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2 Posts authored by: Rob Barnhart-Oracle

By now, everyone knows they need to invest in content. It’s not a matter of if, now, but when and how. Marketers are transitioning from selling the concept internally in attempts to secure budgets to figuring out how to execute on their plans.

 

This is proving, for most, to be somewhat challenging. A lot of marketers are struggling to find a place to start and ways to make content engaging and relevant while also scalable. Content is such a big topic, that it is hard to focus on a simple, practical way to make content work for both the business and the customer. Most marketers, then, default to telling their brand stories from their perspective because they can control the output and more easily promote the business across all channels.

 

The problem is, customers just don’t care about your brand. You might not be as interesting as you think.

 

“If I want a long boring story with no point to it, I have my life.”
Jerry Seinfeld

 

Customers are people (shocking!) and, like you and me, react to what is interesting to them in the moment. And, regardless of whether they are working for a business, buying from a business, or acting on their own behalf as a consumer, they generally act as their emotions lead them.

 

Whether you recognize it or not, you are in the process of buying something…right now. It could be something complex like software, or simple like a new pair of running shoes, but you are already in the process of buying.*

 

Not interested in those shoes right now? I bet a review on Facebook could pique your interest. Have you heard about all of those Social Relationship Management tools on the market but don’t know which one is the best? Chances are that infographic on LinkedIn will get you to at least visit a provider’s website. There is always something that you see that shapes a decision to buy.

 

So, that’s great…here’s another post telling you to consider the buying journey. How does the buyer journey translate into content that doesn’t look like everyone else’s?

 

Nope! This is much more FUN than that.

 

Content + the buyer’s journey = FUN!

 

FUN & FUNny Content

In the EARLY Stages of the buyer journey, you are simply looking to engage with a customer and start to build a relationship. Getting people to emotionally connect, is a matter of getting them to laugh and providing them with something interesting to attract their attention. The funnier, the better. Some examples:

Colorful infographics and comic strips? Bring it!

               Short and sweet? I gotta show my friends / co-workers.

A Video??? Where’s the SHARE button?

 

A datasheet or product page? YAWN. It’s the dating equivalent of someone showing you family pictures from grandmas scrap books on the first date. Eventually she’ll / he’ll be interested. But now? The only thing we’re flirting with is a creepy reputation.

 

FUNdamental Content

In the MIDDLE Stages of the buyer journey, you can start to focus on what you do. At some point, the rubber has to meet the road and you need to differentiate your message from others in your industry. This is about explaining the fundamentals of your solutions and industry as well as, fundamentally, how you’re different. If your buyer is to this point, they’re probably more likely to want information that takes it to the next level and lets you prove your worth (value).

                White Papers? I’m gonna know stuff my boss doesn’t know.

                          Testimonials? Does anyone believe in this stuff?

                Product briefs? Is this solution right for me?

 

Break out that scrap book big guy…that picture of you taking a bath as a baby is gonna be SOOOO cute.

 

FUNctional Content

In the LATE Stages of the buyers journey, content that sells is critical. Anticipating and giving sales the information they need to close the deal is as important as any other kinds of content. Marketing is as involved in the revenue process as sales is and should take responsibility for their role as much as their counterparts.

                ROI Calculators? You CAN afford this!

                          Case Studies? How have others done this?

 

Engagement rings and wedding bells!

 

So, remember, the buyer’s journey dictates that type of content you create. You just have to know how to add the right FUN.


What are some examples of FUN content you’ve created?

              

 

*The point is, everyone is buying. All the time. Understanding the buyers journey is always going to be step one to figuring out what content you need to create.

 

For the sake of your attention span as well as the words in this posts, let’s assume all of those complex buyer journeys you can imagine can be boiled down to three stages; Early, Middle, and Late.

 

And we quickly define the Buyer Stages as:

EARLY: Customer doesn’t know they have a need, are not yet interested in solutions or are peripherally checking “stuff” out during their free time.

MIDDLE: Customer is aware of their need, knows of solutions, and is trying to figure out what is the right solution for them.

LATE: Customer is working on finalizing a purchase decision or, in more complex instances, working with a sales team to progress to and through the contract process.

As a Marketing Advisor for Eloqua, I get the unique opportunity to work with many exceptional marketing organizations that use the tool in a number of really cool and innovative ways.  Our customers consist of the best-of-the-best in the world of marketing and are unmatched in their ability to launch incredibly impressive campaigns, manage data to incredibly precise levels, and generate a lot of quality leads for their organizations.

 

But for many, this is not enough. They spend a lot of time and effort being really successful at their difficult and stressful craft but often feel underappreciated and frustrated.

 

Why? How can some of the best marketing organizations have trouble enjoying their success?

 

As a customer of Eloqua for nearly 8 years, I have “been there” and “done that.” I’ve built a data washing machine, constructed more multi-touch lead nurturing programs that I care to remember, implemented lead scoring, and launched two of the three sales enablement tools Eloqua offers, among many other initiatives.

 

The problem I had that many organizations I now work with have is, no matter how much I did or how cool the program I built, my friends in sales were never as fired up about it as I was.

 

We had spent a ton of time promising qualified leads and more insight into lead and customer activity. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, intent was left unfulfilled and practical application was ignored or misunderstood. Sales had all the intelligence they could possibly want right at their fingertips, but mostly didn’t use it. And when they did attempt to use the tools we made available to them, the amount of time training them put a strain on our marketing efforts.

