Cut through the noise.
“If you can’t tell, you can’t sell,” says Storytelling authority Robert McKee.
Content marketing attracts and engages prospects at each stage of the buying process.
“If you can’t tell, you can’t sell,” says Storytelling authority Robert McKee.
There are many different perspectives and philosophies on persona development. This makes sense, as they’re the most critical element of creating messaging and informing Message Maps™…then identifying and developing content aligned with the buy cycle…and ultimately validating the various components of a true buyer engagement strategy. In the end, persona development should be defined by how it’ll be used – in terms of purpose and context that will drive messaging, and ultimately content strategy. Other marketers will use it more as a “playbook” of all possible or available buyer insights. I’m not saying either is right or wrong, but it’s why we’ve created a new category called Engagement Personas™.
The need for content and content marketing, as well as the discipline itself, has grown exponential just in the last few years. The proliferation of content is at staggering levels and buyers are inundated with it on a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour and daily basis. And I think that the majority of B2B content out there, intended for buyer engagement and advancement, is simply subpar at best. And a BIG word of caution: In addition to a proliferation of content, there is now an explosion of new “experts,” “gurus,”, and “thought-leaders”. My advice is take a long hard look at their career experience prior to considering hiring one of them for guidance.
There’s a significant problem with content today that can no longer be ignored. It’s the “elephant in the room”—and some organizations and marketers are aware of it, and some aren’t. It’s that the vast majority of the data from marketing practitioners, benchmark reports, industry analysts, and a multitude of other sources suggests that the #1 objective of content is lead generation and account/buyer conversion, sometimes expressed as “engagement”: (and yes, brand awareness tops some lists). Yet, almost universally, content strategy and content creation is “owned” by Product and/or Corporate Marketing in 60% – 80% of organizations. It’s driven by the Demand Generation team in only 5% – 10% of organizations!
So, let’s get this straight. The primary objective for content is to top-of-funnel inquiries, leads and converting full-funnel opportunities, yet the very people tasked with creating integrated programs to drive that objective DO NOT control the #1 MOST IMPORTANT element which is critical to achieving it? HUH?! Seriously?! That’s like having a plumber wiring your house and an electrician installing the pipes. This can truly blow your mind!
OK, as I step back from the ledge, please allow me to share a highly-informed perspective on this based on a nearly 25 year career in B2B marketing, buyer engagement and demand generation. It’s critically important to acknowledge and understand the difference between “domain-centric” and “engagement-focused” content. Is this starting to make a bit more sense?
The CMO of a “Top 50” B2B technology company said he saw tremendous efficacy in our buyer engagement frameworks and methodologies…but asked himself, and me, the question: why would he need our help with content when he has an dedicated, well-staffed team of product marketers producing it? Then bam…the ability to articulate this difference, which was percolating in my subconscious, hit me right between the eyes. I framed it as “domain-centric” vs. “engagement-focused” content, and the CMO immediately embraced the distinction.
Seems like I sort of threw Product Marketing under the bus, right? Actually, quite the contrary. Product Marketing sits at the intersection of Product Development/Management, Sales, Corporate Marketing, Demand Generation and Field Marketing. As such, they are the single most important information resource in content marketing today. They arguably know more about your products, value proposition, market segments, buyers, market trends, etc. than anyone else in your organization. The disconnect I see, universally across organizations, is that most are classically trained product marketers…schooled in research, creating and articulating value propositions, describing features and benefits, and creating stellar product collateral.
That’s where we Demand Marketers come in and the hand-off begins. By looking through the various white papers, data sheets, collateral, and sales playbooks the Product Marketers have created, Demand Marketers can find what they (and you) are looking for. It’s content that’s embedded and buried within, and it serves a different purpose and context than what is truly useful for buyer engagement. There, in the guise of product and benefit information, you’ll find the buyer’s key pain points, as well as an articulation of how your company, products and solutions help address them. Then you can apply all the insights in our new game-changing eBook entitled Exposed. The False Promises of Revenue Marketing. to create truly effective engagement-focused content.
To discover more in-depth insights on this topic, download a copy of the eBook by simply clicking on the link below to discover 9 principles to exponentially increase leads, conversion and pipeline velocity:
Creating Logical Pathways™: How to build a clear engagement path via content – to advance buyers and increase conversion through the buy cycle by 300% or more!
It’s crucial to buyer advancement and conversion to seed content in logical, sequential parts of your buyers’ UX (user/visitor experience) by using your various digital assets/properties. It allows you to use “guided selling” techniques to capture additional depth of understanding via progressive profiling. One good content asset deserves an even better one, and then an even better one after that.
Or…to put it another way: By providing increasingly attractive incentives on each successive page of your digital properties (website, registration, thank you or landing pages, etc.), you’ll be able to focus prospect behavior and streamline data capture. It works very simply: Upon their registration for an initial asset requiring minimal information, pull prospective buyers further in with an even stronger content offer of higher perceived value—provided they take the “next step” you’ve guided them towards.
