You Don’t Need New Content to Get New Prospects
And they’re off!
You need more sales leads and it’s marketing to the rescue!
Let’s interview a customer.
Let’s write a blog series.
Let’s develop a video!
But that’s going to take too long. And it sounds expensive.
“Isn’t there something we can do RIGHT NOW that will generate leads?” You ask.
“Well, everything takes time,” they say.
But when you want to increase sales, you need people to talk to, waiting six months to see if a campaign generates sales conversations simply won’t do.
So, you throw your hands up in the air and become resigned to the fact that marketing is off their own world, and you should get back to cold calling and networking.
Don’t be too hard on them though.
It’s the way that they’re wired. Marketing thinks in terms of projects that increase brand recognition and not necessarily how sales conversations actually happen.
But in reality, you have probably produced enough content that can be used to get you into more sales conversations right now.
You just need to use it more effectively.
Enough is enough
What do advertising campaigns, conferences, blogs, websites, conferences, public relations have in common?
They’re all projects.
There’s nothing wrong with that because anything you want to achieve that’s new and innovative is accomplished through projects.
But because marketing is so project-driven, it’s easy to get mired in the details and lose sight of the big picture.
That’s what’s happening when marketing works in a silo. They believe their function is branding and so they’re always looking for new ways to get the word out — new logos, new positioning, new blog posts.
“New” is intoxicating!
But for a small B2B company, that’s not going to help get sales in front of new prospects quickly. (As in right now!)
New is not fast. It’s untested. And it’s expensive.
If you’ve been creating content for some time, it’s highly likely that you’ve got enough to work with right now, and it’s far easier (and cheaper) to go back to your old posts and re-write, re-purpose, and re-distribute.
For example, couldn’t you redistribute some older articles to engage new prospects?
Of course, you could!
The reasons that people buy from you hasn’t changed.
Sure, you might discover some new reasons as you talk to new prospects, but let’s not worry about that for now.
The secret to sales is timing
The reasons that people buy from you aren’t going to change quickly, so it’s important to go back through old posts and determine why those topics were successful (or not). Here’s what to look for:
- Are there any topics that have consistently produced leads?
- Are there any topics that indicate buying triggers?
- Could you easily create a new lead magnet (such as a webinar or white paper) by pulling together past blog posts?
- Which distribution methods worked? Email, social, etc.
Some of you are going to be worried about being called out for distributing old posts.
But don’t — they won’t remember.
The sales process is about timing, so even if someone viewed your content a year ago, they won’t have responded if they didn’t have that problem at that time.
But they might be in a different position now and ready to take action.
I’ve signed many clients because they responded to a blog post, saying it was “like magic” how they were having that problem at that time and my blog post just happened to hit their inbox.
In reality, we had been emailing them content for years, but never saw it.
Content usually fails to produce leads because:
- Your headline failed to grab their attention
- They weren’t the right audience
- They didn’t have that problem at that particular point in time
So again, the goal of marketing in B2B is not about getting the word out and seeing what comes back, it’s about opening the doors for your salespeople to talk with motivated prospects so they can do what they do best — diagnosing pain and prescribing the right solutions, and closing the sale.
Okay, so you have enough content already — so how can it be leveraged to increase more leads and close more sales RIGHT NOW?
Reverse engineering the sales process
Take a step back for a moment and figure out what you’re really trying to achieve:
- Do you need to find more prospects to talk to?
- Do you want to convert more of the prospects you already have to be sales-ready?
- Do you want to advance sales cycles faster?
- Do you want to sell more to your current clients?
When marketing fails to produce leads for salespeople, it usually means that they don’t fully understand the sales process and they’re probably working in a vacuum. Therefore, alignment between sales and marketing is paramount for proactive lead generation.
In other words, find out how a lead becomes a sale in your organization.
Hey, marketing people, listen up!
It’s time to get out of your silo and realize that your function is customer acquisition, not branding. That means you have to understand how your sales process works.
For example, work with sales to answer these questions:
- How do you find people to talk to (your leads)?
- What content has worked in the past to generate sales conversations?
- How have you (or could you) used content to open doors and advance the sale?
- What actually leads a prospect to take a sales call (Hint: there’s a problem they must solve).
- Do your salespeople have targeted accounts where you could help them make some new connections?
- How can you research target companies and the key stakeholders to get the right content in front of them?
