Your content is your funnel tour guide. As our Chief Strategy Officer, JT Bricker, said in his post last week, your customer journey will improve when you enable your employees to engage with your buyers at every stage of their journey with you. That means your content meets your prospects at the starting point with brand introductions. It aims to educate about the utopia they will experience by the end of the journey. Your content marketing can also help buyers maneuver through aspect of sales stages sometimes missed, but highly impactful to the overall journey, like procurement. And finally, it hopefully delivers them safely to their desired destination, also known as a closed won sale.
Content should be there to support every phase of the funnel, but too often marketing teams place all their focus on the top and middle of the funnel (brand awareness and demand generation) and ignore the bottom of the funnel (sales content).
On top of that, a SiriusDecisions study showed that 65% of sales content is never used. It’s written off as unusable, irrelevant, or not worth the effort it will take to find. This means that only a fraction of the of the vast quantities of content marketing teams produce becomes useful sales content—leaving a content blind spot in the customer journey.
The difference between sales and marketing content can seem ambiguous, so let’s identify a couple key characteristics.
Macro vs. Micro Content Marketing
Marketing content tells the macro story. It paints a broad picture about the company brand, the customer pain point, and the solution that brings them together. It’s market-focused—primarily around segments, personas, and buying stages—and its purpose is to generate demand.
Sales content on the other hand, is much more precise. Its focused on specific customers with a specific issue or a specific set of questions at a specific stage. The purpose of sales content is to establish credibility to earn the right of a conversation with buyers and enables the sales rep to take a more consultative role in the buying process.
Sales people also care about all the sorts of finite details, especially with competitive analysis, your buyers likely don’t have the appetite for and you likely wouldn’t want to proactively share.
Stories vs Conversations
Marketing content is story-centric. Its more descriptive, it piques interest, and it inspires action. Marketing content generates an emotional response, creates urgency, and opens buyers up to change.
Sales content is conversation-centric. It’s more persuasive, question-based, thought-provoking, and offers proof of value by leveraging business insights supported by examples. Sales content helps guide buyers to self-discovery and empowers them to champion change.
Types of Marketing Content
• eBooks & guides
• Social media
• Quizes & surveys
• Customer success stories
Types of Sales Content
• Case studies
• Customer testimonials
• Informative articles or blog posts
• Product deep-dive
• Thought leadership content
• Industry research
• Competitor analyses
• ROI calculators
Conclusion: Be Mindful of Your Content Marketing Across the Lifecycle
Both marketing content and sales content are crucial to your buyer journey. So why does sales content get sequestered to the backburner?
The root of this problem goes deeper than content strategy. It starts with a lack of alignment across the organization. Sales and marketing efforts are often siloed. The relationship between the two departments is more transactional than collaborative—handing off MQLs like a relay baton. Both teams hold valuable insights that rarely get shared, so marketing teams don’t fully understand what it takes to sell and sales teams aren’t familiar enough with marketing frameworks to ask for what they need.
Forward-thinking organizations are re-imagining the sales and marketing process by aligning all efforts to company mission and values. These organizations are 67% more effective at closing deals, 58% more effective at retaining customers, and are driving 208% more revenue. Find out what activities drove these results in the Sales & Marketing Alignment Report.
Meet Leah Byrd
As bookworm with a tendency to wander, Leah collects stories everywhere she goes. Seeing the world as an ecosystem of stories has enabled her to bring an authentic approach to marketing that drives connection and advocacy. With a background in education, marketing strategy, and content creation, she is dedicated to creating unified, seamless experiences that maximize ROI. In her free time, you’ll probably find her reading a book with a sleepy chihuahua in her lap, rummaging through an antique shop, trying desperately not to kill her plants, or serenading the dashboard with her husband on yet another weekend road trip.