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King_1_-_328_shadowThese days, the phrase “Content is king” has become the mantra of sales and marketing. Which is why I’ve been reaching out and seeking the advice of these content marketing gurus.

They’ve devoted their careers to keeping a finger on the pulse of the industry – and we’ve asked them to share their insights as part of our focus on content marketing.

Sean_Si_125x125Advice from Sean Si, Founder & CEO of SEO Hacker

Question: What’s your most powerful content marketing tip?
This is a tough one. Content marketing by nature is a holistic practice. It involves thorough research, content creation, suave copywriting, awesome headlines, and promotion, promotion, promotion. Summing it all up in one ‘powerful’ tip may not make sense in the bigger picture.
So perhaps the one tip that I would give to anyone starting out with content marketing would be the most foundational – write evergreen pieces of content. These pieces of content will stand the test of time, acquire perpetual amounts of traffic from search, and will be shared the most out of all your other pieces of content.
Question: What other sales or marketing leaders do you follow?
Hiten Shah, who is an awesome technical serial entrepreneur; Alex Turnbull, from Groove; Rand Fishkin (duh!), Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs – to name a few.
Question: What essential question should we all be asking about content marketing?
Perhaps an awesome question would be – how exactly does content marketing help with SEO? I think that would be of interest to a lot of people. I’ve answered that question extensively, in this article.
Sean Si is the CEO and Founder of SEO Hacker and Qeryz. A start-up, data analysis and urgency junkie who spends his time inspiring young entrepreneurs through talks and seminars. Check out his personal blog where he writes about starting up two companies and life in general – or connect with him via LinkedIn or Twitter.
Advice from Drew McClellan, owner of Agency Management Institute & McLellan Marketing Group

What’s the most important aspect of content marketing?
I think the most important aspect of content marketing is to have a very specific and narrow audience in mind as you create your content. The more specific your audience, the more focused your content can be.
Content that is tailored to a small group of people will reassure them that you understand their world and can help them.
Generic content may be interesting, but it’s rarely useful in a significant way. When you create content for your sweet spot customers – it attracts them to you and creates a “we get each other” bond that begins to build the foundation of a relationship.
Question: How do you define successful content marketing?
I don’t believe successful content marketing is when a single post goes viral or when a blog gets put on a list. I believe content marketing success happens when you have consistently provided value to your audience for long enough that you become their go-to resource and when they want to know something – they turn to your site or assets to see if you have the answer.
When they think of you as the holder of their solution – that’s content marketing success.
Question: What other sales or marketing leaders do you follow?
You can see my list of daily reads, here.
Drew McLellan is the owner of Agency Management Institute (formerly AMR) and McLellan Marketing Group. He is an author, speaker, and blogger – and has recently appeared in the New York Times, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business Week and Fortune’s Small Business. The Wall Street Journal calls him one of 10 bloggers that every entrepreneur should read. Follow his blog, here – or connect with him via LinkedIn, or Twitter.
Doug_Kessler_126x126Advice from Doug Kessler, Creative Director & Co-founder of Velocity

Question: What’s your most powerful tip for improving content marketing?
Take all the time, money and effort you’re about to put into your next ten pieces – and put it all into one.  See what happens.
Question: What’s your favorite example of successful content marketing?
The new Cocainomics piece by Netflix and the WSJ Studio is pretty powerful. Not sure of its success, yet – but I bet it works!
Question: You’re the expert – what question(s) should everyone ask about content marketing?
Why the hell are we doing this?  What does our audience really need to know? Why are we an authority? And – how can our content be ten times better?
Doug Kessler is co-founder and creative director of Velocity Partners, the London-based B2B content marketing agency. Doug has written a lot about content marketing, including the B2B Content Strategy ChecklistInsane Honesty in Content Marketing and Crap: Why the Biggest Threat to Content Marketing is Content Marketing. Connect with him via Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Journey_341_shadowThe buyer’s journey in today’s digital world looks quite a bit different than that of the past – which means today’s content needs a facelift in order to capture your audience’s attention.

