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Be An Enabler: Align Content Marketing with Sales Needs

Contrary to popular belief, content marketing and sales enablement aren’t mutually exclusive. They’re actually two forces that, when combined, lead to a powerful marketing outcome.

The question becomes: how do you know what content to create for what point in the buyer journey? This is especially vexing given the buyer journey itself looks completely different than it did a few years ago.

Today’s buyers do most of their research themselves. Research has revealed that up to 70% of their purchasing journey can be done online without engaging any sales organization, so it’s that much harder to influence buyers. And if the materials you arm your sales team with pieces that don’t contain the right messages or don’t hit at the right moment, you’ve most likely lost your buyers’ attention.

The Key to Enabling Sales

Understanding how purchases are made, and the opportunities sales folks have to connect with buyers across touchpoints, will help inform content creation.

Here are six tips to help sync marketing and sales:

  1. Collaborate with sales. Don’t guess at what content is useful. Ask them. What’s worked in the past? What messaging gaps exist? What opportunities are they missing because they don’t have the right information to share? Use their answers to craft a content plan.
  2. Focus on the end-goal. How can you support buyers? Once you determine what part of the purchase journey you’re after, you can better know what content will resonate – for instance, a “how to get the most out of your latest investment” video would be wasted on prospects, but welcomed by post-purchasers.
  3. Eliminate multiple persona disorder. Use thoughtful research and insights to craft the top 2-3 buyer personas your sales team targets. You don’t have to target every buyer, just the right buyers. Honing in on specific, actionable profiles will help laser-focus your marketing content.
  4. Forget the funnel. (sort of). The modern purchasing process is a fluid, repetitive one. It’s clear buyers don’t always stick within the confines of the traditional buying cycle/marketing funnel. It’s more akin to an infinite loop of education, comparison and engagement. By thinking of buyer goals, versus buying stages, marketing can more readily craft content to help sales build lasting relationships and recommend the right solution to meet buyer needs.
  5. Test the creative waters. From webinars to infographics, memes to customer testimonial videos, today’s marketers have license to get creative when it comes to getting a message heard. Don’t be afraid to engage in a little AB testing with sales. Arm them with the same message in different formats to see which content types resonate best with different personas or activities.
  6. Become a tracker. Along the lines of testing comes tracking. Serve up content in a way that’s easy to track, to help sales better sleuth out buyer behavior. Both in terms of what content got the most traction, and which pieces were most popular at what point in the buyer’s journey.

In The End…Go Back to the Beginning

Being a modern buyer is hard work, especially in the B2B space. There’s so much information to wade through, and often multiple folks weighing in on every purchase decision. It can become a case of the more you learn, the less you know.

Content marketers are uniquely situated to help sales turn this information gridlock into gold. By creating content sales folks can use to support buyers at every turn, even if new questions come up that seemingly bring buyers back to the beginning/research phase, they help make sales more effective.  And they help sales weed out the potential purchasers from those merely perusing.

 After all: studies from Forrester show that 76% of buyers choose a vendor that delivers effective value messages. And Sirius Decisions tells us that the #1 inhibitor to sales enablement is the inability to communicate a value message. The more closely content marketing and sales can align, the more effectively a clear value message can be delivered to buyers when and where they’re ready to hear it.

Author: Stacy Greenberg, Content Manager, Outlook Marketing Services

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