This is probably the most common concern I get when I discuss inbound marketing with potential clients. The reasons for the concerns are many; here are the top three:
- My business is boring, who’d want to read about what we do let alone download something?
- There’s already a tremendous of information out there, why would someone download stuff from us?
- Our prospects are senior executives and larger companies, they don’t do stuff online, do they?
I often share this thought when statements like these are made to me, “If you can’t get someone to download and read your content, do you really think you’re going to be able to get them to buy from you at a higher margin than your competitors?”
After more than twenty years on the front-lines of the sales and marketing battle, I’ve come to learn that there is no such thing as a boring company or product, there are only boring stories. If you want people to value your offerings and pay you what you’re worth, you MUST tell and share a compelling story.
I find it fascinating that people still doubt the appropriateness and effectiveness of content in a defined marketing, revenue generation strategy. Consider these statistics:
- From 2010 to 2011, the average customer doubled the amount of online content they utilized from just over 5 pieces to just over 10. (Source: Google & Shopper Science)
- 70% of customers prefer getting to know a company via articles, not ads. (Source: Content Plus)
- Companies with 30+ landing pages generate 7x more leads than those with 1 – 5; and companies with 40+ landing pages generate 12x more leads. (Source: HubSpot)
- Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost. (Source: Forrester Research)
- Inbound marketing costs 62% less per lead than traditional, outbound marketing. (Source: HubSpot)
The good news is that if you’re concerned about whether people will download your stuff, the problem lies within your stuff, not the behavior of your prospect. If your desired prospects aren’t downloading , it’s typically caused by one of three issues:
- You’re creating content that’s not driven by your buyer personas. Remember, the first rule of content marketing is to create content that your customers value. The fact that you won an award, or hired someone new isn’t particularly relevant to your customer’s crazy-busy world.
- You’re not educating them. As the Challenger Study from Sales Executive Council demonstrated, how you sell (or market) today is as important as what you sell. Customers, at all levels of your prospect’s organization want to know:
- The pitfalls that lay before them.
- How to capture opportunities they’re missing.
- How to do their job more effectively and efficiently.
- You’re not being helpful. No one is interested in your sales brochure, or your sales pitch. As Dan Moyle shares in his blog post on Creating Compelling Content in a Snoozeworthy Industry, “Screw sexy…Be helpful.” Find a problem that your prospects are dealing with and share your ideas, experience and tools to help them overcome it.
Now, if you’re ready to accept the fact that you control whether your prospects download and engage with your content, here are three tips to keep in mind to succeed.
1) Challenge Your Prospects Thinking
Content is a lot like talk radio. You need to have a take, and communicate it clearly. Have an opinion and share it convincingly. Don’t worry if people will disagree with you. Actually, worry if they won’t disagree! Your job is to communicate what I call a Commercial Teaching Point-of-View.
Make sure your content is well written and on point. Creating a blog and having everyone in your company contribute – whether they can write or not – is not going to lead to engagement. Writing your newsletter with run-on sentences is going to turn people off.
2) Your Content Doesn’t Need to Be About Your Product
I was talking with a friend of mine recently who is advising a VOIP equipment distributor. He was asking me about how they could start utilizing content to fuel their lead generation efforts. I told him the problem they faced is that no one cares about VOIP anymore, it’s a pure commodity.
I told him that the key was to move beyond the phone. Their job isn’t to sell phones, it’s to sell the reengineering process to multiply their scale, efficiencies and capabilities. Their content doesn’t even need to address VOIP.
3) Answer Questions, or Better Yet Provoke Questions
What are the questions you’re often asked about your products or services? What about your company? What is it that you wish people understood, but you always struggle to get them to understand? Written effectively, these are examples of compelling content.
Even better than answering questions with content is causing people to ask the questions you want them asking. Spend some time and identify the 3 – 5 questions you wish your prospects were asking themselves. Then create a plan to turn that into content. Write it effectively, promote and prospects will download it.
In today’s Zero Moment of Truth world, if you’re not creating content, you’re losing business before you even have the chance to compete. While inbound marketing isn’t quite Field of Dreams (build it and they will come), it’s probably as close as it gets.