The focus, these days, is on the deliverance of timely, relevant content – but what does that mean, exactly?

The modern sales funnel is driven by content marketing – or, simply put, the ability to provide your audience with content which adds value to their lives, and informs the decision-making process. The trick lies in providing the right content – at the right time.

Smart sales professionals and marketers understand the journey of their prospective clients. They know the stages their audience will pass through in the course of their consideration cycle, and can recognize which phase the buyer is currently experiencing, to provide appropriately tailored content.

For most industries, the journey of today’s buyer can be defined in three stages: AwarenessComparison, and Commitment. We’ve outlined these three stages – and describe the kind of content you should be offering in each.

Consider this your introduction. In this phase, potential clients or buyers may or may not be familiar with your products or services – so you’ll need to educate them. Some may have identified their needs, but some may just be beginning the process of exploration – either way, they need to know that your company is a ready and available resource, with expert advice on their industry.You can increase this awareness amongst your prospective clientele by providing content which outlines the basics of your industry, answering common questions, detailing the solutions available, and providing information regarding the standard cost of your product or service.Your content should focus exclusively on adding value to your prospective customers, by providing them with rich, informative content which empowers them to make an informed assessment of their needs.This process of exploration may take some time – so your goal in this stage should simply revolve around maintaining the customer connection by adding value. Supply your prospects with a steady stream of valuable content via social media posts, blog articles, and informative updates, and eventually you’ll connect on a level that guides them further down the funnel.


In this stage, your buyers have already confirmed their needs, and are seeking to identify viable solutions. Often, they’ve established a basic familiarity with your industry and competitors, and are looking to determine which providers can best meet their needs.

This is where you need to provide content which differentiates you from your competitors, by focusing on your strengths, emphasizing your unique characteristics, and diving deep into the aspects of your product or service which truly separate your brand from the crowd.

This can be accomplished by providing your prospectives with more in-depth content, in the form of whitepapers and case studies (yes, buyers still read both of their content types), or informative events such as webinars, product showcases, or demonstrations.

Additionally, research articles, blog posts and other resources from third-party organizations. It’s one thing for you to advise on trends and news of note. It’s even more effective to advise with resources, which are unrelated to your organization, supporting your words and actions.

You’ll nurture prospective interest through the provision of well-planned content, and gain the ability to accurate gauge lead interest by tracking interaction with materials, or event attendance.


By the time you’ve reached the commitment stage, your prospective clients should be clear on why your product or service is the best solution for their needs. Which means now is the time to focus on content which includes a clear and definitive call to action – and if you can offer any additional enticement, now is the time.

Promotional specials, free trials, or discounts will sweeten the deal, and reinforce the desire to make a purchase. With that said, there’s a time and place for discounts, but don’t be too quick to offer them (that’s a separate blog post in itself).

This is also a great time to emphasize your own commitments – specifically, your dedication to customer satisfaction. Let your prospective clientele know you intend to stand by your products and services, by reiterating your commitment to quality.

Provide them with clear and concise information regarding any warranties or guarantees – and make sure they are aware of any additional resources offered, in the form of ongoing training, education, or support services.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know exactly which needs your clientele is seeking to fulfill – so make sure your communications reinforce the perception of your product or service as the best solution, and you’ll gain the commitment you seek

It’s also helpful to set accurate benchmarks and outline a standard of measurement, so you can track the effectiveness of your communications. This will help you remain clear on what’s working (and what’s not) so you can polish and hone your future communications.

For more information on improving your sales effectiveness, contact me

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Gene_303I’m dating myself here, but do you remember the old game show, Match Game?

Gene Rayburn used to host it, and it was an interesting merging of 25% game show, 25% comedy show and about 50% of it was a continuous stream of modern day HR violations. You never knew what was going to happen.

That show came to mind as I was thinking about the combination of matching the right content to the right buyers at the right time, along with some level of not knowing exactly what’s going to happen next and some spontaneous comedy (that happens at times, right?) and how it’s a lot like the Match Game.

