Content’s Crucial Role in The New Marketing and Sales Funnel

Content marketing: We know it’s all the rage, and that marketing departments B2B and B2C alike are pouring ever increasing time and money into their efforts. But what exactly are firms attempting to accomplish when they say they’re “doing content marketing”?

A recent Contently survey revealed that 73 percent of companies want their content to help with brand awareness, while 45 percent were aiming to increase their thought leadership. Put another way, most brands put out content to increase their visibility, look smart, and have people thinking and talking about them.

The Buyer’s Journey – A History

The New Marketing and Sales Funnel
Graphic by Steve Patrizi

Of course, having people “aware” of your brand is just a means to an end; ultimately, you want potential customers to buy something from you. That is, after all, the whole point of your marketing and sales organization.

Back in the day, that was a very simple proposition. Before the world was network connected, mobile-first, and socially-focused, your marketing department had it easy. They put out some literature about your brand, ran some ads here and there and suddenly customers had heard about you. Then your sales team would scoop in to guide those buyers down the path to close the deal.

But a little thing called the Internet shook that up, and that has only been further compounded by the rise of social media and mobile connectivity. Now everyone is talking about your marketplace and brand at any hour of the day. You no longer control the message, it’s splintered into a million people and places, and constantly shifting. If a buyer wants to know your marketplace’s key competitors and their differentiators, she isn’t going to talk to your sales team, she’ll Google it and get a million blog posts, and then maybe see what the Twitter-verse has to say about each of those companies.

Taking Back Control

This isn’t just a minor shift in the B2B procurement process. According to Forrester, up to 90 percent of the buyer’s journey now happens before they contact your company. The sad truth is, if you let that much of the discovery process happen before you even get a chance to talk to the prospect, you’re missing out on crucial opportunities to inform their decision. Think of all the outside data they’ve gotten, not just from third parties that might not know all your product’s latest benefits, but from competitors all too happy to trash you and talk up their own offerings as well.

Content marketing is the best way for your marketing organization to fill the big shoes that sales used to wear; it’s the best chance you’ve got at influencing a buyer’s perceptions and behavior when they’re in the consideration stage. Putting out amazing content not only ensures that shoppers have heard of you, but if your content is smart and fairly unbiased, those shoppers will also trust you. Now you’ve actually got a shot at closing that contract!

Start Publishing Content That Connects

Most people reading this publication already know the inherent value of content marketing, but sometimes we lose sight of what our mission is as a sales and marketing department. You’re not just writing for the sake of writing; you’re putting out content that’s going to actually help your present & future customers. Address issues they care about, inform them on the marketplace and – ultimately – persuade them that you’re a brand they can trust to do business with.