Working our way down the list of essential Lead-to-Revenue (L2R) components, I have covered sales models, branding, offers and processes. You can review any of these articles here. But of all the components, content marketing can make the most difference to your success.
Content marketing sounds very simple on its surface but I can tell you from lots of experience that it can be tough to do it right. Even if you have innate writing ability, this may not translate well into results-producing writing if you don’t do your homework and understand what you are selling and who you are selling it to. Plus, prospects are inundated with content from your competitors, many of whom take the creation of content very seriously.
Like Dana Brookes, author of Content Marketing Revolution: Seize Control of Your Market in Five Key Steps, who stated,
“Think of every contact a customer has with your brand as the most important encounter of your life.”
Businesses that need to increase their brand awareness, credibility, and preference with their target audiences are turning to content marketing in greater numbers as a proven, pull-marketing strategy that aligns with business metrics. Whether your goals are to increase market awareness, drive website traffic, build lead generation or improve sales funnel conversion, understanding how to create copy that delivers results is fundamental to achieving success.
From strategy to execution, you need content that is consistent and on-target. To leverage your brand’s core promise, quality content turns differentiators into a narrative that systematically engages your critical audiences. Tailored content for every stage of the process compels prospects to take action. In a Lead-2-Revenue Machine, we are not creating content for content’s sake, but rather to drive specific business objectives.
The Payoff Earned from Effective B2B Content
Effective B2B content attracts visitors to your website, provides value for your social media outreach, converts website visitors to leads, and much more. High-quality B2B content can have a big payoff in five major areas:
1. Increases brand awareness. People buy from companies they know and quality content can help you get known.
2. Makes it easier for prospects to find you. Quality content helps web searchers find you quickly. This is true for both non-paid organic search traffic as well as paid methods such as pay-per-click that depend on a quality score.
3. Credibility boost. Visitors to your website will judge you by the quality and quantity of the content that is relevant to their needs. Good content can reinforce your brand promise and educate your prospects.
4. Lower cost-per-lead. Content marketing is a pull-marketing strategy that produces leads at a fraction of the cost of push-marketing leads. Quality content can help convert lookers into readers and readers into leads.
5. Shorter sales cycle. Good content helps prospects learn about your products and services, thus self-qualifying themselves. This enables prospects to make a much faster purchase decision, especially if you are targeting content based on where they are in the buying cycle.
To shorten the B2B or B2C sales cycle, there is no right or wrong when it comes to content length. The point is to get quickly digestible information to the prospect in the easiest manner possible. Brevity is often better than comprehensive content, but do make sure that you have links from a top-line piece to more detailed information.
Six Keys to Transform Your Content Marketing
1. Identify target segments carefully. The more time sales reps spend with people/companies that are legitimate prospects, the more successful they will be. As Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute put it, “Actually talk to your customers. Use the language that they use. Talk about the things they talk about. Never feed salad to a lion.” As one who has probably spent too much time trying to feed salad to lions, I appreciate Joe’s point.
2. Show, don’t tell. Include examples and explain your brand story: Use visuals the way a fiction writer uses words – lead prospects along the path.
3. Present a powerful message. Attract the right prospects and let the unqualified go before they use valuable rep time. Your brand promise, value proposition and benefits must be compelling, differentiated and crystal clear.
4. Understand the buyer’s “compelling events.” What are the triggers that motivate the buyer to purchase now? What are the consequences? Put your offer(s) in front of the prospect when the motivations and/or consequences are greatest.
5. Let your website do some of the heavy lifting. The right website content assists prospects at several stages of the buying journey including FAQs, product specifications, pricing (if applicable) and how-to guides.
6. Provide value. You will often get better results if you change your content focus from “How can I sell this prospect” to “How can I serve this prospect”?
As an example of how to use content marketing to make a difference – we worked with a large East Coast software company that had a traditional method of creating content like case studies, blog posts, etc. The content was focused on features and benefits and while the content was solid, the buyer’s perspective was missing.
To solve the problem, we shifted to focus on the challenges and pain points faced by prospects and on telling stories about companies overcame challenges and achieved success using our client’s products. We used challenges and pain points in videos and podcasts to provide “quick-hits” and serve buyers and non-buyers alike. The result: a 90 percent increase in website visitors and 120% increase in qualified leads.
Many companies suffer from “paralysis by analysis” when it comes to content. The key to success is to get started. You can’t procrastinate and hope that positive results will miraculously happen. Make the effort today and begin creating a strategy and then a cascade of good-quality B2B content that will help you meet marketing and sales goals. And make sure your content works to within the framework of these components we talked about earlier in this series: a powerful brand, an effective sales model. It also must be delivered using an efficient process to measure its results.
Too many companies throw content at the wall and hope it sticks. Get started with a strategy that solves customer problems and create content today that will ensure you meet revenue goals tomorrow.