Content Powered Sales & Revenue [ + Tips for Harboring Content/Marketing Sales Alignment]
What is your business’s greatest commodity? Or, stated differently: Which Commodity is Any business’s preeminent asset?
One might jump to, “Our product! It speaks for itself!” or “We provide the best __________ service in our area/industry/etc.” or “We’re the best value” or “You can’t beat our prices…” or maybe something like “our top-notch customer service,” and while these all have certain value, no one single criteria listed here comes close to that ‘greatest commodity.’
“What is the single most valuable commodity a business can have?”
-- “The attention of the people that you want” (Hubspot 2020).
Now… How do you get that attention?
-- By producing and providing the appropriate Content for your audience.
‘Easier said than done, right?’ Sure, most things are. But it doesn’t have to be impossible, because I assure you, it isn’t. In fact, it doesn’t have to be difficult (although it might do well to expect some difficulties -with life in general- during internal transitions) nor does it require tons of investment, energy, stress, or money to integrate some surefire methods that follow the old trope Work Smarter, Not Faster.
While energy and costs are a considerable savings factor when it comes to content-driven “Smarketing” (we’ll go into more detail a little further on) there are some attributes of implementing these strategies that are unquestionable, absolute desideratum for effectiveness. Things like communication, time management, organization, creative and critical thinking, and COMMUNICATION (for those in the back that didn’t hear the first time). But before we really delve more into Smarketing and sales-marketing alignment, let’s talk a little bit about “Jobs to be Done” or “Jobs Theory” and how it can guide the efforts of both departments to rediscover The Big Picture.
In Harvard Business Review’s 2016 article “Know Your Customers ‘Jobs to be Done’,” the analysts evaluate what may be considered the most common, core marketing strength: knowing and collecting as much information about a potential customer as possible. But,
After decades of watching great companies fail, we’ve come to the conclusion that the focus on correlation—and on knowing more and more about customers—is taking firms in the wrong direction. What they really need to hone in on is the progress that the customer is trying to make in a given circumstance—what the customer hopes to accomplish. This is what we’ve come to call the job to be done.
We all have many jobs to be done in our lives. Some are little (pass the time while waiting in line); some are big (find a more fulfilling career). Some surface unpredictably (dress for an out-of-town business meeting after the airline lost my suitcase); some regularly (pack a healthful lunch for my daughter to take to school). When we buy a product, we essentially “hire” it to help us do a job. If it does the job well, the next time we’re confronted with the same job, we tend to hire that product again. (Christensen, Hall, Dillon, Duncan, 2016)
Professor George Siedel, Williamson Family Professor of Business Administration Emeritus and the Thurnau Professor of Business Law Emeritus at the University of Michigan, says that, “There might be a correlation between my characteristics, and the propensity to purchase/contract ‘this-or-that product/service,’ but… our characteristics (do not) cause us to buy any product or service. What causes us to buy… or not buy… is that normal, everyday stuff happens to us,” and your product/service is here to help with the job of dealing with the normal, everyday stuff.
In other words, when a person buys a hammer, they’re not really buying a hammer. They’re trying to hang a picture, or build a birdhouse, or whatever; they’re ‘hiring’ the hammer to do the job, and do it right. Your product/service is the same. Take it one step further, and they’re really not even trying to hang a picture; they’re in need of some sort of blunt object fit for driving spike-like objects into walls.
This is by no means a full, detailed description of “Jobs Theory” and how best to implement it into your own business tactics, so I recommend further reading on the subject. It’s rather insightful and entertaining research, and something that can really guide your teams towards taking that step back, and looking at ‘The Big Picture’.
This approach is highly recommended for any company looking to promote “Smarketing” efforts. So, what is “Smarketing”?
“Smarketing” is the result of inbound marketing efforts falling short of sales initiatives and/or vice-versa. Essentially, companies analyzing their customers’ data habits and trends began noticing an identifiable crisis in regards to content. That being, some content being produced were smash hits in achieving the purpose or goals of the content (ie. increasing inbound-generated sales, qualified leads, network traffic, brand awareness, etc.) while others fall flat. Why? Often, the same amount of data analytics, research, effort, and budget will go into two projects of similar nature and agenda, with one garnering hundreds and thousands of likes and shares, and the other… 2 smiley emoticons from your sweet aunt and old college roommate.
Businesses might find that their sales and marketing efforts are incongruent and inconsistent with one another, “Sales and Marketing naturally conflict; they weren’t built to perfectly align. So don’t let your focus on perfection interfere with the process of progress.” This is why it’s vital to implement proper, effective “Smarketing” techniques within your own organization. It helps to increase the value your customers receive from what you’ve given them. Most notably, it influences the ecosystem of the office, itself, as “a time where sales and marketing meet together to discuss problems and collaborate on solutions” (Hubspot 2020) and should be structured as team meetings, in every technical sense. Taking these meetings seriously is the first step in the process, so your team is serious about actually ‘getting the work done.’
Here are 3 Key elements to “Smarketing”:
Focus on Solving Problems
Find a Cadence that works well for your company (meeting frequency should be no less than once a month, no more than three times a week [in the beginning stages of integration] but a normal frequency might be once a week, or bi-weekly depending on the severity of this pain-point)
Be Particular about Who is Invited to “Smarketing” meetings
Studies show that “Smarketing” meetings begin losing productivity with 10 people or more.
Also, if you want your meetings to be havens of creative problem solving and solution assignment, ensure the meetings are seen as good places for experimentation, where all ideas are welcome, respected, and actively listened to. Sometimes, these meetings might be slow to get rolling with energy and purpose, so here are 5 of the most common reasons that employees don’t feel the need to participate:
“I have nothing to contribute off-hand”
“I can’t get a word in edgewise”
“I’m happy to just watch”
“I don’t like what’s being said, but I don’t want to be a downer or drag on the whole team”
"I already know what I need to do."
This is the most difficult mindset to change.
Most of these issues can be avoided by providing a space that your marketing and sales teams both feel comfortable working in, together; a large factor in this is allotting roughly the same time to share between each individual. Also, and this may be a tough one --but strongly supported by studies and experts-- No Corporate! Unfortunately, due to the nature of their work, corporate administration’s presence in these meetings can throw all levels of comfort for your teams… thereby communication… thereby creative problem solving… thereby defeating the purpose of these meetings. So sorry, corporate, but this is one meeting you should probably sit out.
So, what should the topics of conversation be during these meetings? Well, if content isn’t one of them, “If your marketing and sales teams haven’t been focusing on driving people toward purchasing your product/service, it’s time for them to rethink their priorities.” In a recent study by Hubspot, in which hundreds of businesses and companies from all over the world participated, results show not one single brand had an digital presence that could be considered ‘Excellent’ (though votes for “Ok” and “Good” have drastically increased year over year).
Sales and Marketing working together can increase the amount of qualified leads, inbound sales, brand awareness and community interaction simply by crafting the content concepts used in both sales and marketing efforts. Here are 2 prime reasons for Sales and Marketing collaboration:
“Marketing has a better skill set for creating content, but sales has access to more timely information regarding customers’ immediate ‘Jobs to be Done.’”
“If Marketing collateral doesn’t align with Sales collateral, you’re going to have problems with continuity down the line.”
When both departments that guide the buyer’s journey are succinct, sales calls are made more quickly, with deals sealed swiftly and more frequently, and the content your customers and prospects receive will be rewarding, educational, solutions to their “Jobs to be done.” If you can do that, there’s no reason you won’t have a satisfied, engaged, loyal customer-business relationship.