1. Why your approach to content alignment is hurting your results

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      The long-prevailing wisdom is to align content to the customer’s buying stage and/or the sales process stage. This approach reflects an outdated content alignment and management mindset. It’s the folder mindset that says, “we need to group content within hierarchical folder categories.” Buying and selling stages are a rather obtuse concept. Few content users and their audiences really know or think about what stage of the decision / selling process they’re in. This simplistic thinking also causes you to miss content requirements that a more rigorous approach will identify. Perhaps asking, “how will my content users go about looking for content?” would be a better approach. We arrived at this model years ago when we were working on enhancements to improve content relevance, usefulness and performance. The principle is Context. By defining context at a more granular level we were able to develop an architecture that clarified specific content performance requirements. We found it...
  2. The Content Design Point is Different for Marketing and Sales Content

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        In Marketing and Sales Content — Differences That Matter I identified the problem that few people explicitly understand the difference between sales and marketing content. Does this really matter? During 20 years creating sales, marketing and training content for B2B organizations we discovered it really does. I believe this misunderstanding is a primary cause of poor or missing situation-ready sales content. This matters because the quality of sales information impacts B2B sales and marketing performance, as well as revenue growth. For companies pursuing account-based marketing tactics (ABM) I suggest success depends on information that is more like sales content than marketing content. The question addressed here is, “what can be done to improve sales content?” I will offer a prescription for what to do, based on adopting a different content design point, and how to do that. Consider for a moment the infamous marketing and sales disconnect and...
  3. Sales Content for Knowledge and Sales Performance Support

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        This article is a deeper consideration of some of the questions and answers raised in my article, Marketing and Sales Content — Differences that Matter. A category of sales content I highlighted is Sales Knowledge and Performance Support. Outside of onboarding, periodic training, and informal sharing, this is an area that is largely left up to individuals. When this is the case, sales organizations lose an important sales performance lever — a continuous, collaborative learning and performance support program. Sales (enablement) leaders should foster a culture of learning, which is different than a culture of training. “Knowledge which is related but not identical to information, is exploding at the same rate as information. Doubling every two years.  Even though our knowledge is expanding exponentially, our questions are expanding exponentially fast.  And as mathematicians will tell you, the widening gap between two exponential curves is itself an exponential curve. That gap between questions and...
  4. How to Level Up Your Content Operations

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      At some point B2B executives realize that adding resources and technology to the traditional content operations process produces only marginal improvements. Digital era content requirements are rising exponentially. They will not be addressed with the current process. This will become even more evident when marketing begins to adequately support B2B sales content requirements, as well as those of the sales channel. That will probably require you to level up content operations.   Background on B2B Content Operations All content is outsourced, or should be. By this I mean sales and marketing people, and their audiences, use and consume content. They don’t create it. They rely on internal or external content development teams. I also mean subject experts who possess the knowledge that informs content should not create it (mostly). They have a “day job.” Their domain expertise may not include the skills required to design and create effective content. Subject...
  5. 10 Questions About Sales Content Sales Leaders Should Ask Marketing Leaders

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      I’ve written that sales and sales channel content requirements are some of the most under-served in most B2B organizations. Selling in a digital era characterized by hyper-connected, hard to engage, low attention span buyers makes effective sales content a strategic imperative. While research indicates 65% of the content created by marketing for sales is never used by sales, the situation is in fact much worse. The adverse impact of missing sales content that was never created is undocumented but significant. The opportunity cost of sales productivity and effectiveness trumps content costs. Sales leaders should appreciate that most marketing leaders don’t have clear definitions for sales content, or even how to create effective sales-ready content. Marketing’s belief that sales content is similar to, and an extension of content marketing, is misguided. Sales content problems will persist until this thinking and the practices it produces changes.   Ten Questions About Sales...
  6. Marketing and Sales Content – Differences That Matter

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      What IS the difference between marketing and sales content? This is a good question to ask across your organization. The answers will reveal people’s thinking and understanding about “content” in general. Notice how clear, specific, consistent and actionable the responses are. Or not. Why does this matter? Effective sales content is a strategic imperative when selling in a digital age of hyper-connected, hard to engage, low attention span buyers. Sales performance suffers due to poor or missing sales content. This is the common state across most B2B sales organizations. According to SiriusDecisions, 65% of content created by marketing for sales is never used. That’s not surprising to me. This has been the case for well over a decade. What’s shocking is not only that it isn’t resolved, it’s not improving! I believe the B2B sales content predicament is actually much worse than these statistics indicate. This statistic and underlying research...
  7. Objectives-Based Content Strategy Framework

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      With guidance from SiriusDecisions and other analysts firms, many B2B organizations have evolved their go-to-market, messaging and content strategy. They have shifted from a product-based to a persona-based content framework. This is often in support of a solutions selling model. “As b-to-b organizations place greater focus on both inbound marketing, and optimizing content for the sales force, the skills and behaviors required for content ideation, writing and delivery are rapidly changing. To survive and thrive, product and solution marketers must evolve their competencies.”  The premise of the brief is: “The shift toward inbound marketing is forcing marketers to support continuous buyer conversations via the Web and virally through social media channels and influencer marketing. These conversations require topic-driven content focusing on industry and business issues that concern key buyers personas.” SiriusDecisions, Building a Persona-Based Content Framework. (Client portal access required) This guidance has convinced organizations to shift their emphasis from...
  8. Sell, don’t market your way to success with new paradigm offers

