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Most B2B marketers understand the basic playbook involved in creating and distributing content. It's no surprise that more and more marketers are jumping on the content marketing bandwagon now that in-person events are in flux.

Content marketing isn't a new concept, at least not for marketers. But it could very likely be a new concept for your colleagues who don't work in marketing. And their understanding – or lack thereof – of content marketing can make or break marketing's hopes and dreams for content.

You know you need to market your content to your buyers. But did you know you also had to market your content marketing plan to internal stakeholders?

Content marketing will only work if everyone – marketing, sales, executives – is on the same page (or at least reading from the same playbook). It's up to marketers to teach a crash course about how content marketing works.

So here is that crash course. It'll help you clearly explain content marketing to your sales and executive teams who might still be hoping for in-person events to return soon. These are the basics. The mechanics. The terms and definitions. The expectations. The timelines.

Use it as a conversation starter as you transition your marketing strategy to one that better aligns with the buyer's journey. Copy, paste, and send it in an email or use it as a script when you bring sales and executives to the table (or the Zoom call) to build support for your plan. You might be met with skepticism or resistance. But remember, those trade shows aren't going to fill your funnel any time soon, and your sales team can't afford to wait around.

Good luck!

Here's The Plan: An Open Letter From The Marketing Department

Dear Colleagues,

The way we create awareness and generate leads has to change. We don't know when trade shows will be back in full swing. Even if we're able to set up a booth again at some point in 2021, there's no telling when that will be. Or if our buyers will be there in the same volume. And, if we're honest with ourselves, trade shows might not be the best, most cost-effective way to reach these buyers even before the pandemic.

We know you like trade shows. We know you closed deals both at and immediately after trade shows. Many of the conversations you've had at the booth were with contacts who were ready to buy. But, consider this: At any given time, only about 4% of our potential customers are in buying mode. We want to both identify more of those in the 4% and influence the other 96% so that they come to us when they are ready. One of the ways we're going to do this is by doubling down on content marketing.

You might think of "content" as press releases and blog posts and social media fluff. But it's a lot more than that. Content marketing can give us a treasure trove of data about our buyers.

Our marketing team plans to use that data to help you prioritize who to talk to, when to talk to them, and what to say. If you're willing to work alongside the marketing team to invest the time, effort, resources, and money to make content marketing work, then you can expect more leads, better quality leads, and more closed deals as a result.

Here's how we're planning to do this.

First, we'll need your help in evaluating our current content library. We'll be asking for your feedback on what challenges our buyers are facing. What questions you are asked the most often. What objections you need help overcoming. What opportunities you wish your buyers would know about. You might be asked to set up calls with current customers or prospects just to talk about their challenges (not to try to sell them anything).

Then, we're going to work with our internal subject matter experts to create and update content. Don't expect a PDF listing our features and benefits. Instead, you'll start seeing content that might not even mention our company name. Instead, it'll speak to those challenges our buyers are facing. Our content is going to help them address these challenges, and once we earn our way into that conversation, then we'll start providing content that is about us.

Next, we're going to get this content in front of our buyers. Yes, we'll send the content to our database and your contacts. But our database isn't the cleanest, and it just scratches the surface at our addressable market. This means we'll be paying to promote our content. We wouldn't set up a booth at an empty convention center across town from where the actual trade show is taking place, right? Right. Think of our website as that empty convention center across town. Think of the actual trade show being the place where our buyers are doing research, which is third-party websites and publications. We need to pay to get a spot on this metaphorical exhibit floor.

This investment in actively promoting our content to buyers is going to uncover a lot of data. We'll start to know what our buyers are reading, who they are sharing it with, who else at their company is paying attention, and much more. There is going to be a lot of data we'll share with you, much more data than we get from business cards and badge scans at trade shows.

We'll also need your help acting on this data. That means getting it in CRM, keeping your accounts updated and clean in CRM, and tracking who we follow up with and how we follow up. Perhaps most importantly, we're going to ask you to trust marketing to help you craft a follow-up strategy. Instead of bombarding prospects with requests for calls or demos, we'll help you select educational content and ask thoughtful questions to continue the conversation.

We have so much valuable, helpful information to share with our buyers. Content is going to be how we communicate that valuable, helpful information. In exchange, we're going to plug into the buyer's journey. Buyers are going to lean on us for help long before they are ready to buy.

Along the way, our content might help us uncover a handful of "warm leads." And you'll have plenty of resources to engage those buyers quickly and effectively. But don't expect a lot of "quick wins," because we can't shortcut the sales cycle. Instead, we can build a long-term, sustainable lead gen and brand awareness machine. A machine that will be well-oiled, efficient, and powerful in a way trade shows never could be.

If this all sounds daunting, don't worry. This is going to be a true team effort, and marketing is not going to leave you hanging. Here's a quick summary of our plan:

  1. Determine what content we need to create.
  2. Create that content.
  3. Promote/distribute the content.
  4. Analyze the data from the content.
  5. Use that data to help you sell more effectively.

We'll be in touch soon to ask for your help executing each of these steps. In the meantime, please take a look at the list of terms and FAQs. Additionally, here are a few short articles that can help you better understand what content marketing is and why it's so important for our future.

Our marketing team hopes you are as excited as we are to start down this content marketing path.

Sincerely,

Your Marketing Team

About the author

Chief Editor, Follow Your Buyer

You might know me as a writer, coach, content marketer, dog lover, editor, golfer, sales strategist, Diet Coke enthusiast, speaker, Allegheny alum, project manager, feminist, networker, or St. Louis Cardinals fan. 

We will not be great by what we accomplish, but by what we help others accomplish.

How does this apply to your work as a B2B marketer?

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Learning to follow your buyer is a change in mindset

A transition from selling buyers on what you do to helping them accomplish what they do.