94% of senior-level executives believe delivering personalization is critical or important to reaching customers because it differentiates the customer experience and drives better sales and marketing outcomes. But PwC Digital IQ research shows most marketers don’t execute personalization very well.
To uncover the secrets to profitably enabling and executing personalized content experiences that leverage customer data and insights, I will host of panel of CMO’s– entitled Personalization: Fusing Creative & Analytics on October 17th, 2016 at the DMA’s Strategic Summit is an exclusive, invitation-only event for Marketing Executives attending &THEN and are active VP’s and above.
We invite you to take the introductory class to our executive education program – The Brand Publishing Bootcamp for Chief Marketing Officers.
This modular, online, self-directed program is designed to quickly and efficiently teach CMO’s – and the marketing executives responsible for managing Marketing Content Operations – how to successfully manage the rising cost and complexity of content operations, and sustainably fuel content-intensive sales and marketing programs.
Get A CMO Blueprint for Managing Marketing Content Operations at Scale.
This year, the Brand Publishing Institute conducted extensive research to uncover best practices to provide marketing executives a holistic methodology for organizing, optimizing, and systematizing enterprise-wide publishing processes.
Our most recent research report – Ten Steps to Building a Brand Publishing Center of Excellence – found that Brand Publishing – defined as the production, management, distribution, and optimization of marketing and sales content at scale – has become essential to the future growth of every business and critical to the success of every Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).
Brand publishing has emerged as a critical corporate competency as marketing organizations and their agencies struggle to create the high quality, contextual, well-structured marketing content essential to the success of virtually every modern marketing program. Marketing content now represents over one quarter of the sales and marketing investment in most companies and is viewed as “the life blood” of modern marketing.
Watch the Webinar – Learn How The CMO Can Drive Sales Transformation
The sales profession is going through a transformation. Social, mobile, and digital media are helping buyers become better informed and raising their expectations. And the purchase process has become longer and more complex. These forces are making selling more costly, collaborative, and consultative according to Joe Galvin, who is Chief Research Officer of the MHI Research Institute. “Its common knowledge there more people are involved in the decision. But our research shows that more importantly, a rising number of sales resources are now involved in complex opportunities. This results in a creeping increase in cost of sales and makes collaboration even more critical”
To help salespeople drive growth in this challenging environment, businesses are investing millions of dollars in skill development, value selling content and sales enablement technology. The goal of this sales enablement investment is to help salespeople consistently communicate customer messages that are designed based on what the customer values.
But executing on this sales transformation formula without strong support from marketing has proven tricky and expensive. Recent sales benchmarks show most sales organizations are not generating the top line sales results they were looking for after investing millions of dollars in sales training, technologies, and content. Recent sales benchmarks show most sales organizations are not generating the top line sales results they were looking for after investing millions of dollars in sales training, technologies, and content. Executive buyers surveyed by Gartner still feel most salespeople focus too much on “product pushing”. The top barrier to sales success remains the inability to communicate value messages according to a survey of sales executives by the MHI Research Institute. The same study shows that only 23% of sales teams rely on their sale enablement systems as the single source for content and information. And most of the content created by marketing is not used by sales because it is hard to find, and does not do a good job of motivating customers to buy, driving cross sell, or disrupting the customer mindset.
Why has sales enablement failed to live up to its promise of delivering fast and measurable top line results? The problem is not the technology. There are hundreds of viable technology solutions – sales portals, sales applications, learning management systems, and CRM systems – that can efficiently deliver the right message to the right person at the right time to advance a sale. And research shows that value selling and messaging approaches can deliver superior sales performance when sales and marketing are aligned.
Our experience executing dozens of sales enablement programs suggest the missing ingredient is the buy-in and support for sales transformation by the Chief Marketing Officer.
Senior marketing leadership is critical to successful sales transformation because sales enablement programs and technologies need well designed, organized, targeted, and actionable content to run effectively. Value messaging skills will not be fully embraced until marketing starts writing content that delivers and supports that message for the last third of the buyers’ journey by salespeople. And sales enablement technology will not work very well until marketing engineers the content it creates to be easy to find, customize, and deliver to the sales person.
A best practices report by Forbes Insights describes this “content problem” facing the Chief Marketing Officer in greater detail. The report explains why the quality, organization, and effectiveness of your marketing content directly impact the ability of your organization to drive top line sales growth.
The report suggests that marketing needs to take on a bigger role in making sales enablement a success. This will require the CMO to pursue a higher degree of sales and marketing alignment and develop new disciplines. According to Joe Galvin of the MHI Research Institute , sales and marketing alignment is important because, “The easiest way to ensure consistency is to agree on a common foundation for all enablement content services – we call this the customer core approach. Ideally such dynamic value messaging frameworks are defined and operationalized with marketing to ensure a consistent approach along the entire customer journey”
Ultimately the marketing department will have to solve this content problem. Marketing has a bigger budget, better skillset, and stronger mandate to define the brand value proposition and create the content to support that value message than sales. The most effective marketers will align this content with the buyers’ journey, and package it to be delivered through sales channels to drive more measurable sales outcomes. According to Mr. Galvin, “the challenge facing the CMO is to align the open market messages broadcast through brand and demand generation strategies with those customized and delivered by the sales person much later in the buyers decision journey”.