If you’re too young to have watched that show, look it up on YouTube, kids. (Aren’t those some groovy fashions?)

Following up on my most recent Friday Sales Growth Links post from last week, there’s a lot of interest in our industry regarding how to most effectively feed the best content to your B2B buyers to continue to grow those relationships toward win-win results.

I have another very helpful and practical resource to tell you about today.

CEO and high-technology start-up executive Dave Orecchio (@dorecchio) wrote a post for Bristol Strategy’s Blog (@HighTechMkt) earlier this year. I was reminded of it last week while I was putting together the FSG Links post. Orecchio titled his post: “Learn the Best B2B Content for Tech Buyers.”

In the post, Orecchio draws data from an especially helpful infographic from @eccolomedia.  What struck me first was this statistic:

Most buyers consume 2 to 5 assets before they are ready to make a purchase.

At first it surprised me because I felt this number would be higher, but then I thought more about it. It now sounds about right. I’ll likely look at 2-5 assets if I’m researching a solution.

So the natural question to ask is: “What types of content assets should they be?”

The big idea of Orecchio’s post is this:

Create a content strategy that models your sales process.

If you’ve been wondering if traditional whitepapers are dead, they aren’t. In fact, this data shows that whitepapers and emails receive roughly the same amount of readership.

That’s great news because a well-designed whitepaper gets to the heart of the problem, the pain point, and the solution you’re offering.

@HubSpot defines a whitepaper well as: “a persuasive, authoritative, in-depth report on a specific topic that presents a problem and provides a solution.”

It’s not just naming the right pain point to the right buyer with the right solution at the right time. It’s about persuasively doing so.

Orecchio goes on to talk about other types of sales collateral and their interest levels to buyers so you can draw from studies in reforming your current content strategy to align more with your current sales process (Bristol Strategy offers a data sheetabout this) in order be more effective in your content marketing activities.

Oh, and the content you’re sending to users should not be entirely drawn from resources you’ve created in-house.

In fact, finding a strong resource written by another organization, unless it’s a direct competitor, will often speak more effectively to the buyer since someone else is agreeing with your point.

Consider taking on a strong research resource to simply do this, to locate helpful third-party resource, for 15 or more hours/week. If they’re good at what they do, this feed to your sales staff will absolutely lead to more sales.

Orecchio finishes with some important direction in his closing remarks. So, don’t miss reading this post; it has more to offer than what I’ve shared here.

[Reading Time For Orecchio’s Post: 3:00 minutes]

QUESTION ::: In which type of content have your B2B buyers been most interested?

Let’s talk about it…

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Content_Marketing_2_-_360x244_shadowFRIDAY SALES GROWTH LINKS

I want to steer you toward some powerful resources this week to grow you in your B2B content marketing efforts.

These experts know what they’re talking about when it comes to this popular topic, and I believe they can shortcut some important lessons for you to help save you time in improving your content marketing and social selling ROI sooner than later.

Return to this blog daily, especially every Friday for my Friday Sales Growth Links feature where I filter online resources to help you grow in your sales career.

Be sure to bookmark and explore our Friday Sales Growth Links archives as well.


Joe_Pulizzi_152x150_shadowContent Marketing Institute

B2B Content Marketing: 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets & Trends [North America]
This blog post from CMI founder Joe Pulizzi (@JoePulizzi) gives you the highlights, but you’ll definitely want to download and review this annual @CMIContent resource if you’re currently using content to build your B2B client relationships.

And, if you’re not using content yet, this is a great place to start understanding what your peers are doing and how they’re doing it.

KEY QUOTE (from the full report): “If we had to pick one key theme that has emerged from this year’s B2B research, it would be this: If you want to be more effective at content marketing, document your strategy.”

