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Three Ways Content Marketing Should Change How You Sell

Three Ways Content Marketing Should Change How You Sell

Content marketing is reshaping the sales process. Here’s what this strategic resource can do for you.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll probably say it again: content marketing is not about making a sales pitch. Nor is it a substitute or replacement for an expert sales staff. However, with the right strategy, and with a closely aligned sales and marketing team, this inbound approach to marketing can revolutionize the way supply chain businesses approach sales.

There’s no question that content marketing has changed the sales process. Thanks to the content and resources available to them, potential customers are more informed as they enter the buyer’s journey. Content marketing helps generate a steady flow of quality leads and provides targeted information to usher prospects down the sales funnel.

Content marketing helps generate a steady flow of quality leads and provides targeted information to usher prospects down the sales funnel. Click To Tweet

In this new environment, marketing and sales need to work in tandem to be at their most effective. This way they can help each other generate leads, nurture current leads more effectively, and close more deals. Here are three important ways content marketing is changing the way businesses accomplish these goals:

1) Inbound over outbound

Old school marketing was all about outbound — a marketing approach that pushes a message onto a buyer. Traditional advertising — tv and radio ads, telemarketing, banner and display ads — are all examples of outbound marketing. Content marketing takes the opposite approach: inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing focuses on audiences finding you. Instead of pushing a message onto buyers, inbound marketing allows you to establish your brand as an industry leader and let interested audiences come to you. This type of marketing attempts to draw in potential customers through interesting and engaging content.

When it comes to sales, inbound marketing is a game-changer. Content marketing is all about creating a relationship with prospects and paving the way for the sales team to nurture and develop that relationship. Your sales staff is empowered to nurture more leads through to conversion when they are armed with effective, targeted content.

2) Providing information

Once your prospect is ushered into the sales funnel, content marketing can help your sales team continue the conversation. The content you share with prospects at this stage of the buyer’s journey should be designed to answer informed questions and demonstrate that your products and services are there to meet their needs.

Quality content is your sales staff’s best friend. As sales personnel answer questions from prospects and help guide them toward conversion, email, blog, and other types of content are key to keeping prospects interested and moving them down the funnel.

3) Cultivate loyalty

Converting leads is important, but it’s only half the battle. Cultivating loyal customers for your business is crucial to success. Content marketing can not only help you do this, but it can turn those loyal customers into ambassadors for your brand.

Your sales staff should use the high-quality content and guidance provided by your marketing team to engage with satisfied customers on social channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Rather than trying to push products, they can use these social spaces to share expert information and foster conversations that will lead other prospects to your business.

Content marketing and sales are a match made in heaven. Curating and creating great content will generate quality leads for your company. It also empowers your sales force to build relationships with potential customers — and close the sale.

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Infographic: 6 Ways to Repurpose Content

Infographic: 6 Ways to Repurpose Content

Repurposing content is an efficient way to reach a broader audience and build brand awareness.

You spent hours pouring over stats and interesting facts for a blog post. Don’t let all of that effort fall to the wayside. Breathe new life — and reach new audiences — by repurposing that content into engaging new formats.

Some social users like video, while others prefer pictures or podcasts. Taking content and changing its original format is just smart business. Repurposing high-quality content saves marketers time and money and helps to reach a broader audience.

Be picky

Not all of your blog posts and content get the same attention, and that’s ok. Some pieces will resonate more, increasing engagement and driving website traffic.

Run analytics on your content and see what pieces have performed the best. Use tools like Google Analytics to determine your most popular blog posts, your most engaged tweets, or your most viewed videos. This data will help you decide which content should be repurposed. The idea is to take one piece of content and gain visibility and expand your audience by turning it into multiple pieces of content.

The Rule of 7

Repurposing content isn’t just about cutting and pasting content. Have you heard of the Rule of 7? The Rule of 7 is a marketing principle that states your prospects need to encounter your content seven times before they take notice. That’s right, seven times.

