Too often content marketing leads to disappointment or outright failure when the team executing expects it to lead to sales. It can, of course, but it is not in any way a replacement for sales. The truth many marketers don’t want you to know is that marketing often doesn’t sell. By that I mean, it may peak a consumer’s interest, and it may lead them to check out your website and perhaps even sign up for your newsletter, but in many, many businesses, a sales effort is still required to make the sale.
As a sales soul, I am often critical of marketers who don’t have, or resist, metrics to measure their success. The primary divide between sales and marketing teams rests on two issues:
- Lack of communication. Because sales teams often work outside, marketing and even go to market teams often forget to involve them. Valuable input from the people directly in touch with customers is not captured, and if the product comes to market with obvious flaws they could have helped fix, their trust in marketing shrinks even lower.
- Accountability. Sales people live and die by their numbers. Excuses are never accepted if sales goals aren’t met, and their entire career success depends upon their performance. Too often marketers have little to no accountability, although digital marketing has greatly changed this in their segment of the profession. Sales people who are constantly under scrutiny for their performance often resent marketers who are not.
The Definitions of Marketing
Miriam Webster defines marketing as such:
a : the act or process of selling or purchasing in a market
b : the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service
2: an aggregate of functions involved in moving goods from producer to consumer
The American Marketing Association has a different explanation:
Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.
The latter is more often what I see when I work with larger businesses, and within those larger businesses is where the breakdown between the departments frequently happens.
Content Marketing Can Make it Worse
Many businesses that have embraced content marketing specifically often struggle heartily with the above issues for two reasons:
- They have the aforementioned disconnect between sales and marketing.
- They have unacceptably high expectations for what content marketing can do. Often this is combined with poor execution.
What Content Marketing Can Do
As a sales writer I am a big proponent of content marketing, and really, who isn’t? We consume such a vast amount of content daily online that no one can deny content’s importance. Content can do many things, including raise brand awareness, educate consumers, position individuals or companies as thought leaders, and generate leads for sales.
But there are some things it cannot do, or it can only do in rare circumstances. It can rarely sell fast. Of course, there are instances of viral content having an explosive impact on sales, but that is not the standard result for most content marketing. If you need fast sales you need activity at high levels, which is most quickly done with sales. Sales people to be specific; people who have relationships with your customers, or people who can convince people to buy. If the goal is immediate sales, unless you have already built a tremendous in-house database of consumers who look forward to hearing from you, you will be hard pressed to move the sales needle with content.
Content marketing is powerful, but to build a willing audience for your content takes time… and strategy. If you want something to sell fast, if you absolutely depend upon it selling fast, you need sales people connecting with people to sell it.
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