Hey, I couldn’t help but notice you from across the bar. I think you’re beautiful. Will you marry me?
More likely than not, this is not how you would approach building a relationship with a potential “significant other,” as you’ll likely receive crazy eyes, have the other person walk away, or get slapped. Unless you’re Dharma and Greg, or Carly Rae Jepsen, you likely need a little more time to sell yourself. You’ll need to learn more about the other person after the initial “hey, I just met you…” before determining if you’re even interested in a longer commitment.
Sales and marketing teams should take a similar approach when designing and executing lead generation campaigns to first-time prospects. The business/prospect relationship also requires a slow build – for the business to inform prospects why they should care about its services and how it can help solve their problems, and for the prospects to (hopefully) become more interested and ultimately decide to buy.
So why are some teams still guilty of bypassing the “dating” phase of the relationship, and going straight for the “proposal” – in this case, using the first email outreach to these prospects to sell hard and ask them to buy right then and there?
Like flowers and candy, good content is the foundation to winning over a potential “mate” throughout the lead generation cycle. While more businesses are recognizing the value of content, the term itself can be scary. Some companies currently have bare reference libraries, and have not allocated budget to build new collateral. Among some teams, “content” has a stigma of only including long, drawn-out papers and tutorials that can take great time and energy to complete.
In reality, content can take various forms, and does not necessarily entail great effort to reflect your message and resonate with your audiences. When done right, relevant content can provide your team with invaluable materials that spell out your value proposition and demonstrate results…and can be reused in multiple sales arenas.
Here are five basic strategies your team can use to develop fresh “content” that can help your sales force court, and ideally eventually “marry” prospects:
- Don’t Come on Too Strong: Early lead generation campaign content should be more geared towards thought leadership, not sales, to initiate the relationship and facilitate long-term lead nurturing. Sales-heavy language at this stage could scare away prospects. Develop materials for your first outreach around best practices and industry tips, and subtly tie this back to what your business offers. In doing so, you’ll position your company as a thought leader, while piquing interest among your new prospects.
- Shorter is Sweeter: In today’s fast-paced, digital culture, readers are less likely to engage in lengthy materials than those that get to the key takeaways quickly. While data sheets and white papers are needed resources, they have a time and place outside of lead generation campaigns. In early campaign stages, content that does not require a lengthy commitment, but still presents your target message – such as videos, industry briefs, short demos, and/or tip sheets – are more likely to draw interest.
- Use Your Wingmen: Case studies and testimonials can serve as the most valuable content a sales team can offer prospects, as they offer proven ROI and feedback around how your company has helped it solve problems. While still avoiding a heavy sales tone, teams can offer prospects a case study to demonstrate the value and/or popularity of a service in meeting a growing need (ie. “Acme is using cloud technologies to reduce expenses”, rather than “See how XYZ Corp. is helping Acme by providing cloud services”). Even better, see if your customers will participate in a short video or webinar co-presentation to provide an alternate quick-and-easy content source.
- Well, My Friend Said…: Effective content does not even necessarily have to originate within the business itself. It is not only acceptable, but likely beneficial, to supplement your outreach with third-party content. Sending relevant links to news articles, videos and reports from respected journalists and publications show you have your finger on the pulse of your industry, and you can position these casually with a “Thought you might be interested…” tone.
- Do Your Own Talking: Internal content is an easy way for prospects to associate names and faces with a business. Likewise, having multiple team members speak to multiple topics can be confusing. For any content forms – written or visual – identify the most appropriate subject matter expert for your practice areas. For instance, if Marie is leading the cloud development team, have Marie only speak to cloud-related topics. Having go-to sources builds credibility for individuals and businesses, and in turn will make readers more likely to read an email (and related content) from the person who best speaks to their needs. This creates follow-up calls to action for a team’s “Maries” to reach out to prospects to check out their latest blog post, article, etc.
Lead generation, like dating, requires time. Thankfully, teams that are prepared with ample “content” to serve as their best “pick-up lines” are more likely to enjoy meaningful conversation with those who may be a good fit for a long-term relationship.
For now, “eligible” sales team…your goal is to get the phone number. Worry about the wedding bells later!