In a content marketing kickoff meeting not long ago, I encountered something out of the ordinary. A salesperson - a senior, successful salesperson - not only attended, but participated heavily in both the operational and content brainstorming portions of the meeting.
Why, when most salespeople avoid anything they don't think will directly impact their potential income, did this guy show up and keep raising his hand?
Because he either knew, or wanted to know, how content marketing has completely changed the art of selling.
Salespeople: if you're deciding whether to hit accept or decline on the Content Marketing Kickoff meeting request that just arrived, read this first.
What is Content Marketing?
There are dozens of definitions out there, but for my money these two paragraphs from Junta42 define it best:
Basically, content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.
And they do. Content marketing is being used by some of the greatest marketing organizations in the world, including P&G, Microsoft and Cisco Systems. It's also developed and executed by small businesses and one-person shops around the globe. Why? Because it works.
Selling without content has become impossible. Selling without content marketing puts you at a serious disadvantage compared to your competition.
Why is Content Marketing Important for Salespeople?
According to MarketingProfs and Junta42, 63% of B2B Marketers turn to content marketing as a key lead generation source. But lead generation is just the tip of the iceberg. Here's why content marketing is critical for your success:
- You can't sell without it.
What if you had no product videos, no case studies, no telemarketing script, no white papers and no webinars? What would you sell with? A phone conversation? A handshake?
Sales success without content marketing is hard to come by.
- It's your most versatile marketing program.
For prospects, content helps generate leads, nurture leads, turn leads into opportunities, and close deals. Each step requires a different type of content, all designed to move the prospect further into the sales funnel.
And don't forget selling to current customers. Sure, you already have the relationship, but that's not enough anymore. Customers, not unlike prospects, expect content to help them justify new services, programs and technologies.
- It generates leads.
Prospects expect content. They expect case studies. They expect white papers. They now expect blog posts. If they don't find it, they will find another vendor or service provider.
Targeted, situation-specific, well-written content can become a lead generation machine if marketed appropriately.
- It educates.
If you educate your prospects and customers, they will trust you. People don't want to buy products and services; they want to buy solutions and results.
Webinars, demos and case studies are particularly useful for education.
- It makes your job easier.
How fun would it be if your only touchpoint with prospects was the "status check" phone call or the "just wanted to see if you need more information" email? We've all received those calls and emails. They are boring, and do absolutely nothing to move prospects to a yes or no decision.
Content, on the other hand, not only provides you with a reason to reach out to that prospect, but it also provides the prospect with something useful to remind them of you and your company's solution.
I want to hear from salespeople and content marketers. For the salespeople, what else do you need to know about content marketing to push you over the participation ledge? For content marketers, based on your experience how do we activate more salespeople?
Part II will cover the different roles salespeople can play in a content marketing program.
This article was originally published on the Marketing Trenches blog. Mike Sweeney is Managing Partner at Right Source Marketing, an interactive consulting and services firm based in Baltimore, MD and Reston,VA. For more from Mike, follow @mjsweeney on Twitter.