The Rule of 7 is a marketing principle that states your prospects need to encounter your content seven times before they take notice. That’s right, seven times. Click To Tweet

Repurposing content is a great way to take high-quality content and continue to get it in front of audiences without seeming redundant. HubSpot reports that brands who blog around 16 times or more per month get 3.5 times more traffic and 4.5 times more leads than businesses that blog fewer than four times a month. Frequency clearly gets results, but it can also be incredibly time-consuming to create new content 16 times every month. Repurposed content can help your marketing team increase frequency while focusing on quality.

Infographic: 6 ways to repurpose content

6 Ways to Repurpose Content

Takeaway

How much value does your company put on content? It may be even more important than you think. Use these tips to repurpose high-quality content or yet better, start creating content with these tips in mind. Thinking about a topic and how you can turn that topic into multiple pieces of content will help your hard work go further and perform better.

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Archive for the "Marketing" Category


5 Elements of an Effective B2B Case Study

5 Elements of an Effective B2B Case Study

Case studies continue to be the preferred content type among B2B buyers. These 5 elements will help you write case studies that engage prospects and generate leads.

We just wrote about how buyers prefer case studies over all other kinds of content. In fact, 89% of B2B marketers consider customer testimonials and case studies as the most effective kinds of content in converting buyers. So how do you write an effective case study that generates leads?

Here are 5 elements of an effective B2B case study:

1) Story

Yes, case studies are all about the data, but fundamentally, they are stories. You’re not making a sales pitch — case studies written from this perspective tend to fall flat, and fail to attract and engage prospective buyers. Case studies written as stories succeed. You’re presenting a narrative to a prospect that uses data and testimonials to explain how your products and services helped another business.

Case studies written as stories succeed. You’re presenting a narrative to a prospect that uses data and testimonials to explain how your products and services helped another business. Click To Tweet

2) Information and Education

Again, a case study is not a sales pitch. When you write a case study, you’re presenting information about your products and services, and educating your prospects about how your business has helped organizations similar to their own.

3) Concrete Examples

One of the reasons case studies are such a high-performing content type is that they are data-driven. Prospective buyers turn to case studies for concrete examples. Make it easy for them to find the information they’re looking for. Use bullet points, quotes, and lists to clearly convey the most important data.

4) The Right Length

Finding the right length for your case study is all about striking a balance between presenting complete information, telling a compelling story, and avoiding minutia that’s too specific to matter to your prospects. Your reader needs to be able to skim quickly to get the gist, and then dive back in for more details.

Think about it this way: if you’re the prospect, does your case study leave you with questions about how your products and services helped another business? If so, chances are you haven’t included enough information.

5) The three key components

  • The Challenge: This is chapter one of your story. What challenge or challenges was your customer facing before implementing your products? This is a great place to use customer quotes.
  • The Solution: Here’s the meat of the story! How did your business address the challenges your customer was facing? Data is key here.
  • The Results: Your story’s conclusion. Use key metrics to demonstrate the immediate and ongoing results of your solution. Numbers like savings, revenue gains, sales growth, and ROI belong in this section, rounded off with another customer quote.

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How Businesses Can Be Helpful (Not Intrusive) on Social Platforms

How Businesses Can Be Helpful (Not Intrusive) on Social Platforms

As social networks reaffirm their commitment to keeping their platforms truly social, brands need to evaluate their social media marketing strategies and ensure that they align with what users want to see.

This year, we’ve seen social networks attempt to take back the “social” element of their platforms by decreasing the reach of brands and businesses (think Facebook News Feed changes). We’ve thus seen a decline across the board in social media reach.

The 2018 Sprout Social Index shows that people are still using social media primarily for connecting with friends and family. As brands put together campaigns and messaging, they must remember that they are “guests at dinner, not members of the nuclear family: their role in user feeds is delicate, valuable, and to be treated with great care.”

The task for brands is to carry out the necessary disruption of the user experience in the most relevant, and least disruptive way. Click To Tweet

The task for brands is to carry out the necessary disruption of the user experience in the most relevant, and least disruptive way. Sprout Social’s data gives a clear answer: awareness and consideration stage content. This means thinking long-term and prioritizing relationships, not quick fixes and attribution.

