There’s a popular myth about content marketing.
Most people assume the primary role of content is to drive visitors to your website.
While content is a strong incentive for people to visit your website, it does not stop there.
Any communication a business has with their prospects or customers comes under the domain of content. Content can be anything, from a blog post, instructional video, or support call.
Why is content important for marketing and sales?
Consumers are good at ignoring ads. Psychologically, when consumers realize they’re being sold to, they keep their mental guards up.
Who likes being sold to?
Over the years, consumers have developed an understanding of the typical marketing and sales ploys. They can now subconsciously filter out ads that scream “buy me!”.
Useful content, on the other hand, is different. If the content provides value, your viewers will appreciate and engage with it.
Imagine you want to take up cooking. You walk into a local store to buy various cooking materials. But how valuable are the materials without any guidance on what they are or how to use them? To help, most specialty cooking stores provide complimentary demonstration classes that utilize the various materials they are selling to solve this problem for their customers.
Your website is no different. If people buy something from your site, they expect more than just the product. Instruction manuals only cover the technical aspects of the product. People don’t buy products. They buy a better version of themselves.
Can your content help them reach their goals faster?
What purpose should content serve?
Traditionally, the role of content was to inform potential customers about your business. What you do, what products or services you provide, etc.
Content was all about your business.
Companies have since evolved. Most businesses have started placing customers at the heart of everything they do.
Today, the role of content is to provide practical solutions to problems your customers face. Your customers need to know that you have their best interest at heart.
What does content marketing have to do with sales?
Traditionally, sales have been a one-on-one interaction. A sales rep cold calls a business owner, explain the products or services, and closes the deal.
The problem being this model of cold calling is ineffective.
The closure rate is low. Business owners do not like being cold called, and sales reps do not have any context for the problems plaguing their potential customers.
Since content marketing has “marketing” tagged to it, sales teams usually ignore it. After all, sales and marketing are different entities.
The truth is, content marketing has always been part of the sales process. With new age content marketing, you can scale your sales effort.
Have frequently asked questions? Creates a sales video or support article that answers these customer questions. Then every time someone has the same issue, direct them to this video or article.
Marketing automation systems have introduced automated lead scoring. The software assigns score to each activity a visitor undertakes on your website or app.
Sales teams can use lead scores to understand the visitor’s intent and tailor their sales pitches.
At the center of it all is content. It drives user behavior.
What does great content look like?
Great content is…
- Useful– It gives answers to a pressing issue customers have.
- Practical– Suggests practical solutions, even if they are unorthodox.
- Insightful– Highlights your industry knowledge; lets your potential customers know that you know your stuff.
- Jargon free– Aim for grade 7 and below content readability. Use Hemingway Editor to check your readability score.
- Convenient– Content should be available in the format your users prefer. Diversifying your content formats (videos, presentations, infographics etc.) can increase its appeal.
- Backed by data- Any claims you make should be fully supported with data. Google scholar is a good starting point.
- Emotional– Connect with your readers. Talk in their language.
- Engaging– Do not bore your readers to death with your content. Make it interactive and appealing.
- Appealing– Pick an interesting topic; add visuals to make it stand out.
- Unique– Provide a fresh perspective.
- Short– Get to your point quickly, or you will lose your audience.
- Friendly– Create content that evokes a friendly feel. Your customers like communicating with humans. Not robots.
What great content is not?
It’s tempting to pitch your potential customers at every opportunity you get. Top sales people can pull this off. However, most of us are not the best sales guys out there. We’ll likely come off as someone desperate to make a sale, rather than someone helpful.
Good content should never feel like self-promotion. Connect on a human level, and then add in your product or service in a subtle way. But never in a manner that seems like an ad.
Content marketing has changed the way companies approach marketing and sales. There’s a catch, though.
You have to market the content you create.
Great content without marketing is as good as a rocket without rocket fuel. It’s good, but it’s not going anywhere.