More Ways To Use Content Marketing To Increase Sales

Capture emails and generate qualified leads using gated content

B2B buyers communicate mainly by e-mailWhile an active blog can drive thousands of marketing qualified leads, gated content tends to drive better, sales-qualified leads. B2B businesses generate more ROI from their content efforts by hiding their most valuable resources behind a form. Doing so enables sales teams to gain direct access to highly qualified customers who have demonstrated a clear need and expressed interest in learning more about how you can help them successfully achieve their goals.

Types of gated content sales reps can use include:

  • Case studies
  • Checklists or worksheets
  • Ebooks
  • Webinar recordings
  • Whitepapers

Instead of making all your content available to audiences, keep high-impact resources behind a contact form. That way, sales reps can capture readers’ email addresses and phone numbers, which they may use to initiate a sales conversation.

Delve into actionable data with original research and reports

Grow_C3_P4_Budgeting_and_forecasting_for_growthData is everywhere and clever brands package the data they gather to develop actionable insights. This content helps their customers make better business decisions. Companies like CoSchedule, DocSend, and Yesware have taken a data-driven approach to content marketing by processing large swaths of data to identify important industry-wide trends that affect businesses around the world. Often, smart salespeople use the research their brand has developed to call out stats that may encourage potential customers to want whatever the sales rep is selling.

Three ways to implement data storytelling include:

  • Analyzing active user behaviors and data
  • Conducting surveys of your target audience or user base
  • Using public data sources—from government archives, industry sources, or on social media

Furthermore, many brands now use original research and reports to drive brand awareness and positive public mention. Some of the best examples of data storytelling from brands are:

Demonstrate ongoing success through client case studies

notebooks_stackedSales prospects who are unfamiliar with your brand or have reservations about the cost of your proposal need to understand the tangible value of your offer. A proven track record of success is often enough to justify costs and close the sale. Case studies are invaluable resources that detail the specific challenge a client faced, the action you took to help solve their problem (or the action they took using your product or service), and the results the clients saw with the help of your product or service.

When entrepreneur Neil Patel added three case studies to his personal site, the results were astounding: Sales grew 185 per cent. When customers know exactly what you have done for your clients in the past, they get the sense you can replicate that success with their business.

Other case studies worth mimicking are:

Give clients an insider look with product manuals

Salespeople who offer potential customers a firsthand look at how a product works build trust with prospects—it shows they have nothing to hide. Sales teams can reference product manuals on sales calls and in written correspondence to give buyers a taste of what they can expect when they purchase your product. This helps alleviate the common customer concern that product onboarding is difficult and a huge distraction for new users. In fact, companies waste millions each year procuring systems and technologies that go relatively unused.

For example, to overcome a buyer’s reservation about how other people at their company may adopt your solution, sales reps can strategically use clear and succinct product manuals. Modern-day product manuals, to a certain extent, have taken on the form of a knowledge base too. And to build a great knowledge base, marketing expert Gregory Ciotti recommends:

  • Avoid making assumptions. Be clear and unambiguous with your instructions and be generous with images, videos, and screenshots.
  • Prioritize your content’s readability. Add bullet points, callouts, line breaks, and subheadings to break up text. Use language your users will be familiar with instead of technical jargon.
  • Organize your articles in logical groupings and categories. Group related articles and include recommendations for similar reads in case customers want to read more.
  • Use plain titles. Knowledge-base articles are not clickbait. Customers want to find something specific and shouldn’t have to click through several ambiguous titles before finding the information they need.

Reach new audiences as a guest blogger

Guest posting on influential sites was the primary driver of growth for Buffer, a budding social media management app, as it acquired its first 100,000 users. For Groove, guest blogging allowed the help-desk software company to reach an audience of more than 1 million people.

Brand representatives use guest blogging as another way to reach a large and targeted audience. Instead of building their own readership, companies publish content on sites that are influential within their niche to develop thought leadership and attract new customers at scale. There are four steps to follow to become a guest blogger on any site.

  1. Identify a list of the most influential sites in your niche that are well-read by your target audience.
  2. Start a relationship with the publication’s editor in an in-person meeting, over email, or onsocial media.
  3. Provide a portfolio of your writing to show you can meet their editorial standards.
  4. Pitch topics their audiences want to read.

To convert any traffic you receive into qualified leads, link to a targeted landing page in your byline. Reference related articles from your site in the post in order to drive additional referral traffic.

Good Selling!

content-marketing-tactics-002

A New Way To Budget For Marketing In 2016

“I know that half my advertising dollars are wasted, but I don’t know which half”

make your marketing dollars work harderSound familiar?

For decades, companies have tried to make their marketing dollars work harder. They have used concepts such as target marketing, niche marketing and positioning to help build sales by generating leads, reaching decision-makers and even asking for the order. But a problem remains: marketing and sales have never been completely coordinated.

The result is that money is allocated to marketing because everyone knows marketing is necessary. And sales people are told go out and sell because most B2B products and services are sold that way.

