Subscribe

Five Tips To Make The Best Use Of Your Marketing Content — And Better Align With Your Sales Team!

cliff-headshotby Cliff Pollan, Founder and CEO, Postwire

At its core, content marketing in the B2B world is a sound strategy that when executed well can generate demand, educate prospects and clients, and can be tailored to their needs at different points. It forces marketers to think differently about the world around us. No longer can we scream out our message and wait for a response, as buyers will just tune us out. Rather, we must be there with the right content when they are doing their research.

cliff-headshotby Cliff Pollan, Founder and CEO, Postwire

At its core, content marketing in the B2B world is a sound strategy that when executed well can generate demand, educate prospects and clients, and can be tailored to their needs at different points. It forces marketers to think differently about the world around us. No longer can we scream out our message and wait for a response, as buyers will just tune us out. Rather, we must be there with the right content when they are doing their research.

But like any marketing and lead generation channel, content marketing is abused by some. It is a content marketing best practice to generate leads using information-based offers like E-books, webinars, white papers, tweets and blog posts. This is awesome stuff, and in fact, it’s happening so often that every two days we are now creating as much content as we did up until 2003

All great! But then, after a lead fills out a form to download your E-book, the marketing automation kicks in. According to the 2013 B2B Content Marketing Report, the use of marketing automation is on the rise. 61% of marketers are now using marketing automation platforms, up from 43% in 2012. This is where a lot of marketers can go wrong — marketing irritation. You’re familiar with this “email 2.0″ part of marketing automation: responding to an Ebook offer would place you in our marketing irritation system, which leads to our team trying its best to nurture you with more content offers so that we can say we’re moving you down the funnel.

Not only do we not want to irritate our audiences, but this approach is flawed. Practicing marketing irritation cuts out people who know clients and prospects best — account managers and sales people. Instead of going around them and offering content based on general information you have about a client or prospect, these team members should be empowered to build relationships by sharing content in a personalized way. Account managers and sales people are the individuals connecting with clients and prospects the most, so they have a better sense than any marketing automation system of what their needs/wants are, where they are at in the buying process, what else might influence them, etc.

So how can you best work with sales and account teams and get them to use your content most effectively?  Here are five steps to enabling your buyer-facing teams with marketing content: 

1. Cater To A Persona...Or Personas

If you’re already developing content, you have probably conducted a SWOT analysis with your sales team, set your content creation plan as a result, and are catering your content to one or more buyer personas. (Learn how to determine buyer personas in minutes 5 through 9 of this video. So from here on, each piece of content you develop should be targeted to at least one of the defined personas. Label each piece with the personas it is targeting.

2. Define The Stage

Once you have determined who you’re targeting, next comes defining when you are targeting them. Is this particular piece of content for use early in the buying process? Is it a bit more nuanced, putting it in the middle? Or is it advanced education, placing it squarely in the later stages? You’ll need to create content that hits on key points at each stage. Performing a content audit and, as stated above, a sales team SWOT analysis will let you know where you stand with existing content. Adding a content roadmap to this will help you plan and communicate how and when you’ll fill the gaps. Make sure with each piece that your team knows when it should be used.  

3. Tip Your Hand

For each piece of content, make sure your sales team and account managers know the persona and buyer stage information you’ve identified in steps one and two. Convey this information by doing things like tagging your content, putting information in the filename, or even organizing your content around the persona and/or buyer stage. In my current setup for Postwire’s sales team, I have our marketing content organized into collections, and each collection is named for the buyer persona the content within targets.

But this is just the basics. You tip your hand when you call out a couple of key points from the content so salespeople and account managers can easily relay this pertinent information to the buyer.

Combined with the previous steps, this helps make everything seamless and gets the most critical information to the right people at the right time and in the right context. 

4. Share, And Give The Gift Of Sharing

You’ve now developed awesome content that caters to your ideal buyer personas at different stages of the buying process. Your sales team knows where to find it, who to use it with, and when to use it. They can even copy and paste your high-level synopsis of the key points when they use it! So now your job is to make it easy for them to share your content. It’s always about making their lives easier, isn’t it? 

But here’s why. Have you ever been on the receiving end of an email with a ton of attachments? You know then that this is no way to share educational content. Wikis and portals, even if salespeople use them, often result in an email with too many links and attachments. So even if they are used by sales, your buyers aren’t very likely to click through and read each individual piece.

Your best bet is to have a space where salespeople can conveniently share your content right from where you organized it for them, and provide the context around the content with dialogue.

Not only will this create a very streamlined marketing and sales process that better enables the buyer to learn about your industry, solution, and additional offerings, but it also gives you the advantage of making sure sales is using the most recent content.

5. Build A Feedback Loop

No marketer is an island. Your sales and account management teams are getting questions, insight, and feedback from buyers every day. Stay close with them and get their feedback about your persona targets, buyer stages, and your content and its messaging. Aggregate what you hear, combine it with your marketing analytics, and use it as your guide to determine if you’re hitting the mark with your content marketing strategy.

So, in closing, let’s avoid the email 2.0 — an oftentimes negatively perceived approach to content marketing — and better use our teams to create a personal experience based on education and discussion. With the tips above you can enable your army of sales and account managers to best leverage and then personalize your content and get it into the hands of those who most need to learn from it. This allows your content to run much further than it would otherwise, and helps your teams build relationships based on nurturing and education.

Cliff Pollan is founder and CEO at Postwire, which provides a sales enablement solution for content marketers that empowers easy visual organization and personalized information sharing.