In content marketing, we spend a lot of time talking about brand marketing efforts, feeding funnels, targeted outreach, increased traffic, storytelling, authenticity, engagement, blogs and videos and how all of these things serve our prospective and current customers. This is really fun stuff, so it makes sense that we tend to go on, and on, and on about it. However, we rarely talk about how we can serve our internal customers with content. For instance, when was the last time you heard a content marketer utter the words "we need to think more about sales enablement content?"
It's likely been a while, or never...
Why is that? Shouldn't content marketing be about putting the right content into the right hands? What if the best audience for getting your message heard is your own sales force? Your customer service representatives? Your in-store employees?
Does the definition of content marketing automatically exclude sales enablement?
No, not at all. In the recently released 2015 B2B Content Marketing trends report by MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute, we saw a shift in the definition of content marketing.
- 2014 definition: "creation and distribution of educational and/or compelling content in multiple media formats to attract and/or retain customers"
- 2015 definition: "a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience-and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action"
As the report points out, the difference is that what was once described as a discipline of "creating and distributing" content has evolved into a formal, measurable and goal-oriented discipline.
Content marketing is about getting the right content to the right customers, at the right time, on the right device, and evoking an action. That action can vary from downloading an ebook to signing up for a demo to calling a sales rep. Nowhere in the definition does it specify a specific audience; it merely points to reaching a "clearly defined audience." The specifics are up to you.
What's the right audience for your content?
If you're like most content marketers, you have a diverse audience and you use varied means to reach them, mostly online, likely including a blog and social media. But here's the big question: How much of your efforts are focused on providing content to internal audiences like sales?
Sales loves great content for use in their daily jobs, but they also report that 18% of their time is spent searching for or recreating content provided by marketing teams.* Why is that?
Because sales teams need smarter content!
Perhaps the best questions to ask are:
- Why SHOULDN'T marketing focus on sales enablement content?
- Can we serve up unique and real- time content that will actually be used by sales?
- Can we serve up compelling content that will shorten the sales cycle?
Content that enables a sales team has just as much potential to reach a massive audience as content created for traditional content marketing channels. If a sales organization is properly sharing engaging content with their prospective clients, at every stage of the funnel, they have the ability to reach audiences significantly larger than the average blog or corporate social media page. For example:
By enabling your sales reps with content you could literally serve millions of impressions every week.
Okay. It has reach potential, but can it help close sales?
Yes; just like content works for consumers online, it also helps to educate when distributed through sales. We know that when buyers encounter relevant content on the Internet, they progress 57% of the way through their purchase decision before they even contact a sales rep. This statistic tells us two important things about buyers:
- When they are presented with relevant content, it helps them to move further into the sales funnel.
- When sales reps have easier access to content, they're better able to engage their buyers early in the sales cycle.
Imagine how marketing can impact that process by simply thinking strategically about the content they deliver. If marketers can find a way to deliver better, smarter content to their sales teams, they have the potential to change the sales and marketing paradigm.
We know content marketing works for brand and digital marketing, and now we know it should not be ignored across the organization. Customers are demanding content and we have started getting really good at delivering it through known channels, but we need to expand the scope and think about how it can impact other departments, most importantly sales.
For more on this subject, and a few tips to creating successful sales enablement content, download our most recent e-book, Beyond the Powerpoint Deck - Four tips to empower your sales reps with better, smarter content.
*IDC, 2012: Sales Enablement Strategy: Content is King So Why Does Sales Feel Like a Jester?