On October 1, the sales team began Q4 and the pressure is high as reps try to make club and hit accelerators while organizations try to hit revenue goals. For many companies, the pressure to hit Q4 numbers is so high they aren't even thinking about 2016 quotas yet.
But what about the B2B marketer? When does their quota start?
If the sales team has a cycle time of 90 days from opportunity create date to close, then they'd better be getting leads from marketing TODAY to impact Q1 of 2016.
Do you know how marketing is going to accomplish that mission?
If you haven’t restructured your marketing into lead generators for sales, you’re behind. Those conversations must start now if you plan to grow revenue in 2016.
Sales needs more than Marketing’s branding and awareness initiatives.
Marketing’s new role is to generate leads for salespeople. We say this over and over, but what does that really mean?
In short, marketing must figure out how to replicate the one-to-one conversations that salespeople used to have with prospects but in a digital environment. That means starting digital conversations through email, social, and search with tons of content. Built for every buying persona, every buying stage, and on every device. Ongoing. And it starts now.
Your competitors are already moving in this direction.
How do I know? Just look at the stats from the Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 B2B Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report:
- 70% of B2B marketers are creating more content than they did one year ago
- 86% of B2B companies say that they are using content marketing.
- 38% of B2B companies said that their content marketing was effective.
- 47% of B2B companies have a DEDICATED content marketing group.
Content Marketing is defined in the report as “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.”
Shifting resources to marketing is more than a project.
In fact, there’s not even a series of projects that can be assigned to marketing that’s going to work predictably because not every prospect is going to follow a predetermined, automated sales process—it’s a continuous process that requires shifting on the fly by providing more content to the prospect when they need it.
Creating content for branding and awareness purposes (although still a benefit) will not move the revenue needle. Marketing must create content with the intent of replicating the process of one-to-one conversations with prospects that salespeople used to have (in person, on the phone, through referrals, etc), but now in a digital environment.
Content consumption = digital conversations.
Conversations are a two way street, and it doesn’t really matter whether it started from a phone call, voice mail, or email, versus a Google search, social media hit or white paper download. Furthermore, those conversations must continue before the prospect loses interest in you, or it will never turn into an opportunity.
For example, let’s say that the conversation started with a prospect searching Google about a business problem and found you through a white paper on your website. They meet your qualification criteria—so are they a prospect?
Not necessarily. Just because they’ve tipped their hand that they’re interested in that content’s topic, doesn't mean they’re ready to talk to a sales rep—yet.
So now, what are you going to do next to nurture them down the path. Are you going to send them that same white paper next week? That’s not going to work.
And then what about the following week? They’re still not ready to talk to you, and if all you’ve got is that one piece of content that marketing developed as a project last month, you’re simply not going to advance the conversation. Sorry.
Your 2016 revenue will be based on the conversations you’re having RIGHT NOW.
If ever there was a compelling argument for content marketing, this is it. Because whether it’s content that you deliver to them through a personal email one-to-one from an individual rep or it’s automated, or it’s content offered through social media, your blog or in the resources tab of your website, the prospect must have the ability to navigate through all of it at their own pace and choose their directions based on fulfilling their own buying journey.
So what may have started out as a simple project developing a white paper that generated a handful of leads now turns into a process of nurturing them until they are sales ready—and that simply requires a lot more content.
And in fact, the content creation never ends because if it does, so ends your conversations.
Content marketing is a process and not a series of projects. The conversations you’re having with prospects now—both digitally and in person—will drive 2016 revenue.
So my question to you is: What are you planning to do about it?
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