If sales is the elder statesman of dirty words, then content is the new kid on the block. Everyone talks about it, it gets given a bad name, and some people abuse it. However, it could just be the key to unlocking your sales campaigns.
Get your content strategy right, and your sales campaigns have another pillar supporting them. Layer in effective distribution techniques and you’re cooking on gas.
So much goes into brilliant content marketing, a lot of it unseen. And it doesn’t end when you hit publish, either. Content can last for a lifetime, remaining evergreen so your sales campaigns consistently have something to lean on.
Here, I’ll be looking at some pillars of great content and how you can layer that into your sales campaigns.
This is just a summary version of a longer, more detailed opinion piece – so don’t panic if I’ve missed anything. Hopefully, I’ve caught it in the longer one. If you’d like the full version, just drop me a message on LinkedIn.
Content is what you make it
Ah, content. It feels like it’s talked about to death these days, but I can’t help but feel that that’s a testament to the power of it. Because the truth is, even if the world is saturated with content, people recognise that you can’t do much without it.
Whether you’re B2C or B2B, content makes up the foundations on which your business is built. However, it is what you make it. It is as good as the effort you put into the creation and strategy of it.
It doesn’t matter if you’re producing whitepapers of Instagram reels, what goes in is what comes out.
Using it as part of your sales efforts, however, is a different kettle of fish. Getting the outreach right in the first place isn’t easy, so layering in content adds to the complexity – however, the two go hand in hand in today’s world.
No one’s buying from a silent persona – back up your outreach with some authority
So, sales campaigns. Whatever form of outreach you are (or should be) conducting, it won’t or is unlikely to work if you’re not positioning yourself as a source of authority. That means knowing what you’re talking about, and communicating it regularly.
It’s a bit like putting wallpaper up on your chosen channels. If the walls are blank, no one is going to consider you as a source of authority because there’s nothing to read, watch, listen to, or consume.
Your content is your golden opportunity to speak to the problems that your audience has, so it’s critical that you use this chance to hit the mark and solve some real problems whilst not giving away all your secrets and thinking.
However, quite often, clients are buying the thinking in your business – not necessarily the product. So it’s crucial that you display your thinking and show you’re more than just a product in your content.
Conversely, if you’re consistently distributing content on your chosen channels, you’ll instantly be able to demonstrate your thinking to the visitor.
This means that when you conduct outreach and the prospect comes to check you out online, you’ve got something ready for them to read or consume. It could just be the tipping point in a conversation.
Building authority isn’t a walk in the park though. It takes consistency, commitment, and control – the three C’s in our book.
Keep showing up. It’s as simple as that. If you’re sporadic with your distribution, you might see some returns. But if you show up consistently, you’ll be recognised by algorithms and audiences alike in terms of when to expect your content.
Because humans are creatures of habit, they like to know when content is going to be dropped. If you study the biggest creators on, say, LinkedIn – you’ll find that they publish their content at or around the same time every day.
This then creates a cadence that they can stick to, meaning their audience comes to expect content at a similar time and the creator has a format they can follow that allows them to build rhythm, routine, and structure.
Consistency also has its advantages when it comes to the algorithms of platforms such as LinkedIn. Showing up regularly on LinkedIn feeds the beast and shows it that you’re genuinely trying to add value and network – anything else is a plus.
Despite any social network algorithm being (almost) a mystery, to a certain extent, you should play the game and feed it. There will be those that shout from the back saying that’s not true, and you should do your own thing. And they’re right…to a point.
It’s a fine balance between doing what works for you and what works for the algorithm.
The only ways we recommend playing the algorithm game are as follows:
To be consistent. Show up, and keep showing up. The algorithm won’t reward people who are hardly there and then expect results after one post.
To engage and give value. It’s social networking after all. The more you put in, the more you get out.
Be nice. Always. The world is hard enough as it is these days, so we could do with being more kind.
The rest, such as preferred formats for the platform or specific times to post, is entirely up to you. Create your own playbook, as long as it’s consistent.
You have to really, and I mean really, be launching face-first into your content game. You can’t half-bake it. For your efforts to work in the long term (more on timescales later), you have to be committed to the cause and in it for the long haul.
Content-based results rarely happen overnight. And even if they do, they’re usually one-offs.
So you have to remain committed, even on the days that you’re not ‘feeling it’. As you can probably tell, commitment goes hand in hand with consistency. Be committed to the consistency, be committed to the content.
Because that’s the thing: you have to care about your content. You have to be proud of everything you send out the door. Else what’s the point? If you don’t care about it, and you’re not committed to it, then who will?
Finally, you have to have complete control over your content. What you’re publishing, when you’re publishing, who you’re publishing to and for, and why you’re publishing.
Control in your content might sound like a made-up feature just so that I could say the “Three C’s of Content”, but it’s not.
Control is critical because having your finger on the pulse of your content means that you can scale up or down as you need to.
It also means that you know precisely what you’re trying to achieve and why, and who you’re doing it for. Pillars of any good content strategy.
Using content in sales outreach
Pairing your content with sales outreach is tricky. As far as I’m aware, not many people do this, but it can be a crucial step to warming up the conversation and nurturing a prospect.
Sure, you can distribute to your heart’s content and repurpose it until you’re blue in the face, but what about delivering a beautifully prepared piece of content directly to the prospect?
Now, your outreach should be personalised anyway and always with the aim of building relationships in the first instance. “Don’t sell, build relationships” is always the way we steer businesses. So if you’re building a relationship, there might be a natural point for you to say something similar to:
“It’s interesting you mention XXX, we recently wrote XXX on the subject and I wondered if it could be useful for you.”
I’m not saying that you should use that template, I’m simply suggesting that handing the content directly to the prospect can be an effective way of speeding up the sales cycle and demonstrating your thinking – rather than just pitching your services (no one should be doing that in 2023).
However, there’s a caveat to this. You can’t just blanket send the same article to 100 prospects – you have to find the right time to deliver the content, personalise it, and ensure it’s relevant. Relevancy is key, otherwise, you’ll look automated and pretty foolish.
Something to take away
If there’s anything to take away from this summary article, it’d be this:
- Focus on consistency, commitment, and control in your content.
- Personalise your outreach and distribute content personally
- Don’t be a silent wallflower – put yourself out there and show your thinking.
- Use your content again. And again. And again. Stretch it far. If you’re bored of your content, your audience is only just starting to notice.
Of course, it’s more nuanced than that. There are KPIs to consider, analytics, iteration, cadence, themes, and more detail on the strategy. Fortunately, this has been a summary article of a more comprehensive opinion piece that you can get your hands on simply by dropping me a message on LinkedIn.
Adding authority to your sales campaigns has never, and I mean never, been more important than today. With so many businesses, consultants, freelancers, and agencies competing for the same customers, it’s crucial that you stake your claim and demonstrate your thinking.
After all, customers are buying your thinking as well as your products and services. So go show them what you’ve got, and don’t be shy.