Give the people what they want

As part of its 2018 Index, Sprout Social researched the types of content that users prefer to see from brands on social media. 30% of users expressed a preference for links to more information, while 18% prefer graphics/images, 17% want produced video, 11% value text/conversations, and 7% said produced/edited photos.

The obvious answer for brands is to cater to the expressed wishes of the public. Building lasting relationships with prospects on social media means presenting your brand in a visually engaging way while linking them to useful and relevant information. Furthermore, it means placing focus and resources on authentic engagement. “This is the content that consumers, who use social primarily to interact with friends and family, are most interested in from brands,” reports Sprout Social.

Redefining success

Marketers naturally place a premium on ROI, though measuring social media ROI remains difficult. In fact, 55% of social marketers reported it as their biggest challenge. Conventional wisdom when it comes to ROI for social media has focused on direct attribution to sales. But according to Sprout Social, “that model doesn’t actually reflect where social marketers are focused.” In fact, 80% report increasing brand awareness as their primary social media goal, and just as many point to increasing engagement across their social channels.

A meager 14% of marketers report being able to quantify the revenue from social media. This is a problem — one that’s caused by looking at social media primarily as it relates to sales. According to Sprout Social, this “breeds an overly microscopic perspective.”

It’s time for social marketers to redefine ROI, and put an end to wasted time and resources on content and campaigns that don’t resonate. Realigning priorities from sales to what users actually want to see on social media is key to cultivating strong, lasting relationships with prospects, and being a helpful rather than invasive presence online.

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7 Stages in the Sales Cycle Content Can Help

7 Stages in the Sales Cycle Content Can Help

Content is your sales team’s best friend. Use these 7 strategies for putting your content to work to convert and retain customers.

As we’ve written about before, content can help your sales team win business. But you need to take a close look at your sales process and be strategic about the times when content would be helpful — as well as the types of content that will successfully assist sales reps in educating and informing prospects. Here’s how content can support sales in each of the 7 stages in the sales cycle:

1)     Land the first conversation

First impressions are critically important. Personalized content is ideal for helping sales teams make the most of their initial contact. For example, try initiating contact with a prospect through a live workshop that meets industry-specific needs. Prospects’ first impressions of your business will be that you understand their needs and have the tools and expertise to meet them.

Personalized content is ideal for helping sales teams make the most of their initial contact. For example, try initiating contact with a prospect through a live workshop that meets industry-specific needs. Click To Tweet

2)     Get past an initial “no”

One of the most significant challenges for a sales team is receiving an initial “no” from a prospect. But with the help of content marketing, sales teams can often get past that initial rejection and turn it around. This is a great time to leverage not just your own content, but that of your prospect. Educate yourself on your prospect’s latest blog posts, and follow up with suggestions for how they can further optimize their content or business practices.

3)     Educate them about a problem they didn’t know they have

Cultivating a fruitful relationship with a prospect is the best way to help your sales team land conversions. Content marketing is all about becoming a valuable resource for your prospects and customers, offering them more than just your products and services. As you learn about your prospect’s business, treat it as you would your own—where there are practices that need to be looked at, create a report and suggest fixes.

4)     Nurture leads that aren’t quite ready to buy

Once again, the primary function of content marketing is relationship cultivation. Even when a lead isn’t ready to buy, content can help you nurture a relationship. When the time comes, that lead will turn to your business. Send personalized content throughout the customer lifecycle, demonstrating that you understand are ready to meet their needs.

5)     Help them make their final decision about vendors

When a prospect is ready to make a decision about what vendor to use, chances are, they’ll go with the company that has demonstrated the most comprehensive understanding of their unique needs and challenges, and a readiness to anticipate and meet them. If you’ve created and shared relevant, personalized content throughout the sales funnel, you’re best positioned to be the vendor of choice.

6)     Build lasting relationships with customers

Once a lead has converted, the role of content doesn’t stop. Too often, businesses lose customers by dropping the ball when it comes to nurturing ongoing customer relationships. Keep customers loyal by sharing personalized case studies, videos, and infographics even after they’ve chosen your business, demonstrating your ongoing commitment.

