Does your sales content connect or disconnect?

How to avoid the most common content distribution disconnects

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Are the marketing materials you develop actually used by the people on your sales team?

Do they connect with your target consumers?

If you’re like most marketers, you probably have doubts.

Distributing sales content effectively — and having target audiences connect with it as intended — are concerns for most marketing professionals.

Let’s take a look at three of the most common distribution disconnects and what you can do to avoid them.

1. You don’t have a plan.

One reason sales content doesn’t reach its intended target audiences is simple: There’s no plan for getting it to them. The content can’t arrive at its destination if there’s no road map to get it there.

So much focus is put on developing sales collateral that many marketers put too little time and effort into planning for how it will be distributed.

Not only does a lack of a content distribution plan result in sales support materials going unused. It often leads to other issues like:

  • Content that’s not appropriate for the distribution channel.
    • Example: Marketing develops videos to explain products and services, but salespeople don’t have the equipment to show them to prospective clients. A distribution plan would ensure they have tablet devices, screens and projectors to show the videos. Or it would help identify a better way to package the content.
  • Content that’s distributed through channels that aren’t popular with target audiences.
    • Examples: Marketing supplies sales with emails to send to prospects, but the intended audience doesn’t check email often. Or the social media manager creates a series of LinkedIn posts for the sales team to share, but the target audience spends little time on LinkedIn. A plan makes it more likely that the right media is selected to reach target audiences.
  • You can’t measure the effectiveness of your content or it’s distribution.
    • In this case, marketing doesn’t have the metrics, measurement tools or experience to figure out if the content is performing as intended. A solid plan sets performance benchmarks and explains how metrics will be tracked. It should also outline how good content is optimized and poorly performing materials are improved.

The fix: Before you create any sales content or collateral, develop a plan for how it will be distributed along with how you’ll measure its effectiveness. It’s the only way to ensure the sales materials you produce will be used — and perform — as intended.

2. You’re monitoring the wrong (or incomplete) metrics.

If you track the performance of your sales content, you’re ahead of many marketers and sales organizations.

Are you sure you’re tracking the right metrics, and that your reporting is complete?

Most organizations track basic things like email open rates, video view time and completion of online forms. This is a good way to understand how aspects of individual marketing elements are performing. But it doesn’t prove that pieces actually contribute to the bigger goal of closing sales.

Tracking the success of individual marketing elements is important. It helps determine whether they resonate with your target audiences and are operating correctly (for example, videos are actually launching). However, you need to take it to the next level to see how all the pieces, linked together into a client experience, perform as a whole. It’s the only way to know your end-to-end content distribution strategy is working.

The fix: Start by documenting your ideal end-to-end sales experience, along with the collateral used to support each step. Assign benchmark metrics for each interaction with sales collateral. Then start tracking metrics against your benchmarks, along with the number of prospects moving from step to step in the buying process. For example, knowing that 50 percent of prospects opened a follow-up email is great. Also knowing that they moved on to the next step of the sales process — and eventually became a client — is even better.

Tracking metrics this way will not just help you understand the effectiveness of individual pieces of content and steps in the process. It will also identify leaks in your sales pipeline or disconnects in messaging and delivery.

3. You’re not sure who your target audience is.

Do you understand your target audience, including their age, how they consume information, attitudes, physical limitations, and other characteristics? This is critical information to have if you want your content to connect with them.

If your target audience skews older, it could be a mistake to arm your salespeople with videos designed to be delivered on smartphones. Many older people aren’t used to learning via video, and in some cases, the videos could be too small for them to see important details. However, the same videos could close sales for people in the video-friendly Millennial generation.

Another example: Some marketers dismiss brochures as a thing of the past. However, many consumers won’t make major purchases unless they have something printed that they can hold in their hands to validate their buying decisions. For them, not having a brochure could prevent a sale.

The fix: Take time to understand your target consumers before developing sales collateral. It’s the only way to know your sales content will connect with them.

The right message delivered in the right medium goes a long way to closing deals.

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