An effective sales and marketing strategy includes content marketing. I’m surprised, however, by the number of companies that don’t understand the concept or know how to use it properly.
There are several reasons to use content marketing, but here are, in my opinion, the top three:
- Content marketing promotes your expertise, credibility and integrity to the prospect.
- It helps your prospect make intelligent, informed decisions.
- When done properly, it guides your prospect through the entire sales process, from discovery to research to final decision making.
Based on that, here are three mistakes you can’t afford to make.
Mistake 1 – Not Building a Relationship
You must build a relationship with your prospect in B2B sales. Quality content does that. The goal of content marketing is not to sell your product. That may be the outcome . . . eventually. And if it’s done right, that probably will be the outcome. But a direct product sale is not the goal in content marketing.
Building a trusting relationship is. And that takes both time and effort.
My wife of 34 years didn’t marry me after the first date . . . or the second. In fact, it took over a year before I had given her enough good reasons to trust me and say “Yes.” I chased her until she caught me.
It’s the same for your prospects, especially in B2B sales.
The B2C sale usually involves one, maybe two prospects. Unless it’s a major purchase, like a house or car, bad purchases can be shoved to the back of the closet or hidden under the bed.
B2B Sales Are Different and Take More Time
Mistakes made here can’t be just swept under the rug. They’re dealt with, sometimes harshly, and heads may roll. Your prospects need to be sure they make the right decision with the right people.
They need to know they can trust you, that you’ll be in their corner. You’ve got to write enough good content to let them know that you understand their needs and their concerns.
To do this, you need to become a student, learning what drives or motivates your prospect. You must understand who they are and what’s important to them.
Personally, I build 3-D models of my prospects and give them names. You’d be surprised at how much this improves your message. “They” are right in front of me as I talk, I mean, write to them.
Now that you know them, don’t forget to give them what they need: information.
Mistake 2 – Not Giving Away Enough Valuable Information
Don’t be afraid to give away a ton of information. You need to gain their trust, remember? You gain that trust by giving them free information, no strings attached.
But it must be something valuable to them, something they can use right now. You’re not going to be promoting your product at this point. Instead, you’re showing them that you understand their situation and can relate to their challenges.
“But what about my product?” you ask. Don’t worry. That will come in due time. Remember that this is a courtship dance, not a Las Vegas quickie marriage.
Let me give you an example.
One of my long-term clients actually started out as a vendor. He had a great product and sent out a monthly newsletter with tutorials on how to use it. But the writing needed some work.
Now and then, as a subscriber and product user, I offered him some tips to improve the newsletter, all for free. He appreciated the help and we developed a relationship of mutual trust and respect.
Guess what happened.
Yep, I’ve been writing his newsletter for over four years now, for a decent fee and free product updates to boot.
All because I offered some useful suggestions . . . for free. I took the time to understand his situation, learned what his hopes, concerns and issues were, and then freely provided ideas to help him.
Give your readers something that’s valuable to them, something they can use now, and you’ll be at the top of the list when they’re ready for help.
That, my friend, is the power of content marketing.
Filling the Sales Funnel
The sales process has been compared to a funnel. Content marketing makes the funnel work more smoothly. Quick, interesting blogs and articles draw prospects from the top of the funnel to peer inside. More articles and posts draw them into it. This is the appetizer.
Once inside, it’s time to bring on the main course. My favorite content marketing tools are white papers and case studies. There are three basic types of white papers and two combinations, each used for a particular part of the sales funnel.
Case studies show the prospect how others have used and benefited from the product. They can be included in a white paper for a one-two punch.
While your content marketing information gets them moving down the funnel, there’s one last mistake you can’t afford to make. If you do, you’ll never get to dessert – the sale.
Mistake 3 – Not Having a Clear Call-To-Action
That’s right; a Call-to-Action isn’t just for ad copy. Your content marketing article needs one too. It won’t be a button that says, “Buy Now!” or a link to a product-ordering page.
But your content needs a CTA at each step of the process.
Oddly, it’s often overlooked. After I devour your excellent content, what happens next? Don’t leave me hungry for more, but with an empty plate.
And definitely don’t make me figure it out all by myself.
Your Prospect Needs to Know What’s Next
Tell me what to do now. You’ve got my attention, so take advantage of it. If you don’t, I’m gone. And unless I bookmarked your site, I may never return. Even if I did bookmark it, there’s no guarantee that I’ll be back. Why not?
Have you looked at your ‘Favorites’ folder lately? Me neither. It’s a mess.
That’s why you need a Call-to-Action. There are several CTAs that you can use. Remember that you’re trying to build a relationship with me, the reader. Eventually, you want to win me over.
So far you’ve done pretty well and I like you. But now it’s time to take it to the next level. The courtship is on! You need to plan our next date.
- Ask me to sign up for the RSS feed on your blog so I don’t miss any valuable information.
- Tell me how to subscribe to a 5-part email series that will help solve my problems.
- Got an online webinar that explains your product? Guide me on how I can view it.
- You have a white paper or special reports that will help me convince C-level management that your product will benefit my company? Show me how I can get a copy.
- I might be ready to contact you, so . . . give me your number!
There are some other tricks to writing more effective B2B content marketing pieces. But, if you avoid these three mistakes, you’ll be on your way to a more successful marketing campaign.
One more thing (CALL-TO-ACTION alert!); don’t forget to sign up for the RSS feed for this entire blog. You don’t want to miss a single post by any of the writers!
And if you need a great vehicle to distribute your excellent content, check out Uberflip for PDF content delivery! ; )
About the Author
Steve Maurer, Maurer Copywriting is a freelance copy and content writer in Fayetteville, Arkansas. His tagline at Maurer Copywriting , Professional Freelance Business Writing – Plain and Simple, explains both his target audience and his writing philosophy. You can meet him on LinkedIn or call him at 479-304-1086.