What Marcus Sheridan taught at Content Marketing World
How can marketers overcome the fundamental content marketing dilemma? That is:
• Sales thinks that content is marketing’s job.
• But marketing is not the subject-matter expert.
That’s the big question Marcus Sheridan posed at Content Marketing World. Sheridan is the author of They Ask You Answer, one of the year’s best books on content marketing.
Education is the seed of sales and marketing success. The journey starts with the sales team, the prospect- and customer-facing people,” Sheridan said.
Stage a catalytic event to get everyone on the same page
Hold a content workshop where sales and marketing can work together to answer the basic questions – what, how and why – about content marketing:
• Explain what content marketing is so everyone can understand it.
• Discuss how the company is going to do content marketing.
• Show why content is critical for individuals and for the group.
“Most marketers don’t involve sales up front to build a foundation. Their content marketing is built on sand,” Sheridan said. Unified revenue teams, not separate sales and marketing teams, will be the wave of the future.
What’s needed to get sales and marketing aligned?
A marketing mission statement, by itself, is insufficient. Instead create a sales and marketing mission statement like this one:
“We’re going to be the best teachers in the world.”
Make sure there’s a full-time owner for content
“Who truly owns the content?” is a question that goes unanswered or gets answered in an unworkable way in too many companies.
Define the owner clearly: one person, a content editor, who is obsessed with telling the story. “It’s a full-time gig.”
A smart content marketing manager takes this stance: “I want to make sales look like geniuses,” Sheridan said.
Insource your content
Don’t hire outsiders to create content, since they’re not the subject-matter experts on your customers, your business, your products or services.
“Unless we help create it, we don’t value [the content] as much,” Sheridan found. That’s a big reason to create content inside the company, not outside.
Get everyone inside the company involved in content creation, in one of four roles:
1. Writers: People who have subject-matter expertise and are comfortable with writing.
2. Actors: People who are comfortable delivering subject-matter expertise on video.
3. Talkers: People who educate customers in face-to-face meetings and events.
4. Questioners: People who gather up customers’ key questions.
When you start to do video, train people about how to perform on camera to help them become more successful more quickly.
Start content marketing at the bottom of the sales funnel
Sheridan showed a sales funnel with considerers on top, lookers in the middle, and buyers at the bottom.
The problem? Most content marketing programs focus on the wrong place in the funnel.
Most marketers focus at the top of the funnel, with considerers. “Don’t live in a world of fluff. Content should always start in the buyer zone” at the bottom of the funnel, Sheridan said.
Make content your greatest sales tool
Make sure sales is always has the latest content to use.
Unfortunately, most sales team do not intentionally use content in their sales process. When you get sales comfortable with delivering content in live meetings, “It’s the easiest way to get your content viewed.”
Make video the bridge between sales and marketing
In two years, by 2019, it’s expected that 80% of Internet content will be video.
“If you don’t show it, it doesn’t exist,” Sheridan said. “Write down all the claims your company makes. Then show [them].
“Buyers must see us before we see them, hear us before we’ve heard them, know us before we know them.”
Measure and show the return on investment (ROI)
That’s a much easier task when sales and marketing understand they’re working together as one team – the revenue team – to educate buyers.
To learn more about Marcus Sheridan, here’s my review of his book, They Ask You Answer.
And here’s a video of Marcus discussing his new book.
As a marketing change agent, I consult with clients, lead content marketing workshops for the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and write the weekly Simplify Marketing blog.
With experience from Fortune 500 companies such as AT&T, RR Donnelley and Tellabs, I've been named:
- Content Marketer of the Year by the Content Marketing Institute.
- Best Marketer by BtoB magazine.
- A B-to-B CMO to watch by Fierce CMO.