 

Eventually, like most of you, we started to figure out our relationship with sales including our ability to effectively generate qualified leads as well as get our sales team to utilize the tools available to them (we had Profiler and Engage). When we started to adjust our approach, we found that, not only did sales respond well to the tools we provided to them, but their interest in following up with the leads we generated increased. In addition, our ability to move leads down the sales cycle significantly improved, helping sales achieve their primary goal of more deals.

 

From this experience we learned a few things. Some of them were a little bit difficult to get used to, some of them were insightful. But, these lessons were every bit as important as any modern marketing tenet and, by passing them on, I hope you get more out of your relationship with sales which, in turn, helps you get more out of your marketing efforts.

 

  1. Empathize with sales
    As much as we’d all like sales to celebrate every quality lead we pass to them, we must realize that we’re just starting a potentially long process for them. They (generally) aren’t paid for converting leads and are likely in the many deals at various stages that take up a lot of their attention. Expecting them to get excited for leads or peripheral tools related to lead gen is asking a lot.  The catch, of course, is that leads are the lifeblood of the sales pipeline and forecast.

    Empathizing with sales’ day-to-day perspective will help you visualize what you can do to better connect with your peers in sales and define processes that help them in a relevant way. It can also be a great catalyst to developing really innovative ways to ensure your leads become revenue faster and with more consistency.
  2. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat again.
    This can be considered Part B of point 1. If you’re empathizing with sales and putting yourself in their shoes, you might start to imagine that the things that fill up your attention span are things like contract negotiations, selling “up” in an organization, or managing internal and external personalities. The new tool marketing is launching sounds cool and you might take a look at it, but an hour later, you’ve likely forgotten how to use the tool if you remember the tool exists at all.

    Although it might be a bit monotonous (at best) or annoying (at worst), you will serve yourself well by assuming you’ll have to be a champion for your ideas, tools, and results, constantly preaching your ideas and promoting your accomplishments. You may sound like a broken record at times (and even get that feedback from sales or leadership) but the more you talk about what you’re doing (or the more willing you are to train), the more it will sink in and the better chance you’ll have of getting buy-in from those of which you need it.
  3. Be prescriptive
    You’re an expert. Let’s begin there. You know marketing and you know the intricacies and fundamentals that go with being a world-class, modern marketer. However, what might seem to be second-nature to you will not seem so easy to your cohorts in sales. And, as we’ve established, they may not have the time to really dig into what you are delivering. So, you have to be willing to explain what you want to see happen in terms that are familiar to sales and help them find instructions at their leisure.

    Whether you’re showing them how to use a new tool or launching a new campaign, be specific in how you would like them to use what you’ve created. It is as important to define use cases and show examples for sales as is it to determine what goes into your campaign. Make it very simple to understand, discover, and execute each part of your plan. Sales will be more willing to engage and you’ll be more likely to succeed. Remember point 2 though. You’ll say and show multiple times.

  4. Start small and grow
    This is a simple concept, but very important. You will naturally notice a portion of your sales team that is all about marketing and do anything and everything you ask of them. These are your go-tos. Your superstars.

    These are great people to rely on to pilot your programs and build your use cases. Whether you are implementing a lead scoring program, rolling out a new sales tool, or launching a new campaign, you’ll have much more success with sales if you can prove value. Working with a small group of sales folks in a pilot, gives you a great opportunity to work out the kinks, identify strengths, and develop advocates prior to the larger launch. Having a group like this to rely on helps ensure your success but, more importantly, gives you a voice when you aren’t there. A trusted voice with more “pull” who can be the difference between success and failure.
  5. Smile!
    Author Jeffrey Hayzlett writes in his book “Running the Gauntlet,” about how you can become a change agent in your organization. It’s a fantastic read, and one of the ideas he promotes throughout really stuck with me, “remember: no one is going to die when running the gauntlet. Not you. Not your employees. No one. Little sick maybe, but not die. Your business might die. But that’s probably because it already was not breathing well.” When I read this, I realized that I may have been taking my relationship with sales too seriously.

    The solution? Smile. Sales is under enough stress already. If you go in, like I did, guns blazing, you’ll turn off more folks to your message than you gain. In fact, this recommendation doesn’t just apply to your relationship with sales. I’ve found it is a good life lesson. Who doesn’t feel better around people with a smile on their face?

 

Have you been successful working with sales? What are some ways you’ve found works well in developing a solid working relationship with your peers?

 

 


If you’re unfamiliar with Eloqua’s sales enablement tools, here are some quick descriptions. Your Account Director can help you find out more:

 

Discover

Eloqua Discover for Salesforce.com lets sales professionals know exactly who to call next. They can see a prioritized view of their hottest, most engaged prospects. Armed with the insight into which accounts deserve their immediate attention, sales professionals can quickly zero in on buyer interests and activities.

 

Profiler

Eloqua Profiler gives sales teams fast access to their prospects’ online activities and behaviors, giving them key insight into buyer interests and intent. In seconds, busy sales professionals get real time visibility into their prospects’ online activity—before they pick up the phone.

 

Engage

Eloqua Engage alleviates the need to constantly re-create emails that are frequently used throughout the sales process.  Ensuring sales professionals are using marketing-approved messaging, branding and content, it also allows for personalization and tracking of each email template sent.  Available through the web - standalone and in your CRM, Eloqua Engage makes it easy to send relevant, trackable emails on the go.

      • Create your "sales-emails" in the same place you create your regular marketing campaign emails
      • Control the marketing content your sales team sends out to their prospects
      • When sales adds a new contact on the fly, it is synchronized with Eloqua and your CRM
      • Emails sent through Engage are recorded in Eloqua and within the CRM on the contact record

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