Here’s a super-shorthand definition of content marketing – “branding that sells”. A little over-simple, but it underlines an important truth: even if your content marketing program resides in Marketing, your sales people had better be involved if you want anything to come of it.
But maybe your organization is like most, and Marketing and Sales spend more energy bickering or ignoring each other than cooperating. That’s unfortunate, since there’s more overlapping than ever of marketing and sales roles. Marketers are under pressure to prove their contribution to the bottom line. Salespeople are expected to act as brand ambassadors and customer advisors.
Why not look at interdepartmental dysfunction as an opportunity? Here are some ways successful marketers are creating harmony between Marketing and Sales:
1. Win and win: Show that with content marketing, sharing works for everyone
Think about content creation. The more creators know about what the customer needs, what his problems are, and how he goes about solving them, the more powerful and focused they can make their content. The best place to go for that information? Salespeople.
What about the sales process? Salespeople need a way to open the door to customers and prospects, and a way to provide value once they get inside. The ideal tool? High-value, relevant content.
When it comes to content marketing, Marketing and Sales have everything to gain from working together and nothing to lose. How to convince everybody of that? Targeted training, pilot projects and good old management jawboning can help.
2. Make sharing automatic: Create a formal process for sharing information
Unless you chase Marketing and Sales out of their silos, there won’t be an opportunity for them collaborate on content marketing, even if the willingness to cooperate is there. A good way to do that is to implement formal systems that can be tracked, evaluated and improved over time.
Joint training programs.
Joint marketing task forces with defined tasks, resources and time.
Regular status and review sessions
3. Make it simple to share: Integrate software tools
Online software tools make it easier than ever for the key tools of content marketing to be shared between departments. Editorial calendars, CRM databases and marketing automation applications can all be set up to straddle departmental borders.
4. Make it scary not to share: get top management involved
A big part of motivating Marketing and Sales to work together is getting incentives aligned. Here’s where management can deploy carrots and sticks targeted at company-wide content marketing objectives. In addition to making content marketing part of staff evaluation systems, implementation can be linked to metrics such as lead scoring, rejected leads and follow-up activity.
5. Make it clear what doesn’t get shared: define roles and handover-point
Piling all the toys in the middle of the room and inviting a free-for-all isn’t a good way to promote sharing. Kids need toys of their own. Cooperation in content marketing works best when roles and responsibilities are clearly spelled out. It’s especially useful to define in some detail what constitutes a “qualified lead”, since that’s usually the handover point between Marketing and Sales.
In a better world than this one, Marketing and Sales would be natural allies, working hand-in-hand, both devoted to creating high-value relationships with customers and prospects. Short of that utopian bliss, content marketing can at least stake out some common ground. And if it produces content that captivates and excites customers, then the value of the program will be something everyone can agree on.