The Content Marketing Revolution: Are You Ready for the Future of B2B Sales and Marketing

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� The Pursuit Group•Sales & Marketing Reinvention Series


Are You Ready for the Future of B2B Sales and Marketing?




The Pursuit Group • Sales and Marketing Reinvention Series

The Content Marketing Revolution: Are You Ready for the Future of B2B Sales and Marketing? The advent of the Internet has dramatically impacted society

across the globe, transforming the way we interact and conduct our daily lives. The Internet and associated electronic technologies

that have evolved alongside it have become universal communications tools in the arena of commerce, empowering marketers in their function of sharing problem-solving information with prospects and customers. Likewise, those prospects and customers are even more empowered, through their access to the Internet, to research products or services before making a purchase decision and before they contact companies selling these products—and this applies especially to business-to-business transactions. This dynamic has profoundly transformed traditional B2B marketing and sales paradigms; altering the standard relationship between buyer and seller, changing the way in which marketing and sales departments interact, disrupting the pace of the sales process, and recasting the role of salesperson to that of a trusted advisor. The fundamental element of the information exchange is the content itself— information that can appear in any number of different formats, distributed by a company through a variety of channels. The function of content has taken on such significance that the entirely new field of content marketing is evolving to meet the growing demand for the creation and distribution of content, as well as for tracking its consumption, for the purpose of lead generation and nurturing in the sales process.

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The Content Marketing Revolution: Are You Ready for the Future of B2B Sales and Marketing?

����������������������������������������������� ������������� Objective discussions of a business or technical trend in the seller's industry, and suggestions for how to view, assess, and respond to this trend ������������������� Ongoing communications to prospects on a variety of topics related to the company’s products, and problems solved by the product ����������������� Background information on key issues relating to the use of a product, or interviews of key company staff related to the company’s products or customer focus ��������� Online audio presentations featuring in-depth coverage of important applications involving the company’s product, presenting a range of options to solve relevant problems for prospects ������������� Stories of how current customers are successfully using the seller's product in their business or operations �������������������� Outlines a specific technical use for the company's product Content marketing is attracting great interest in the B2B marketing field, and enterprises of all kinds are implementing content marketing programs as they prepare for a future increasingly dominated by empowering technology, in the hands of both buyers and sellers. Companies looking into implementing content marketing programs will not discover a universal, one-size-fits-all formula; they will need to invest time and money to tailor a program that leverages their unique expertise to meet their needs and goals. Companies that make such an investment to adapt to this new sales and marketing environment will serve their customers more effectively and be better positioned for success. Those that do not adapt may find themselves outpaced by their competitors.

Understanding the Term “Content” and its Various Formats Content is an umbrella term encompassing any information, narrative or message a company deems relevant to introduce to the audience it is trying to reach. Yesterday’s content —typically a mailing piece, brochure, or ad—tended to be heavily promotional, freely boasting product features and benefits.

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Today’s content, however, often must be disassociated from product promotion, a change necessitated by customers performing product research via Internet keyword searches, accessing objective information from a wide variety of sources on products of interest to them.

79% of B2B buyers say they do not talk to sales reps until after they perform their own independent research online or compile their own short list of preferred vendors

Customers Using the Internet for Self-Education An estimated 93 percent of B2B buyers use Internet search to begin the buying process, according to iMedia Connection. Such keyword-based searches are intended to uncover neutral, factual information as prospects conduct their initial research into products and topics of interest. The availability of this information gives customers an alternative to a company’s usual promotional materials. In fact, customers now have become accustomed to filtering out product information they perceive as being overly promotional. The vast majority of B2B customers also seek answers from company Web sites, which pressures companies to deliver authoritative, credible information. Considering this multi-source research process, the Web site information must be as helpful and as educational as the information customers find in their research everywhere else on the Internet, such as in relevant industry news sites, industry-related blog posts and specialized online industry discussion groups.

