I had a great conversation with Carol Springer from Gabriel Sales last week on the topic of Content Development.  As a person who is sales-process-oriented, I knew she would have some great suggestions on how to leverage content to pull prospects through the sales funnel.

At the top of the conversation, we discussed the implications of creating content and how much buyers rely on internet research to make purchasing decisions. Carol said that B2B buyers are reading up to 14 pieces of content on average before making a buying decision. I would add that each buyer is different, and will choose how they wish to become educated on a purchase. But I agree that buying behaviors have shifted dramatically in the last 5-10 years. Whereas a salesperson or customer support rep may have been a first point of contact in years past, now the responsibility for educating clients falls on the shoulders of marketing & sales to create and distribute content that is relevant to buyers needs.

It was at this point in the conversation we discussed creating an ideal profile of your prospects, which includes a description of their role, but more importantly outlines a buyers needs based on where they are in the sales funnel. If I sell IT services, I have to understand the mindset of my prospect, determine what reasons they are researching IT services, and write content to answer their questions and differentiate ourselves from the competitive field. You might start with writing/creating something like “What to Consider When Hiring an IT Provider,” or “How The Cloud Will Revolutionize Your Business.” Leverage customer testimonials, especially unsolicited peer reviews to demonstrate proof-of-concept. I’ve only begun to touch on subject matter that may be of interest to this prospect group. But your objective is to educate, build credibility, and deliver the right content at the right time.

For as vital to the sales process as content is, I find that businesses have a hard time getting started or staying consistent. All too often they say “we don’t have time/resources for writing content” or “we don’t have anything to write about.” In my opinion, those are only mental hurdles. If you operate a business and have happy clients, you most certainly have something to say. And keep in mind, creating content is all about passing along your wisdom, so if you’re simply commenting on a 3rd party article and relating to the consumers needs, you’ve accomplished something vital. Take a look at your previous marketing materials, presentations, videos, and even proposals. This information can be recycled into a top-10 list, a process illustration, a webinar, video, a series of blog posts…the possibilities are endless. Fast forward to the end of the video if you want to hear my recommendations for more ideas on getting started.

For just under 20 minutes, we covered a lot of ground. We touched on the impact content has on your visibility in search engines, lead recycling, and marketing automation. And if you’re new to both content marketing and automation, NOW is the time get your feet wet. What suggestions do you have for creating great content? Be sure to leave your comments.