You can’t easily and successfully repeat [and train others about] what’s worked for you if your process isn’t documented. #ContentGrowsRelationships

[Reading Time of This Post: 4:30 minutes]

[Reading Time of the Full Report: 30:00+ minutes]


Julie_R_Neidlinger_151x150_shadowCoSchedule Blog
5 Teaching Theories That Will Improve Your Educational Content Marketing
Freelance writer, artist [and private pilot] Julie Neidlinger (@julieneidlinger) created this deep dive post about how we in the sales industry can borrow from the educational field to gain effectiveness. The post includes the option to download a related guide.

KEY QUOTE: “Your educational content marketing, after all, is strongly about teaching people. Knowing a bit about educational theories will improve your content marketing. Let’s take a look at the different ways people learn, and how you can tap into that.”

Time to get back in the classroom. #LearnMoreEarnMore

[Reading Time: 10:00 minutes]


Rachel_Foster_156x153_shadowContent Marketing Institute
10 Habits of Highly Effective B2B Content Marketers
Also From @CMIContent: CEO of Fresh Perspective Copywriting Rachel Foster (@CopywriterTO) wrote this very practical article. The 10 highly effective habits come from 10 highly effective content marketing experts.

KEY QUOTE: “86% of B2B marketers use content to attract and retain customers.”

Copy the habits of those who’ve gone out and succeeded before us. #10x

[Reading Time: 7:30 minutes]


David_Newman_151x150_shadowEntrepreneur Magazine

Here’s How ‘Boring’ B2B Businesses Can Get Customers Emotionally Connected to Their Content Marketing
Daniel Newman
 (@danielnewmanuv) is the CEO of @Broadsuite. In addition to being a contributor to @Huffpost @Forbes, this is one of his recent articles for @Entrepreneur.

Don’t believe the hype that using hype (i.e. hyperbole related to features and benefits) is the way your buyers want to become educated about you and your brand. There are a lot of great research results in this one.

KEY QUOTE: “…when it comes to the “boring” B2B industry, we are prone to assume that B2B customers are driven only by logic, facts and ROI, to the point of being almost emotionless. This is only a half-truth. And if you continue to build your marketing strategies around this half-truth, you’re doing yourself and your brand a disservice.”

Learn how to think P2P, instead of traditional B2B, to make a significant impact on your sales numbers. #NotJustTheFacts

[Viewing Time: 3:00 minutes]

>>  Read past Friday Sales Growth Links posts <<


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Sales_Funnel_2_-_329_shadowIt’s time to slowly put down that piece of content before you hurt yourself or someone else.

Unless you just entered the sales industry from school in the past 3-4 years, you very likely didn’t have any formal instruction in how to effectively use various forms of content to lead your prospects through the sales funnel. At least, not under the name of “social selling.”

I’m not talking about traditional “sales collateral” such as sell sheets and brouchures.

You’re not alone in our industry if you’ve had to learn as you go, making more than a few mistakes along the way.

According to HubSpot, content marketing generates 3x as many leads as outbound marketing.

If you’re not seeing that kind of ROI on your content marketing campaigns, compared to your outbound efforts, then perhaps you need to tweak your process a bit.

I’ve stated it before that my role with this blog is to focus primarily on locating truly helpful resources from others in the sales industry so you can grow in your career without needing to find it all yourself.

Today is no exception in that quest.

Last November, one of the bloggers (“Mark”) for the @trapit Blog wrote a post titled, “What Your Sales Team Needs to Know about Content Marketing.” I remembered it last week, for a couple of reasons, and I want to tell you about it.

The post, as a whole, is one of the better posts you’ll read on the subject because of its practicality. It’s both helpful and useful without any filler or fluff. Here’s why it was so memorable to me.

The first reason why I remembered this post, nearly a year after it first appeared on Trap!t’s site, is because of the content under the header: Content and the Sales Funnel.

That section discusses:

  • TOFU (no, not that cubed non-meat food product)
  • MOFU
  • BOFU

Yep. We’re talking about the sales funnel.

What you get with this section of the post is clear direction about which specific types of content are consistently effective for leading buyers through each stage of the funnel.

The second reason why this post was so memorable is the pair of downloadable templates. Each one gives you what you need to accomplish an important step in determining the right content for the right person at the right time…without anything extra to muddy the waters.