Experts emphasize the impact of this trend toward independent product research. “The most significant development in B2B marketing and sales in recent years has been the emergence of what I call the self-directed buyer,” said B2B marketing strategist and author G. David Dodd. “Today’s business buyers are self-educating and performing research independently, before they identify themselves to potential vendors,” Dodd said in the B2B Marketing Directions blog. In a recent survey by DemandGen Report, a total of 79% of B2B buyers delay contacting a company until they either conduct initial research on product options (28%) or until they establish a short list of preferred vendors (51%).

The new standard for these self-educated buyers is for timely, relevant information; the seller must be prepared to meet customers wherever they are in the buying cycle and deliver precisely the information they require at every step.

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The Content Marketing Revolution: Are You Ready for the Future of B2B Sales and Marketing?

Salespeople now must engage prospects who are at a more advanced stage in their buying process, with a sales process that unfolds at an unpredictable pace

Shaking Up the Standard Sales Process

The rise of self-education means that effective content, especially anything that reaches prospects early in the sales cycle, functions as what Dodd refers to as a “surrogate salesperson.” It makes potential buyers aware of a company, demonstrates expertise, and exposes important business problems or challenges. Furthermore, it entices prospects to identify themselves and give the company permission to communicate with them. Which places the sales team—traditionally the source of such information—in a position of uncertainty as to exactly what a given prospect will need, and when. Unlike the past, sales reps are now making initial contact with customers who are well along the way in their product research process. Another factor unsettling to the process is the changing length of the sales cycle. A recent study by Marketing Sherpa indicates that B2B sales cycles are shrinking, with an increasing percentage of deals closing within three months of the initial lead inquiry. Marketing Sherpa links the shorter cycle to smaller deal values, but Dodd attributes the apparent change to the fact that, with so much independent product research on the part of buyers, a smaller portion of the decision-making process is visible and measurable.

In the past, the sales team had greater control over the sales process, by generating and nurturing leads through a standard exchange of information over a predictable sales cycle. Now they are engaging with prospects who are at a more advanced stage in the buying process, and entering a sales process that unfolds at a less predictable pace.

Content Marketing Programs: Leveraging New Technologies Effective content marketing programs can leverage new technologies to address these challenges to sales and marketing teams. Content marketing uses new types of marketing automation applications to distribute content to potential buyers and interested prospects, using the company’s Web site, e-mail communications, and social media assets, to tailor the distribution of this content to the prospect’s needs. When employed in response to empowered buyers using the Internet to perform product research, content marketing becomes an essential element of a new marketing model most commonly referred to as inbound marketing. Unlike the

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Company Controls Access Prospect Controls Access Companies promote their products to selected markets, controlling all access to product information

Prospects search online for objective, factual product information to solve their business problems

ads, mailings and other techniques used in traditional B2B marketing to attract the attention of potential prospects, the purpose of inbound marketing is not to interrupt the potential buyer, but rather to place content where it will be found in the course of product research, and to guide the prospect to a point when they are ready to identify themselves and engage with the company.

Increased Interest in Content Marketing by Companies Serving B2B Markets Content marketing has made strong inroads among B2B enterprises, and projections indicate that trend will continue. Those companies already using the strategy will delve more deeply, and those not already invested will take the plunge. According to a 2012 survey conducted by the marketing magazine B2B and Percussion Software, just 29 percent of the 440 B2B marketing professionals surveyed had no or little involvement with content marketing, while 34 percent considered their companies “very” or “fully” engaged. Looking ahead, survey participants indicated their commitment to content marketing would increase significantly. The projections showed that 89 percent of marketers planned to have content marketing programs in place to some degree, with 66 percent “very” or “fully” engaged. Those with no or little involvement with content marketing would represent just 11 percent of all marketers, according to B2B’s survey.

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The Content Marketing Revolution: Are You Ready for the Future of B2B Sales and Marketing?

