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More decision makers are involved in purchase decisions and more time is being taken to arrive at those decisions. How can salespeople and marketers establish and maintain their influence during the various phases of a customer's journey without becoming annoying or being pushy? How do you inform, educate, and possibly entertain with content? How do you turn prospects and clients into advocates? I would like to share some ideas and resources that will hopefully address those questions and help you succeed with your social selling efforts.
Leveraging What You Already Have
Developing your content strategy does not mean that you can only consider new content. Many organizations do not do a great job of leveraging content they already have. Companies need to do a better job of auditing the content they already have and re purposing it in a variety of formats. How much evergreen (i.e. it does not expire nor is it tied to an event or time of year) content already exists? How has content performed in the past based on format and channels?
Once you have finished assessing what content you have and reflected it against your content strategy, identify what you can use unchanged, what needs to be modified, and what channels and audiences can you target that have not seen the content recently or ever before. For example, can you take an existing video interview and:
Do you have old blogs that are still relevant that you can reuse by pulling new headlines or provocative copy from the posts to preface the links? Why not consider taking blogs, especially listicles, and turn them into Slideshare presentations for those who prefer to quickly review a presentation rather than consumer a 500+ word blog or just to leverage another channel and another content format? Do you just how many content options you have for content that already exists?
Creating Content That Works
You can create content that works by becoming accustomed, if you are not already, with testing and measuring. First, as mentioned above, you review how content has performed in the past based on your social and website analytics. What content format and channels performed best and when? What topics or themes performed best?
With that kind of analysis, you can determine what topics or themes and formats to focus your time and energy on. However, do not assume that your activities will go unchanged. You will need to regularly test and measure, through analysis, what is working and what is not. Consider asking your client-facing staff, or even your clients, what they want or need to know from you regarding your products, services, or how your organization can help them be more successful.
River Pools leveraged the questions and objections that came up during sales calls and discussions with prospective clients to guide their blogging strategy. By answering customer questions and addressing customer objections through blogs, River Pools is now the most visited pool site in the world. Could something similar happen to your company website because of your blogging efforts?
By leveraging solutions like Buzzsumo, you can research top performing content over the past year by format and channel. You can research topics and how they performed as well as identify the top content from any website domain, including your competition. By leveraging these insights, you can refine your content planning and strategy to ensure greater success.
Curating Content That Scales
Often, companies striving to up their content game fall into a rut of always talking about themselves. While it might seem counter intuitive, companies should talk less about themselves and share more content from complementary, non-competitive sources. By sharing content that is helpful, informative, and valuable, companies establish themselves as primary sources of content and foster thought leadership and trust with current and prospective clients.
Some suggest an 80/20 ratio where twenty percent of the content is from you and/or about you and the other eighty percent is from third parties. Others suggest a 9-1-1 structure where companies share nine posts from third parties, one post authored by them (e.g. a blog), and one more obvious or blatant promotional post (e.g. promotion or selling). It comes down to what a company is comfortable with and/or what kind of content volume they can handle.
Whether it is eighty percent or nine out of eleven posts, curating third party content in high volume can be daunting. Salespeople don't want to deal with burdensome content curation when they would rather be selling. Marketing staff have a variety of responsibilities and curating content might only be one of them. If companies are adopting employee advocacy programs where a broader representation of the workforce is active in social media, then content curation will go beyond the sales and marketing areas.
Using solutions like Anders Pink, Feedly, Pocket, or Crate, teams and individuals can identify and curate quality content in higher volumes and ensure that salespeople, marketers, and even other staff always have something to share. Once you have done the heavy lifting to set up your content curation system or process, you will be able to establish and maintain your position as a trusted source of informative and valuable content.About the Author:Andrew Jenkins is Founder and Principal of Volterra, a professional services firm that has provided social media strategy, outsourced social media management, content development and planning, and social selling training to numerous mid to large enterprises. Andrew has spent the last twenty years working in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) spanning social media, wireless, and e‐business throughout North America and Europe. He has been identified as a social selling expert and has been featured in LinkedIn marketing campaigns, most recently as one of ten Canadian success stories. He speaks regularly at conferences and events about social media and social selling. He is a member of the Board of the Direct Marketing Association of Canada. He holds a BA in Economics from Laurentian University, a BFA in Film Production from York University, and an MBA from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. He also taught entrepreneurship at OCAD University and currently teaches Digital Strategy at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author. CPSA does not endorse any of the companies, products and services mentioned within this article.
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