get leads with content marketingIn marketing, we are always challenged with the question: how to generate more leads for the business.

When you ask marketing leaders about their biggest challenges, demand generation is almost always at the top of the list.

But did you know that more than 60% of the business decision making process is complete before buyers reach out to a vendor or visit a vendor website? And, did you also know that 90% of c-level decision makers are not answering cold-call email and phone calls?

So how do we generate leads with content marketing?

The answer is more simple than you think: stop selling and start helping.

It’s a basic human instinct. We want people to like us and so we talk about ourselves. We want customers to buy from us, so we talk about our companies. And our products. And how great they are. And how smart we are. (Yawn!)

In this hyper-connected, information-saturated world, our customers are tuning out the self-promotion and taking control of their information gathering. They are doing their research on their own and are coming to us only when they need a contract and a price.

The only answer to this problem is to start helping our customers when they are in the early stages of a buying process or even before.

There are 2 simple steps to get leads with content marketing:

  1. Create helpful content that attracts an audience
  2. Convert that traffic to leads

Yes. It’s that simple. But here’s where it gets tricky…

First, you have to make sure the content is actually helpful and answers customer questions. It’s too easy to publish content that attempts to back-door customers into buying from you. I call this “insidious attempts at self-promotion.” So hold your editorial process to strict standards of non-promotion.

Next, you have to convert that traffic with “appropriate” conversion opportunities. You cannot expect your customers to take the leap from the early-stages of the buying process to the later stages. So provide deep, registration-worthy offers as the potential next step. Offers such as webinars, white papers and ebooks that address additional early-stage content needs can all be tested.

Too simple? Too basic? Then why is it so hard? Let me know what you think in the comments below. And please follow along on TwitterLinkedInFacebook and Google+ or Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog for regular updates.

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About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is the Vice President of Global Marketing for SAP where he leads content strategy and serves as the managing editor of the company’s award-winning Business Innovation thought leadership blog site. He is also the author of B2B Marketing Insider, a contributor to Forbes and a frequent speaker at industry events covering topics such as marketing strategy, social business, content marketing, digital marketing, social media and personal branding.  Follow Michael on Twitter (@BrennerMichael)LinkedInFacebook and Google+ and Subscribe to B2B Marketing Insider by Email

18 Comments

  1. Keith Knowles said…

    Reminds me of the concept that “customer service is the new marketing” because these customers are taking control of the sales process. How we react to them on social media can help boost a company’s reputation or hurt it severly.

  2. Adma Maharjan said…

    Thanks Michael. I completely liked this article. Your article is lot informative, where you have used simple language for anyone to understand easily. It is of great help to me as, I’m a content writer for Simplify360 and your two simple steps is really amazing. Will try out that way.

    Thanks again!!

  3. Roger harris said…

    Excellent tips shared! Very useful.

  4. Re. “So provide deep, registration-worthy offers as the potential next step”, we’ve found registrationless-formless-social sharing actions to be even more effective in progressing customers from taking the leap from the early to late stages of the buying process.

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Yes, we have found the same. One of the biggest challenges is identifying those visitors in a way that they can be followed-up on. Hence the registrations or subscriptions.

  5. Jeff Ogden said…

    Very good post and so true, Michael. Stop selling and start helping is apt advice.

    I’d also like to share one thought too. How do you know if you are really helping your buyers? The answer: Make sure you really understand them. Buyer Personas help you understand them in the right way and are best left to trained professionals, like those who have completed the Buyer Persona Master Class at http://www.buyerpersona.com.

  6. Mark Spratley said…

    Good article Michael. Really liked the “stop selling and start helping”. Unfortunately, we live in a selfish time and we are tough to use aggressive marketing and helping others will require a bit of a mind shift.

  7. Michael

    Great advice and very important. The knock on effect of inbound demand generation is very evident in the market place ….. the amount of time sales people get with senior decision makers / buying team is shortening. Why? Because everything they need to know is being pushed to them …. which is probably making the sales persons job slightly harder or the time they actually get infront of prospects even more critical.

  8. Good content marketing requires a shift in mindset. Marketers are so used to advertising type content. Target audience members don’t want to feel like they are being sold to. Get their attention in an indirect way by helping them solve a problem that they have.

  9. Daniel Persson said…

    This is so true. If you try to sell to hard you might end up with losing a customer. You should be helpful and informative thats the best chance to making a sale.

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