Content marketing: it’s another responsibility for the Marketing Department, surely? Or is it in fact the responsibility of the Sales teams – to create thought provoking and strategic pieces to share with their prospects and customers?
As you might imagine, it’s a mix of the two. Sales and Marketing functions are becoming so intrinsically linked as B2B prospecting becomes an ever more personal process – many Sales Managers and Account Managers have their own Twitter profiles, and many others are prolific on posting thought leadership articles on LinkedIn.
It’s difficult to continually attract new customers and differentiate yourself with the same kind of marketing campaigns. Content marketing isn’t the be-all and end-all when it comes to marketing – it is a foundation on which to build other marketing and sales activities.
The foundations for a successful marketing and sales campaign
Why start a telemarketing campaign if you don’t have the key messages and collateral to back up your calls? Your telemarketing team need somewhere to point customers to as a next step, whether that’s sharing a whitepaper, sending over a customer story video or creating a bespoke proposal for your prospect.
Maybe the next step isn’t sending over content, but the customer will likely Google you, and who is going to fair better: you with little content or your competitor who has a wealth of content about the strategic direction of your target prospect’s market?
Content Marketing in the B2B sector is all about developing a position of authority and credibility with your prospects. It’s about reassuring them that you’re a safe pair of hands; you understand the market – you are forward-thinking and you have something different to say than your competitors bleating about product features.
Sales Managers are critical assets for your Content Marketing program for three reasons:
- They usually have a lot to say and lots of views
- They are on the front line with customers – and can share real-life customer anecdotes
- They are already usually connected to senior decision makers on their social media platforms (or senior decision makers are more likely to listen to them rather than reading a company blog post)
However, many Marketing teams don’t engage with Sales, and vice versa. Sales want content from Marketing, and don’t have the time to create the content themselves. On the other hand, Marketing want real-life customer scenarios and experiences to flavour their content, but don’t always get the input from sales.
How do you resolve this?
Make your Sales Teams into Content Marketing Superstars
Content Marketing doesn’t have to be hard work. Think about how to make your content creation process easier on the individuals (i.e. Sales Management and Account Managers) by interviewing them on strategic or particularly pertinent topics (such as a new release by a vendor or a world event – Brexit, US Presidential elections) – and then write up their insights into content that they can publish themselves.
Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to get started:
- Create a content calendar: Think about when, how often and where you are going to post and share your content.
- Who are you targeting: What types of customers are you targeting? What do they like to read about? What is popular content-wise in your sector currently?
- Decide on content creators and insight providers: Who are the superstar Sales Managers with the insights that need to be shared, and who are the wordsmiths that can get those insights turned into compelling content pieces?
- Develop themes and stick to them: Don’t jump around talking about anything and everything; ensure you have a strategic content plan that guides your content and social media sharing.
- Repurpose, reshare, renew: How can you make the most of each content piece? Can a whitepaper become a visual report (like we did here) – or can a blog post be turned into an infographic? What about creating an eBook from a series of blog posts?
- Streamline the process: Sales Managers don’t necessarily need to write their own pieces, they could be interviewed by your marketing department in short calls, or maybe they could list a few bullet points that could be repurposed into a blog. Or, perhaps a conversation over coffee becomes the new direction for a whitepaper and social media campaign – it doesn’t have to be hard work – it can be a couple of insights here and there, which is then crafted into full pieces by your marketing experts.
When we work with clients, we like to conduct short interview calls so that content creation becomes an easy, and hopefully, enjoyable activity: sharing insights and learnings from Sales Managers’ valuable engagements with customers. Content Marketing is so inherently linked in all forms of sales and marketing that it has to ‘slot’ seamlessly into our day to day activities.