Today's guest blogger is Jeff Molander. Jeff is the authority on making social media sell, adjunct faculty at Loyola University business school, author of, Off The Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You and a social sales training speaker.
Is your business-to-business (B2B) content marketing plan creating re-action beyond sharing? I’ve been using LinkedIn and blogging to generate B2B leads and sales very effectively lately. Surprisingly, the key to success is coming from creative thinking about what I already know works, getting my target market to take action and moving them off of social media.
Contrary to what “the experts” say, knowing how to be engaging within LinkedIn groups or telling compelling stories on your blog is not the key to generating leads and sales. In fact, most content marketing plans fail because they're invested in popular wisdom that is fatally flawed.
Successful Content Marketing Creates Response
Your content marketing plan had better do one thing really well: Create RESPONSE. You see, telling compelling, transparent, authentic stories about your brand won’t help you make sales unless the approach is accompanied by a focus on making those remarkable stories actionable. Inbound leads don't “just happen.”
You’ve got to give prospects a compelling reason to ask for more content. Because when they do that they become part of your sales funnel.
As social media expert, Jay Baer says your business is not in the “publishing business” but rather in the “action business.”
The success formula is quite simple.
Step 1: Create content that solves a problem.
Step 2: Locate and/or attract qualified discussions.
Step 3: Lure prospects into taking an action that connects to your sales funnel.
Create The Honey: Useful Content
Pick an itch your customer has and scratch it with blog, video or some other form of content. Solve a common problem that relates to the end goal your customer is pursuing, for instance. Whether you’re a service or product marketer, this is the best content for blogs or any B2B content marketing vehicle you publish.
In my case, I published a handful of stories and audio interviews on my site featuring a niche subject matter expert. My guest told readers/listeners how to take action on a burning problem—one that related to a specific solution I sell.
The idea is to use content to give confidence to buyers. The trick is to do it in ways that increase their ability to feel emotionally grounded and intellectually stronger—fully equipped to do what they want to do. Buy.
Attract the Bees
Next, simply locate and/or attract qualified “conversations” with prospects. You can hunt them down inside LinkedIn Groups (as I did) or blog in ways that attract search engine traffic based on questions (keywords) your prospects are asking.
In my case, I blogged but also used LinkedIn in a new way. I spotted a discussion on a niche LinkedIn Group where I answered a question. I answered it in a way that “brought to life” the specific valuable answers my guest expert was offering…but not in the usual way.
Provoke an Action
I did not link back to my content; rather, I quoted my expert’s best sound byte. He was honestly provocative because he shared a new perspective and unique remedy.
In other words my expert's insight was enough to cause a reaction—to move people to click on my photo image, begin to explore my LinkedIn profile and run into my syndicated blog post featuring the interview with my expert!
Once prospects got off of social media it became easy for me to invite them to join me on a journey…one where they would receive more useful content if they opted-in. That is, if they gave me their email address and agreed to have an ongoing conversation with me...allowed me to scratch their itch a bit more.
Of course, this moved them toward (or away from) my solution.
Again, don’t let all the hype about storytelling torpedo your content marketing plan. In B2B marketing you’ve got to go beyond telling a good story. Start netting leads by creating content that is provocative—compelling enough to cause prospects to sign up for more content they’re craving. It can be a Webinar, ebook, downloadable tip sheet, self assessment or educational video series (like my free sales training videos) that solves a common problem or addresses a popular fear or myth.
Photo Credit: DigitalFRANCE