Keys to Content Strategy: • Identify the core audience • Determine what content is to be delivered to this audience • State what the desired outcome will be

The Ascent of Content: Evolving Trends in Marketing Media Several key drivers have dramatically changed the B2B marketing game, according to Tom Stein, president and CEO of Stein + Partners Brand Activation, an award-winning marketing agency serving B2B and consumer clients. Stein recounts the following observations in his article, “The Rush to Content: the New Marketing Mosh Pit:”

• Marketing automation platforms and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems have become ubiquitous. These systems – particularly when used together – enable companies to communicate more effectively with their prospects, and help their sales teams improve the efficiency of their sales processes. The fuel for that engine is content; • The social Web and the shift to inbound marketing have content at their root. Companies are placing quality content where it intersects with prospects, generates relevant conversations and draws leads seeking more information; • A need and hunger has emerged for information to assist in decision-making. Decision-makers are seeking content from a variety of web sources and judging for themselves its quality and relevance, regardless of whether it is brandauthored, individual-authored or expert/media-authored, according to CMI research; • The interconnection and interplay of paid, earned and owned media relies entirely on content. Paid content refers to paid advertisements; earned coverage to traditional news coverage; and owned media to a company’s Web site or other controlled platform Stein points out that each type of media has its own niche, and their roles are changing. Paid media coverage, such as advertising, for example, generates better response when offers for high-value content are used in an ad’s call to action. Earned media—such as industry news coverage—has found new use in social media, where quality content tends to rise higher in popularity on social media, making social media a new communications channel for industry news and information. Owned media— such as a company’s own Web site—requires the creation, aggregation, and sharing of content by sellers to engage buyers. The rush to content, Stein says, is more than understandable: “It is inevitable.”

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Plotting a Course for Content Development: The Need for a Content Strategy

Buyer Personas

Entering that mosh pit without some guidance and forward planning might yield less than desirable results. To avoid errors in judgment, every company should have a content mission statement, according to Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute. “Remember, content marketing isn’t about what you sell, it’s about what you stand for,” Pulizzi says.

Document your prospect’s motivations, problems, and interests to develop content to address their needs

He advises that a mission statement identify the core audience, determine what will be delivered to that audience, and state what the outcome for the audience will be. Once it is complete, the statement should be posted for the audience to see, spread among everyone involved in the content process, and used as a litmus test to guide decisions in developing content.

Another expert who emphasizes the need for having a strategy behind content marketing is Ardath Albee of Marketing Interactions, who points out: “Without a strategy, there’s no work ethic in place for your content. And that means you’ll have a nice collection of quality content that people enjoy, read and share, but that never motivates them to buy.” Albee stresses the importance of tailoring content to the buyer at each stage of the sales cycle, an exercise that hinges on knowing the buyer. Creating this persona, or buyer profile, is the starting point.

Tailoring Content to Audience Needs: Creating a Buyer Persona Creating a buyer persona will help you reach your targeted customer on a human level, according to Greg Bardwell, B2B Content Engine. The persona is a description of a specific individual who is a decision-maker or influencer for your products or services. The persona should not only include the targeted customer’s job title and demographic profile, but also define behaviors, motivations, likes/dislikes, traits, etc. The B2B buying process often necessitates building more than one persona, since most pieces of content cannot address everyone’s pain point, question, or interest, Bardwell said. Different pieces of content must be tailored to reach the persona at his or her specific point in the sales cycle and to the perceived challenges they might be trying to overcome, according to Chad Pollitt on Kuno Creative’s Brand&Capture blog.

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Minding the Sales Funnel: Converting Prospects to Customers Top-of-Funnel (TOFU):

Web site visitors are unidentified and not officially top-of-funnel (TOFU) until they opt-in to consume content. TOFU has a low-level barrier to content, requiring a simple response like filling out a form to establish a free membership for content access, to watch a short video or to download a guide or white paper

Middle-of-Funnel (MOFU):

Offering middle-of-funnel content is a way to test the interest level of a Web site visitor and can allow for the identification of possible actionable leads. MOFU content should have a moderate barrier to consumption. The sign-up form required for prospects to receive desired content can be longer and ask more qualifying questions, and the level of commitment to consume it should be greater than TOFU content. Some examples include subscriptions, ebooks, webinars, longer videos, etc.

