A shop doesn’t come to you.
Well, this is how it used to be! If you’re someone who misses the good old days when the only way to buy something was to visit a shop, you might feel nostalgic about it today.
It is interesting to see how things are advancing in the world of marketing. The rise of the internet and the subsequent birth of eCommerce has led to new ways of doing business. According to the 2019 Internet Retailer Top 1000 Report, the online business landscape has changed rapidly with the leading online retailers in the US upping their sales by 17.7% in 2018. In terms of simple figures, consumers spent $517.36 billion on various online US merchants.
When it comes to the online space, it is not all about the physical product that you sell. It is also about the information that helps market your products & services online.
That’s what content marketing is – a strategic approach that focuses on sharing different types of content to enlighten customers and to market products & services. It begins with your business website and forms the most important element of your content marketing strategy. Any online material that can be used for your business promotion qualifies for the same.
Preparation before selling
Naturally, selling isn’t that simple and easy anymore. With the plethora of choices that customers have out there, every department, process, and the communication channel of businesses must be adept in their respective roles. Your sales team, in particular, has to be well equipped with all the required information and tools that allow them to do their job impeccably. This is what describes “sales enablement”, which can take the form of a variety of content.
First and foremost, you can begin by creating an internal knowledge base for your sales staff. It will guide them about everything right from the company vision, business ethics, policies, and work culture to their job-specific training material, product/service knowledge, etc. This arms your sales staff with all the knowledge needed to interact with their target audience confidently.
Additionally, you need to create sales enablement content that:
- enables competition research and analysis
- provides insights on different customer personas
- provides sales scripts (helpful in maintaining the company’s tone while communicating with customers)
- helps you use social media effectively
Why is content marketing important?
Reasons that make content marketing and sales enablement important are basically the same:
- highlight your product
- grow and hold customer attention
- get more sales
Content marketing is like a support system for sales enablement. Without it, the full potential of sales enablement cannot be realized. It helps you in executing your business-specific sales enablement strategies. According to a report by Content Marketing Institute, 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing, which proves that it is an essential strategy to grow your sales.
To begin with, a knowledge base forms a crucial part of content marketing. Let’s take the example of two of the vital elements of a knowledge base – articles and videos – that are highly customer-oriented. If you do not promote such content over Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, it will be entirely on your sales team to share that knowledge with your prospects. And if they have to spend too much time explaining what your product can do, your prospects could end up losing their interest altogether.
Here are some additional disadvantages of ignoring content marketing:
- business visibility becomes extremely low, especially against your competitors
- it becomes hugely challenging to make your target audience aware of your brand
- your sales team has to spend more time and effort on explaining your products
- unless you have a strong legacy and well-established goodwill, it could look like a sign of incompetence too
- most of all, you’re underutilizing a lot of your valuable marketing content
Naturally, content marketing takes care of all these points and puts you and your business in a strong position in the market.
How does sales enablement benefit from content marketing?
The answer to this question can be summarized in these 5 statements:
- Motivates you to create platform-appropriate content (like videos for YouTube).
- Helps you reach out to your target audience (connect with them for overall visibility).
- Provides greater insight into your target audience (customer personas).
- Allows you to check out your competitors (helps in competition research & analysis).
- Leads people to your business website (converts leads into customers).
Let’s explore each benefit in more detail.
1. Motivates you to create platform-appropriate content
You’d agree that every social media platform is different in the context of its content and audience.
While Instagram is about visually-appealing stories, photos, and videos, Twitter is into news, announcements, and blog posts. For Facebook, curated content and videos work best, and LinkedIn is immensely helpful in promoting corporate news, job requirements, and professional content. Pinterest is great for infographics and high-resolution photos.
Overall, social media is a huge playground for you to connect with people, promote your stuff, and garner potential leads. You simply need to leverage the potential of each platform by posting the right content.
Social media platforms present an opportunity for creating practical content that can directly benefit viewers seeking to buy your products. Furthermore, it is about putting your staff’s hard work to proper use. You can analyze what kind of content is working well for each channel, what needs improvement, and what is not required at all.
Today, doing business isn’t merely about putting in more effort. In fact, it is about putting the effort where it is required. Work smarter, not harder.
2. Helps you reach out to your target audience
Making assumptions is not the right thing to do in most situations. However, it is generally good to assume that, today, your customers can be found everywhere.
When you share your content on various social media platforms, you’re opening new channels for your business to connect with your prospects. And when your content is useful, its chances of being shared and recommended by readers also increases.
As a business owner, you must realize the potential of different platforms in terms of content sharing. For example, Twitter is a great platform for sharing any content-rich in videos and images.
In turn, it initiates communication in the form of comments and posts. It is like a chain reaction – you share content, viewers get information, they share it with others, and finally, your sales leads grow in number.
3. Provides you greater insight into your customers
Understand that there’s a tendency in people to behave more openly on social media. You get to understand what they like and not like about your business.
So, when you start interacting with your customers, you can access a variety of information about them. For example, which social media platform a customer uses more, how often are they online, do they share product details, etc. This allows you to get to know them as a person. It helps you build customer journeys and create insightful customer personas, and both of them are important for sales enablement.
Customer personas further provide you newer opportunities to market customized marketing material, often in the form of lead magnets.
4. Allows you to check out your competitors
Your business is not the only one trying to make a difference through content marketing. How are your competitors using various online portals to get to their target audience, what kind of posts and videos are they sharing and which one of them get the most engagement?
Let’s take the example of GE, one of the biggest companies in the world used Instagram marketing for its image makeover. GE ran an Instagram campaign using the hashtag #GEInstaWalk, invited ‘GE Superfans’ on tours and encouraged them to click & share pictures highlighting their experiences.
Various posts were made under this campaign and the results were fruitful:
- more than 200,000 social engagement across various posts
- 3.5 million unique viewers on the GE account
- more than 3000 new followers were added to the GE account
How does this tie into sales enablement? In this particular scenario, if you are a GE competitor, you could make a note to your sales team to use more visual content during the sales process, something you might thought doesn’t matter in your industry.
Analyzing these things gives you an understanding of the level of your competition, and your own too. When you are aware of your competition’s strengths and weaknesses, you can improve your communication and marketing techniques to be more effective. This is another vital aspect of sales enablement, and content marketing helps you to pull it off.
5. Leads people to your business website
All your effort into marketing your products & services by distributing a plethora of information online is to bring people to your business. Think of your company website as the headquarters, which is the ultimate source of information and contact between you and your target audience.
It is also your strongest marketing tool. It is the persona of your business on the world wide web. Ideally, your content marketing and sales enablement activities start here.
Content marketing has become essential for running a business online. Within that space, sales enablement acts as your ultimate communication method for business growth as it helps increase your customer acquisition rate.
Content marketing shares the load for product and services promotion that would otherwise be entirely on your sales team. Making use of both in unison is one of the smartest business strategies.
Brayn currently holds the position of knowledge management manager at ProProfs. He is responsible for creating unique and relevant content on knowledge base tool and keeping track of the latest developments in the realm of knowledge management. In his free time, he is either reading a new book or exploring offbeat destinations. You can connect with him on Twitter @BraynWills.