Guest post by VP of Client Experience, Alyssa Patzius from Influence & Co.
Setting up a lead generation plan for your content marketing is well-intentioned and fairly straightforward: You create content to generate interest, capture information, and fuel sales. But when 85 percent of B2B marketers strive for lead gen and only 21 percent of those leads convert into sales, we’ve got a problem.
This might be my unwavering devotion to “Deadliest Catch” talking — every Tuesday night, baby — but I liken content marketing to crab fishing.
You throw a big pot into the sea, and crabs scuttle in. How exciting! With the right plan in place, you’re prepared to throw down the hook that hauls these crabs to your boat. But without someone on deck to perform that job, all those crabs go to waste.
Lead gen without a plan to nurture those leads into sales is like crab fishing without someone to haul the crabs. While we’d never leave a full crab pot at the bottom of the sea and call it a success, that’s exactly what marketers do when we hit our lead generation goal and pat ourselves on the back.
We must take our strategy one step further to haul in the granddaddy of conversion we so desperately want. Say it with me: “We want the crab! We want the sale!”
Perfecting Your Crab-Catching Technique
It can be hard to see from dry land how you’ll fill your crab pot, so grab some inspiration from your fishermen: the sales team.
Sitting in on your sales team’s calls gives you the chance to soak up new ideas for content. You’ll hear firsthand exactly what your leads are asking and how your team responds, which can help you keep your company knowledge bank up-to-date and create the kind of content that better enables sales. These calls are like king crab for your content creators: Don’t let their value die in the tank because you didn’t take advantage.
Hauling Your Leads Aboard
Equipped with content that can generate leads and fill your crab pot, it’s time to ensure you’ve got a plan in place to effectively nurture those leads and haul your crabs aboard.
Consumers are smart; they’ve got a lot of information at their fingertips, and they’re doing substantial research before they get on a phone call with your company. As marketers, it’s our job to make sure their time spent researching is as enjoyable and valuable as possible.
To do so, we have to think about the questions our customers need answered before jumping on a sales call. Ensuring your content positively answers these five questions will help you nurture those leads to a sale:
- Does your company understand my frustrations?
Make it clear in your content that you understand their struggles. Show your customers that you totally get why they want to pull their hair out when they continue running into a problem your company just so happens to solve. Instant bonds are formed when people communicate about a shared annoyance, and those bonds evolve quickly into trust.
And while not every piece of content should be centered on this, your understanding of and empathy toward their pain points should be sprinkled in every piece of content you create.
- Do you think my little problem is important? Can you handle my huge problem?
You probably have different levels of your product, as well as different target audiences. When reading your content, the little guys want to know their struggles are important enough, and the big guys want to know whether you’ve handled these things at their caliber before.
Alleviate these concerns by providing social proof that you can handle both. Case studies on the big, the small, and the in-between provide a glimpse into the possibilities for potential clients.
- How would you go about solving my problem?
Different vendors have different ways of solving their leads’ problems, from various product features to service models and onboarding processes. Instead of thinking of these differences as just “the way your company does things,” show your leads that this is your tested and proven solution to their problem — big or small.
For example, we noticed our clients were struggling to show their bosses how their content campaigns were performing. So we developed a solution to their problem: the campaign builder tool in our software, ICo Core. The tool helps our account teams group content on the same subject matter together to demonstrate the impact of each campaign and its unique messaging. We now communicate that to our leads early — and throughout the sales process — to nurture them.
- Would we be friends?
Everyone knows you do business with people you like, especially when it comes to a service business. Content is your first chance at conversing with them, and you’d better make sure they enjoy it. If your content reads like boring, buzzword-stuffed sales copy and showcases a lackluster personality, they won’t want to talk to your salespeople. They’ll assume everyone at your company is just as dry (and unhelpful) as your content.
This bursting-with-personality approach may not work for everyone, but more and more customers are looking for real connections — whether they’re looking for a bank, an insurance provider, or lawn fertilizer. Landscaping is boring enough; they don’t need a boring salesperson, too.
- Do you know your sh**?
Honestly, do your customers believe you’re the most knowledgeable about your industry? Are you aware of changes occurring outside your own company and how they’re affecting the industry? Are you bringing new ideas to the table and contributing to the conversation? Your customers want to feel more educated after each interaction with your brand. If any content you deliver doesn’t instill confidence in your readers, it shouldn’t go out the door.
This simple five-question test will let you know whether your content can effectively nurture the leads you’ve generated to an actual sale. Like the crew member responsible for hauling the pot full of crabs into your boat, content that answers these questions is absolutely critical to your success. Get out there and make the captains of the Bering Sea proud.
Alyssa Patzius is the vice president of client experience at Influence & Co., a content marketing firm that specializes in expertise extraction and knowledge management that is used to fuel marketing efforts. Connect with @influenceandco on Twitter.