Bottom-of-Funnel (BOFU):

Bottom-of-funnel content involves the greatest barrier to consumption and is tailored to a customer interested in making a purchase decision, which is typical at this stage of the cycle. The prospect will invest more time in accessing and consuming the more specialized content at this stage, and will offer the additional personal information required to access it. Examples of content provided at this stage include executive summaries, sales kits, free assessments or product demos. When BOFU content is consumed, the Web site visitor is either a real opportunity or a rival looking for competitive intelligence

(from Chad Pollitt on Kuno Creative’s Brand&Capture blog)

Web site visitors are not yet in the sales funnel; they have yet to be converted, Pollitt points out. Most Web site visitors consume content to solve a problem or be entertained; these pieces can be blog posts, press releases, company news or standard web pages. Access to this content has no on-page “barriers” to consumption; there is no need to fill out a form, give personal information, invest time, spend money or sign up for a newsletter. However, at this stage companies may also offer additional content for which prospects must provide contact – and perhaps other —information to receive. Information gleaned via these barriers, or contact points—which, by design, appear more frequently in later stages—allows marketers to identify, qualify, segment and score Web site conversions—information necessary to build a true, working content marketing sales funnel, Pollitt said. By analyzing the past online behavior of current customers using marketing automation systems, companies can identify which content was consumed at each stage of the sales funnel and when that consumption led prospects to move from one stage to another, and eventually become a customer.

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The Handoff: Passing the Ball to Sales

Sales teams must remember

As they review product content and become that following up with interested enough to provide their contact a prospect who has information to the company, prospects in downloaded content isn’t a the funnel are then engaged by the sales sales call, but a relationshipteam, whose members also offer content in their ongoing communications with these building experience prospects. Prospects are typically farther in the buying cycle than they were before the Internet age; in many cases, the business buyer has completed 70 percent of the product research process at the handoff, according to the sales blog Selling Power. At this stage of continuing dialogue, the content value is high, and can even be customized to respond to the prospect’s specific need or business application or issue.

And the relationship must continue with the same quality it began, according to Ardath Albee of Marketing Interactions. “With buyers self-educating and admittedly holding sales at arm’s length during a longer period of their buying process, the transition to person-to-person conversation is even more important than it’s ever been,” says Albee. “It needs to be seamless, stay relevant and continue forward progress. If sales is stopping that momentum to get up to speed, buyers will quickly lose patience and move on.” This point of human contact represents the critical juncture at which content marketing fulfills its purpose in a complex B2B sale. “With the handoff, the sales calls must reflect the expectations and experience set by your content, or all the hard work and investment can be cast aside by a prospect who feels misled by a wasteful conversation,” Albee said.

Re-Educating the Sales Team in their New Role as Advisor The sales team must remember that following up on a content download isn’t a sales call, but a relationship-building experience. During such a call, the sales rep should focus the discussion on the content topic the prospect expressed interest in and offer additional, potentially relevant content. Along the way, the rep can subtly learn more about the buying stage the prospect is in. For sales reps accustomed to product promotion, the new approach carries a learning curve, Albee says. “The problem is that you cannot just hand inside sales a new script and expect that to do it. Changing the conversation requires a change management process that includes orientation, education, tools and ongoing support/coaching with a feedback loop that enables refinement.”

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The Content Marketing Revolution: Are You Ready for the Future of B2B Sales and Marketing?

Albee also suggests having marketing work collaboratively with sales to design content that can sustain the momentum after sales steps in, to increase the chances of success.

Tapping Human Resources to Produce Content Developing valuable content should incorporate input from individuals outside the marketing department, experts agree. The CMI’s Pulizzi suggests these tips on how to achieve this thought diversity: Engage ideas from your company’s three top thought leaders; ask salespeople to list their customers’ biggest problems or challenges; and find out what your top 10 customer complaints were. Then address these issues in your content deliverables.

Engaging Outside Assistance: How to Get Help Many marketing executives find it a hurdle to keep up with the quality and quantity of content their organization requires. In the B2B/Percussion survey, 46 percent of respondents said they face the challenge of producing engaging content, and 44 percent said producing enough content was a problem. Several options are available to meet this content development challenge, ranging from freelance writers to dedicated funnel management firms that integrate the critical elements of strategic guidance, content development and marketing automation expertise in a single solution (visit The option you choose will depend on your company’s needs and budget, and finding a good fit with the service provider, who can quickly learn your business, and the needs of prospects in your market.

