You already know that content is an important part of selling today. Buyers have so much information at their hands that they’re no longer going straight to sellers for answers. They’re doing their own research online. They’re building their opinions before talking to a sales professional. Buyers are more likely to consume content from a company before they raise their hands asking for help.
Not all content are created equal, however. And for your company to maximize your content marketing efforts, you need to be mindful of how your content can influence the sales process.
In other words, your content needs to have purpose.
But what type of content can give your sales team the edge? At the very least, you need these 7 content types to see ROI from your content marketing efforts.
1. The ice-breaker.
Unless you’re a big company like Salesforce.com, SAP or IBM, it’s very likely that buyers haven’t heard of your company yet. Don’t take it personally. Buyers today simply have so much choice. And it could be that the only reason they don’t know you is because they’re not even aware of the problem that your company can help with.
Use ice-breaker content to build brand awareness and to get your name out there. The purpose of this content isn’t to sell right away. Rather, it’s to provide interesting, useful information to potential buyers and build goodwill with them.
Examples of this type of content include many PR byline initiatives and guest blogging. This type of content builds brand recognition, setting you up for success later.
2. The challenger.
If you’re in a market that’s still emerging and isn’t mature yet, it’s critical to challenge your buyers’ current assumptions. Through content, you need to convince buyers that there is a need for your product to begin with.
A great way of breaking the status quo is by using market research. Leverage original research from analysts and use that a springboard for your own content strategy. Or if your company has the budget for it, do original research and offer new insight about your buyers’ industry.
What you’d like to do is to create provocative content that exposes an unknown business problem. This could be an emerging trend that most buyers aren’t seeing yet. When you provide original insight about your buyers’ industry, it sparks conversations, positioning your company as an expert.
3. The solution.
It’s not enough to show buyers that their assumptions are insufficient or that what they know about their industry is wrong. You have to show them the way.
You have to offer a solution…and hopefully your product or service is a natural and unique part of that solution. Through blog posts, white papers or special reports, show buyers what they’re missing and demonstrate how you can help.
4. The case-builder.
Let’s say you already convinced the buyer that they have a need for your product. The next step is to build your case and show that your product is truly the right solution.
Part of your content mix should be those that highlight the competence of your product. Case studies and customer stories, for instance, are a great way of highlighting what your company has done for other companies and what it can do for the buyer. Case-building content also includes those that address exactly how you’re superior to your competition. Show you’re the best and why buyers should be confident in your product.
5. The peer-persuader.
In most companies today, there’s usually a group of people responsible for evaluating products and solutions. In B2B companies, an average of 5.4 people are involved in the buying process, according to CEB. Consensus selling is the name of the game today.
When you’re creating your content, don’t assume that you’re only talking to one type of a person or a role. Think about the other people who will have some influence in the process. Is your content speaking to those people as well?
Create content for mobilizers—advocates within buyer organizations who are passionate about sharing their insights with colleagues and have the clout to influence people in the company. Consider the other people in the decision process—someone from the exec level, for instance, or people who will be using your product or service—and make sure you have content that speak to their unique needs.
6. The closer.
Your content needs to create urgency—it should move the process along.
Create timely and relevant resources to convince buyers that they need to act today. This type of content also includes those that can help buyers gain consensus internally and navigate getting budget approvals for what you’re offering. Help your buyers help you sell faster.
7. The post-sale.
The buyer just signed the papers—yay, you! You should definitely take the time to celebrate. High five your team and bask in the glory.
But don’t stop there. Remember that word of mouth is still very relevant today. And where does that positive word of mouth comes from? Your happy customers.
That’s why your content should help set new customers up for success. Craft content that prescribes exactly what your new buyer should do with your tool. Help your buyer show ROI from their purchase. Setting your new customer up for success helps set you up for success as well.
These seven types of content are a great starting point to using content for sales success. And while it’s important to have the right mix of content, remember also that it’s just as critical to measure the success of each type of content. For ebooks, for instance, use a tool like Orangedox for PDF analytics. For your blog posts, Google Analytics is a good starting point. And for social, each of the major social network now offers some sort of an analytics tool. Being data-driven can help ensure that your different types of content are engaging, effective and helping your sales team succeed.