One of the B2B content marketing best practices for generating content that helps close sales for your products and services is to make sure most of your content does not reference your products and services.
Instead, identify the pain points that your products and services can solve for your prospects and customers.
Then, write about approaches to solving those pain points without selling your company. Give them value throughout the sales cycle and then bring in product references only when it’s decision time.
A company that provides a good example of this approach is Plannuh, which offers an AI-driven, process-automation marketing platform that runs in the cloud.
The platform allows marketers to quickly create marketing plans, maximize budget impact, and measure the true performance of campaigns. Plannuh typically spends nine months of the year focusing content on solving customer problems and uses the last quarter to push product—the time when most companies set their budgets and make decisions on marketing tools for the following year.
“Another cadence to consider is four weeks of value content then one week of product content,” says Scott Todaro, the Plannuh CMO. “That can work well when trying to get prospects to complete the sales cycle throughout the year.”
Break Out Large Content Assets Into Smaller Assets
A content marketing strategy that Plannuh has leveraged recently is to promote its book, The Next CMO: A Guide to Operational Marketing Excellence, which Todaro co-authored along with his Plannuh colleagues, Dan Faulkner and Peter Mahoney.
Plannuh runs a campaign offering a free download of the book, and then throughout the year, the marketing team posts individual chapters as e-books. Each e-book turns into 3-4 blogs, and each blog turns into multiple social media posts.
This creates a full editorial calendar for 12 months, which is supplemented by additional blogs that Plannuh and its user community write throughout the year. When Plannuh published a second edition, there were more chapters to leverage, and a third edition is currently underway.
“You don’t necessarily need to start with a book, but it’s good to apply a large content-asset strategy,” Todaro says. “You can take any long piece (white papers, eBooks) and then break them down into smaller pieces to keep content flowing to your prospects and customers.”
Measure Content Effectiveness Beyond Lead Generation
Plannuh closely measures campaign effectiveness based on the success of each content asset in terms of helping to close sales. After all, that’s part of the value that the Plannuh platform delivers.
“The call-to-action within marketing campaigns is usually to get people to download a content asset,” Todaro explains.
“We run all of our channels to reach prospects with the central message from the asset and measure how many people register through each channel to download the asset. We then have their contact information and enroll them as leads in our marketing database.”
The firm also tracks the cost associated with building and marketing each content asset to calculate the ROI based on the business value generated above what was spent on the campaign. “The campaign for our book gave us a 22X return on our investment,” Todaro shares.
“Prospects saw value in what a book could deliver vs. a blog. It helped elevate our brand perception because readers knew there would be helpful content organized logically.”
Plannuh also tracks the number of leads generated by each campaign, how many leads turn into opportunities, how many opportunities turn into closed sales, and the revenue generated by closed sales. “It’s important for marketing teams to go beyond just measuring the number of leads,” Todaro advises.
“Another key is to distinguish the impact of content at the beginning of a sales cycle that creates leads vs. content in the middle of the cycle that influences decisions.”
Narrow Your Topic Focus
Todaro says it’s difficult to measure if a specific section of content within an asset contributed more so to a sale than other sections. But occasionally, he hears anecdotes where customers point to a particular quote that influenced their decision.
It also helps to make sure eBooks and blogs focus on a specific topic. “This approach allows you to measure the impact of each topic and which topics generate the most leads opportunities sales,” Todaro says.
“For example, we discovered that content geared towards marketing planning generated 14X more interest than content focused on budgeting. So we know planning content will generate more leads.”
Repurpose Content from Last Year
Another strategy is to repurpose content from year-to-year. Pain points that impact your customers today will likely impact them 12 months from now, and you may have a new set of prospects to reach out to.
An asset published one year ago may just need minor updates with perhaps new headlines and a tie into recent relevant news events.
“You don’t have to keep creating something new,” adds Todaro. “It’s also important to not stray too far from your value proposition and the customer problems you solve. You may confuse your audience. Even if you generate interest, you likely won’t get traction.”
Connect Pain Points to Your Value Proposition
As you develop content for your company to help close more sales, be sure to connect prospect pain points with your value proposition—advising on how to approach problems without mentioning your products and services.
Your audience will trust you more so if you don’t sell to them all the time. And if you try to sell too often, your asset open rates will eventually go down.