7)     Turn customers into brand evangelists

So, your content has helped your sales team generate a lead, convert that prospect, and build a lasting relationship. What more can it possibly do? With ongoing cultivation, your customers can become brand ambassadors. But to make sure they are effective, you need to equip your most loyal customers with the tools they need to spread the word about your business. Referral incentives, shareable social media content, and guest blogging opportunities are just a few ways to turn customers into evangelists for your brand.

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Why Inbound Marketing is a Better Strategy Than Outbound for Supply Chain

Why Inbound Marketing is a Better Strategy Than Outbound for Supply Chain

The supply chain is increasingly seeing the value of moving to an inbound marketing strategy. Here’s what’s at the core of the change to inbound marketing.

Traditional marketing in the supply chain uses an outbound strategy. We’ve all done it. Taking out ads in trade publications. Sending direct mailings. Cold calling.

These types of approaches fight to get your brand name in front of prospective customers, hoping to get a marketing message that resonates in front of the right person at the right time.

Inbound marketing is different

Inbound marketing is different. It’s, well, confident. It showcases your industry merit rather than trying to convince people of it.

With inbound marketing, you publish relevant, informative content where your audience already is – your website, related social media, and other online industry channels – to add value at every stage of their buyer’s journey.

Prospective customers come to associate your brand with industry expertise. When they are ready to buy, they think of you. That’s an inbound content marketing strategy.

Why the supply chain is shifting to inbound content marketing

The supply chain is increasing seeing the value of moving to an inbound marketing strategy. What’s at the core of the change to inbound marketing?

On a theoretical level, it’s recognizing that your business has more to offer than its primary product or service. This is so very important. You also have a team of extremely knowledgeable industry experts with unique and informed perspectives.

But switching to an inbound content marketing strategy is also about recognizing that your customers want much more from you than just your product. The business to busienss (BtB) buying climate is growing longer and more complex, and customers today are demanding value outside the sales funnel. Traditional outbound marketing accomplishes neither of these.

Switching to an inbound content marketing strategy is about recognizing that your customers want more from you than just your product. Customers today are demanding value outside the sales funnel. Click To Tweet

Why inbound marketing is better for the supply chain

If that didn’t convince you, put simply, inbound content marketing is just more effective for four main reasons:

  1. Cost. Inbound marketing is typically less expensive than outbound. Hubspot reports that each sales lead costs approximately 61% less for organizations that employ an inbound strategy versus those that focus on outbound marketing.
  2. MeasurabilityMeasuring your success with inbound marketing is considerably easier. For example, you’ll never know how many people saw your billboard, but you can measure exactly how many people read your blog post.
  3. Longevity. Digital content is often evergreen – meaning it’s forever relevant – and older posts that need an update can be easily optimized. Essentially, content lives forever and continues drive traffic long after you publish it. In fact, at Fronetics, about 80% of our traffic comes from posts that are 6 months old or older.
  4. Targetability. With inbound marketing, you only expend resources on prospects that are already looking for information about your industry, products, and services, making inbound marketing a much more targeted approach for your lead-nurturing efforts. Less expensive, easier to measure, lasts longer, and represents a more targeted approach? Seems like a no-brainer. But what’s the catch? Well, executing a good inbound content marketing isn’t easy, and it generally takes at least six months to yield results.

Executing a good inbound content marketing strategy

Done well, inbound content marketing is extremely effective. A good content marketing strategy is about understanding the questions and concerns that are particular to your customer base and about offering quality information and analysis that answers those needs.

The role of content in the supply chain and logistics industries is to grow brand awareness and customer engagement, increase lead generation and nurturing, and establish your company as an industry thought leader in the minds of your prospective customers.

An inbound marketing strategy helps you become more than just another business to customers. You can become a valuable resource for everything related to your products, services, and industry as a whole. Which is precisely what your potential customers are currently expecting from your supply chain and logistics business.

This post originally appeared on EBN Online.

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