For most businesses, it takes a year or more to make inbound marketing work. Why? Because the majority of these businesses don’t understand what content they should be creating to move the needle.
Armed with good intentions, companies focus on creating educational “brand awareness” content. This kind of content is fluffy and, ultimately, useless in driving sales. Instead, they should be creating content that addresses the five most common sets of questions their customers actually have about their products or services.
These five subject matter areas quite literally are the fuel of your industry. These are the questions every single one of your buyers are researching every single day before they choose you... or one of your competitors.
And yet a good number of business leaders don’t want to answer them. The answers are uncomfortable or too complicated. Or they’re worried they’ll scare potential buyers away with their honest answers.
So, instead of answering those questions, they embrace what we call “ostrich marketing,” where they choose to bury their heads in the sand for as long as possible. They stick to safe topics in content and pretend The Big 5 don’t exist. Oftentimes, they want to wait until they are face-to-face with a customer to address them at all.
The result? Visitors to your website, the people looking to give you money, are left frustrated because they can’t find the information they need in order to commit to that face-to-face meeting or call. And as we all know, frustrated is the F word of the internet.
When your company is willing to address The Big 5, and it’s done the right way, you won’t be waiting a year or more to see results. Businesses willing to address these questions see an immediate rise in qualified traffic, a steady stream of qualified leads, and a dramatic increase in sales, in less time.
Most companies practicing content marketing believe all they need to do is publish their content on their website to truly achieve the traffic, leads, and sales results they’re looking for. Yes, publishing content on your website in a way that is easy to find is a critical component of any successful inbound marketing strategy.
Unfortunately, this passive “if you build it, they will come” mentality is flawed. Publishing your content on your website is only the beginning.
One of the most powerful (and immediately profitable) ways to leverage your content is throughout the sales process with a time-tested technique called “assignment selling.” You see, even the most seasoned sales professionals often find themselves answering the same “frequently asked questions” during their initial discovery calls and interactions with prospects.
Rather than focusing those initial conversations on the unique circumstances, goals, and needs of their prospects, they first have to wade through those boilerplate questions around cost, options, problems, and more. Questions where the answers almost never change, no matter who is asking.
By practicing assignment selling – intentionally sharing relevant, educational content about your products or services with prospects in advance of a sales appointment – your ideal buyers will have a large number of those initial questions and concerns satisfied before they ever speak with someone.
In turn, your sales team will be empowered to have more targeted, valuable conversations with more educated prospects much faster, right at the start of the sales process.
That means instead of waiting weeks or months to see your content deliver results, you’ll see an immediate return on those content efforts with assignment selling, as it helps your sales team close more deals faster than ever before.
Outsourcing your company’s content creation to a digital marketing agency can seem like a smart solution if you have the desire to hit the ground running with inbound marketing but lack the resources. But entrusting the creation of your content to another company often comes at a cost.
First, your content is the soul of your business. It is virtually impossible for an agency to create content that authentically and accurately captures your brand, your core values, and the depth of your subject matter expertise when they aren’t embedded in your business.
Second, your potential with inbound will always be stunted by the restrictions of your agency relationship. For example, if you see that you need to ramp up content production to get better results, you won’t be able to just do it. You’ll likely need to enter into lengthy conversations and drastically increase your budget.
The key to creating content that stands out from your competitors, truly captures the soul of your business, and gets results is “insourcing” your content production with an in-house content manager.
With an in-house content manager on your team, you’ll have one person in charge of the development, execution, and success of your content program – and that person is fully bought into your vision and the culture of your company.
With an in-house content manager on your team, you’ll never be restricted by agency contract “red tape” to make changes. You can accelerate, pivot, and innovate the moment you make a decision.
With an in-house content manager on your team, the sky’s the limit in your ability to achieve your most aggressive traffic, leads, and sales goals with inbound marketing.
One of the most common barriers to success with inbound marketing companies face is a lack of alignment between their sales and marketing teams.
“Most of the inbound leads we get from marketing aren’t even remotely qualified.”
“We’re driving traffic and leads with the content we’re publishing, but we’re still not seeing the bottom line ROI of those efforts with sales.”
“We keep begging for sales enablement content, and marketing keeps producing content we can’t really use in the sales process.”
“Why can’t sales see that we’re trying to build a healthy funnel of qualified leads? That starts with publishing top-of-the-funnel educational content.”
All too often, however, companies rely upon ineffective “alignment” solutions such as shared KPIs, service level agreements (SLAs), or recurring sales and marketing meetings to bridge the gap – band-aid solutions that may provide a few “quick wins,” but will never truly unite sales and marketing as a cohesive whole in a lasting or meaningful way.
The most effective strategy to align your sales and marketing is through the formation of a revenue team. A revenue team is made up of key players from your sales and marketing teams, and is centered around their shared goal of increasing revenue through traffic, leads, and sales.
Of course, some people on the team will be more focussed on marketing efforts (e.g. creating content) or sales efforts (e.g. closing deals). But the team acts as one.
Instead of two competing teams with independent priorities, the members of this singular unit work together to achieve their mutual goal of revenue growth through true collaboration, information-sharing, brainstorming, and problem-solving.
“If I were our ideal buyer, would I think it was easy to find the answers and expert insights I need on our website?”
Yes, publishing content on a regular basis that answers the most pressing questions of your ideal buyers is the key to driving true and lasting traffic, leads, and sales growth for your company.
