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I recently got involved in a Linkedin group discussion about an article that equated content marketing to giving away free stuff. It claimed that a large segment of the population doesn’t place much value on this type of content – blogs, articles, white papers, e-books, etc.
If you want to get the order, the article claimed, you need to do some human selling.
I agree with that last statement. If you just blast content out there, sit back and wait for the sales to start rolling in, you’re in for a rude awakening.
The parts about equating content marketing to some kind of giveaway that a lot of people find irrelevant was pretty much garbage. The article showed a real ignorance about what content marketing is, how it works and the strategy behind it. That’s a topic for another post.
What really bugged me – and disturbed me, quite frankly – is the perceived disconnect between content marketing and the sales process.
Content marketing works best when it’s developed and executed strategically with specific business goals in mind. Good content marketing may not communicate a direct sales pitch, but it’s directly involved with sales.
And when you put sound strategy behind content marketing, it speeds up the sales process. Regular blog posts, articles, white papers, social media updates, newsletters, podcasts, videos and article sharing can help you close sales faster in a lot of different ways.
1) Content Marketing Overcomes Objections
All sellers are trained to deal with customer objections. Content marketing allows you to thoroughly address objections one-by-one – and without interruption.
2) Content Marketing Answers Common Customer Questions
What exactly does your product do? How does it work? How long will it last? What does the price include? What happens when I push this button? Content marketing allows you to answer customer questions so people become familiar and comfortable with what you’re selling. It also provides a platform for customers to ask more questions.
3) Content Marketing Allows You To Dig Deeper Into Specific Topics
Your product may have a number of benefits that are impossible to fully cover on your website, during a conversation or in a brochure. Content marketing allows you to cover each of these benefits in detail to really fortify and plug any holes in your sales pitch.
4) Content Marketing Builds Trust
When you can clearly convey how your product can solve a problem and make someone’s life better, it creates the perception that you’re interested in more than dollar signs. Content marketing makes it easier for people to believe not only in your product, but the company behind it.
5) Content Marketing Establishes Credibility
This isn’t about years of experience – an awful advertising cliché. Content marketing can prove that you’re a legitimate, reputable business and that you believe strongly enough in what you sell and say to make a permanent record of it, online or in print.
6) Content Marketing Positions You As An Authority
This takes credibility a big step further. People make the decision to do business with real people, not just the brands they represent. Content marketing positions individuals as industry leaders and experts whose knowledge is respected and sought-after.
7) Content Marketing Justifies Your Price
All of these factors contribute to price becoming less of an obstacle. When you get to the inevitable part of the conversation that deals with price, think about how much less tense it will be if your prospect has been consuming content that illustrates the value of your product and doing business with your company.
If you can accomplish a handful of these things through content marketing, your sales process will be faster and easier. Let content marketing do a lot of the heavy lifting by answering questions, addressing concerns and offering explanations about the things that people really care about – usually more thoroughly and coherently than you could in an actual conversation.
This may even help you weed out weak prospects who are notorious for draining sales time and focusing almost exclusively on price. This allows you to focus your time and resources on your best prospects.
I think we all can agree that content marketing will never replace human selling, but we also need to recognize that it can definitely help us close sales faster. And there’s a heck of a lot more to it than giving away free stuff.
Agree or disagree? Does content marketing help or hinder the sales process?