Engage a hundred well-qualified prospects and at any given point in time there will only be a handful ready to buy. There will also be another handful considering buying but not quite ready to pull the trigger, another that recognizes they have a need but are not sure how to fill it, and another who has a need, they just don’t know it yet.
How do you take each of these handfuls and draw them into the next stage in the sales cycle? Two words: professional persistence—relationship building through consistent, focused business development efforts supported by content- rich lead generation marketing.
Will one work without the other? Certainly. An aggressive business development team can be successful without marketing support. A car can run without all cylinders firing too. But not well. When you want to move fast, you must have all pistons firing.
We’ve written a number of articles on the business development half of the equation – from Why Appointment Setting Is Not Real Business Development to Managing a Sales Territory: Lessons from Baseball. This article will focus on the second half of the equation – content rich lead generation marketing.
Content Marketing: What, Why and How
Content—make that compelling and needs-based content—is the fuel that keeps a digital lead generation and nurturing engine pumping. Content marketing is the practice of using that content to attract, nurture and engage prospects through both inbound and outbound channels.
- Inbound/Pull Strategy – Using a combination of education based articles, white- papers, blogs, videos, and other engaging content to increase search rankings and better the chance of being found online by qualified buyers.
- Outbound/Push Strategy – Using a combination of all of the above to support out- bound calling and email efforts.
As Simon Edelstyn, European Managing Director, Outbrain was quoted as saying in Content Marketing In 2013: What The Experts Think, “Everyday your audience, you, me, we are bombarded with messages from some 10 million brands that exist worldwide. Smart brands and marketers have started to witness that content marketing can be an effective way to cut through this cacophony of noise and engage in a meaningful way with their audiences.”
Not only does quality content help cut through the noise, it helps to
- Position your organization as an expert that cares about solutions, not just sales.
- Bolster the credibility of the business development team.
- Engage, nurture and move leads through the sales cycle.
A quick caveat: All content is not created equal. A poorly written blog that says nothing but is chock full of keywords may bring visitors to a website, but it will just as quickly turn them away. By the same token, webinars, whitepapers, articles and other must deliver as promised and focus on customer value.
- Content can be published in a number of ways – from the webinars, whitepapers, blogs and articles mentioned above, to Slideshare presentations, videos, infographics and much more. The bigger “how,” however lies not in the vehicle, but in the strategy that drives both the messaging and the execution plan.
- Marketing Sherpa recently published two case studies that show quite clearly the effect a well-executed plan can have on results.
- The first demonstrates how, in a 10-month span, one company was able to increase webinar registrations and lead capture by 91% simply by getting organized, being consistent and adhering to a set process.
- The second shows how a global assurance, tax and consulting firm, used a very structured content marketing strategy to increase web traffic and, more importantly, close business. According to the case study, in a less than three-month period, the company could directly attribute over $400,000 in new business to the revamped content marketing effort.
Some tips for creating your plan.
Think Like a Magazine Editor
Magazine editors have used editorial calendars for ages to keep their publications relevant, organize content and publish on a set schedule. Content marketers need to do the same, albeit on a somewhat greater scale because there are so many different avenues for publishing—and because it is so important to steer clear of the temptation to create blatantly self-promotional content in lieu of the more effective educational based variety.
Leverage Team Members’ Expertise
The idea of coming up with a year’s or even a quarter’s worth of content can be daunting to say the least. There is no need to go at it alone, however. Tap into the expertise and experience of your entire team.
Take Advantage of Marketing Automation Tools
Today’s tools are so advanced that marketers can take their planning one step further. Once the editorial calendar is complete and content created, it is now possible to pre-program behavior based messaging campaigns and integrate web, email and social media interaction to nurture prospect along the buying path in a very strategic way. The other benefit of marketing automation is that it makes it easy to track your prospects’ online activity, score leads based on a defined set of criteria and feed that information back to the sales team via an integrated CRM system.
Companies that excel in new client acquisition utilize each piece — strong content marketing and outbound calling — to create an engine that drives growth. Those who recognize this reality, or have made efforts to put it into practice, will appreciate NuGrowth’s ready-built Sales-as-a-Service and Marketing-as-a-Service offerings.
NuGrowth’s sales and marketing expertise, solid infrastructure, and diverse specialists can implement effec- tive programs for both the Push and Pull in a matter of weeks. Call 800-966-3051 today to learn more.