This approach has worked in the past, but the changing business climate will continue to force companies to re-evaluate the entire process. To borrow a buzz-phrase, tomorrow’s marketing will have to work − not harder − but smarter.

Instead of basing the marketing budget on projected sales, the sales requirements can be used to establish a zero-based approach

In this way, the actual point when the sale is closed determines what materials and how much should be spent to make the direct selling effort as cost-effective as possible.

Cost Effectiveness of Direct Selling Worksheet

The first step is to determine the total cost for your entire sales force, and then the average cost-per-call and cost-per-sale. (At this stage, do not factor out individual salespeople). The chart to the left will help you calculate this.

The resulting numbers are a measure of your current marketing efficiency, arid will serve as a gauge of the cost-effectiveness of your total future program.

Next, using the chart below, break out your new accounts and those you have had for at least one re-order. Depending upon market factors, you may also want to break out the accounts by region, season, or some other criterion.

Cost Breakdown by Account TypeWhat you are measuring here is the cost-effectiveness of your existing direct-selling effort, looking for the types of accounts which are most profitable and those which are least profitable.
As a general rule, your marketing depends upon the profitability level of each category. Those categories where direct selling is very profitable should have programs designed to support the sales person, helping to either increase the dollar volume per account or lower the average cost-per-sale.

Those categories where the profitability level is low should have programs designed to replace the sales person as much as possible.  This can be accomplished effectively with programs such as automated marketing to lower the cost of pre-qualification inquiry fulfillment.

Once you have determined the coA New Way To Budget For Marketingst-per-sale for each category, you should establish sales objectives. The first is to maximize a sales person’s productivity and to do that requires establishing the prime job function:

  • Developing new business leads
  • Making presentations
  • Maintaining face-to–face contact at existing accounts
  • Trouble-shooting problem accounts

Obviously, some or all of these functions could be present in all categories, but by assigning the sales person a prime function, you are taking the first step in determining:

  1. Better way to budget marketingThe type of program (support vs. replacement) that will result in a lower overall cost-per-sale
  2. The message that each component in the program should carry
  3. The amount to be spent to deliver the message(s)

Given this information, you are now in a position to correlate all your marketing, advertising, promotion and direct selling expenses to sales.

Program effectiveness can now be tracked. And you can begin to consider your marketing spend in terms of its contribution to profits…instead of just cost of sales.

Good Selling!

How To Tell If It’s Time To Fire Your Ad Agency

Should You Fire Your Ad AgencyGoing through an ad agency review for a is both difficult and energizing. Every meeting brings new insights. You see opportunities, solid creative and begin to see how this could help bridge some of your sales gaps.

Make no mistake, the effort involved is overwhelming in identifying and selecting a new marketing communications firm. Programs are on hold and the team is making do because the compelling new marketing theme/tagline/look is just around the corner. That’s the hope anyway.

Is it time to fire your ad agency?

Is It Time To Fire Your Ad AgencyMark Mitchell and I discuss this topic in length in his recent blog Is it Time to Fire Your Agency? posted on Whizard Strategy.

While there are a few good B2B client/agency relationships, Mark has seen over and over that find the majority of them are not very strong.  The result is that the client doesn’t get the results they should.

We explore 10 key situations that undermine a strong relationship.

  1. They don’t understand your business
  2. Purchase motivations are more complicated and nuanced than, “The customer will make more money selling your product”
  3. They don’t ask why
  4. They think increased spending is the only way to succeed
  5. You don’t have access to the leaders
  6. Constant turnover of your team
  7. What is their measure of success?
  8. A focus on creativity over strategy
  9. You feel taken for granted
  10. You can’t imagine the agency leaving you

More importantly, we provided you an actionable Ask Yourself tip to each one to help you better understand if that might be your situation.

There are a lot of agencies who do a good job of servicing their clients. Mark notes, “In my experience, there are a lot more who make a number of these mistakes. It’s like any good relationship, you have to work at it and not just take things for granted.”

What if the problem is you?

Time To Fire Your Ad AAgencyMark and I also see a lot of good agencies who can’t do a good job because their client gets in the way.  I know – I’ve been that client. Here are some ways this happens.

  1. Thinking that you are the creative person
  2. You hold back information
  3. You are cheap

Agency client relationships are the best when both groups are open and honest about the issues the business is facing and what it will take to overcome them. When these relationships are true partnerships, both companies will ultimately succeed and grow.

Good Selling!

About The Authors: Mark Mitchell is a Sales and Marketing Consultant who specializes in helping business owners and senior executives in the building materials industry overcome difficult sales problems. Using his extensive hands-on experience, he shows them how to creative effective strategies to identify and eliminate blind spots that allow them to get past the roadblocks that keep them from realizing their revenue goals. Click here to learn more about his one-day workshop “Selling Today’s Building Materials Prospect.” Or sign up for his monthly building material marketing newsletter here. 

Greg Bonsib gives his perspective from the client side. Greg has extensive experience in working with agencies in his marketing leadership positions at ODL, Owens Corning, Rubbermaid, Sentry Safe and Zenith Products. Greg also publishes an industry leading blog on Channel Marketing.

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