1. Content Strategy Competency – Understand Audiences (Buyers)

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      For most B2B selling companies, content strategy is developed and executed at the functional or even tactic level. These strategies naturally focus on the requirements and audiences of each function. Few companies have a universal, business level content strategy. The functions we’re talking about engage some version of the company’s “customers,” with messages and content that are of a marketing and selling nature. This creates new requirements that are driven by self-educating audiences, digital content and online channels.   We believe lack of an effective, business level content strategy lowers optimization of top business objectives: New customer acquisition and organic revenue growth Sales, marketing and channel productivity, for lower selling costs Acquiring data about customers and buyers to feed predictive analytics and data-driven decision making Delivering a consistent, exceptional customer experience. Indeed, we see significant opportunity for companies that develop business level content strategy to create breakthrough results in terms of: content...
  2. Adopt a “Buying” Sales Mindset

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    In my view selling is 85% mindset and 15% technique. Unfortunately, most sales professionals focus primarily on learning sales techniques. Adopting a better sales mindset might be what’s required. I call it a “buying” mindset. I’m looking to acquire customers for my business. What is Selling? This is a question I regularly ask B2B sales professionals, especially those with new customer acquisition responsibility (hunter), more than an account maintenance (farmer) role. I get all kinds of answers. But generally they sound like: “Persuading someone to buy my product or service.”   “Finding people who need my product and convincing them we have the best.” “Selling is the way that you help customers to buy products and services from your business.” As you are undoubtedly thinking, there’s nothing really wrong with these answers, and the thinking they reflect. But they imply two things: Selling is something you have to do (can...
  3. Unpacking Challenger Customer Insights

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    The CEB book Challenger Customer, released in September 2015, will continue to garner support for its many insights. They provide important considerations for all B2B marketing and selling professionals, especially sales executives. Despite a breezy writing style, there are many dense sections. A level one reading risks missing several important but deeper implications for an organization’s go-to-market and content strategy. I’ve discovered this from conversations with colleagues and clients who have read the book. This post is not a book review. It assumes you have read CEB’s Challenger Customer. I will highlight key Challenger Customer insights and suggest important implications, considerations, risks and required actions that I (and colleagues) missed the first couple of times we read the book. These ideas can have a significant impact on execution efficacy and outcomes for those who attempt to leverage CEB insights. We all have a lot at stake in getting these concepts right...
  4. Create Customer Content in Multiple Languages

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      The requirement to deliver customer content in multiple languages is further evidence of how new realities are introducing new requirements that demand new approaches. It’s also an example of how new requirements raise the importance of the ability to scale content operations. Content in multiple languages isn’t new. Technical publications, websites and marketing collateral have long dealt with this issue. But that’s exactly the point. Look at how those responsible to meet that requirement had to change content processes, adopt new technologies, and develop new techniques. You don’t know you say? Exactly, another point! The silo nature of organizations has created learning barriers. This post, and the book Global Content Strategy – A Primer, by Val Swisher can help you learn those lessons. Global Content Strategy – A Primer Over the last decade, our list of new content criteria has grown from 6 to more than 9 factors. Foreign language...
  5. Content Operations Can Create Marketing and Selling Breakthroughs

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      Marketing and selling content operations isn’t sexy. But it could be one of the most important focus areas for marketing leaders. See Is Content Operations Your Next Focus Area? Almost every week I see fresh survey results that continue to reflect the long-standing challenges that B2B marketers face (Content Marketing Institute). More importantly, I speak with people in companies and hear the same issues. The question is, “given all the internal and external expertise and creative resources available to organizations, why do these persistent and near universal content problems still exist?”   McKinsey On Digital Marketing Operations This post was inspired by the McKinsey Insights article: How digital marketing operations can transform business. Here’s McKinsey’s assessment of current state: “Marketing operations are certainly not the sexiest part of marketing, but they are becoming the most important one. With businesses unable to keep pace with evolving consumer behavior and the marketing landscape,...
  6. How To Fix Your Sales Content Problem

