As an inbound marketing professional with over two decades of experience working directly with IT-related businesses, I've seen the industry change in a variety of ways. I make it my business to see the forest for the trees, so to speak. I personally spend over $10,000 per year on coaching and mentorship to make sure that I'm always aware of the massive trends that are always lurking just over the horizon.
One of the most important—and broadest—changes I've seen develop has to do with how we go about chasing leads (or, more specifically, whether we do so at all).
In what we now affectionately refer to as "the old days," the job of the sales department was essentially to find someone to sell to in the first place. Cold calling became a time-honored technique for this reason, being used as a great way to get prospects, set up appointments, finesse relationships and more. It also took a massive amount of time and effort, but again—that's just the way things were.
With the oncoming of caller ID, then smartphones and an omnipresent Internet connection, cold calling soon turned into an uphill battle. Consider the fact that according to Forbes, the average sales person makes about eight dials per hour and works for about 6.25 hours for every one appointment that they create. So, on average, it takes a sales person as many as 50 calls to create just one viable lead to call their own.
Sales teams may be chasing leads, but this is one race that they're certainly not winning.
Enter: The Content Marketing Phenomenon
Chasing sales certainly works to some extent... the problem is that it doesn't work very well in most cases today.
Now, contrast this with some of the benefits that content marketing has been proven to bring with it:
- According to DemandMetric, content marketing costs as much as 62 percent less than traditional marketing tactics (like cold calling) and generates as many as three times the amount of leads.
- The average conversion rate for content marketing adopters is about 2.9 percent, as per a study conducted by Aberdeen. The conversion rate for non-adopters comes in at just 0.5 percent.
- A full 58 percent of marketers said that original, high-quality written content is the single most important type of marketing collateral they have—even more so than visuals and videos—according to Social Media Examiner.
- In fact, Content Marketing Institute says that the median amount of time that people spend on articles is 37 seconds. Compare that to the amount of time it takes to hang up the phone when you realize that you're talking to a marketer (or to ignore the call in the first place).
- DemandMetric also reported that a full 78 percent of CMOs believe that custom content is the future of marketing in general.
Why Content Marketing Works
Part of the reason why content marketing is such an effective way to generate leads is because it helps to relieve what Entrepreneur.com calls "pre-mortem buyer's remorse." Essentially, content marketing is a way for buyers to find valuable information that they can use to move themselves towards a purchase at exactly the right time—making sure that they're constantly being reassured along the way.
As a matter of fact, as many as 61 percent of consumers say that they actually feel more comfortable and are more likely to make a purchase if a company provides them with this type of content.
Another reason why content marketing is a great way to generate leads is because the content itself is essentially the perfect type of employee. Each high-quality white paper, blog post or other piece of collateral that you craft never has to take a break. You never have to worry about it getting sick or calling off of work. It never takes a vacation. It sits on the Internet, easily accessible to your audience and sells, sells, sells for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
In the end, it's not about equipping your sales department to chase down as many leads as possible—or even to chase them in the first place. It's about using highly-tuned, thoughtfully-designed content to generate those leads so that they're much farther down the sales funnel by the time they get to sales department in the first place.
So why, exactly, do we use content to generate leads in the modern era instead of sales to chase them? Because, to put it mildly, we can't afford NOT to any longer.
Harness the Power of Content to Your Advantage
The struggle most MSPs have with marketing is that you’re spending too much time chasing sales that are still hypothetical to the point where it feels like there aren't enough hours in the day left to focus on anything else.
Luckily, the digital world that we're now living in has given rise to a far better—and more organic—way to get your message out to the widest possible audience. Content doesn't chase sales simply because it doesn't need to. It runs much deeper than that. It's the perfect way to get your message out to the right person at exactly the right time, which is precisely how quality leads are born.
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