As a marketer, I read a LOT of content. I’m an uber-consumer of blogs, whitepapers, guides, infographics, videos and anything else you put out there. I’m reading to not only find nuggets of good intel to help me do my job tactically and challenge my thinking, but also to learn about our customers, prospects and general market environment to drive our marketing strategy. Oh and I also read the occasional real-world content – you know, news and such.
I’m also guilty of being a content creator. All those things I read – I might create almost as much. So Demand Gen’s Kim Zimmerman’s recent article on “Interactive Content Driving Next Generation Sales Enablement,” was particularly intriguing to me. However, it left me hanging…
It was great for Kim to reach out to different vendors to get their perspective on the topic. The article was not short of quotes from these companies to state their two cents. Let me save you some reading time and sum it up in one sentence: Everyone agrees that content needs to be more interactive and personalized.
OK great, but so what? I don’t think anyone would disagree with that statement, and it didn’t really offer me anything new to consider. There is, however, one critical point that I feel was lacking. If anyone reads that and nods in agreement, then they are setting themselves up to create a greater divide between sales and marketing.
Marketing has a stereotype of “creating content in a vacuum” or “tossing content over the wall.” Sales is often stereotyped as unable to effectively use the content. So when great content goes unused, its a waste of everyone’s time. One thing I’ve learned as a software marketer is no matter how cool your widget is, if people don’t know how to use it, it won’t sell. The same goes for content: no matter how cool or interactive the piece is, if people don’t know how or when to use it, it will be lost to the abyss of really cool widgets no one is using.
So how can marketing can really enable sales? Go beyond creating cool and interactive content by providing the context in which to use it. Video is great, but if sales shares a video testimonial to a prospect before they understand the business value you provide, the message has no meaning. If sales provides an ROI calculator before the prospect understands what is it you do, your value will drop to zero.
I’m sure many of you are thinking, “of course – we wouldn’t toss sales a new tool without telling them how to use it.” But ask yourself – are you really? If by emailing them the fancy new widget with a couple bullets explaining how and when to use it you think they are internalizing that and using it at the appropriate time with the appropriate people, then you’re kidding yourself.
We need to be far more advanced (and helpful) for sales to effectively use the high volume of content we create appropriately in a selling situation. Tools and platforms – like Qvidian – exist so your sellers smartly present your compelling/fancy/interactive/multimedia/cool content to prospects at the right time.
Qvidian leverages existing data in your CRM to provide that context for sales to proactively serve up the right content at the right time. This intelligently guides your reps to use all your existing resources – not just the cool new content – to have valuable conversations with your buyers.
What’s more, context provides the analysis marketers need, not just tracking metrics that they typically get.
“As they develop more content to help support the sales conversations, B2B marketers also want to gather more information on how that content is performing.”
Tracking is great, but how useful is knowing that this content was used 53 times in the past month? What if you could know that it was used 53 out of 102 times where it was appropriate, and out of those 53 times, 28 resulted in a closed deal. Out of those 28, 24 were when it was used with people in a Product Marketing role. Those are analytics marketers can really use.
So I beg you – please don’t create a larger divide between sales and marketing by focusing on the content type versus how sales can effectively use it. If you do, you’re sure to end up a stereotype. Content without context is meaningless, and in a headline-driven, 140-character world, we have to help prospects understand importance and relevance immediately or risk losing their attention. By contrast, you will stop a buyer in his/her tracks when importance and relevance is clear. Your buyer has evolved and your window is short; tapping into their challenges and understanding their goals will create the context you need to build loyalty. And just remember, the right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing.