Content Marketing Is No Longer a Choice

Many companies that have embraced content marketing are still using it as a branding and positioning function of their marketing department. It’s not that this approach is wrong, but it’s not the main reason that most successful companies have embraced content marketing.

It’s all about driving revenue, and to do that effectively, our marketing efforts much create actionable sales intelligence. It’s not an add-on function that lives inside your marketing department, it’s not about branding and positioning, and it’s not a choice.

Content Marketing IS Marketing, and it’s now the main revenue function of your business. I predict that B2B companies that don’t embrace this new marketing direction in a big way will face serious revenue challenges in the future.

In a recent presentation we gave about what content marketing is and why it’s important, a company in attendance approached us afterwards and wanted to talk about how they could apply it in their business.

Over the last 20 years, the company had developed a great reputation and receive a number of referrals on a regular basis. The CEO is a master salesperson and serves as an industry thought leader. They’ve been writing one blog a month for an outside entity, and they regularly update their social media with interesting links and comments—but they can’t track where their business is coming from, and they can’t move beyond their own connections.

But here’s the kicker--for all of their marketing efforts, their stats show only six unique visitors coming to their website every month--SIX!

When asked about why they were not driving traffic to their website, their response was “that’s just not how our industry works—people aren’t going to websites and I don’t think they want to go to our website—everything happens on Linkedin and we have a great presence there.”

I’m sure that companies that don’t embrace content marketing will continue to get business the old fashioned way (through branding exercises, referrals, cold calls and networking). Those tried and true methods will probably continue to work (we do them too), but not to the extent that they once did. They won’t help your sales people meet quota. They won’t attract top performing salespeople to your organization. They won’t help you track where your prospects entered into the sales cycle and became customers.

Sales can’t control this whole process anymore.

The internet has shifted the control to the buyer, and they’re not talking to your sales reps until they’re good and ready. Prospects are already shopping on the internet for solutions to their problems. They’re reading white papers, watching videos, reading articles, attending webinars, and asking people questions in social media.

Think about it in your own life—how much information are you armed with before you go to a dealership to buy a car?

Buyer’s are narrowing down who they want to talk to long before they talk to a sales rep.

As a side note, I know many top performing sales reps that would not even consider a position in a company that wasn’t generating at least half of their leads from marketing. And even if you do have some sales reps that look like the work horses of the past, the question you have to ask yourself as a business leader is: How much more productive would they be if you could actually help them with a stream of qualified leads?

Our statistics show that when sales reps follow up on actionable sales intelligence generated by marketing that they are 800 percent more effective over cold calling and other forms of cold outreach.

Ultimately, we do business with people we know, like and trust. Content marketing fulfills all of these aspects of the buyer’s journey because:

  1.  They get to know you through your content
  2. They like you because of what you have to say
  3. They trust you because you’ve demonstrated that you understand their pain.

Content marketing done correctly will fundamentally affect the revenue process of the entire company. So how do you create content that is effective and actually drives revenue?

I’d be lying if I said it was an easy solution because it’s not.

It requires a complete rethinking of your customer acquisition costs (sales and marketing) and these departments can’t work in their own vacuums anymore.