Emphasizing Quality: Making Your Content Credible, Accurate Credibility and accuracy are hallmarks of high-quality content and, alongside information relevance, must be important goals of the content development process. Because customers tend to shun information that appears to be slanted toward the company’s products, creating the impression of credibility is more valuable than using a company’s standard promotional copy. Producing this more neutral, educational content will better support the overall sales effort, and will arm the sales staff with the information they need in their roles as trusted advisor. Sales strategist and best-selling author Jill Konrath suggests this mindset: Focus on insights, ideas, and information, to become an “irresistible” source. Companies that use tired marketing buzzwords to highlight their “leading edge, state-of-the-art technology,” or “robust solutions,” or “unique methodologies,” offer nothing to differentiate themselves from

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their competitors. And differentiation is the name of the game, according to Konrath, in her article, “7 Paradoxical Sales Principles.” “Your products, services or solution are secondary to your knowledge, expertise and the difference you make for your customers.”

Making Content Credible: • Make it informative • Maintain a non-promotional tone • Focus on insights, ideas, and innovation

Another aspect of credibility is accuracy, which, if lacking, could result in downgrading • Don’t use marketing buzzwords of your company’s reputation. The abundance of inaccuracies in all types of content prompts experts like David Kirkpatrick, senior reporter at Marketing Sherpa research firm, to remind companies of the negative consequences of mistakes. He quotes seasoned editor Brad Borton: “Nothing kills credibility more than inaccuracies, or even outright errors. Factual mistakes, grammatical errors, unnecessary length or even minor typos – if any of these are present in your marketing, customers will notice, which could make them question the validity and professionalism of your brand.”

Writing for Today’s Time-Pressed Reader Catching the reader’s attention, and keeping it, are keys to writing quality content. And today’s time-pressed executives and decision-makers won’t linger over long passages, Konrath advises in “Creating Content that Attracts Prospects to You.” Pack as much value into every word as you can, make sure it’s relevant to prospects’ top priorities, and keep your message simple so it can be read quickly. “Make sure you’re always on topic with what matters to them most,” Konrath says. “That’s the path to being the one person your prospects can’t live without.” Another thought when designing content is to consider its appearance and loading speed on tablets, phones and other mobile devices, as the use of those devices continues to increase.

Repurposing Content to Broaden its Reach and Application Companies will get the most out of their content-generating investment by reusing, or repurposing, material in different ways. Content Strategy Hub’s Eugene Farber likens repurposing to recycling; content can be reused by adapting it for different media, according to his article, “Repurposing Content: The Definitive Guide.”

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The Content Marketing Revolution: Are You Ready for the Future of B2B Sales and Marketing?

One Content Element, Many Uses

Content produced in one form, such as an e-Book, can be excerpted, modified, adapted, and distributed online in many other forms, to deliver your company’s problem-solving ideas and expertise into other online media, to multiply returns from your investment in content development

Executive Briefing


E-Mail Article Series

Blog Posts


Slide Deck

Video Podcast Social Media

The basic content media are: • Text: Blog posts, articles, e-books, white papers, PDF reports; • Audio: Podcasts, blog talk radio, audio blog posts; • Video: Video blogs, YouTube clips; • Graphic/Images: Images, infographics (incorporating data); • Presentations: PowerPoint, SlideShare (share site for presentations and documents); • Live Presentations: Webinars and live online events If you have one format, you can make minor tweaks to present it in another format. The major benefit of repurposing content is reaching different audiences on different platforms or media without having to recreate content for each. Different people prefer to consume their content in different ways: Some people like to read blog posts; some people prefer to listen to audio; still others choose video. Each method will reach different people, and if you are sharing your content with a new audience, Farber said, “your old content is new again.” Farber gives an example of how he repurposed his own content, starting with a series of blog posts on the topic of generating content ideas. He posted three lists, with eight ideas each. Then, he compiled the ideas into an e-book which he used as a

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subscription magnet by offering this as a free download. He also is giving it as a bonus for a course he is offering. Finally, he created a PowerPoint slideshow, with each idea taking its own slide. He now has published that on SlideShare, and he envisions promise in using this as more content in the form of a webinar or live presentation.

