4 keys to developing better B2B marketing materials.Posted on August 23st, 2019 by Alise Houserman
A sales rep offers you a product that doesn’t match the sales materials. What’s your gut reaction? Do you think the seller is unprofessional or the business is questionable? Do you back away from the purchase?
If outdated or irrelevant marketing materials turn you off, how do you think your buyers feel?
Sales reps have a challenging job. Lackluster marketing materials make it that much harder. When materials are difficult to customize to individual prospects, sales reps can’t adapt quickly and lose out on sales. Raising the quality of your B2B content has a direct benefit on the sales cycle. Reps who have the materials they need can close more effectively.
How can you avoid turning off your customers by improving your marketing materials? Let’s look at four keys to success:
1. Align sales and marketing to produce compatible content
Marketing needs to work in tandem with the sales strategy to produce a cohesive message. According to Marketo, companies close deals 67 percent more often when sales and marketing are in alignment.
In contrast, content suffers when sales and marketing are out of sync. How can you solve this problem? The root cause of sales-marketing misalignment is a lack of communication. To overcome that issue, encourage regular, productive dialogue. Below are some suggestions to get the conversation started.
- Hold an exploratory session. Examine the current state of the company's marketing collateral. Identify any elements that are out of tune with the sales approach.
- Bring the managers together. Marketing and sales managers should arrange monthly meetings together. They need to keep each other up to speed on the latest developments.
- Invite marketers to sales meetings. Marketers will be alert to the current strategies, tactics, and direction of sales. They can use that information to develop better materials.
This list should get you thinking about ways to bring the marketing and sales teams together. Improved alignment and clarity will lead to improved marketing materials.
2. Understand the buyer journey to craft relevant content
The customer's mindset doesn't remain static throughout the buyer's journey. In general, B2B prospects move through three stages before buying: awareness, consideration, and decision. Their level of knowledge changes as they move through the stages. As a result, their questions also change. Addressing this progression is an integral part of your messaging.
Another aspect to consider is the medium. Different types of content are more applicable in specific stages. Where do different content types fit into this process?
- Awareness: blog posts, emails, infographics, whitepapers
- Consideration: case studies, videos, reviews, data sheets, product webinars
- Decision: consultations, estimates, quotes, proposals
Delivering the right message in the right medium at the right time will move your prospects through the buyer’s journey. Otherwise, you'll be facing lost revenue in the form of leads that don't convert. It pays to understand the nuances of the buyer's journey.
3. Enable customized content for adaptability
Customization is more important than ever before. One-size-fits-all approaches have been replaced by consultative selling techniques rooted in adaptability. Sales reps that can tailor their materials to individual clients have an increased chance of success.
“Buyers expect and respond to personalized, relevant messages. Our study found that 77 percent of buyers want sales representatives to integrate customized data and insights into their interactions.” — Justin Shriber, vice president of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.
Content customization often depends on the sales support structure. If sales support is lacking, reps have a difficult time making the content modifications they need. They may "go rogue," resorting to customizing materials on their own. In reality, even the average salesperson spends up to 31 percent of their time looking for or making content. This can have some unfavorable outcomes, including:
- Wasted time. Reps lacking adequate support may customize content themselves. This takes up valuable time that could be spent on other sales activities.
- Off-brand materials. Modified content may create an inconsistent branding experience. Mismatched branding can damage the prospect’s impression of your company.
- Compliance issues. In heavily regulated industries, compliance is a high priority. Materials produced by rogue reps may violate compliance standards.
Sales support should empower reps to receive custom content quickly and easily. Customizable content allows them to deal with prospects in an individualized, consultative manner.
4. Gather feedback and data to foster improvement
The quest for improvement is a never-ending journey. Times change, markets evolve, and companies update their positioning and strategies. When marketing materials aren't improved over time, they become outdated and stagnant. To avoid this, you need a systematic process to drive ongoing enhancement.
Your process shouldn't involve guesswork. Using feedback and data, you can make well-informed decisions about the direction of your content.
- Feedback from sales. Create a clear channel where sales reps can provide input on marketing materials. Use their feedback to keep content on the right track.
- Feedback from clients. What better source of feedback could you have than the client? Real client opinions are a goldmine of insight. With them, you can propel your marketing materials to a higher level.
- Usage data. 60–70 percent of B2B marketing materials are never used. This cycle will continue if the marketing team has no insight into which content is being used. Companies need a system to track content usage metrics. They can use this data to reap the rewards of greater visibility.
Content: A continuous process
With these four keys, you can put your organization on a path to better content. Still, change doesn't come immediately. New initiatives can present a variety of challenges for companies. For this reason, it can be beneficial to view change as an incremental process.
Besides being incremental, content improvement is an ongoing process. As new developments unfold in the market, your content needs to keep up. Communication, customization, and feedback are continuous practices. Together, they drive the collective success of the sales and marketing departments.