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      What if your “sales content problem” isn’t the real problem, but a symptom of the problem? Given the role of the sales organization to deliver primary business outcomes — new customer acquisition and profitable revenue growth — if your sales content sucks (technical term in the content business) why would you think your marketing content is any better? I suggest you probably have a “customer content” problem. “So what, isn’t this semantics,” you ask? Well, how you define a problem has a lot to do with how you go about solving it. It affects your orientation, and approach. I watched with interest the webinar How to Unclog Your Sales Pipeline, with Craig Nelson of CallidusCloud and Scott Santucci of The Alexander Group, moderated by Gerhard Gschwandtner from Selling Power. There may not be three people who know more about the B2B sales enablement problem. Each has thought about and worked on the best ways...
  7. How Do Audiences Assess Your Marketing Content?

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      What if you could assess your marketing content the same way your audiences do? How would that improve content quality, audience relevance, performance? Of course. Makes sense. But what exactly does this mean — in practice? I invite you to collaborate in this real-time case example. I have a video for you to view, assess, and provide feedback for recommended improvements. We’ll source reader inputs over a couple of weeks and post the best suggestions. Principle being applied: it’s easier to criticize someone else’s content than our own. But maybe there are lessons we can all learn from this experience. The Scenario AlignMeeting is a new, interactive, online sales meeting platform from AlignRevenue. Their target users are B2B inside sales reps and managers. AlignRevenue created a short introductory video to outline the problems that inside sales reps and managers are experiencing—and a new solution to those problems. The primary goal...
  8. B2B Customer Content Operations Manifesto

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      The custom content business is a difficult business. It’s a difficult business due to the economics of the underlying content operations model, as well as poor inputs from inefficient clients. If you’re a B2B CMO pursuing content dependent strategies such as content marketing, automated lead generation and nurturing, sales and channel enablement (among others), you are now in that business. Agencies and production companies that produce good work products, and are profitable, do so by exploiting poor inputs and inefficient clients. And clients pay dearly for this. The primary mechanisms they use to do this are to charge for: Strategy Creative Retainers (agency of record or annual contracts) Change orders These mechanisms are not available to you with your internal content operations. Which means you’re left with all the negatives. This is why you (and most content marketers) struggle to: produce a constant stream of audience (buyer) relevant content … in the many...
  9. Content Marketing Gap: What to do, How to do it, How to operationalize

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    When it comes to content marketing, there’s near universal agreement on “what to do,” what actions organizations must take. “How to do it” advice tends to focus on tactic-specific techniques. We see a significant execution gap between these two information categories. The gap is how organizations operationalize their content strategy. We believe this missing element is the reason content under-performs, organizations experience the perennial “challenges that B2B marketers face” (Content Marketing Institute), and demonstrating suitable return on content investments is elusive. The nature of the information delivered in this post is such that it requires explanation with visual support. This indicated that video is the best medium. It’s also an example of a practical use of video to deliver educational information, not just to entertain. This article provides a deeper understanding of a business or enterprise class content strategy. Executive Summary – 6 Competencies for Marketing and Sales Content Strategy This article with explanatory...
  10. Getting B2B Content ROI Right

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    In this digital era, the nature and role of customer content has new meaning and significance. Content is a strategic business imperative because it is a key driver of top business and functional objectives. Poor performing content lowers outcomes. Misunderstanding content ROI elevates risk of poor decisions about content strategy and investment. The risk to senior executives in B2B selling enterprises, of not taking a strategic perspective on customer facing content, impacts their decisions about top business objectives: New customer acquisition and revenue growth Sales and marketing productivity, and lower selling costs Data acquired about buyers, customers Consistent delivery of an exceptional customer experience. But most executives have never given serious consideration to customer content as a business asset. It has always been the tactical responsibility of knowledge and creative people. One executive expressed what I most often hear: “What is content anyway? Collateral, right?”  (See What is Content?) Most senior executives are still...
  11. New Sales Competency – Use Content to Sell

