Nothing happens until someone sells something

Jun 21, 2016

Content marketing done right is soft sell, but it has a hard inner core based on creating desire and culminating in a sale, says Business Unit Director Mark Leighton.

Nothing happens until someone sells something. This might seem an odd way to open a narrative about content marketing, and it could be a controversial statement in isolation – but this is only the tip of the content iceberg, only part of the content story.

Content marketing is sometimes referred to as soft sell. But even the purists in the discipline might bridle at the word ‘sell’ – this is, after all, content marketing. But if we’re not selling, we’re not in business, so it’s the understanding of content’s role in the sales process that is crucial.

The key business disciplines of sales and marketing are integral to the whole and completely reliant on each other, but to segregate:

  • A sale won’t happen without good marketing
  • Marketing won’t be effective without inspiration
  • And none of this will have impact without a need, or desire

Where content marketing fits in

The first and most critical job of content is to inspire the customer to start the journey. Research shows that customers WANT this contact. In the 2015 Webfluential survey 70 percent of participants said they want to learn more about product through content rather than traditional advertising. In other words, they want to be inspired.

Inspiration initiates “I want that”, “I need that”. Good content marketers understand the journey every potential customer makes and facilitate each step to connect with customers, remembering that customers must feel they’re in control of their journey.

It’s tempting, and easy, especially in a retail environment, to go hard sell right out of the blocks. However, if you push customers too hard, they’ll push back – and the sorry thing is you probably won’t know what’s lost… the connection doesn’t happen, and so neither does the sale.

The secret to successful content marketing

The magic is in the telling of the story. Get to know what piques your customers’ interest then deliver content geared to that and you’ll have them eating out of your hands.

Remember to:

  • Tell a good story that leads the customer on a journey
  • Inspire the customer, don’t hard sell
  • So that the customer’s reaction is to need or desire your product.

Content marketing and sales are two sides of the same coin playing separate roles while working towards the same objective.

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