See for yourself how this is a powerful tool for engaging prospects and collecting essential information about their companies, current situation, challenges, pain points, needs, and of course stage in the buying process. And the value in monitoring and analyzing their Digital Body Language will be priceless.
It’s all about leaving bread crumbs along the conversion path you want your prospective buyers to follow! And ALWAYS define calls-to-action everywhere (social media, blog posts, landing pages, on your website, in automated lead nurturing e-mails, via links within all types of content assets such as eBooks, guides, etc.). What do you want the buyer who consumes content to do next? (Below is just one simple example of the practical application of this principle.)
What questions are buyers trying to answer at the early and middle stages of their buying process? Your content should help specific audiences (i.e., Engagement Personas™) answer questions like, “do I have a problem?” or “do I have THIS problem?” and “how should I solve it?” You’re attempting to surface latent pain and demand… long before the conversation shifts to what solution is best. Your solution is obviously the best, but TRUST is what makes it obvious to a discerning buyer.
To that end, one of the most valuable aspects of Engagement Personas™ when constructed effectively is to anticipate and answer the questions a buyer would ask at each step of the process. If you have content that answers them in a way that’s relevant to the specific prospective buyer, fantastic. If you don’t, then that’s where you start. The other suggestion for enabling Engagement Personas™ to drive strategy is to develop engagement scenarios.
To discover more in-depth insights on this topic, download a copy of the eBook by simply clicking on the link below to discover 9 buyer engagement principles to exponentially increase leads, conversion, pipeline velocity and revenue impact:
The Escalating Accountability Mandate…
Measurability and accountability—it’s one thing to feel the heat, it’s another to get burned. To understand why so many marketers are relying on a new and evolving array of automation tools, let’s consider one fact: Today, one of the key drivers of B2B demand generation is proving the value of marketing investments. What are you getting for your marketing dollars? And how do you quantify it?
As revenue marketing executives seek to answer these questions, they’re more focused than ever on measurement, accountability and increasing performance across programs, marketing activities and media. In fact, according to recent marketing outlook reports by the CMO Council, marketers are under “increased pressure to improve relevance, accountability and performance of their organizations.”
In other words, marketers are being told to deliver the goods. Those who succeed are rewarded. Those who do not are at risk. (The average employment span for a CMO at any one company—approximately 2 years.).
Hence, the increased reliance on—and investments in—marketing automation an ABM solutions to help measure results and manage programs. The universal goals, it seems, are to improve and quantify the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing initiatives, and significantly improve the allocation and return on marketing spend. Or, put in its simplest and most personal terms—you need to enhance performance to create a sustainable, competitive advantage in today’s marketplace.
The question is: How do you do it? Or, more specifically, how do you plan,execute and measure a highly-calibrated demand generation strategy that takes into account your target audience, solution set, price point, market conditions, competitive environment and current initiatives?
To answer these questions (I’ll put a stake in the ground in a moment), it’s first necessary to make a few assumptions. First, I’m assuming that as you read this, you already understand the need to align Sales and Marketing more closely than ever to better support the sales process and drive demand. I’m assuming that you’ve embraced new social media tools and marketing automation technologies, that you have the dashboards in place to measure results, and that you genuinely desire to increase performance. And if not, your career is likely facing an extinction-level event!
Additionally, I believe that I do not need to delve into areas that are best left to specialists — including Revenue Architects — such as the mechanics of digital marketing, search and social media marketing and sales, the operation of marketing automation, deploying effective ABM programs, formatting landing pages for maximum conversion, and the criteria and process for lead scoring and distribution.
Today’s universal mission and objectives. Marketers, of their initiatives. Marketing’s attribution to revenue is critical. Those who do are today’s true “revenue marketers”. The others…well they may be looking for new jobs soon.
Below you’ll find SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall. You’ll also find a more detailed view of how best-in-class companies are measuring and analyzing key levers that increase Marketing’s contribution to revenue performance, including conversion in the pipeline via a Metrics-Driven Methodology™…
But enough of the qualifiers. To the heart of the matter. To improve marketing performance and create a sustainable, competitive advantage, you need to do more than rely on new technologies and digital media as ends unto themselves. Rather, you need to return to the foundational principles of solid, effective demand generation—and base your programs on learnings and insights that have proven themselves on countless occasions in the marketplace – ultimately in the context of a well-defined buyer engagement strategy. Yes, new technologies and digital media are remarkable—awe-inspiring in fact—but you need to balance your use of them (and your thinking about how to fully maximize their potential) with several core principles that are often overlooked.
One final thought before we proceed: Let’s define Demand Generation and Revenue Marketing. Before launching into the foundational elements, there’s one point of order. Let’s define demand generation as results-based marketing that supports Sales, and ultimately revenue delivery. Demand generation serves the purpose of generating, nurturing and converting leads into qualified sales opportunities. When effective, it makes both selling and buying a more comfortable and efficient process. And when compared to other forms of marketing, it is by far the most measurable and therefore accountable side of the business.
