Content marketing can be used to educate, solve problems, and even influence the sales process. In the buyer's journey, a prospect arrives at your website in one of the following stages: Awareness, Consideration, or Decision. An easy way to visualize this process is to imagine buying a car—something we can all relate to!
Picture the various people who walk onto a car lot. Not all of them are ready to buy. A prospective buyer is sparked to action when they've encountered a problem that needs a solution. Maybe it's a college student who is tired of the maintenance costs for their old clunker or perhaps a new mom who just had a baby and needs more room. In the car buying awareness stage, these prospects have become aware of their car problems and they're researching options.
A car shopper in the consideration stage is clear that a new car is the solution and has narrowed down choices to a Honda or a Toyota. They drive right past the goofy inflated flailing arms guy to decide which one would best meet their needs.
In the decision stage, the Honda-lover is ready to buy! Now, they're just trying to decide between Big Jim's Honda Shack or Rhonda's Hondas. Make sense?
It’s very clear that the way you approach a potential prospect should be different depending on where they are in the buyer's journey. If a salesperson tries to make contact too early in this journey efforts will fail. This is why cold calling tends to be an ineffective tactic. So, what's a strategic way to close more business with better-qualified leads? Content!
1. Content Marketing Nurtures Your Prospects
Nurturing a lead through remarkable content is a super "inboundy" way to gauge a prospect's interest and start an initial conversation in the awareness and consideration stages. For example, if someone visits your website and fills out a form to download content (like a free checklist or guide) this creates a new potential lead for your sales team. Ideally, you would nurture this lead with strategic follow-up communication either personally or through marketing automation. Your communication should be geared toward helping solve the pain point that brought them to your website in the first place.
The same philosophy applies to prospects you’ve already spoken with. As you uncover challenges, pain points, and goals in initial conversations, one of the most effective ways to secure that next call is by providing content that helps address their questions or concerns.
This problem-solving approach reiterates that you’re listening and that your sales team are experts in helping businesses overcome these challenges. This will ultimately increase your chances of being a company they want to do business with. Keep in mind that sales and marketing should work together to determine if nurturing in the awareness and consideration stages should be manual or automated.
2. Strategic Content Builds Credibility
Most likely, your business has some competition. Hey, it happens. And if you have a lot of competition—trust and credibility are huge. Talking about what your company can do content-wise is one thing, but being able to back it up with client testimonials or case studies can take your credibility to the next level and help drive sales.
Your blog is also a great place to build trust provided you're writing posts that help your buyer persona. Have your sales team contribute to your company blog (like I'm doing now). This will elevate them as experts and ensure they're more familiar with all the content your company is dishing out. Prospects are more convinced by expert advice over sweeping generalities. Knowledge is power!
3. Great Content Closes More Business
The two points above talk more specifically about using content to help nurture and gain trust, but what about actually using content to close the deal?
This goes back to the idea that not everyone who stumbles across your website is ready to purchase. In fact, 96% of website visitors are not ready to buy yet. Find a way to influence that prospect even if they're already in the decision stage. Fill in the gap! Helpful content such as product comparisons, trials, or case studies provide the necessary information to instill confidence in your prospect.
There’s only one thing that feels better than happy clients with great results, and that's a piece of content that shows how your team made that happen. I have an example here of one of our case studies if you'd like to take a peek!