  • The First Template is Related to Buyer Personas (to make sure you’re getting that part right): See if your current personas answer the questions posed in the template. If not, consider adding that information to your current personas.
  • The Second Template Is Related to Mapping the Content: The template is extremely simple in form, but it’s what’s necessary for sales pros who aren’t accurately mapping the right content [leading to unnecessary frustration over consistently ineffective content drip efforts].

One Last Thought: This kind of content may not have been created by your company. The right piece of content from a credible third-party source will often work even better than what can easily be seen as self-serving. Someone else’s stats, research findings, case study, video, blog post, article or infographic can be content marketing gold if it’s correctly mapped to the right persona.

Go ahead and read this important resource now.

[Reading Time For Trap!t’s Post: 4:00 minutes]


QUESTION ::: Have you been happy with the results of your content marketing campaigns so far? If so, what’s worked? If not, what do you believe is the problem?

Let’s talk about it…

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B2B_Coffee_315_shadowThis week’s links covers content marketing for B2B organizations, effective prospecting tactics for email and other conversations, as well as some inspiration regarding the way you view your daily work in sales.

Come back daily and be sure to visit this blog every Friday for my Friday Sales Growth Links feature where I filter online resources to help you grow in your sales career:


openview labs
7 Reasons Content Marketing Is Vital For Your B2B Business
Content marketing maven [and plant enthusiast] Kara Burney (@wkndatburneys with @trackmaven for @OpenViewVenture) uses some convincing data from the 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report, and other sources, to make a strong case for the use of content marketing by B2B organizations.

KEY QUOTE: “92% of B2B companies produce content marketing in-house.”

Are you in the 8%? Then it’s time to get started. If you’re a part of the 92%, don’t settle for “doing content marketing.” Never stop improving. #areyouconvincedyet
[Reading Time: 3:00]


SalesLoft Blog
One And Done: The Email That Will Get You A Demo
Content marketing specialist [and amateur karaoke star] Leah Bell (@leahwinterbell with @SalesLoft) gives us more than just a good example of a successful sales email. She gives us a great example of how to look at testing and learning with the email messages we send out every day.

KEY QUOTE: “We’re not saying that this email will work forever (or even at all) — especially if you don’t test it regularly. Use A/B testing to find the right balance of customization in your email templates. Measure your results, and then test again. Every process is unique, which is precisely why personalization and semi-automation are crucial with sincerity at scale.”

Even with that caveat, and it’s a wise note to add (or I may not have linked to it here), I believe each of you can definitely learn something new from this post. Find what that is for you, then apply it. #multiplysuccesses
[Reading/Listening Time: 2:30]


Score More Sales Blog
Great Questions to Ask Prospects
Speaker, author, trainer [and connector] Lori Richardson (@ScoreMoreSales) is back with another excellent, useful how-topost. This time, it’s geared toward prospecting. We all know we need to take advantage of it if there’s a way to make us even a little more effective with this task.

KEY QUOTE: “Get them talking and learn from them, without sounding like an interrogator. If you are truly curious and sound that way, it will be a more helpful conversation than if you have a list of questions to answer – so be flexible, and if they go a different direction with their answer, such as the need to find more good staff for their department, go with it and ask them more about that.”

Draw from Lori’s experience to make your next conversation with a prospect more profitable. #thequestionsyouaskmatter
[Reading/Listening Time: 2:30]

Selling Isn’t Meant To Be A Struggle
Speaker, author, trainer, podcaster [and Dad of two great daughters] Bill Caskey (@billcaskey) offers some great inspiration to help us change our mind sets about the effort we make in our sales work every day. We shouldn’t view selling as a struggle.

KEY QUOTE: “…when you are on purpose, prospecting behavior will never be a struggle.”

Doing hard work doesn’t need to equate to the idea of struggling. Be careful about the connotations you freely attach to things in your life. It really is your choice. #itstimeforchange
[Reading Time: 2:00]


>>  View past posts for Friday Sales Growth Links  <<


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