Go ahead, tell Sid Smith the end goal of your content marketing is lead development. He’ll correct you faster than a grammar geek on Facebook. Your end goal is to create sales!
As chief content creator and marketing automation champion at Albertson Performance Group, Sid Smith not only develops content and strategies for clients, he also automates the delivery of relevant content to potential customers that inspires a series of yeses that ends in the final yes – a sale.
But automation is only one aspect of a comprehensive approach. Each client has different needs – Smith works primarily with technology companies, which have little success on social media – but there are some must-dos that can apply to any company wanting to translate content marketing to leads.
As with any marketing, before you develop a plan you must truly understand your core product. But more, you must understand it from the perspective of a consumer – your potential customer or client. Why would anyone ever want to buy this product, Smith asks. What does your product provide that similar products don’t? So often we work in a bubble and take for granted how intimately we know what we are offering. Reverse perspective and view your product through the eyes of someone entirely unfamiliar with it.
To many, this seems obvious, but there are still some stalwarts in sales and marketing that aren’t working together. Traditionally, sales teams were trained to follow a dictated sales process that didn’t include marketing, and marketing teams viewed their roles with limited scope. “Marketing is trained to build a brand,” Smith says, “and think their job ends there.” No more! Build alignment. Sales are on the front lines and know what customers ask when considering a purchase. If this is communicated to marketing, content can be tailored to answer those questions. “Marketing can grease the skids to a sale.”
For those skids to be greased, you need to identify sticking points. Where in the series of yeses leading up to a sale are potential customers getting stuck? Perhaps they don’t immediately see the need for your service. Maybe they think the money would be better spent somewhere else. Whatever the sticking points are – and there are some; just ask your sales team – they must be identified.
Knowing what you now do about your product and where sales get stuck, how is your content addressing the needs of your potential clients and customers? Be honest. “Identify which stage of the buying process each content addresses,” Smith says. “Where are the holes? Build missing pieces, then build out a content calendar.”
This is where Smith and Albertson Performance Group switch to overdrive. Imagine a flow chart – Smith calls it a “logic tree” – and each turn on the chart is a question a potential customer might ask. The automation Albertson Performance Group implements will deliver content based on how each person answers that question, which delivers them to the next question. In reality, there is no question answered, instead actions like opening an email, but you get the idea. Basically, your content captures a high-quality lead, and this automation nurtures them to a sale.