Content marketing is as important to today’s modern salesperson, as it is to the marketing team who is focused on driving brand awareness. A shift in how buyer’s consume information and do early stage research has completely disrupted traditional sales and marketing approaches.
Savvy organizations know that they can no longer force the buyer to fit their sales process. In fact, sales and marketing must adapt what they do to align with how the buyer makes purchasing decisions.
Though there are additional layers to each, the buyer’s journey looks something like this:
- Awareness – it is here that the buyer recognizes the symptoms of a problem they want to solve, or perhaps a business opportunity that they want to capitalize on. To better define the situation, they begin doing their homework to help them determine how to move forward.
- Consideration – in this phase, buyers have clearly defined what the problem or opportunity looks like. They begin doing their research, completing close to 60% of that research before the initial engagement with sales. Buyers are using your website, content you produce, social channels and more to investigate options, approaches or methods available.
- Decision – at this point, buyers have begun to compile a list of vendors and products to determine which ones fit their strategy. This ultimately becomes a short-list of companies they want to talk to. While buyers are doing their research, of which content plays a key role, it is critical that salespeople are also using content to increase their visibility, and to demonstrate credibility and capability in advance of potential sales opportunities.
Content marketing is everyone’s job.
Using content to drive buyers to take specific actions does not just rest on the shoulders of the marketing department. The strategic use of content as part of your sales process is key also.
From sources like DemandGen, Dell and CEB, we know that:
But there is a problem.
For the last several years, content creation and curation has been the buzz in the business world. With so much noise, how do you ensure that your content stands out?
Organizations can create a mix of content to appeal to potential buyers…webinars, ebooks, whitepapers, live streaming, research reports, quizzes, video and more.
Content that tends to be most useful is content that is interactive versus static. You don’t want people to simply read the whitepaper or watch your video, you want them to interact with the content. For example, you can use quizzes, assessments, surveys or contests to engage prospective buyers. Action leads to conversion.
Rising in popularity is the use of user-generated content (UGC) as part of a company’s content strategy.
“User-generated content (UGC) is defined as “any form of content such as blogs, wikis, discussion forums, posts, chats, tweets, podcasting, pins, digital images, video, audio files, advertisements and other forms of media that was created by users of an online system or service, often made available via social media websites“ –Wikipedia
More compelling than you telling the story of how your solution solves problems for buyers, is content created and shared by people who love what you offer.
According to Bazaar Voice, 64% of millennials and 53% of baby boomers want more options to share their opinions about brands, while other studies show user generated content is 50% more trusted and 35% more memorable than all other forms of media.
- Builds your reputation.
- Foster loyalty.
- Generates leads.
- Younger buyers love it.
- Similar to a focus group, but cheaper.
How to create user-generated campaigns:
- Match the promotion type to your audience. The same content isn’t going to appeal to everyone.
- Request entries that you can repurpose later. Collect information you can use in future campaigns like testimonials or quotes.
- Make the reward match the effort required. If you expect people to put maximum effort into creating content for you, make sure the offer matches the effort they will need to expend.
- Simplify the process. Don’t make people jump through too many hurdles, or they will become flustered and drop out.
- Consult legal up front. Be sure your campaigns are compliant with local laws. And, openly discuss problems that may arise. Plan your strategy up front, instead of waiting to figure it out when something goes wrong.
Finally, millennials most trust user-generated content and they are occupying a large portion of the workforce. This generation spends 60% of their time on social media with 30% of that time being spent engaging with user-generated content.
Coming up behind them is Gen Z, who use their smartphones multiple times per day, use social media weekly, and 60% have reported taking pictures and video.
The reasons for having a solid content strategy, one that includes user-generated content is clear, but remember that your strategy still needs company branded content too!
Join me at Ariba Live in Las Vegas on March 16th to learn more about how your content strategy drives brand awareness and revenue opportunities!