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      B2B companies bringing new offers to market risk long delays in product or solution uptake. Too often this leads to direct failure. Failure rates range from 40% to 80%. Clearly a risky and expensive bet. This risk isn’t limited to startups. Often we see large companies struggle to gain traction with new offers or new markets. One senior executive told me, “we are buried in our core brand.” This isn’t about direct replacement offers. But for what analyst firm SiriusDecisions terms “new paradigm and new concept” solutions it is a significant challenge.   New Paradigm Offers Require a Different Go-to-market Strategy New paradigm solutions provide a different way to solve business problems than existing solution methods. Customers may not understand key underlying causes of their problems that are resolved by new solutions. Sellers could be addressing problems customers aren’t even aware of. Or, they may not even see their problems...
  9. 6 actions for sales leaders to get the right sales content

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      Sales performance suffers due to poor or missing situation-ready sales information. This is still a common B2B selling problem. Despite significant investments in sales and marketing technologies, most B2B organizations don’t provide enough of the right content to their sales and channel sales organizations. Sales content isn’t designed and created “on purpose.” It isn’t created to meet well-defined use case requirements. Marketing is largely responsible for content strategy and development. Yet few marketers can provide clear definitions or guidelines for what effective sales content really is. Most believe they currently create content suitable for sales. They believe the problem is lack of awareness or access to that content. This is flawed thinking. Since content is a key success driver of any B2B selling system, sales leaders must ensure there is enough of the right sales content for sales people to perform well. To do this, sales organizations must “requisition content”...
  10. Microcontent — the most important content type you don’t manage

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        Microcontent isn’t widely understood or consciously used. When it is, it’s usually by marketing for social media content. But micro-content may be the most important content type you have, and you probably don’t manage it. Microcontent is simply what the words imply. The term is credited to user experience expert Jakob Nielsen: “microcontent is a small group of words which can be skimmed by the reader to understand the wider message of the article.” Examples include a sentence, a paragraph, an image, a 20 second video, a checklist, a quotation, an answer to a question, research results or facts. It can be stand alone, as Nielsen and most others consider it. It can also be source for any new content. Either way, microcontent is an under-used content type. And it’s not limited to marketing. Significant impact on job performance and business outcomes across your entire organization can be realized by applying...
  11. Modular Content Creation vs. Traditional and Structured Content Approaches

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      As content marketing practices mature, organizations look for new ways to gain advantages and improve content performance. One of the most elusive tactics is to optimize content for audience and situation relevance. Numerous studies have shown business outcomes improve significantly when content delivers highly targeted, useful and relevant insights to audiences. Yet marketers currently struggle to produce content tailored even to relatively simple relevance factors, such as specific industry verticals or personas. Demand campaigns and nurture tracks seldom are targeted to those factors. Lack of data, list segmentation and relevant content are three primary reasons we usually hear. As marketers move beyond content for marketing tactics, and step up to support sales and the sales channel’s content requirements, the ability to deliver highly targeted, situation-relevant content will be an essential capability. Sales engagement is essentially a one-to-one activity. When B2B buying teams are made up of 5 to 6...
  12. What is a Leveraged Content Supply Chain?

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        In What is a Content Supply Chain? I identified the shortcomings of the traditional and still prevalent process by which B2B organizations create content. I concluded by saying the question is, How do you design a content supply chain process that will optimize 10 essential content criteria, especially the need to scale without concomitant investment, or compromises to important criteria? In our 20 year content creation business we discovered the answer in a different approach, process and set of techniques we refer to as a leveraged content supply chain process. If you Google content supply chain you will discover the content workflow management software category that some claim IS the content supply chain. This isn’t what we’re talking about here. This is like saying ERP software IS the manufacturing supply chain. Manufacturers learned they first had to change their supply chain process to realize the big value ERP software investments...
  13. A Conversation About B2B Selling Content

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      “What is the state of B2B selling content today?” That was the first question Barb Giamanco asked me on her sales podcast, Right Message, Right Support, Right Sales Content, on the Razor’s Edge. How would you answer that for your organization? How would you know? Is your selling content considered short life collateral, or mostly long-life assets? What criteria would you use to audit the quality and usefulness of your content? Do you have an inventory that would make an audit possible? These are some of the questions we discussed. Below is an outline of key points I addressed that you might want your organization to consider.   Key Considerations for Effective Selling Content If your sales team conducts a complex, solution or value sale, situation-ready selling content is essential for your success. If you are trying to shift your selling model from a traditional product-feature-benefit approach to a...
  14. Getting Sales Content Right

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        As B2B selling organizations attempt to transition from a product to solution or value sale, they must deal with the new realities of selling in a digital era characterized by self-educating teams of buyers. This new reality has made high-performing, situation-ready content a strategic imperative for B2B organizations in general, and direct and channel sales teams in particular. Two of the most under-served B2B functions when it comes to content are direct and channel sales organizations. There are many reasons for this. Too many executives aren’t aware of this imperative or the impact it has on new customer acquisition, revenue growth, selling costs or customer experience. As one senior sales executive at a large technology company said to me years ago, “what is content, it’s collateral, right?” Whew! Sadly, this mindset is still prevalent today. Marketing departments assume the content they create is suitable for sales. Often it...
  15. What is a Content Supply Chain?

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      The genesis for this is an article by Jake Sorofman at Gartner, “The Content Supply Chain is the Rate Limiter to Digital Marketing Maturity.” “Targeting and personalizing experiences requires content—lots of it, in many different forms, for many different audiences, engaging across many different channels. Managing this madness becomes an exercise in combinatorial complexity that requires a more rigorous approach to your content strategy.” Content supply chain requires an architectural way of thinking, which begins with a clear understanding of the demand side—in this case, all of the consuming applications and experiences enabled by your segmentation, targeting and personalization strategy.” “If your goal is to deliver an experience something better than one size fits all—or worse, all sizes fit none—you need to treat your content strategy as more than a hand wave. You need an architectural approach to your content supply chain.” McKinsey have written about the importance of a content supply...

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