How to Execute A Thought Leadership Selling Program
The notion of establishing thought leadership has emerged as a top priority as growth-starved organizations look to differentiate themselves with new ideas, education, and relevant solutions that address buyer pain and influence their perceptions of value.
Thought Leadership Selling Programs take a systematic approach hto delivering new ideas, relevant advice, and compelling solutions to prospects and customers through sales, marketing and media channels. A Thought Leadership Program provides your sales and marketing team with a sustained stream of education and advisory content that helps them open doors, make more effective sales calls, differentiate your organization and deliver trusted advice.
A Thought Leadership Program is:
- Based on a strategy that integrates sales process, communications, branding and product sales goals
- Built upon a well thought out set of thought leadership assets including advisory content, tools and resources
- Delivered to customers using disciplined multi-channel programs and coordinated customer touches
Based on our experience executing Thought Leadership Selling Programs for over a fifty market leaders such as Adobe, CBS, Digitas, DuPont, Ernst & Young, Intuit, Oracle, PwC and SunTrust Bank, we define a Thought Leadership Selling Program as taking a programmatic approach to delivering new ideas, relevant advice and compelling solutions to prospects and customers using sales, marketing and media channels. A successful Thought Leadership Program will provide your salespeople with a disciplined and coordinated stream of advisory content that helps open doors, make more effective sales calls, differentiate your offerings, and deliver relevant advice. Specifically, there are three steps to designing and executing a Thought Leadership program that will help your sales force generate measurable sales growth in the next sales quarter:
- Define a thought leadership strategy that aligns with your growth strategy
- Publish thought leadership assets that enable the go-to-market process
- Engage customers using a mix of marketing, media and sales channels
These three steps are outlined in our report entitled: Thought Leadership Selling: How To Systematically Drive Top Line Growth with Education, Ideas and Insights. will explain why Thought Leadership is so important to sales success and practical steps your marketing team can take to drive measurable sales outcomes deep in the sales funnel with ideas, insights and education.
The 3 P’s of Content Targeting: Persona, Process and Pain Point
One of the simplest things marketers can do to improve the effectiveness, utilization, relevance and reuse of their marketing content is to set up a system for tagging all of their content by persona, process step, and pain points of the audience. These “3P’s” of content targeting make up the core building blocks of a marketing content taxonomy that supports modern marketing programs and systems. Content tagged by the “3P is much easier to find, target, recommend, assemble, and distribute the right content at the right place in time in every marketing, sales and media touch point.
Persona based targeting. Most organizations are starting to plan, create and target content that address the needs of more specific customer segments. 74% of high performing marketer’s report they are place more emphasis at targeting their content by person (or persona). At the highest level, persona-based targeting involves breaking the core audience for front of the funnel social media, content marketing and web marketing programs into several personas. As marketers become more advanced, they start to narrow the definition of the persona, to reflect more and more granular target customer profiles to improve engagement in marketing automation programs, or buying functions within an account level targeting model to support sales enablement. For example, the Hartford plans to move from five to one hundred different customer and channel partner personas in the future. And B2B marketers serving key accounts like Cisco, D&B and Tata Consulting Services were using Account Level Targeting (ALT) as their primary targeting scheme relative to person(a) or individual based targeting.
Process based targeting targets content based on what stage of the customer journey it supports. Aligning and targeting content by stage of the customer journey ensures content directly supports the go-to-market strategy and drives measurable business outcomes. Process based targeting makes it easier to recommend the right content to support the different value conversations that happen at the front, middle and back of the sales. For example, Mike Marcellin the CMO of Juniper Networks focuses their content marketing efforts on supporting back of the funnel sales and service. “It’s our job to support product launches and provide sales air cover with a value messaging, but we need to write more to the far end of the customer journey, beyond pre sales to include post sales and service, because we found that 70% of the content consumed on our web site is post sales technical support and documentation.” Less than half of marketing executives surveyed report they are currently targeting their marketing content based on what stage of the customer journey it supports.
Targeting based on customer pain points. Modern marketing analytics give marketers have a much better idea of the topics, issues and pain points that drive media response, engagement, generate meetings and change minds. Leading marketing teams are analyzing audience intelligence, social listening data, customer feedback, semantic data, and sales feedback to understand the issues, topics and questions that need to be addressed during sales conversations and post-sales support conversations. To take advantage of these insights, most (57%) of the marketing executives surveyed by the Brand Publishing Institute report they are targeting their marketing content by customer pain points, needs, and topics of interest as a way apply that knowledge in day-to-day selling situations. Targeting content based on customer needs improves marketing performance because more relevant and important content will generating more engagement, better response, more sales meetings, and better value conversations.
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