. This often leads to a content clash with sales, which must meet monthly and quarterly revenue targets. Consider the B2B buying cycle—awareness, consideration, purchase, retention, and advocacy—and how content maps to each phase in the cycle. There’s opportunity for marcom and sales to reach a happy medium between content that is visionary, such as thought leadership, and tactical content that is more immediately useable, such as ROI calculators and product comparisons.
The long-term visionary content serves as early stage awareness and late stage advocacy content. In between the early and late phase content lies opportunity to collaborate with sales on content that helps convert more leads into sales. This is where B2B buyer personas come in handy, and provide a good starting point for marketing and sales alignment.
Sales teams can provide input to the needs (real or anticipated) of each buyer and buyer influencer in the B2B buying cycle. Marketing communications contributes its expertise in message development, media type and placement, while also incorporating the brand voice.
When B2B marcom and sales collaborate, content is optimized across the buying cycle making it more useful for prospects and effective at nurturing and converting prospects into customers.
What do you think? Is content marketing bringing sales and marketing closer together?
I think to be effective in using content to generate leads marketing and sales need to collaborate more effectively. Part of the problem is identifying when someone becomes a true lead that can be handed off to sales. Downloading a free white paper doesn’t equal a lead in my opinion, but it’s a startng point for ongoing lead nurturing. This is where sales and marketing need to work together. Your point about content being linked to business strategy and an integrated marcom plan mapped to the buying cyle is right on the money. Great post!
Thanks, Steve. You’re right… the first step in aligning sales and marketing is defining what constitutes a “lead.” Any action by a prospect isn’t necessarily a lead.
Joan, This article captures the dilemma faced in many corporations presently. I have witnessed and participated in this precise debate. And it can get ugly with rolling heads as a result. I’ve seen a team of highly creative market researchers and marketing creatives get creamed by an overly aggressive sales team related to this issue. In specific, the sales team seemed almost hostile to the idea of developing a “deep relation” to the customer, to a process of nurturing the leads and to a process of auditing a market niche. I have found this article very helpful in identifying the exact issues at hand, which are not so clearly verbalized in the heat of battle in a board room or a snack room at a corporation.