Until recently, marketing departments could keep control over most of their content. Every communication was transmitted via an official spokesperson and every piece of collateral issued was approved by marketing and legal departments. That’s changing. The once solid firewall that marketing built around its content is starting to turn into a sieve.
According to analyst firm IDC, by 2020, more than 50% of a company's commercial content will be created outside of marketing's direct control.
One of the key reasons for this is the proliferation of social media that has given potential buyers more routes into a company, such as LinkedIn and Xing, which allows them to easily find the people they are interested in and engage directly. The challenge is that those people become your company ambassadors and should reply in a timely fashion. Employees also have their own social media channels; and while most companies have a policy for their use regarding corporate issues, it’s hard to control what people post.
This loss of control associated with the opening of marketing’s borders is causing angst for many marketers, but it’s a trend that won’t and shouldn’t be stopped. Rather than instinctually trying to keep the gates up — CMOs should take advantage of the opportunity to leverage these new channels effectively.
The employee that has just been contacted by the prospective buyer is now your company spokesperson. So how do you support them? You must standardize and facilitate the process. That’s where our concept of journeys comes in. You want to allow your sales person or employee to start the dialogue and put the rest of the process on auto-pilot.
For the first response, it must be easy for them to find some appropriate information. For example, if the contact asks about a certain pain point, you know where they are in the buying process. Your employees should be able to offer relevant information that the prospect might be interested in — and ask for consent to connect them via links to additional resources. This is when you drop that prospect into a self-guided journey that offers information based on their preferences.
The self-guided element of the journey is key, as there’s a good chance the prospect has reached out directly as a reaction against traditional push marketing. You don’t want to ruin a potentially beautiful B2B buying relationship by spamming them with content. This ties in nicely to the growing importance of account-based marketing. You want to be able to track the different touch points the outside world has with your company and identify how many people from the same organization have reached out to individuals in your organization.
This new trend may be the incentive we need to move away from the old push marketing model. We’ve long struggled with growing lead mortality and decreasing ROI. Let’s take advantage of how people are trying to reach us and make it work for us by empowering buyers and sharing meaningful content. By improving our engagement this way, we move from content blasts to customer-led journeys, engaging more effectively and nurturing our leads in the content funnel all the way to purchase.
Stephan Nobs is the CMO of BrandMaker. He is a pioneer in the marketing software industry having advised and led major companies in marketing, brand consultancy and marketing software. Prior to joining BrandMaker, Stephan co-founded and developed Assetlink Europe, which was purchased by the SAS Institute in 2011.