Thought Leadership

An Important Goal in Developing Content

Breaking it Down: Reducing Content to Manageable Blocks A related tip from the CMI’s Pulizzi is to break down big topics into a series of smaller concepts to attract attention and inspire anticipation for the next installment. A broad topic can be divided into a series of blog posts, infographics, webinars, white papers, press releases, videos or case studies. Then those content objects can be repurposed into multiple formats to give your audience information in a way that satisfies their consumption preferences.

Positioning Your Company as a Thought Leader The goal for which companies should aim in creating or sharing content is to become a thought leader, a source of unique insight into business problems or situations. Consider how Forbes magazine defines the term: “A thought leader is an individual or firm that prospects, clients, referral sources, intermediaries and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in its being the go-to individual or organization for said expertise.”

As an example, the article relates how a tax accounting firm could use a change in corporate tax law as an opportunity to establish itself as a thought leader. While most tax attorneys would merely regurgitate the new law for business clients, the firm that establishes itself as a thought leader will delve into a deeper analysis. The thought leader will determine how the law will impact various companies and will develop distinctive insights, actionable planning strategies and recommendations that will benefit companies affected by the law. “As the go-to expert, the accounting firm will have structured the means to more effectively garner new clients and do more business with current clients with the result being a larger bottom-line,” according to Forbes.

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In its blog, marketing automation software vendor Marketo suggests different approaches to becoming a thought leader. Marketo suggests conducting original research via a poll, survey or study with a third party, the results of which could be useful for media and industry analysts. If such outside sources pick up and share your company’s research, prospects are more likely to view you as a trusted source. Thought leadership can also be enhanced when company representatives speak at industry events, such as conferences, meetings and conventions. And of course, those speeches can be videotaped and repurposed for even greater effect.

Helping prospects ask the right questions makes your company the prospect’s first choice for the answers to these questions, provided by your content

Content Development Strategy: Guiding the Conversation The other goal of successful content marketing strategies is to lead prospects to consider provocative questions—questions for which your company provides the answers. “Provocative questions focus on problems and the resulting business ramifications. They raise critical issues customers face, get them thinking—and move the sale forward,” according to the Rapid Learning Institute’s Top Sales Dog blog. An example of content created to guide a prospect in this manner would be a white paper with a title like: “Ten questions to ask about ____ “ or “Keys to developing a ___ strategy.” By building such a framework around important issues, the seller becomes established as a trusted advisor, the knowledgeable source who not only knows the right questions to ask, but also has the answers or solutions. Then, as the buyer gets closer to purchasing, the trusted advisor’s company will have the inside track in the decisionmaking process.

Content Marketing: B2B Success Stories Some B2B firms are establishing themselves as exemplary models of leveraging certain communication channels to gain those coveted positions as t hought leaders or trusted advisors. Following are some success stories excerpted from a recent “top 10” list by Hubspot, and other examples. How-to Learning Center and Video Library: Metzgers, a large, established commercial and digital printing company, features a comprehensive series of how-to articles and pre-built templates related to many aspects of print production important to their customers and interested prospects. In addition to this online content collection, Metzgers also operates an on-site Learning Center, where it conducts seminars on

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useful new digital printing innovations of interest to its customers and prospects. The Metzgers Web site also features an extensive video library showcasing their company’s services, and capabilities.

