When the time comes for people to get back together for business meetings after this horrible virus diminishes, it will need to be a “new normal” in the relationship between communications and sales—and content marketing will play a huge role.
While we will crave human contact (some of us more than others), we will also be skittish about meeting face-to-face.
Face masks and plexiglass are going to physically separate us when we are in person, and online meetings and virtual experiences will be more prevalent than they ever were before March of 2020.
The Old Way of Sales Is Gone
The old concept of a sales call, where a human person meets with another human person to pitch products or services, is going to be a rare occurrence.
My own 28-year-old son is a sales rep for an insurance company.
He thrives on human contact, but it’s going to be harder than ever for him to get in the door to meet with new prospects.
Communications professionals are responsible for providing the customer tools to thoroughly educate themselves prior to accepting a meeting.
We need to use content marketing now more than ever so salespeople can share with prospects content pieces that answer questions, educate about the brand generally and the product or service specifically, and ultimately build trust and authority.
Content IS King In the Post-COVID World
Content marketing has never been more important. And providing a wide variety of content is crucial.
Customers will want to watch videos, listen to podcasts, look at diagrams and photos, read articles, skim infographics, and review presentations.
Some may want to look at, read, and listen to literally everything available. Essentially binge-watching the company’s content.
Others will prefer audio or video over the written word. As my first boss used to say, “we need to assault all the senses.”
Whatever their learning preference, we as communicators need to put it out there so it is available for a frictionless buying experience.
A Communicator’s Responsibility
It is our responsibility to use content marketing to set the stage for salespeople. When they finally have an opportunity to meet with a prospect, the prospect will already be familiar with the brand.
The prospect may have already made a decision to buy. The more a prospect already knows, likes, and trusts the brand, the more likely they will be to take the time to talk to a sales representative.
Roll Out the Content Marketing Red Carpet
In this new world, content marketing will be the red carpet that lines the walkway to the stage where the sales rep put on a show.
Hopefully, the content will grease the skids to allow the sales rep to close the deal more quickly and efficiently.
Let’s remember the power of marketing in the first place.
It is marketing that sets the stage for a salesperson to walk out and be the star of the show. If a prospect has heard of the brand before, they are much more likely to buy, buy, buy.
Conversely, salespeople can waste a lot of their time (and money) making cold calls without first establishing brand recognition.
That’s an uphill battle!
Customers don’t want to talk to a person until it’s a brand that they know, like and trust.
Magnet Content Marketing
The best content marketing is like a magnet that attracts the right prospects. By knowing your targeted avatars, you will know what kind of content appeals to them.
Great content allows you to create a sales funnel, pulling those ideal customers along the sales process and educating them about the brand. After a while, educated consumers are the ones who will trust the brand enough to spend money with the brand.
Only then should the salesperson act—after the marketing process has set the stage for their success.
Before that, the salesperson may be perceived as a pest, and the sale will most likely fall through. Think of the difference in your own life when you get an email or phone call from a person, or a brand you know, like and trust versus a cold email or call that you cannot wait to delete or ignore.
Three Action Steps to Take Right Now
This role for communicators is an important one. But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy one.
For some of us, it will just be an extension of the content marketing work we are already doing. For others, a new way of thinking about how you put together and plan content.
Here are three steps to get you started.
Revive Your Email Newsletter
Your email list is perhaps your company’s most valuable marketing asset.
It is the perfect way to nurture relationships with your tribe.
The newsletter shouldn’t be salesy, but should set the stage for sales to happen.
- Share news from your company that builds affinity for your brand:
- personality profiles of employees and customers,
- case studies with educational information to benefit your readers,
- and even fun content such as recipes (in our monthly Marshall Report, I share a recipe with a story about when and for whom I prepared the recipe!)
Commit to a Cause
Today’s consumers want to do business with brands that align themselves with a cause. Especially as our nation focuses on social justice.
They want to know that the money they spend with you benefits something other than the owner’s vacation account.
For example, we worked with The Orvis Company which commits five percent of all sales to sustainability and nature.
That’s a brand that outdoors people will support because they want to preserve the planet for outdoor recreation.
Create a Message Map
A message map is a visual diagram showing your company’s most important messaging with a key message at the center about how the company shows concern for its customers.
Around the key message are supporting messages which serve as proof points for the key message.
Once you create this map, share it with all employees, especially your sales team, so they can share with customers how your company has morphed into the new economy.
Get Started Now
And lastly, don’t wait. Don’t hit pause while you wait for things to get back to normal. They won’t.
Now’s the time to look at what you have and where you need to fill in holes (or create entire programs).
And work to build the resources your sales team needs to be successful in the post-COVID-19 world.