Content is King: How Custom Content Can Drive Sales

Published: December 28, 2010

Content can be textual, visual or audio, deployed online or off as well as used to frame related conversations.

The distinction between custom marketing content and other content is critical for companies that expect it to drive sales. According to the Custom Content Council, “[Custom content is] so intrinsically valuable that it moves the recipient’s behavior in a desired direction.”

Other marketing content is created by third party experts such as analysts or industry experts external to your company. It also may be publically accessible content that a company curates with the intention of providing useful information to their audiences. Expecting other content to drive sales for your company is a bit short-sighted.

Here are a couple of reasons why:

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  • With third party content, it’s unknown whether the prospect accessed it because they value your company or the author who created the content. Unless you know otherwise, assume the latter.
  • Other marketing content is not developed specifically for your buyer personas, nor is it designed to motivate further engagement with your company.

Custom content is designed with intent. The purpose is to position your company as a trusted partner that provides recognizable value in addition to your product or service offering that your prospects can’t get if they purchased from an alternative choice. The development of custom content is an opportunity to show prospects and customers that you know about and understand their needs, comprehend their challenges and possess the expertise to mitigate their exposure to risk. The litmus test for custom content is whether or not your prospects respond by taking next steps.

In order for your content to move prospects in a desirable direction, your content must offer both a takeaway and a progressive call to action. Without both, your prospects will have to expend a lot of effort to determine what to do next. With today’s short attention spans, leaving this to chance is a risk you’re wise to avoid.

Each content asset should contain an essential idea that the prospect takes away from the piece. This is the meaty idea that helps them visualize the information as applied to their specific situation and enables them to insert the ideas into conversations about solving the problem your offerings address with peers, influencers and other stakeholders.

A progressive call to action is not a request for a sales rep to call them. It’s an offer of extended information that the prospect will find valuable given the content they’ve just viewed. Think of it as a “see also.” [If you found this valuable, you’ll find even more value in this next piece…]


Custom content helps drive sales by assisting your prospects in gaining the knowledge they need to be confident that they’re making the best possible choice. Doing so with your custom content ties the ideas with your brand and makes your company the obvious choice.

The secret to custom content is that it must anchor your company’s ideas with prospects and get them to take next steps toward purchase. When you assign each content asset with a takeaway and a progressive call to action, you have the ability to use marketing automation to monitor the results from each piece and refine as needed to create the momentum necessary to turn prospects into buyers.

Ardath Albee is a BtoB Marketing Strategist and CEO of Marketing Interactions. She helps companies with complex sales develop eMarketing strategies and contagious content that turns prospects into buyers. Her clients include Cisco, Avid Technologies, Tyco Electronics and BMC Software.

For more turnkey tactics to rev up your demand generation efforts in 2011, download “The State of Marketing Automation,” a comprehensive report that includes insight from BtoB experts on content marketing, the new sales & marketing alignment paradigm, and the technology & tools driving growth in 2011. The report also includes a vendor profile, complete with growth metrics and new products from a dozen leading marketing automation solution providers.

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