1. Is “Last Idea In, First Content Out” Killing Your Content Strategy?

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      We had just completed ten intense weeks creating a business level content strategy for a client. This kind of work produces many work products. Two relate to this story. We carefully defined the client’s marketing and sales use case requirements. And for actionable next steps, a carefully considered and prioritized list of content that was required to support those use cases was also developed. Within days I got “the call.” I call it LII FCO, “last idea in, first content out.” It seems a prospect had asked one of their sales reps a question in a meeting. The rep came back and asked the Vice President of marketing “what do we have I can send to this prospect?” It was an attractive topic. The VP was excited to share with me the opportunity to leverage the work we had just completed. The company had lots of ideas to fuel this creation. After...
  2. B2B Sales Information and Content Strategy

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        When it comes to content and strategy, few people share a clear and common meaning of each word. Put them together, and what you have is downright perplexing. This is a sales content strategy guide for the perplexed. It is for people in marketing and sales who must collaborate to get these strategic assets right. (See Content is a Strategic Imperative for B2B Selling Organizations) The linked articles below are integral to a complete understanding of how to develop, document and execute an effective sales content strategy. First, a few definitions. Content For this article we are talking about sales content. More specifically, we’ll focus on B2B sales that are defined as complex, considered or value sales. “Content” includes sales messages, conversations, and stories which comprise what we refer to as the “contentS” of the media that package and deliver them. So content also includes conversations delivered by...
  3. How to Define Sales Use Case Requirements for Your Sales Content Strategy

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      The design point for your B2B sales content strategy must be your buyer’s engagement model, mapped against your sales strategy. Fundamentally, it must be conversation centered. Without well-defined and documented sales use case requirements, effective sales content strategy is not possible. Rarely do we meet companies that have even considered this, let alone defined and documented specific requirements. You can find an introductory explanation of this idea at Need Better Content? Define Use Case Requirements. This post will step you through a process to define and document requirements. Pre-requisite to use case definitions are two competencies we identify in our 6 Competency Framework for Business Level Content Strategy. These are Understand Audiences and Buyers Competency and Conversation Support Competency.  Essentially, sales use case requirements define the purpose and context in which sales content will be used. Sales Use Case Requirements Context The general context for your use case requirements are: Who’s...
  4. Find vs Create Sales Opportunities

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      One of the early questions I ask prospective B2B clients is: “When you go-to-market through your marketing and sales functions, what percent of your target prospects are actively looking for what you’re selling, and what percent are unaware of their problem or your solution category, and so you have to create the opportunities?” I refer to this as “find vs. create opportunity selling.” Ever since I became aware of this distinction it has informed my thinking and approach to all B2B sales and marketing strategy and tactics. It provides a critical context. Most B2B leaders either are unaware of this idea, or don’t give it the consideration it deserves.   Find Opportunities “Find opportunities” are where prospects know they have a problem. They have a good understanding of the problem and it’s impact or cost on the business (reason to change). They understand generally what they need to solve...
  5. Marketing Professionals Constrained by Content Strategy and Operations Accenture State of Content Report Reveals

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      Don’t be distracted by the hyperbole associated with this important Accenture report on the state of content. “Marketers are drowning” in a “tidal wave of content,” are phrases from the press release and early articles that have picked this up. This is intended to create resonance and attract attention. As it should. Volume of content is a symptom. It’s not the problem. A related symptom is the insipid debate “quality vs. quantity” of content. This indicates marketers haven’t clearly identified the core causes of their many content related problems. This report should help. It’s also an important resource to share with your executive management, including your CEO. Donna Tuths, global managing director, content services at Accenture Interactive, is the author of the report. “The problems marketers are pointing out are symptoms of a broader issue. There is a finite amount of content you can create and manage using current approaches.”...
  6. The Missing Ingredient for Sales Coaching

