Content is a tool used to develop awareness. Content marketing is “a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” (-Junta42)
So, how do we take awareness-developing content and turn it into sales?
Let’s start with a brief timeline of the decision making process: Prospects first get an idea to buy. They then begin their research by asking peers and colleagues for recommendations. They continue by searching for and gathering information, and ultimately call a company or person for more information.
Well-known author of The Sales Bible, Jeffrey Gitomer, states that when a sales rep can reach a prospect with value-added information at the beginning of this decision making process, s/he has up to an 85% chance of winning business. Why? Because at this point, s/he can shape the criteria upon which the prospect makes all subsequent decisions in the buying process. Sales reps who don’t reach the prospect until the end of the cycle have only a 15% chance of closing a deal. [Source: Jeffrey Gitomer, The Sales Bible. John Wiley and Sons, Revised edition 2003.]
Gitomer provides further evidence, indicating a 95% chance of winning business when a prospect calls the sales rep versus a 5% chance when the sales rep cold calls a prospect, [Source: Gitomer, The Sales Bible] which suggests strategic actions can enhance the power of timing within the sales cycle.
The key to winning business lies in the strategic ability to provide valuable content to the potential buyer during the initial stages of the buying cycle, thus encouraging the prospect to engage early on.
Your 2012 content plan should tell a story about your personal brand and provide a clear value proposition. It’s a good idea to create a 6-month plan now, and then another 6-month plan after Q1, allowing you to modify your messaging as needed. Throughout the course of the year, your story can be told via blog, email, direct messaging, through social networks and direct mail. Regardless of the medium, your content should be:
Above all, your content should help your prospects make a buying decision.
Tune in next week to learn more about content marketing, including insight into who holds the real power of content.