By Brian Vass, VP of Marketing, Qvidian
We read about it all the time — sales and marketing alignment is a struggle for many organizations. According to Forrester Research, only 8% of B2B companies say they have tight alignment between sales and marketing. How depressing! One of the key reasons these organizations are out of alignment is content — where to find it, which pieces are most up-to-date, and which are best suited for this specific prospect.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, nine out of 10 marketers use content marketing to grow their business. But, as marketers are creating more content, you may be surprised to know that sales teams are not using content as expected. In fact, according to Corporate Visions’ Q2 2012 Sales and Marketing Messaging Report, 65% of respondents said their sales teams use less than half of the demand generation content their marketing department produces.
Here are five ways marketers can optimize content to bridge the gap between sales and marketing.
1. Begin by building a buyer persona-based content strategy.
Building a content strategy based on the concept of buyer personas is an important part of the journey toward a content marketing strategy that will show measurable results. You can start by simply interviewing your buyers to determine their title, demographics, pain points, and goals. What does a day in their life look like? Where do they go for information?
2. Map your content throughout the buying cycle.
Once you’ve identified your buyer personas, you can begin to map content across the buying cycle. To start, create a matrix with your buyer personas on one axis and your buying stages on the other axis. You can then map content to each cell in the grid based on the specific persona and buying stage. Your goal is to create content that appeals to buyers at each stage and moves them to the next stage.
3. Make customized content easily accessible to the sales team.
Once you’ve identified buyer personas and mapped your content, the next step is to make sure the content is easily accessible to sales teams. All the work you did in steps 1 and 2 will go to waste if the salespeople can’t easily access the content at the right time and in the right context. Asking salespeople to search a repository isn’t good enough –they’ll struggle to find what they need. Instead, you need to proactively recommend content in your CRM system through Sales Playbooks or another method.
4. Drive brand consistency across all sales and marketing materials.
As marketers we know the importance of brand consistency, yet it’s a challenge we all face with our sales teams. Most salespeople don’t care about brand consistency — they use out-of-date content, or worse, make up their own content! Prospects that experience a consistent brand experience will move through the buying cycle more quickly — and salespeople care about that. When you can help salespeople close more business, sales and marketing alignment becomes less of a pie-in-the-sky goal and closer to reality.
5 .Measure the impact of your content
You may be a savvy marketer that can show the pipeline contribution from your marketing campaigns, but can you show how your content is moving deals forward? Insights into content performance can help you identify trends like: What messaging triggers is the audience responding to? What types of content are most associated with deals that closed? What content works best for specific products, or verticals, or job titles? By aligning the sales activity with your content application you can truly get a 360-degree view of how your content is performing for your sales team.
These five steps will help you prove the value of content marketing and drive true sales & marketing alignment. Check out our eGuide, “Prove the Power of Content Marketing,” for more tips on how to improve content marketing effectiveness.
Brian Vass is vice president of marketing at Qvidian, a provider of sales enablement applications for intelligent selling.