Three ways. First, content marketing helps fill the top of the funnel. Valuable, lightly branded content that helps customers (or those who influence customers) do their jobs better triggers far more awareness than self-referential marketing collateral. This content attracts new visitors, spurs new conversations, and ultimately creates new leads. Second, content marketing, particularly when closely aligned with demand generation efforts, provides the much-needed fuel for lead nurturing (http://www.eloqua.com/topics/lead-nurturing.html) programs. Content is the lifeblood of nurturing. Lastly, content marketing is key to effective SEO strategies. Optimized and share-worthy content — videos, infographics, blog posts, eBooks — is precisely what the search engines look for when ranking pages. High authority sites link to valuable resources, not promotional materials.
Joe Chernov, VP of Content Marketing, Eloqua
Why should a VP of Sales care about content marketing?
Because leads procured by inbound marketing techniques, such as content marketing, are particularly high quality leads because the entire relationship with the prospect was born of value exchange. The prospect thought highly enough of the company’s market-facing content that the individual converted on a form and volunteered to be nurtured. (In this case, I’m using our parlance, of course.) An operationalized approach to capturing quality leads should always get the VP of Sales’ attention.
Why should a regional sales manager or a sales rep care about content marketing?
Obviously because they will be getting more leads and more sales-ready leads. But also because most buyers conduct their own research before purchasing a product — or even engaging with a sales rep. Content marketing is “chum in the water” of search. Sales reps at all levels — whether managers or individual contributors — should value content marketing because they know that whenever a prospect is researching their brand, the person is sure to encounter helpful content that speaks to their needs — not the needs of the seller. And that is key to credibility.
Frankly, the rep will run the risk of looking foolish. A content marketer is going to continue to publish, regardless of whether or not a sales rep uses the content to his advantage. But what happens when a prospect knows more about the company’s marketing assets than the rep? The rep will find himself in an awkward position. To be clear, most prospects will discover content marketing assets before buying, so it’s in the rep’s best interest to, at the very least, know what’s out there. Effective reps, of course, take it a step further and use this content as a way to maintain a dialogue with potential buyers by sharing valuable resources that “speak to” previous conversations.
Joe Chernov is the VP of Content Marketing for revenue performance management company, Eloqua. He is responsible for imagining, creating, distributing and measuring content that increases awareness and drives demand. Joe also oversees public relations and analyst relations. He joined Eloqua from BzzAgent, a word-of-mouth and social media marketing agency, where he served as VP of Communications and Associate VP of Marketing. Joe co-chairs the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s ethics panel. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world on social media ethics and content marketing.