Virtually every company wishes it could support its sales teams with a plentiful supply of highly relevant content to share with target prospects. But what if you’re an expansion stage business building a content marketing strategy from scratch?
The truth is, expansion stage businesses may not have the budget or the resources to create everything their sales teams need right away. If that applies to you, the key is to create a strategy and prioritize your needs. You don’t necessarily need an infinite budget and a dedicated staff to pull it off. But there are two things you absolutely must have: an overarching content marketing strategy and a prioritized list of the type of content generation that deserves the most focus.
Resources for Building Out a Sales Content Strategy
Content Marketing Today provides a list of 10 takeaways from the 2010 Content Strategy Forum hosted in April. Among some of author Newt Barrett’s suggestions: Understand what your target market expects online and conduct a thorough content audit before you get started. It’s important to know what you have, understand what you need, and determine what you’re customers are currently digesting.
Your sales team can’t rely solely on content to close a deal (and we all know salespeople can sometimes blame marketing for their shortcomings). But effective content is very instrumental in helping that sales staff acquire a prospect’s positive attention in the early stages of the sales cycle. According to the Content Marketing Institute, buyers find content relevant only 42 percent of the time. Additionally, the lack of relevant content (as perceived by buyers) is responsible for reducing the vendor’s chance of closing a sale by 45 percent. Those are some scary numbers.
If you’re struggling to determine the best strategy for your content marketing program, Stephanie Tilton of Ten Ton Marketing and CMI’s Michele Linn created an excellent strategy map. You can see a more detailed recap on the Maine SEO blog, but here’s the gist of their concept:
- Understand your company’s organizational goals. You can’t get started until you’ve identified those goals because they’ll be the framework for your content marketing strategy.
- Define the informational needs of your target buying group. It’s essential that you understand the types of content that your buyers prefer. Listen to their needs by tapping in to Google Alerts, Twitter, and other areas online where your customers spend time.
- Content drives the action. As soon as your company creates a website, you become a publisher. Your website can be a powerful tool, but only if you create content that is relevant and delivered on a regular basis. Craft remarkable, valuable content that guides the customer through the buying cycle.
- Great content addresses your organizational goals and is based on the needs of your buyers. It’s important that you don’t produce content just to produce it. Everything you create needs to have a purpose. Content should be customized to the particular channel it will be released to and the audience it is intended to target.
Prioritizing Content Creation
Once you’ve developed a content marketing strategy, it’s important to take the second step: prioritize the content creation that will best help your staff. In my experience working with lead generation systems and expansion stage software sales teams, here is a list of prioritized content for your marketing team to consider:
- Sales scripts with a true value proposition defined
- Email templates that are concise, convincing, and effective
- Quality websites — and microsites — that are designed for your target segment
- Customer testimonials and case studies
- Customized demos for particular segments
- White papers demonstrating your business’s value proposition, trends, etc.
- Videos demoing your product, highlighting customer testimonials, or management team members
- Updated and relevant social media sites
- Blogs created by your sales team to demonstrate their industry knowledge
With limited resources and budgets, it’s essential that expansion stage companies execute their content marketing strategy as efficiently as possible. Time management is key, so I recommend reading the Content Marketing Institute’s five ways to save time as you execute that strategy.
Success starts with strategy and prioritization. Without those two things, you’ll simply be jumping on board a content marketing bandwagon without any specific destination.
Photo by: ITU Pictures