In a webinar I did for Hoovers last week, I was asked if I thought cold calling had any value in today's business environment. That's not a question that I, as a content marketing strategist, get asked very often...if ever. But, given my background, a few things popped to mind immediately.
Cold calling will be as effective as the conversation is engaging.
And because I live, breath and think content, it didn't take long for my brain to take me down that track. Content presented to people who don't know you or those who haven't yet opted in to learn more from you is a cold call.
As more publishing opportunities become available to B2B marketers, our content will be doing more cold calling.
Examples of cold calling with content include:
- Email. This is one that all B2B marketers will recognize. This is generally facilitated by buying/renting a list and sending out an email with a content offer to people who don't know you.
- Twitter. Sure, your followers are warmer than a cold call, but what about when they retweet your content to their followers who don't know you? There's a recommendation behind their motivation to click, but those people are still coming to your content without knowing what to expect.
- Lead Generation via syndication. Howard Sewell just wrote a great post about 2 Mistakes that Cause Content Syndication to Fail. His thoughts tie in to my point about cold calling with content.
The point that I'm trying to make is that nearly everything we do in the execution of sales and marketing is content related. Content includes voicemails, conversations, emails, articles, Tweets, Answers on LinkedIn, status updates and wall posts on Facebook, blog posts, webinars, videos, podcasts, eBooks, white papers, customer success stories, etc.
The "cold" part is about the status of your relationship with the recipient.
I read a great post today by S. Anthony Iannarino over on Sales Blogger Union that discussed how we needed to turn influence upside down. A couple of things he said really reasonated with me in relation to how we can use content to turn cold relationships into warm ones.
- "[Y]ou have to care enough to understand what it is that they want."
In other words, do the work to create buyer personas so deep that you really get to know your prospects and can apply that knowledge to the way you design your content.
- "If you spend time with them, working to create value before claiming any, you develop the trust that influence is built upon."
In other words, one-off content won't do much. It's the consistent effort made to provide valuable information over time that moves the relationship from cold to warm.
- By sharing "the knowledge you have gained by helping others in a meaningful way, you will develop the credibility that influence is built on."
In other words, the more meaningful prospects find your content, the higher the credibility ascribed to your content, and your company. Put your expertise front and center.
So here's the point. All content interactions start out at some degree of cold. It's up to your content marketing programs to increase the temperature through the consistent provision of content perceived as valuable by your prospects.
When this happens, the likelihood of your salesperson's call being accepted is much higher, hence warmer.
Cold calling with content is a skill B2B marketers must become proficient at given the ever evolving publishing tools available and your buyers' instinct to self-educate and push your salespeople to the side of the road until they're ready to talk.
Marketers can help ensure that salespeople hit the ground running with warm calls, not get frozen out by prospects who haven't got a clue who they are, what they want or if there's any value to be had that impacts their business objectives.