We all know that marketing’s primary objective is assist in driving revenue. And we do that by supporting our sales efforts.
Cincom was in the midst of a Sales Renaissance. With a newly implemented sales process, and a sales organization with an average tenure of less than a year, Corporate Marketing was struggling to support product marketing, and multiple sale organizations, efficiently.
We found that we were often reactive to the needs of ours teams and our sales organizations were tied to the pace of Corporate Marketing. Corporate Marketing needed to become agile and proactive in the support, education, and enablement of our sales teams.
We spoke with our sales members to understand what they needed. Their response was, “more support from marketing” and “more independence”. To provide that support and independence, marketing needed to equip the sales organization with the right content. And not just the right content, but an explanation of the context in which the content should be used.
In order to do this we identified a need to conduct more formal content audits. First we defined our content. We identified all web pages, emails, collateral, social postings, sales presentations, etc. and identified the age of each piece. We then organized the content by age; 8 day, 8 week, and 8 month relevancy. Next we classified what type of content it was and which audience it was meant for.
Pulling data from our marketing automation system, we then scored the performance of our digital content. The score of our content is based on digital activity so it’s very objective. What we found is we were in a good place … sort of. Most organizations struggle to develop enough content. We found we had an overabundance of content. The question was, was it the right content?
This drove us to map our buy cycle stages to the content stages; Interest, Educate, Evaluate, Justify, and Purchase. We identified where the gaps in our content existed. For example, we had plenty of early stage content, but were lacking in the evaluation and justify content brackets. When we evaluated our sales funnel we saw that 24% of lost opportunities in later stage buy-cycles occurred because of emotional disengagement. The lack of this later stage buy-cycle content certainly aligned with our story.
This understanding of our content base allowed us to focus our new content development where it was needed, and reposition or repurpose older content in the other buy cycle phases. For example, we now strategically know how to approach a case study. We can write a summary case study but also write variations of the story from the customer’s identification of a need, to their buying process, implementation process, and eventually post-implementation results.
We can also write the story from various persona points of view. The story can be told by the Vice President of Sales, by the CFO, by the Operations Director. When planned correctly a case study can result in multiple content pieces that can be used at each step of the buying process, and customized for each member of the buying committee.
Now that we had a content baseline and were developing content with a clear strategy in mind, we needed to arm our sales force. Content understood and used by marketing alone is a waste. Marketing would regularly campaign and deliver both inbound and outbound communications, but our ability to measure the results against true prospect activity had become a challenge. We could see through our systems that activity was occurring, but that activity was occurring as unknown visitor activity. We needed our sales teams to assist in converting our unknown activity to known activity. Because they were communicating with those trees, branches, and leaves, they had a higher chance of conversion. We provided our sales teams with a few automation tools to communicate this content.Every Friday Corporate Marketing would send a report to the sales organization with the results of their communication activity. We were incredibly pleased with our sales teams’ willingness to embrace these tools, but when reviewing this weekly activity Corporate Marketing did notice one thing.The click throughs in the sales communications tended to be “shallow” in nature. While they were converting unknown users to known prospects, they weren’t converting them to information that would further them through the buy-cycle. Oftentimes prospects were sent directly to the homepage of a website.
Armed with this information we thought perhaps by sending the content audits to our sales teams we would see more valuable conversions. Sales would now have the content necessary to better engage with contacts and more speedily push an opportunity through the buy cycle.We were wrong. All we did was overwhelm the sales teams. We had so much content they didn’t know what to use. Additionally, many of our sales teams were new and were not yet fully educated on the value of our solutions.
One afternoon I was speaking with a co-worker and he was telling me about sending his daughter a care package at college. That’s when we got the idea to develop weekly “care packages” for our sales teams.Each Friday a new package is added to our marketing automation system. In that template is a key message for the week along with a blog entry and offer (white paper, eBook, podcast, webinar) that supports that key message. Sales can customize their communication around this key message and the conversation that occurred with the prospect. Not only does this result in more valuable conversions, but our new sales members engage with this material and are learning as well.
I would like to add that the key message is determined by conversations that occur in our sales war rooms. As we continued to demonstrate our support of sales efforts, the sales organization began to open its door. We were invited in to their weekly war rooms and the sale people became much more comfortable sharing the successes/failures of various messages and campaigns.This allowed us to better understand what activity within these buy-cycle stages looked like and what information was shared. We identified the players at each stage and began persona development. This has helped us in the development of late stage content which was once a challenge.
Another adjustment that was identified was the terminology used when referring to content phases. In marketing, and in our content audits, we classified the buy-cycle stages as “Interest”, “Educate”, “Evaluate”, “Justify”, and “Purchase”. While we understood this terminology and content types used in those phases, our sales teams did not. Our sales teams break they buy-cycle down by “Try”, “Approach”, and then they classify “Work In Progress” stages (which is an identified opportunity) 0-5. We mapped our marketing stages to their buying stages and then reclassified the content mapping used by sales. Now when sales uses a template, based on the phase identified in the CRM system, they can select the appropriate buy-cycle folder and view content relevant to that specific phase.
Previously there was no strategy to our content development. We didn’t know what we had, how it was used, or how it was performing. We were developing content without understanding what was needed. We developed content for marketing, not for the customer. There was also a distinct wall between marketing and sales, where a lead would come in through marketing and be heaved over the wall to sales, and then the two would go their separate ways. Now the wall is gone. Marketing is involved throughout the buy cycle to ensure that the sales teams have the materials and messaging that’s required at each touch point, and sales is involved in the creation of marketing materials to make sure it reflects what they hear during their conversations, and that they will actually utilize it. .
Audit your content. Classify, map, and measure your content. Identify what content is needed and what content can be adapted. Align your content, and content terminology, to your sales process. Provide context and tools to your sales teams so they understand the content, how it should be used, and how to communicate it.Support, empower, and align with your sales organization. Smart sales teams and relevant content will result in strong revenue.
Content Marketing In Context: Right Information at the RIght Time
ABOUT MEMarilyn CoxDirector of Marketing Communications,Cincom Systems Inc.@MarilynECoxmcox@cincom.comIf I couldn’t be a marketer I would be aprofessional wrestler with the WWE.
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