The problem is that the degree of marketing and sales harmony required to accomplish this is largely an aspiration perpetuated by the people who promote sales transformation technology. The practical reality is that most marketing departments are not currently structured to support sales enablement. Marketing develops content in a highly fragmented fashion. Content is planned, budgeted, and created to serve a wide range of agendas: product launches, demand generation, brand development, and feeding social media. According to MHI research “Content and training services are rarely integrated in a way that ensures consistency. Instead, different functions own various areas, and their enablement services are often disconnected and fail to equip the sales force effectively.
So until the Chief Marketing Officer decides to resource and support sales enablement – the vision of marketing and sales alignment that is so essential to sales transformation will not be an operating reality.
The Brand Publishing Institute report – Ten Steps To Building A Brand Publishing Center of Excellence suggests several practical steps marketing executives can take today to better support the sales transformation and realize results this year.
- Take “ownership” of the content problem by assigning a person or task force to take ownership of the content problem and provide governance to the content supply chain. This step alone will boost the utilization and impact of your sales enablement investment by ensuing more of your current and planned marketing content directly support sales conversations and core competencies.
- Better organize your content. Create a content architecture that helps your organization structure marketing content so it can be more easily planned, sourced, targeted, distributed, and reused by the sales organization to support real selling situations. A good content architecture will help marketing to manage the key points of failure in the go-to-market process where poorly organized marketing content limits the effectiveness of your sales force.
- Define a process for creating, managing and distributing content.Best in class CMO’s are creating cross functional teams to establish a publishing process with systems that help create, manage, distribute, and track content efficiently through a wide variety of sales channels, programs and devices
- Package and target your content assets to make if fast and easy for salespeople to access the best content assets needed to support all aspects of a specific sales interaction. Leading marketers are assembling marketing content into sales playbooks that help salespeople reinforce value messaging in sales calls, execute on targeting actionable, and reinforce competencies in live selling situations.
Stephen Diorio is a Partner in Profitable Channels and the author of the book “Beyond e: Twelve Ways Technology is Transforming Sales and Marketing Strategy”
In his book Think Write Grow, Grant Butler counsels marketing executives to focus on three points of leverage – content quality, go-to-market alignment, and distribution effectiveness – if they want to drive more measurable growth outcomes from their content investment. The book raises several important issues.
The bar on content quality is rising. As buyers experience content saturation and information overload, the notion of establishing thought leadership has emerged as a top priority with sales and marketing as the best way to differentiate their brands and ensure marketing effectiveness. Marketing executives are learning that subject matter expertise and a strong point of view are now essential to success in the digital, social, and mobile channels that buyers use to during the majority of the buying process. Sales executives realize original research and compelling insights make it easier to open doors, start quality customer conversations, generate referrals, cross sell, and influence buyer perceptions of value. An ounce of thought leadership is worth ten pounds of “me too” content when it comes to improving marketing effectiveness, differentiating your brand, and giving customers the relevant insights they are seeking.
Content distribution drives value. In his 2015 content trend forecast, online marketer Jason Demers astutely points out that the real value from content marketing comes from distribution. Like a race car – a big engine matters less than how much of the power it generates makes it to the wheel. “The ability to effectively communicate an idea to your customers using your sales, marketing and media channels is just an important as the idea itself”, according to Grant Butler, author of the book Think, Write, Grow . Marketing executives are slowly learning that content marketing is more than a tactic for social and earned media channels. The most sophisticated marketers in the consulting, technology, and financial services industry have realized that the publishing process has become the backbone of their go to market strategy. These marketing leaders are distinguishing themselves with channel strategies that amplify the impact of their thought leadership content in their sales, marketing, and media channels and support every step of the go-to-market process. That means the key to improving marketing effectiveness is finding better ways to leverage your content investment across a wider variety of channels – including: marketing automation, sales enablement, CRM, social selling, digital marketing, and blogs.
Content strategy drives measurable sales outcomes. Over the past several years content marketers have claimed ownership over two thirds of the buyers journey and as a byproduct, a larger share of the marketing budget. Now they will need to start to take accountability for the results their investment in content is yielding. Unfortunately, most marketers do not have a strategy to direct that investment, a plan for how it will generate top line growth, or measures that ensure meaningful sales outcomes are achieved. The Forbes research report explains the best way to ensure your content investment will drive measurable sales outcomes is to create a strategic foundation for your program that directly supports your sales and marketing processes and aligns with your communications, branding and product sales goals.
It is time for content marketing to mature from a social media tactic to a formal go-to-market discipline. Marketers that take a more programmatic approach to delivering new ideas, relevant advice and compelling solutions to customers using a mix of sales, marketing and media channels will generate significantly more growth from their content investment.