But if that content is buried on your website within complex and confusing navigation menus that make it hard for your website visitors to immediately and intuitively find the content they’re looking for, they will leave your website frustrated (the “F-word” of the internet) and unlikely to return.
That is why you need a learning center on your business website. A learning center is a centralized destination for all of your content (blog articles, videos, premium content offers, case studies, and more) that is clearly organized, easily searchable, and effortlessly sortable by topic.
Organizing and presenting your content in such a user-friendly way will empower your ideal buyers with the autonomy they desperately want, to research the questions and concerns they have without having to talk to someone before they’re ready.
Moreover, a learning center will increase how long your ideal buyers stay on your website, because it’s easier for them to discover more content related to their interests. That means, by the time they decide they are ready to talk to someone in sales, they’ll show up to that first sales conversation as a more educated, better qualified lead.
When it comes to the power of video to drive traffic, leads, and sales, the numbers speak for themselves – 70% of buyers watch a video before making a purchase, and buyers spend 80% more time on a website with video than without.
Unfortunately, too many businesses that see the potential of video to drive results fail to consistently create the seven types of sales and marketing videos that are proven to jumpstart traffic, leads, and sales growth:
Instead, they’ll waste tens of thousands of dollars with outsourced video production agencies on “about our company” videos which rarely, if ever, helps sales to close a single deal faster. As a result, their excitement quickly turns sour. And their investment in video soon feels like a money pit rather than the revenue-generator it should have been.
When your company commits fully to creating The Selling 7 types of sales and marketing videos, it won’t be long before you see dramatically increased website traffic and engagement with your content, accelerated conversions of qualified leads, and an empowered sales team that can close deals faster with more educated prospects.
Prior to 2020, many businesses were still able to hit their revenue targets with more traditional “nose-to-nose, face-to-face” sales practices – business trips, in-person meetings and lunches, proposals delivered to an audience in a conference room, and so on.
Then, the pandemic struck. In its wake, business leaders around the world were forced to innovate new ways to avoid complete catastrophe. And sales teams had no choice but to immediately embrace virtual selling, by transferring their in-person sales conversations, brick-and-mortar purchasing, and on-site showroom experiences into a video environment.
Flash forward to today and there is hope. Social distancing rules are relaxing and travel restrictions are lifting. Life (and business) is returning to normal … with one critical exception.
Virtual selling is here to stay, and your ideal buyers do not want sales processes to go “back to normal.” In fact, according to research from McKinsey, only about 20% of B2B buyers say they want in-person sales to return.
That means in order to succeed and drive the revenue growth you need today, tomorrow, and well into the future, your sales team must be equipped with the digital communication techniques, 1:1 personalized video strategies, virtual sales training, and video selling technology they need to close deals effectively in a virtual, video-first world.
It doesn’t matter what your industry is or what you sell, your ideal buyers today want two things from their purchasing experience:
For example, instead of having to fill out a “contact us” form, a B2B technology buyer would undoubtedly leap at the chance to get an initial idea of what their investment and options might look like using an interactive calculator on a potential vendor’s website.
Alternatively, a serious in-ground pool buyer would certainly favor a builder with a self-configuration tool on their website that allows them to virtually build their own. They would be able to evaluate their options based on their own needs and budget, without the pressure of talking to someone in sales.
Of course, some businesses see this new consumer demand for self-service as a threat that will nullify the role of their sales team. Or worse, they believe these tools diminish what a company provides into a transactional commodity, making it harder to stand out from competitors.
In reality, self-service website tools only enhance your ability to drive growth. They increase qualified lead conversions and empower buyers to do even more research on their own, nurturing them down the sales funnel faster. Also, bad-fit prospects will take themselves out of the running, instead of wasting your sales team’s time.
As a result, your sales conversations become immediately more effective (and more focused on good-fit prospects), which means you’ll close more deals faster.
The companies that have seen remarkable success with a They Ask, You Answer approach to inbound marketing all have one thing in common.
They understood that their long-term success with inbound would require a cultural change within their companies. A culture in which everyone was unified around the singular vision of establishing themselves as the #1 teacher in their space, so they could meet and exceed their most aggressive traffic, leads, and sales goals.
But a cultural shift of that magnitude, where you’re able to ignite genuine excitement and alignment among your sales and marketing teams doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen with a single company-wide email or an announcement at an all-hands meeting.
The way you empower your sales and marketing teams to catch the vision of what’s possible with inbound is by bringing them together for a workshop that walks them through the eight essential principles of what you are embracing:
When you set the conditions in this way for your sales and marketing teams to clearly understand the what, how, and why of inbound, you will create the foundation for a new, lasting culture and pave the way for exceptional results.
It’s a tale as old as time. A business gets excited about the prospect of inbound marketing to drive traffic, leads, and sales. Soon, they’re a flurry of activity – writing blog articles, standing up landing pages, publishing premium content offers, and maybe even dabbling in video.
Initially, everyone is excited about what’s possible and the promise of inbound.
But then, as the weeks and months roll by, doubt creeps in …
“I don’t know how to clearly prove the ROI of our inbound marketing.”
“We know our content is driving traffic, but we don’t know if it’s impacting revenue.”
“Our leadership and sales teams don’t see the value of the content we’re producing.”
If your organization is going to invest the time, resources, and money needed to make inbound and creating content work, you must also invest in the right technology. Only with seamlessly integrated marketing automation and CRM platforms (like HubSpot) will you be able to:
Adoption of the right marketing and sales technology is often the critical differentiator between companies that see success with inbound marketing and those that don’t.