Content marketing does work for outbound sales

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There is sometimes a belief that content marketing, which is normally associated with inbound sales and marketing efforts, doesn’t work with outbound sales. That’s actually not true — and thinking that is a mistake for your business.

Content marketing is about educating people (ideally). A lot of times people do content marketing — or claim to do it — and it’s really just sales brochures and sales documents, but we pretend it’s “educational content.” It’s not, and that’s why some people are already coming to distrust content marketing.

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Product Splintering Guide

Thinking successfully about content marketing and outbound sales

Here’s the real deal: to do content marketing right, you need to think along three lines. (I want to keep this simple because there’s a lot of nonsense out on the Internet about content marketing.)

  • Who will read this?
  • Why would they care/want to read it?
  • How will they find it or get to it?

Let’s break these into three content marketing categories that help your outbound sales efforts.

The ‘who’ of content marketing in the sales process

This is about knowing the value-add of your product or service. What are you selling? Who needs that? Usually this takes the form of personas. There is some argument about the effectiveness of marketing personas in an era of Big Data, but most companies use them and they can be used successfully in content marketing. Rather than focusing so much on the “who,” think about the buying stages people go through. Usually it looks like this:

  • Early stages (people want to know “why”)
  • Middle stages (people want to know “how”)
  • Late stages (people want to know “which”)

This is the part where people get confused. We think all this stuff being discussed above is inbound sales. No. It can be outbound sales too. To to outbound successfully, you need content at every stage of the process. When outbound SDRs reach out to a prospect persona, they should be supported by the applicable literature (content) that they can send to the prospect depending in which phase of the buyer journey (why, how, which) this particular prospect is currently. Your sales reps need to work with your marketing team. Your content marketing process is going to be more internal than external. What do I mean? I mean your content marketing people will be designing assets for the sales reps to use — guides, talking points, value-adds — and to offer directly to the customer when they connect in an outbound context. So yes, content marketing does work with outbound. You just need to think about it a little bit differently.

The ‘why’ of content marketing in outbound sales

This is also about defining your audience, but it’s also about defining your value. In outbound, you often have limited time with a prospect/lead — so even if you’ve done your research, you need to hook them quickly. One major benefit of content marketing in this regard is that you can design stories about your product. Think about it like this. Some people say PayPal is a digital wallet or currency service, right? It’s not. PayPal is a service that lets millions of people who build their own businesses do work from anywhere and have financial freedom. You can say “Our product is a digital wallet” or say “Our product gives you freedom and independence.” Which one sounds cooler (more valuable) to the prospect? I think you know. Content marketing can help outbound sales reps tell the right story at the right time.

The ‘how’ aspect of content marketing and sales

This is about keyword research, honestly. Sales, and especially outbound sales, can be very now now now and quarter-by-quarter. But some of the content marketing assets you produce … they will have a greater long-term value if they are tied to keyword research. Here’s what I mean. If you do some research and find out that “productivity app” has 36,000 Google searches per month with an average-level of competition, then design some content around “productivity app.” As that content gets circulated and people link back to it, now you have a new funnel you just created. Every month, you will get some new visitors off those 36,000 searches for that term. Some months, you may get 24,000 clicks from that one article. If even 1/10th of those people move around your site, your outbound sales team now has 2,400 leads to consider — in a month. That’s great. The problem with content marketing is that oftentimes people over-publish or do too much “me me me me me” content and don’t tie it to actual search results. This is bad, and doesn’t help outbound.

What else have you seen about the connection between content marketing and outbound sales processes? Any best practices?

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