7 Forms of Content Marketing That Can Help You Generate More Sales Leads – Chirag Kulkarni

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According to a study by Media Dynamics, Inc., customers are shown more than 5,000 ads and brand messages per day, so it’s no surprise that content marketing is becoming one of the most successful strategies for reaching the consumer. People are tired of having traditional outbound ads forced on them, so when a brand steps in with authentic, useful content, consumers can’t get enough. That’s probably why content marketing generates six times the conversion rates of traditional marketing methods.

It’s easy to segment your content marketing to maximize your own conversion rates. Start by creating content based on your product or service, and then use content to target each of your strongest-performing buyer personas. To get even more specific, focus on the various pain points that these buyers are looking to address. According to Curata, 41 percent of marketers have increased the number and quality of their sales leads by utilizing content curation.

While there’s no denying the effectiveness of content marketing, it’s a broad term. Content comes in many different shapes and sizes and can require varying degrees of upfront investment. To improve your reach and generate more sales leads in 2018, focus on these seven forms of content.

1. Create a company blog. You should already have one, but if you don’t, then join the club and make 2018 the year you finally start that company blog. HubSpot notes that 53 percent of marketers cite blog content as their top priority for inbound marketing.

Putting blog content to work is a great strategy. Content Marketing Institute reports that more than three-quarters of all internet users read some form of blog, and they aren’t just passive observers. When given a recommendation by a favored blog, 61 percent of U.S. consumers made a purchase, which is probably why small businesses with a blog enjoy 126 percent more lead growth than their peers that don’t.

2. Use brand journalism. Part of what gives your brand a sense of authenticity is a strong focus on storytelling. Brand journalism is simply about keeping your audience up to date on the story of your company.

Companies such as PowerPost are making brand journalism easier by providing software that coordinates content publishing across a wide range of channels. They also help with content creation so it doesn’t take up your or your employees’ valuable time. After all, content marketing isn’t helping your bottom line if it gets in the way of running your business.

3. Add video content. According to Cisco, 82 percent of all internet traffic by 2021 will be video. It’s taking over the internet, but it’s especially significant in the social media sphere. When it comes to content, an Animoto survey found that customers prefer viewing a video 4 times more than reading text. This hasn’t escaped the attention of marketers — almost 70 percent say they’re ramping up spending on video production.

4. Curate content from influencers. Word of mouth is one of the most effective types of marketing, and online influencers can amplify that approach with powerful megaphones. YouTube is an especially effective means for influencers to reach their audiences — 70 percent of teenagers on YouTube relate to their favorite influencers better than conventional celebrities. According to a 2017 poll by PMYB, 28 percent of marketing managers reported that influencer marketing was their fast-growing method of acquiring customers online.

5. Spice up statistics with infographics. Customers prefer video over text, but an infographic allows information to be digested even faster. Infographics draw customers in quickly while communicating several paragraphs’ worth of messaging in a single visual, and the appeal is undeniable. On social media, infographics are shared and liked three times more often than other content varieties, according to research compiled by Lucidpress.

6. Employ Google AdSense. This advertising tool from Google puts display ads on websites that pay a commission each time they’re clicked. Google automatically scans your website content so it can display the most relevant advertising, meaning some ads are worth more than $1 per click for the website owner. AdSense is a great way to monetize a blog, yielding dollars that you can then reinvest in content generation.

7. Create an online course. If your business has expertise in a particular area, sharing it with your audience will help you gain a loyal following. If you’re not sure where to start, there are a number of marketplaces for online courses worth checking out, and certain software solutions can make the process of putting together a course simpler for you and your students.

Whether you rolled out a content marketing strategy for the first time in 2017 or you’ve been utilizing this marketing gold mine for years, there are many ways to optimize your content marketing performance in the coming year. Using some of these tools and techniques can help you generate more leads and acquire more customers, but remember that consistency is crucial when it comes to content marketing. Put in the time and effort, and you’ll reap the rewards.

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3 Sales Meeting Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making

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Running effective sales meetings doesn’t come naturally to me. Over time, I’ve learned how to structure them in a way that takes advantage of my introverted nature and my natural awkwardness. But, if you’re still trying to find your own path, you’ll enjoy learning from the conversation I had recently with Jill Konrath.

Konrath is an international sales speaker who was named one of the most influential sales experts of the 21st century by LinkedIn (where she currently has more than 350,000 followers). She’s also the author of four best-selling books — More Sales, Less Time; Agile Selling; SNAP Selling; and Selling to Big Companies — and she’s worked with companies like GE, Microsoft, IBM and Staples.

Konrath has also been doing a lot of work recently on the topic of mastering sales meetings, so I was eager to pick her brain. Below are three common sales meeting mistakes that came up in our conversation.

1. You don’t understand the goal of a sales meeting.

The goal of a sales meeting is to get the sale, right? Not according to Konrath.

“A lot of salespeople think that their goal is to explain their product and service, to tout their capabilities and to differentiate themselves from their competitors,” she told me. “The real purpose of a sales meeting is to generate interest in continuing the conversation and to determine if you or your product or service can truly make a difference to that person and to that company.”

Are you still trying to hard sell on your first interaction with a prospect? If so, you should take a step back and test a softer approach.

2. You don’t really know who your competitors are.

So how did we get it so wrong? How did so many of us come to this mistaken impression about what it really takes to run an effective sales meeting?

In my experience, one big problem is that too many of us copy what we see our competitors doing. They offer a free consultation; we do too. They focus on the features and benefits of their products; we do the same.

The problem, of course, is that your competitors may not be any more effective than you are. They may have different value propositions, or be selling to different types of customers. Furthermore, according to Konrath, you may not really be competing against others in your industry in the first place.

“Your competitor is the status quo, number one,” she said. “The first thing that you have to be able to do is to help people understand why the status quo is not good enough for helping them achieve their future goals or objectives. That should be the number one focus on any initial call. Remember, people are not necessarily buying in the first meeting. In fact, very few do. What you need to do is get people to the point where they say, ‘Geez, we really need to take a look at this.’”

As a side note, there are tools out there that can help with the process of sales call targeting and messaging. Konrath likes Rambl.ai, though there are similar products available to suit different needs/budgets.

3. You aren’t prepared.

During our meeting, Konrath shared a sobering statistic, courtesy of Forrester Research: Of 319 executive-level buyers surveyed, “Only 20 percent of the salespeople they meet with are successful in achieving their expectations and creating value.”

Understandably, according to Konrath “If you”ve got a meeting with an important buyer, and you’re not prepared, the chances of you having a second meeting are really slim.”

So, how do you prepare? Reading up on the company is part of it, as is learning more about the specific people you’ll be speaking with. Using this information to prepare relevant case studies and examples to share in your sales calls is a good idea, as well.

In addition, use your preparation to come up with the specific questions you’ll ask during your call.

Not only will this demonstrate your level of preparedness, it’ll enable you to drive the conversation in a way that gets prospects engaged. Konrath gives the example of the kinds of questions she’d ask a tech company aiming to reduce its time to market:

  • How important is it for you to be able to shrink your time to market on a new product launch?
  • How are you currently handling your product launches?
  • People doing launches [a certain] way, Konrath said she’d tell a tech company, experience “these kinds of problems.” Her question: “Are you guys running into these problems?”
  • What are your objectives related to this?
  • What are you trying to achieve in 2018 in this area?
  • What’s coming up the pike that is related to this? Or how big a priority for you is reducing time to market in your organization  this coming year?

Customize questions like these to your company and its products, according to the research you’ve done. Use them to get prospects excited about your solution. If you can do that, the rest of your sales process will fall naturally into place.

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