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      There is a generally high desire for sales coaching in B2B selling. Most managers and reps know it’s important. Done well, coaching can make a significant difference to rep and manager performance and success. Financially, everyone has a lot at stake. But sales coaching is seldom done. Consistently. Or well. Why is that? What’s missing? To be successful sales people need: Knowledge and information (including sales strategy and process), Skills and techniques, Conversations and messages These inputs enable sale people to know What to do, What to say, How to say it. We are among many who believe how you sell is a primary way to create value for prospective buyers, and to differentiate from competitors. Training programs provide the initial vehicles to “prepare sales for the fray” as one of my colleagues says. Training methods include information transfer, modeling best practices, and sales practice with feedback. Training prepares sales...
  7. Understanding the True Cost of Content in B2B Organizations

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      There’s a familiar expression used to describe some people. They “know the cost of everything, but the value of nothing.” When it customs to B2B marketing and selling content, it appears most organizations don’t know either. The rhetoric of “data driven decisions” has become a business imperative and key B2B competency. In addition to being a driver of marketing and selling outcomes, content plays a critical role in acquiring data on customers, buyers and other key audiences. Given the strategic imperative of content in the digital age, and the significant, mostly hidden spend on content, this new reality warrants executive action. Research from the analyst firm SiriusDecisions (B-to-B Content Creation Costs and Outputs) shows B2B organizations are challenged to identify their true content spend. Even SiriusDecisions was surprised by the results. They discovered total customer content spend was anywhere between 3 and 10 times known spend.   Framework to Identify Your...
  8. Reframing Content ROI and the Case for B2B Content

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    Despite a plethora of articles recommending methods to determine content ROI, this continues to be a hot and confusing topic for many B2B marketers. Why is this? There are different purposes and uses for ROI. Content performance, at an asset or campaign level, is typically the way marketers think of content ROI. While difficult to measure, marketers need performance measures to tweak execution. But don’t confuse performance with ROI. Asset and campaign performance measures are not useful for an executive level business case. It’s too granular. It doesn’t align with executive business parameters, or inform the kinds of decisions they make. It also doesn’t convey the magnitude, importance and urgency of the matter. It doesn’t show what’s possible. Marketers think with a traditional expense justification mindset rather than an investment mindset. We’ve written here about the misunderstanding between investment and expense. A Content ROI Investment Model An investment mindset for B2B content speaks to three...
  9. Elevate B2B Information and Content Strategy to Business Level Execution

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    B2B Information and Content Strategy for Messages, Conversations and Content This post speaks to why B2B organizations should elevate information and content strategy from siloed functions to the business level, with executive accountability. This is about content that addresses external audiences we generally refer to as “customers”. B2B CEOs, CFOs and Sales leaders have a lot at stake in getting this right. But first let’s acknowledge a reality: if you’re a “middle age” executive, it is highly unlikely you have experience using content as a strategic asset. Content has always been considered and treated as an expense for tactical support. This has resulted in limited thinking about the role, contribution and possibilities of customer content. Digital realities have changed this. (See McKinsey, Measuring the full impact of digital capital.) Some of the top reasons you need to adopt a business level content strategy are: Content is a strategic imperative because...
  10. B2B Sales Conversations — By Design

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    To paraphrase David Packard, sales conversations are too important to leave to sales people. B2B sales conversations for key touch points should be designed. This optimizes conversation effectiveness and simplifies selling. It provides a common baseline that makes feedback and continuous improvement possible. How have you designed the sales conversations for your key touch points? How well do each of your sales people handle conversations at key touch points, or with different stakeholders? How consistent is the delivery of your messages across your sales teams? How does stress affect these results? I’m talking about the conversations where, when they are performed well, you’re in the game. You’re gaining respect and trust that makes it possible for you to educate buyers and influence a buying vision and decision criteria. Poorly performed conversations mean you might not even get into consideration, or might just be pricing fodder. According to SiriusDecisions, 71% of sales...
  11. 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...
  12. 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...
  13. 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...
  14. 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...
  15. 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,...

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