While marketing technology offers new tools, the toolbox itself holds no magic

Effective Videos: Cisco, a global provider of networking systems from routers to webinar software, has developed a YouTube channel with videos and tutorials to help prospects learn about network solutions. The videos get points for offering practical advice that is educational, not promotional. In addition, the content is fully integrated with Cisco’s social network, allowing users to comment, follow the company on Twitter, or check out their content on other social channels. Top Twitter Content: Webinar and remote meeting provider GoToMeeting (run by Citrix) is credited for filling its Twitter stream with valuable content. The company has three team members dedicated to the channel, an investment that has paid off in more than 27,000 followers. The company gets high marks for acting as a curator of valuable content, as well as for expanding the subjects of its content to focus on the larger theme of working smarter. Narrow and Deep Content: As the oldest family-owned payroll services company in the United States, Ahola Payroll Services understands the unique challenges of family-owned businesses, and has built an array of products and services to support the family business market. Within a Family Business Center portion of its Web site, the company makes available a wealth of content such as white papers, videos, and newsletters that make its value proposition clear—if you are a family-owned business, their thought leadership can help you better manage your business. Once a customer or prospect opts in to Ahola’s content stream, the company uses marketing automation to progress the conversation in concert with the recipient’s own interest and pace level. Innovative Infographics: Eloqua, a marketing automation company, has released a number of successful infographics focused on the core issues of its target audience. What sets these infographics apart is a visual display that adds explanatory value, rather than just color. The infographics also offer sharing options that have garnered additional exposure on social media.

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Salespeople Viewed As Trusted Advisors

Thinking Creatively to Tailor a Program that Works These initiatives might not be appropriate for all companies, but they provide examples of how other companies are taking advantage of new technologies to meet their customers’ need for quality content.

The need for creativity among marketers is more pressing than ever with the new opportunities that technological advancements have presented. While technology is offering new tools, the toolbox itself holds no magic. A marketing initiative that is successful for one company won’t necessarily pay off for another. Moreover, an outcome that sounds like a gold mine—such as posting a piece that “goes viral,” or logging hundreds of “likes” on Facebook— might not deliver on your company’s goals. Careful forward planning, and making use of metrics available to measure return on investment will help determine what works for your company. Finding that footing requires some trial-and-error before reaching the goal of creating an efficient and effective online marketing program.

69% More Likely To Close a Sale

Sales Reps Have Greatest Effect on Customers’ Buying Decision Regardless of the specific media or channels used, the single indispensible element of successful content marketing programs will be a strong link to the sales function, and full support of the sales reps, who as trusted advisors carry the responsibility for the prospect’s final buying decision.

The power of the sales rep is paramount, according to marketing expert Brian J. Carroll, author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale. Carroll cites an Aberdeen Group study showing that 70 percent of final customer brand perception and preference is determined through direct contact with the salesperson. A study from Cahners Research further supports the pivotal role of the salesperson, reports the Business Marketing Institute. A Cahners survey of 23,000 B2B buyers found that salespeople who are viewed as “trusted advisors” are 69 percent more likely to close a sale. Companies must prepare their salespeople to become those trusted advisors.

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Companies must provide education and training resources to the sales force to help them make the transition to their new role. Beyond those efforts, the content marketing program can assist the sales force by involving them in the content creation process, which will help to generate relevant information for each stage of the sales cycle. Only with such preparation can the sales team deliver the appropriate followthrough to the relationship that was established earlier in the content marketing program, and demonstrate as the trusted advisor how your company can provide the unique expertise that will solve the customer’s problem. These initiatives will become the necessary standard to meet the challenges presented by the revolution that is occurring in the B2B marketing and sales arena, one that promises continued reverberations. Relying on traditional marketing methods and placing an unarmed sales force in the middle of this marketing revolution will result not only in dispirited ranks, but in sales lost to your better-prepared competitors.

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The Pursuit Group combines marketing and sales expertise with advanced technology to help companies get more new prospects and convert these prospects to customers, faster and more often.

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We solve the challenges companies have implementing and sustaining effective content marketing and marketing automation programs on their own, with customized, service bureau solutions that help them take advantage of their particular marketplace opportunities. Our turnkey solution is faster, more effective, and less costly than “piecemeal” or “go it alone” approaches. Our services include: • Lead Generation: Management and execution of integrated lead generation programs; • Sales Funnel Management: Lead development and nurturing using marketing automation; • Content Development: Development of targeted content for sales lead generation and lead development; • Sales Process Management and Measurement: Process development and integration with CRM systems for maximum efficiency in prospect-tocustomer conversion and the ability to measure marketing and sales ROI The Content Marketing Revolution: Are You Ready for the Future of B2B Sales and Marketing? The Pursuit Group, Inc. © 2013. All rights reserved.