Content has been a major buzzword in sales and marketing, and for good reason. The game has changed, and content has become a key driver in creating new, cost effective opportunities to acquire leads and close sales.
Content is not only cost effective, but generally speaking, it’s one of the most effective marketing and sales strategies out there today. Why? Because Google, social media, and the Internet as a whole have changed everything.
I’ve touched on this topic in the past, but I want to take a moment to re-emphasize the importance that content plays in your sales and marketing strategies, as well as offer a few tips to help you get started. If you’re anything like me, it really helps to understand the big picture, so here it is. (Feel free to scroll on down a couple paragraphs if you’re only interested in the actionable stuff.)
Marketing and sales were traditionally done by shouting a bunch of noise—carefully crafted noise, but noise nonetheless—at consumers, regardless of their interest. For marketing, that might have been done through TV commercials, newspapers, phonebooks, billboards, and other antiquated channels.
Sales on the other hand, leveraged cold-calling to get people on the phone so that companies could make their pitch. I’m not saying that there was no rhyme or reason to it, but just that the messaging might have been less targeted.
Then the Internet came along and changed everything. The Internet caused a power shift; the consumers became the wielders of power, leaving businesses tasked with transforming the way they sell in order to accommodate and satisfy consumers. Marketing and sales have moved away from just shouting their message (somewhat, anyway) and are focusing instead on pulling buyers in at the right time and place with the right message.
How? By creating and sharing relevant content on topics that your prospects genuinely find valuable. When I use the term valuable, I’m referring to content that is useful and informative, authentic, and even humorous.
Be helpful and earn trust; that trust will do much of the selling for you.
Consider your decision-making process when you make a meaningful purchase. Chances are you spend quite a bit of time researching online, reading reviews, articles, forums, and social media to learn as much as you can about the product or service of interest, as well as any other options or alternatives that exist.
As the business or seller, the tricky part is having the content you want the buyer to see, easily findable when a relevant search is conducted. Before I share some tips on how you can get your content out there for your prospects to see, let me share a few interesting stats that reinforce the value that quality content can bring to sales.
- Inbound marketing delivers 54% more leads into the marketing funnel than traditional outbound marketing.
- 82% of prospects say content targeted to their industry is more valuable.
- Buyers go through about 57% of the purchasing process before ever talking to sales.
- Organic search leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound marketing leads have a 1.7% close rate.
- B2C companies that blog generate 88% more leads per month than those who do not.
- B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those who do not.
While all of the stats above are powerful reasons to focus more of your sales efforts on content, the one that resonates with me the most is that 57% of the purchasing process is already completed before a buyer ever speaks to sales. That’s huge! And if you’re not providing buyers with the content they want early on, you may be missing opportunities to get them into your sales funnel.
Okay, now that you’re excited about this new opportunity to start acquiring new leads and close more sales, let’s toss around some thought starters:
Share your knowledge and experiences
As a sales professional who is always talking to prospects and customers, you possess an incredible amount of valuable information that you may or may not know you have. Think about the questions that you’re most often asked. Think about why those questions arise often. Think about how you answer those questions.
- Instead of waiting for a prospect to ask the question directly, why not write a blog post that addresses these questions ahead of time? Get them in the sales funnel as early as possible! You never know how many opportunities were missed because a prospect found the desired information elsewhere.
Make yourself available
Let everyone know where they can contact you. Are you on Twitter and LinkedIn? If not, it’s time to join. Share your Twitter handle and let people know that they can tweet you directly with questions or concerns. You might be surprised at how many business conversations take place on Twitter. Twitter and LinkedIn are also great mediums for you to share your newly written blog post.
Show your personality
If you want to get really creative, try developing a fun and entertaining Buzzfeed article. Buzzfeed has an open community, allowing anyone to create their own Buzzfeed-style article to share, and we all know that people love to click on Buzzfeed articles. Just be sure that if you’re creating something for Buzzfeed, that it’s lighthearted and funny. And use images!
Boost your content
If you have content that you think is especially valuable, try promoting it on social media. You can pay to have your posts shown to people outside of your networks, and if done properly, it can be an amazing way to introduce new people to your company. If you’re new to social media marketing, here is an article that does a great job at providing an easy-to-follow explanation of some of the most important fundamentals.
Only include one, clear call-to-action
It’s important to always include a call-to-action at the end of your content. Even if it’s something as simple as encouraging people to leave a comment, this is an important part of maintaining the reader’s attention and helping to direct them down your sales funnel.