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What Is The Real Purpose of Content Marketing?

I’ve been reading a lot of articles and posts lately that content marketing’s role is to generate sales.

That is one of the myths of content marketing – if we create it, we’ll get sales.

If you make generating sales the goal of your content, your content will appear trite and your voice comes off as disingenuous. Thus, you are perceived as not caring about helping your audience, only caring about making a buck.

The purpose of your content marketing should be to build a relationship with your target, and nurture them in their buying journey by giving them the tools to help them make intelligent decisions.

When you make building a relationship with and helping your prospect the goal, your content is genuine and your prospect perceives you as wanting to help, and they therefore will listen to you.

Content Marketing Institute says this about content marketing: “…instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.”

Content Marketing is truly the art of communicating without selling.

We all know that buyers are very smart these days and are doing more than 75% of their own research before contacting companies. This presents a huge opportunity for content marketing. Help your prospect do the research so they don’t have to spend the time doing it.

The approach is pretty straight-forward.

Notice that I didn’t say the approach was easy. It isn’t. It will take a huge time investment on your part researching your target; listening to and engaging with them in social channels and online communities; creating a content strategy; developing, revising and distributing content to help nurture prospects along their buyer path; using a variety of analytical and measurement tools to verify success; helping your Sales team be effective in their communications with the target buyer; re-evaluating processes; etc.

Did you notice I said “helping your Sales team be effective”? The secondary purpose of your content marketing is to help Sales be effective.

Marketers sometimes forget that the Sales team is one of their internal customers. Helping your Sales team be effective has many benefits.

First, When Marketers invite Sales into the conversation early, it actually helps them strengthen their marketing engine. Sales has a wealth of information being on the front lines and is the best free competitive analysis resource Marketers have. Using this resource and collaborating with Sales on your content marketing strategy and tactics will help you be more effective. Marketing is not going to have all the answers, even after substantial social listening, interviewing buyers, etc. Sales can help fill in the gaps.

Second, the research, the strategy, and the content that you are developing to nurture prospects is going to reduce the gap between an MQL (marketing qualified lead) and a sales lead and Sales will be happy and grateful to obtain these leads. MarketingSherpa has reported previously that approximately 80% of marketing leads never convert to sales. When Marketing collaborates with Sales on strategy, lead nurturing activities, etc., Marketing helps Sales in their efforts to convert leads.

Third, with Sales and Marketing aligned, Marketers help to bust existing silos and help potential ones from forming.

For marketers to continue to add value in their content marketing efforts to prospects, going over and above their current activities and getting outside of their comfort zones will help them. That means they must continue to learn. Some examples include:

-Read other content that others are distributing. This includes content from competitors, customers, prospects, vendors, partners, influencers, etc.
-Experience great storytelling by reading fiction and nonfiction and viewing film and video.
-Participate on Sales Calls.
-Interview other customer-facing teams such as Customer Service and Product.

Being clear that the purpose of your content marketing should be to build a relationship with your target, and nurture them in their buying journey by giving them the tools to help them make intelligent decisions, will open doors to add more value to the relationships that you are establishing and nurturing.

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