The long-ball strategy, ‘route one’ – the perfect analogy from the beautiful game for reminding content marketers of the value of playing direct.
Lest we forget, the purpose of marketing is simple – assist in selling more stuff, widgets, services, things. Content is a means to an end in that process, but whilst content marketing proves itself over again in demand creation, it’s not the fastest way to do your marketing.
Whilst the current wisdom in B2B is to create incredible content as the silver bullet to marketing Valhalla, it should be understood with a caveat. You’ve been there - we love to tell a great story to enthrall and inspire new prospects – we whip them up, we track them down, it works; they come in droves and hit the download button. The side effects from the euphoria of fantastic content interest then follow – did our new contacts come for the story or for the substance? Are any of them actually leads? Or did they just download something shiny? The underbelly of content marketing, despite (and with acknowledgement and counter-argument abound) the benefits of early stage leads getting onto the radar, is sometimes shackled by having to wait far too long for all those content downloads to translate into actual sales.
Mega-global companies often apologise for being ‘a sales-led business’
Amongst all this clamour for content, I’ve lost count of the client conversations I’ve had with mega-global companies where they apologise for being ‘a sales-led business’. Successful selling has prevailed throughout history with only the barest content essentials in its wake. The briefcase and brochures of yesteryear carried the secrets of that precious product info - what it does, why it’s great, why you need it. Back in the day, you had to see a sales rep to learn more – today, product-specific content, offers, demos and CTAs are firmly in the marketing domain – it deserves greater air time as your best bet in converting content marketing into prospects that actually want to buy, and possibly even buy it soon.
It feels like priorities are a-changing in B2B content marketing. Total clarity on what our buyers need is still top of the list to inform great marketing. We still need content, but we need to change up the strategy for planning and the method in how its applied. Let’s go find prospects that need the detail, that want the product, that ask for the demo – isn’t that what we’re trying to sell? Let’s support our sales teams, and let’s enable those prospects who just want some straightforward answers to buying questions, without wrapping them up in a wonder of words that hide the facts.
Don’t misunderstand the message here though – it ain’t all about marketing at product level. I’m all for ‘brand’ in demand generation, for thought leadership, influencing and audience enlightenment. But, here’s to demos, to quotes, to speaking to sales, to calculators, to battlecards.
After this half-time team talk, kick off your second half with a wily striker hanging around in the penalty box ready to go – keep your product content and offers high up the pitch, bothering your opponents and a magnet for hitting the target. And if the long ball isn’t on, possession is essential – that’s when the snappy subject lines do their best work, keeping the ball alive until the opportunity opens up to hit the target.