The challenge is that until recent years, demand generation meant “lead generation” and was associated too often with one-off marketing campaigns, often supported by telesales, less sophisticated landing and registration pages, static banner ads and e-mail blasts. And to compound things, marketing automation platforms were basically used as “spam cannons”. Ultimately, it was measured by short-term results and myopic questions such as “How many leads did the program produce?”
However, the fact is in complex B2B sales, demand generation isn’t about instant gratification, but rather buyer engagement which requires a sustained effort, often over a relatively long period of time.
Is your career facing an extinction-level event? Avoid annihilation by downloading a copy of our eBook by simply clicking on the link below to discover 9 principles of buyer engagement to exponentially increase leads, conversion, pipeline velocity and revenue impact:
Inbound Conference is underway in Boston with record attendance. We have been fortunate to work with HubSpot and Inbound Marketing strategies for 10 years and we remain committed to Inbound as core element of an effective marketing and sales strategy. Yet, we also see that Inbound is under increasing pressure as more and more firms adopt the strategy and crowd the airwaves with “attractor” content. In 2009, when we published a blog post, we could often rank on the first page of a google search results the very next day – now it is far more difficult to get results. What can we do about it?
We believe that businesses need a more enduring and well-constructed approach to capture customer value. They need a revenue architecture that delivers world-class buyer engagement. Buyer Engagement is the universal approach to delivering the right experiences and messages at the right time to the right buyers. Buyer Engagement is about building meaningful relationships with buyers – with an equitable exchange of value – that translates into predictable and sustainable revenue growth. Buyer Engagement happens across the organization and across Marketing and Sales.
There is a lot of hype about tactics like Inbound and ABM, but few ‘revenue marketers’ are using a true buyer-first approach. A true buyer engagement approach will more clearly identify the role of marketing and sales tactics and shape 1:1 messaging and experience.
We see issues every day as we work with clients, including:
We recently launched an e-book series authored by Keith Sullivan that describes the 9 Principles of Effective Buyer Engagement. These serve as a practitioner’s guide to help you to increase leads, conversions, pipeline velocity and revenue impact.
Many so-called “Revenue Marketers” are writing checks that their companies simply can’t cash! According to a recent study by HubSpot, only 23% of marketers are exceeding their revenue goals. Yet, Revenue Marketing has become a ubiquitous concept and is getting tons of hype in today’s market. And rightfully so. No question – it’s the “holy grail” of today’s senior stakeholders.
Here’s the problem—all the verbiage around it was generated by companies and people deeply invested in its success. These include companies that are predominantly staffed by marketing automation technologists and solutions engineers, who are actually software people, not demand marketers. And all the talk isn’t limited to the marketing operations and automation folks who are making claims. There are also many strategic consulting firms and agencies that do the same, but they don’t have enough experience as practitioners to execute on the very recommendations they are prescribing to clients.
Don’t get me wrong, the modern marketing technology stack forms the most powerful marketing enablement toolkit I’ve witnessed in a nearly 25-year career. But it’s just that…an enablement toolkit. It’s a partial solution. You ALSO need effective buyer engagement strategy and execution or the monetization of your marketing investments won’t even come close to its potential.
Quite simply, revenue marketing can work—when (and only when) it’s driven by a worthy buyer engagement strategy. But the primary challenge, which we address in our new eBook entitled Exposed. The False Promises of Revenue Marketing., is all the confusion, misinterpretation and general lack of understanding that exists around revenue marketing and the buyer engagement strategies that are essential to its success.
These points of confusion include:
In the eBook we highlight these critical elements (and many more) that are too frequently being ignored, simply misunderstood or not fully embraced, but that are vital for true revenue marketing. In it we address 9 foundational principles that when used as a roadmap for marketing automation and social media propagation are the surest way to develop a sound buyer engagement strategy that transforms you into a true rock star of revenue marketing.
Download a copy of the eBook to discover 9 ways to exponentially increase leads, conversion, pipeline velocity and revenue impact:
Improving the quality and completeness of sales messages delivers hard ROI. Here are three reasons you should review the content your sales teams are using and take a diagnostic approach to assess the effectiveness of your sales messaging:
1) Reduce the time required for achieving channel effectiveness:
2) Increase sales capacity
3) Reduces the cost of sales
Make certain your content and messaging is sufficient for the average salesperson to cost effectively close the sale. Would you like a copy of the checklist? Check out the 9 Sales Enablement Content Imperatives.
This is a guest post by Bud Hyler – a member of the Revenue Architects’ expert network.
Your top salespeople have sufficient confidence and sales skill that they don’t need a lot of content to be successful in their sales efforts. However an average salesperson with less confidence and less sales skill will require much more content. Top sales people usually need less content because they are able to develop a greater level of customer relationship and trust.
One of the responsibilities of sales management is to specify the content requirements that sufficiently augments the sales skills of the average salesperson so that revenue is successfully generated.