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Marketing Watchdog Journal
  September 2010, Issue 79

Gerry Murray
Bulldog Content Network
Demand-Generation Best Practices
80% of Marketing's Content Is Never Used by Sales? Uh Oh.
Q&A from How to Enable (and Impress) Your Sales Team with Content that Matters, originally presented August 24, 2010. View the on-demand Webinar.

In a live Webinar last month, IDC Research Manager Gerry Murray and Bulldog Solutions' CEO Rob Solomon discussed strategies for efficiently and expertly enabling Sales with content they can actually use to convert prospects. The event was such a success that there wasn't time for most questions to be answered during the live event. But Gerry and Rob have answered them here.


How to Enable (and Impress) Your Sales Team with Content that Matters

IDC research shows that up to 80% of the content Marketing generates is never used by Sales.

In this Webinar, marketing intelligence provider IDC outlines an approach to content development that heals the disconnect between the content that Marketing creates and what Sales is doing to engage and convert prospects.

View at any time.
Question: Good content is based on good research, but this research is often prohibitively expensive. What can we do about this?

Gerry MurrayGerry Murray, Research Manager, IDC: Great question, and one I’ve had to grapple with when I was on the marketing side of the fence for many years. One of the most effective things that we did was to build up a secondary brand, a microsite essentially. And as that site developed, we used our corporate database as a market research database and created our own research vehicle under this secondary brand.

That can be a really effective way to do quick surveys, maybe 10 questions, and send it out to 25,000 people or more on your list. If you can get even 100 people to fill out your survey, you can get some interesting market research. Over time, you'll get more and more respondents. It's also a great vehicle to get press. The press loves market research. We also got deliverables we would not have gotten otherwise. Every single survey turned into a white paper. It's also great fodder for blog entries, tweets, etc. There are tools these days to set up these thought leadership sites in a matter of days very inexpensively; it can even be done as a blog. It's an approach I would highly recommend.

Question: How do you repurpose other companies' or competitors' content?

Gerry Murray, Research Manager, IDC: There are a lot of issues that can come into play using third-party and competitive content. Third-party content comes in a wide variety of formats (blogs, tweets, videos, surveys, white papers, etc.) and sources with varying degrees of authority. You have to be selective in terms of what you use and very careful how you use it. Fully identify and link to the source. There's a good example at the end of this Q&A where Rob cites advice from NetProspex. A lot of content is licensed even if it seems public domain, so if you have any doubts, ask your legal counsel.

In terms of competitive content, if you choose to use or respond to a competitor's perspective, go out of your way to be respectful, factual and professional—tone is a dead giveaway so don't let on that something has struck a nerve.

Question: What questions should we ask salespeople to ensure the marketing programs we develop meet their needs?

Gerry Murray, Research Manager, IDC: In some respects this is the wrong question, but it represents the way most marketers think about their relationship to the sales organization (and channel partners as well). The issue is not knowing the right questions to ask; the issue is getting a process in place to ensure continual and consistent interaction between the sales and marketing teams with respect to content development and sales enablement.

Marketing should approach this the same way they approach marketing to prospects. The big question is: How do I market our marketing resources to our sales team? That involves a dialogue to identify how needs change over time, and the ability to track meaningful metrics on usage and effectiveness. Key steps:
  1. Build a portal for distributing marketing content—don't rely on e-mail, your website, or shared drive.

  2. Fully contextualize content with tags by product/solution, segment, region, role, key messages, etc. so Sales knows what's intended for their targets and what it means when a prospect consumes content.

  3. Support sales-generated content on the same platform.

  4. Socialize the feedback mechanism so that it's obvious what the sales team likes and doesn't like.

  5. Assign specific roles and responsibilities for both the marketing and sales departments.

  6. Adopt an agile project management approach to content and sales enablement.
Question: What types of content move a buyer through the process the fastest? Shorter content (blogs, briefs, social media, website content)? Or a combination?

Gerry Murray, Research Manager, IDC: Fundamentally, you have to develop your content in a way that is most appropriate to the phase (acquisition, nurturing, engagement); the medium (tweet, Webinar, e-mail); and their points of pain. What works in terms of getting a response to an e-mail will be very different than what works when the salesperson is trying to gain senior level support for the project. So the answer is a portfolio of content and the ability to measure effectiveness.

The key in my experience is to map out the learning process you need your customers to complete in order to make the most informed decision they can about your offering. That process may be very different for an end user, a manager, an executive, or a CFO, so be prepared to address each of their needs.

Marketers can also do a better job of validating if prospects really are where you think they are in the process. Just because your scoring system says "have the salesperson call this contact immediately" doesn't mean the customer is at the same point. Experiment with asking them before you move them forward or backward in your process.

Question: Regarding social media content, can it look too stale if a bunch of sales team members all say the same things?

Rob SolomonRob Solomon, CEO, Bulldog Solutions: Our friends at NetProspex have some really good advice about this. Try not to think of Sales' social media involvement as merely pushing out a canned statement via LinkedIn or Facebook. Instead, show Sales how social media can really empower them and it becomes less of a chore and more of a tool. Per NetProspex' Michael Bird, three easy things Sales can do right now to leverage social media:
  1. Follow 10 clients on Twitter. This is a single click for each; the exercise will take maybe a minute.

  2. Answer two relevant questions on LinkedIn. From any group that you are a part of, or any individual in your network. Just get involved. This is about a five-minute exercise.

  3. Comment on the blog of three prospects (company or personal). Again, just jump in. It's neither difficult nor time-consuming, and invariably, at least one will reciprocate.
(For more tips, including "Three Things Sales Can Do Tomorrow," view our Webinar, "Building the Right Message from First Contact to Close."

Question: How do you track satisfaction with content developed for your sales team without doing endless surveys?

Rob Solomon, CEO, Bulldog Solutions: First of all, reframe "satisfaction" with "efficacy." Marketers now have at their disposal a variety of tools—marketing automation, CRM, content centers—that offer real data to show how content is making an impact. So, while it's certainly important to get an ongoing read from Sales about what's working, you don't have to rely only on that anecdotal information. You can see how content is performing, from the reporting and dashboards that derive information from the tools I mention. You can, for example, track back from opportunities and closed deals and see, what content was consumed and when?

To watch the on-demand Webinar, How to Enable (and Impress) Your Sales Team with Content that Matters, you can access the archive here.

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Original Q&A has been edited for clarity and consolidation.

Marketing Watchdog Journal is a monthly newsletter from Bulldog Solutions, an online marketing agency that changes the way BtoB companies define demand-generation strategy, engage prospects and convert leads to customers. We welcome your feedback on this newsletter's content and design, and encourage you to share your ideas for topics you would like us to cover in future issues. Please send your comments or questions about Bulldog Solutions to Amy Bills, director of Field Marketing.

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