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      The digital era has ushered in many behavior changes, especially for B2B buyers. Sales professionals have been slower to change their sales methods to adapt and align with new buying processes and the expectations of buyers. Those who are not actively and effectively using content to sell are missing an important opportunity to capture a selling advantage, lower selling time and costs, and accelerate successful sales outcomes. “Social selling” while new and popular, doesn’t yet represent a significant breakthrough in the way B2B sales people sell. As currently applied, social selling is primarily a different (and hopefully more efficient way) to research buyers, to network, and to conduct some initial touches. In reality, and almost by definition, most sales people have never really used content to sell. Two supporting reasons for this are the traditional lack of sales ready, customer relevant content, and poor ability to find content for specific...
  12. More Than Content Needs Overhaulin’

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    For all the time, attention and investment made in sales enablement tools, it’s a shame a fraction of that hasn’t been invested in solving the core problem: the content itself. One of our colleagues often quips: “it’s easier to buy software.” He means easier than figuring out the culture and process changes, aligning siloed functions, enrolling stakeholders, and resolving all the interdependent causes of problems. He also says, “every major purchase is essentially a change management initiative.” Despite the lip service and pockets of success (sustainable?), sales enablement hasn’t yet met expectations. But then …. CRM? I was reminded of this by Tom Pisello’s summary of the Qvidian users conference. Top Priority: Content Overhaulin’. While “purging, aligning and personalizing” content might be necessary work, what’s really required is a better process for content. How can it possibly be, that in the fifteen years I’ve been involved with B2B content, most...
  13. How to improve content performance and operations output

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      Marketing leaders, and the executive team to which they are accountable, understandably want to improve performance of customer facing content, get better outputs from content operations, and better returns on content investments. At the recent Content Marketing World, content ROI was a prominent topic. This post will provide an overview vision of what you must do to tune your content operations for optimal performance. Content operations performance means the ability to reliably and consistently meet content standards you’ve identified: Quality Timing (continuous and rapid time-to-market) Quantity (to cover requirements with versions and formats) Audience relevance As well as other factors you’ve identified (reuse). There are so many factors marketers must optimize, starting with resolving their challenges, as well as new, digital era content criteria.   We will explain our recommendation for an operational shift in the first video below. The second video illustrates how this works using a new, continuous publishing, or “content...
  14. Need Better Content? Define Your Use Case Requirements

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    Perhaps you’re the sales leader, and your sales people lack the content they need to sell effectively in this age of online, self-educating, stealth buyers. Or, perhaps you’re responsible for lead generation and demand management, but you lack effective education-oriented nurturing content to support your desire to deploy multiple persona, stage and industry relevant nurturing campaigns. You might manage channel sales and your partners regularly complain they lack channel appropriate content to fuel their lead gen and selling activities. Or, you are accountable for any number of other content dependent, customer engaging groups across your organization. Your inventory and budgets are starved for the customer relevant content you require. You each know the performance of your group suffers due to poor, missing or impossible to find content for key situations.  Yet your organization is cranking out more content than ever before. What’s going on? More importantly, what can you do...
  15. Improve Sales Proficiency With Relevant Sales Conversations

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      Why relevant? What does relevant really mean? How would you know if you are having a relevant conversation with a buyer? How does this improve your proficiency and results? Relevant — adjective; 1. bearing upon or connected with the matter at hand, pertinent Pertinent — adjective; 1. pertaining or relating directly and significantly to the matter at hand. Being relevant is important due to the shift of the locus of control in buying/selling situations. Traditionally, buyers were dependent on vendors through their sales representatives for information. This “conversation” typically went: “Here’s what we have (product, solution), here’s what it does (features), here’s how it will help you solve your problem (benefits).” Today, buyers are conducting self-directed, online research, deep into their decision process. B2B buyers don’t need vendor/product information until later in this process. They don’t believe — often because they haven’t experienced — sales reps can provide any...

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