Obviously, there’s a lot more to the sales process — but the point is that understanding how a lead becomes a sale is the only way that marketing can help sales increase customer acquisition.
Hey, sales, you’re not off the hook either
It’s time to get with marketing and use content as an extension of your sales process, so if you haven’t truly reverse engineered why people are buying from you, now is a good time to get involved with marketing and figure it out — especially if you’ve thought that marketing has been working in a vacuum.
- What key pain points do you hear over and over that could be addressed in marketing content to attract similar prospects?
- Are there typical buying paths that have led to sales in the past? (i.e., they download a white paper, then they start looking at certain pages on your website, they request a demo, they sign up for a webinar, etc.)
- If your sales process is complex, how can you use social media and content to get more people on board in that account?
- What is your nurturing process when a lead comes in the door? Calling them and hounding them is not the answer — what’s the next piece of content that you can send to them that advances the sale?
Which brings me to your key lead magnets. Lead magnets are the pieces of content that require contact information (such as name and email address) to gain access to that content. And if you aren’t getting a lot of action here, then your lead is not strong enough: it’s not tapping into their pain (or the problem that they must solve).
What’s old can be new again (and again)
Once sales and marketing are aligned to customer acquisition as an organizational priority (and not working in silos), it’s much easier to determine whether or not you need to develop new content or not.
If you’ve been producing content for some period of time, the chances are that you can update, repurpose, and distribute in front of new audiences to generate new leads.
Here’s how to do it:
- Step 1: Take a look at your top readership for blogs — have any of those topics consistently produced web traffic and leads?
- Step 2: Can you pull together past blog posts and white papers under that topic?
- Step 3: using those past posts, see if you can repurpose into new lead magnets such as a webinar or white paper-like “the Ultimate Guide to [TOPIC].” Make sure that you’re adequately tapping into prospect pain here.
- Step 4: Develop sales plays that use existing content in a sequence to nurture prospects and move them into the buying window.
Marketing today has a new job and a new customer
The new job is lead generation and the new customer is sales.
Branding and positioning used to be enough for salespeople to fill their calendars with appointments. But today, if marketing isn’t helping to fill that pipeline of prospects, sales will struggle to meet quota.
Because people have gotten used to doing their own research on the internet, they’re simply not willing to talk to a salesperson until they’re ready.
Today’s B2B company is becoming more marketing-driven as opposed to sales-driven, which is why content marketing has had a Renaissance in the last decade.
The idea is to attract people based on problems that you solve. That’s much different from brand building.
So you can forget about branding and positioning (for now). The main focus of marketing is to develop content that helps prospects solve a problem. In this case, your brand then becomes a byproduct of the thought-leadership content you produce on a regular basis.
It’s really no different from what happens in a one-to-one sales conversation — you’re just trying to replicate it digitally.
Projects should be based around what helps salespeople get their foot in the door, advance the conversation and close.
So if marketing isn’t supplying at least half of the new business in the form of lead generation, the company will fail to hit its growth targets.
One other thing to consider — content marketing for lead generation is not about volume. That can be a tough pill for marketers to swallow because we’ve been taught to cater to the search engines, and in the past, volume would move the needle. But that’s changed — dramatically. It’s about quality, and in fact, many are going back into their past content and deleting posts that have been ineffective and updating others based on new information.
And, if you’re worried that you’re not creating enough content to make Google happy, don’t.
Power-up your lead machine
It can be frustrating when marketing seems to be off in their own world and not helping to generate leads for sales, especially when their answer to everything is a new (and probably expensive) campaign.
But it doesn’t mean that you have to consistently come up with fresh, new ideas and to get more leads coming through the door.
Before creating any new campaigns or generating new content, marketing and sales should work together to reverse engineer the sales process and create sales plays.
And if you have a good library of past content, chances are that you don’t have to recreate the wheel to generate more qualified leads quickly.
That should come as a huge sigh of relief because you won’t need to invest a significant amount of money — simply get in alignment and adjust your strategy.
Once you figure out why people buy, you can create a sales playbook on that topic that can be replicated to generate consistent leads.
Get started today by scheduling a meeting with all the necessary sales and marketing stakeholders and map out targeted accounts that you can help. Then you can develop plans and campaigns to use the content you already have to get engaged with new prospects.
When sales and marketing work together collaboratively, it’s very gratifying to everyone involved — more leads come in, less selling is needed, and clients close faster.