Cohesive customer engagement needs a compelling narrative.
Today, sales and marketing must join forces to create a consistent brand experience, address customer pain points, and build trust. According to Robert Rose, 90% of a great content marketing strategy doesn’t depend on content but on communication with internal teams. Even the most effective strategy may fall short if there’s no cohesion between sales and marketing.
Robert Rose is the founder of The Content Advisory and Chief Strategy Advisor at the Content Marketing Institute. In addition to being a leading marketing and communication strategist, he is also a known author, keynote speaker, and trusted advisor to several tech startups.
In the latest episode of the GTM Innovators podcast with G2 Chief Revenue Officer Mike Weir, Robert discussed how sales and marketing teams can overcome the challenges of misalignment and infuse enablement into their content marketing strategy.
Diving into the marketing content conundrum
Modern business solutions have a lot to keep up with. Consumers are exposed to a plethora of information daily, and rising above the noise is challenging.
Many brands struggle to deliver relevant content that connects with their target audiences and builds awareness. You can’t survive the volatility of the digital landscape without brand awareness.
Creating a relevant content marketing strategy will drive conversions. But that can’t be achieved when sales teams and content marketers don’t see eye to eye.
Founder, The Content Advisory
Marketing thinks that sales doesn’t know how to use the excellent content they create, and sales claims they don’t get the content they need. This results in sales failing to communicate the value a piece of content can bring to the buyer’s journey.
Robert believes this problem arises from the misconception that marketing’s role is to be “good at content.” But in reality, marketing’s role is to enable the entire organization to be good at it. Enablement starts with communication, the heart of content strategy. Without knowing how to deliver content, sales teams can’t communicate its true value to buyers. Robert suggests the situation warrants a shift in perspective.
“You need to look at sales not only as a content distribution channel but as a place where sellers can tell a story,” says Robert. When sales teams are well-informed about content assets, their key points, and what captivates customers, they transform into storytellers. By leveraging content effectively, salespeople can unlock tremendous value in their outreach and foster stronger relationships.
Infusing enablement into content strategy
“It’s not about a marketing process or a sales process,” says Robert. “It’s about a customer’s journey. We’re just trying to facilitate it in the best way possible.” Overcoming the misalignment and working in partnership requires an understanding of each other’s dynamics.
On one hand, salespeople are stuck in a loop of asking for the same tried-and-true content over and again. “Marketing teams are acting in an on-demand fashion of salespeople saying, ‘Just give me more of what I needed last time,'” says Robert. “This pattern needs to be broken. Otherwise, you’re never trying anything new.”
Marketing teams, on the other hand, are guilty of producing and distributing a tsunami of content. Sales teams are too focused on the transactional aspect and don’t have enough time to learn the content, rendering that effort ineffective.
The three-tiered idea
To solve this enigma of overproducing content, Robert shares the “three-tiered idea” for marketers. “Approach thought leadership by implementing a three-tiered segmentation strategy that helps understand customer intent better,” says Robert. Meet your customer intent and values by segmenting your content based on these three parameters:
- Is it visionary?
- Is it the implication of that vision?
- Is it a “how-to”?
Founder, The Content Advisory
The big rock strategy
Having conducted many content audits, Robert observed that overproducing content is common across different organizations. The reason lies in the fact that all departments tend to request assets from marketing.
“Our first inclination is to say, I need an eBook, I need a white paper, I need an email, I need one sheet – whatever the container might be,” says Robert. “But we need to reverse that thinking and start with looking at the big rock story.”
Businesses spend significant time developing the right messaging about their brands, so sales teams usually know how to deliver a value proposition. But they don’t spend enough time creating a thought leadership story. Robert suggests that businesses should consider developing messaging around their big rock story so that sales can bring context and expertise to every customer conversation.
“We can get so much more bang for our buck if we help our salespeople appear to be experts in the topic that they’re talking about. Or, at least, not appear as if they don’t know what they’re talking about,” he adds.
The myth of the empowered buyer
In the current B2B landscape, too many companies focus on “why change” instead of creating a content strategy that facilitates that change.
Robert notes how thought leaders are so wrapped up in the idea of data, numbers, and research that there’s no empathy in the content produced. This has resulted in a buying problem, making the purchasing process too complex.
“Buyers look for human connection. There’s a huge opportunity to provide empathetic content that delivers value at scale. It will transform your salespeople from content distribution systems to subject matter experts.”
Founder, The Content Advisory
We assume buyers are more content because of the volume of readily available information, enabling intensive research before ever engaging with sales. But the truth is, Robert suggests they don’t want to become subject matter experts or do that much research. So you can deliver all kinds of data-driven solutions on “why” they should change, or you can actually help them change and make informed decisions.
“When you actively assist people in achieving their desired changes and facilitate what they’re seeking, they will be more appreciative of your efforts. You will sell more as they will be willing to buy more from you,” says Robert.
Other learnings from Robert in this episode
Here are some other takeaways from episode 8 of GTM Innovators:
- How to take a research-based approach to gated content and collect customer insights
- The role of martech in content strategy and execution
Catch the full episode on YouTube to hear more from Robert. Subscribe to the GTM Innovators podcast for insightful conversations with GTM experts – available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Amazon Music, and more.