By Abby Sorensen, Chief Editor
B2B marketers should not assume that your colleagues outside of the marketing department understand what content marketing is or how it works.
Yes, content marketing been around for years. But just because it seems straightforward to marketers doesn't mean sales teams and executives are familiar with the what, when, why, and how.
Marketers need to educate everyone from subject matter experts to individual business development reps on what content marketing is and why it's so important for growth.
The below terms are commonly used in content marketing but might be unfamiliar to non-marketers. Share them with your colleagues any time you meet to talk about your content strategy.
The FAQ section is designed to help marketers anticipate what kinds of questions they'll face from sales reps and executive team members about content marketing. Even if you aren't asked them directly and openly, it's safe to assume this is what your non-marketing colleagues are thinking. Use these questions to prep for that ever-important meeting where you bring everyone to the same table to discuss content marketing goals and strategies.
Common Content Marketing Terminology
Some content marketing dictionaries include dozens, even hundreds of terms. Your sales team doesn't need to know about canonicalization or what differentiates one marketing automation platform from another. They need to know these basics:
- Content Marketing – "The process for developing, executing and delivering the content and related assets that are needed to create, nurture and grow a company's customer base." (Curata)
- Thought Leadership – "Free deliverables organizations or individuals produce on a topic they know a lot about and feel others can benefit from having their perspective on. Thought Leadership, in this context, does not include content primarily focused on describing an organization's products or services." (LinkedIn/Edleman's "2020 B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study")
- Syndication – "A method of republishing content on other sites in order to reach a broader audience." (WordStream)
- Subject Matter Expert (SME) – "An individual with a deep understanding of a particular job, process, department, function, technology, machine, material or type of equipment. Individuals designated as subject matter experts are typically sought out by others interested in leveraging their unique expertise to solve specific problems or help meet challenges." (The Balance)
- Buyer's Journey – This term was coined by Hugh Macfarlane in his book The Leaky Funnel. He explains, "Business buyers don't just wake up one day and decide to purchase something – they go through a journey of several steps to get there. From not knowing they have a problem, to deciding how to solve it, your buyers are on a journey, and you need to go on it with them."
- Sales Funnel – The traditional model uses an "Awareness – Consideration – Purchase" model. Get leads to become aware of your brand, follow up with outreaches to get leads to consider your brand, and then those leads will become buyers. This is very different from the buyer's journey (more on that in the article "The Sales Funnel Is Not The Buyer's Journey").
- Engagement – This is very different from a lead. There are many ways buyers can interact with content. We can measure clicks, views, opens, shares, and downloads. When a buyer interacts with content, that does not necessarily make that buyer a lead.
- Lead – Speaking of leads, they are not all created equal. When done right, content marketing can create sales winnable leads. In "The New Definition Of Leads," the definition of a sales winnable lead is, "...target prospects early in their buyer’s journey that you build trust with over a long period of time so that you are the vendor they compare all other solutions to when they start their active purchase process. These are the leads your sales team has a real chance to close."
- Behavioral Analytics – A marketing strategy that pinpoints changes in buyers' content consumption habits in order to identify purchase intent. B2B buyers are humans, and as such, are creatures of habit who attend the same trade shows, read the same sources of information, and do so with the same frequency. Behavioral analytics uses content consumption data to notice when buyer engagement starts to spike across a variety of individuals in the decision-making process.
FAQ Marketers Can Expect From Non-Marketing Colleagues
Why do we need to do content marketing?
There are lots of reasons, but these are the two big ones. First, trade shows aren't coming back in full force any time soon. And even when they do, we'll never be able to compete with the biggest players in our space because we can't afford to outspend them at trade shows. Plus, our buyers typically don't wait for trade shows to make a decision, even when we aren't in the middle of a pandemic. Secondly, buyers spend 87% of their time doing something other than talking to salespeople. Content is the best way to get in front of them during that 87% of their time. And content can help you make the most of the 17% of the time a buyer is willing to talk to you.
How much is this going to cost?
It won't be cheap, not if we want it to work and not if we want to get good data and accurate contact information for the buyers who engage with our content. But remember, trade shows aren't cheap either, especially once you factor in the travel, the booth itself, shipping fees, time away from the office, etc.
Isn't it cheaper to just put the content on our website and ask buyers to fill out a form in order to get it?
Yes, that would be cheaper. But it won't be nearly as effective. But our prospects and customers likely aren't using our website for research early in their buyer's journey. We need to go to the prospect, just like we used to go to trade shows to meet prospects. That requires syndicating our content elsewhere. Buyers are not going to flock to our website and willingly share accurate contact information with us, no matter how valuable our content is.
Think of it this way. Imagine you are buying a new car. You go to one local dealership's website and want to see the price for the make and model you want. That dealership asks you to submit your name, phone number, and email to see the price. Are you going to fill out the form, knowing a pesky car salesperson is going to call you right away? Or are you going to head to another dealership's website, one that gives you the price without asking for any information?
If our thought leadership content doesn't talk about our products and services, how will this help us sell?
We will have some content that talks about our products and services. But we only want to share this content at the right time in the buyer's journey. If we share overly promotional content when buyers aren't actively looking to buy, it can actually harm our chances to make a sale later on (more on that in "The Risk Of Confusing Thought Leadership With Selling"). When our content is educational and truly aims to help our buyers instead of selling to our buyers, it will help us build trust with that buyer. And buyers buy from brands they trust.
How will we measure ROI?
We'll need to get on the same page about how we are going to define goals, and from there, we can start to measure ROI. Whether you want to measure the number of meetings, closed deals, or the number of qualified leads, content can help us in many ways. Attribution can be tricky with content marketing, but if sales and marketing can keep an open line of communication about engagement activity, we can then work together to determine ROI.
How long will this take until we start seeing leads?
First, don't think of the names you'll get from content marketing as "leads." In some cases, buyers will engage with promotional content that is about our products and services. But it'll be much more common for buyers to engage with our thought leadership content, and that engagement doesn't necessarily make them someone who is ready to buy from us. If we get the buy-in we need, we should start seeing engagement activity within 30 days of completing our first pieces of content.