“This year was a breeze,” said no CMO in 2020! I don’t think anyone would disagree that while engaging the sophisticated B2B buyer is tough, shrinking marketing budgets, heightened risk aversion, and the remote selling landscape brought on by the global pandemic have made it even more difficult.
As we enter 2021 with COVID-19 still very much in our lives, these challenges remain. So how, as marketers, do we ensure we’re able to continue to play our part in driving company growth? Here are the top strategies on my mind:
CMO Priority #1: Interactive Presentations and Content
Since Mediafly acquired European-based visual communications provider Presentify in October, I have had a front-row seat to the power of top-notch visual storytelling capabilities. In a world where the engagement gap between sellers and buyers is exacerbated by ‘everything remote’ and the buyer journey is 65% digital and self-guided, content of all kinds – whether served on a website or presented by a sales rep in a meeting – needs to work harder than ever to capture and keep buyer attention, and ultimately, inspire a YES.
As marketers, we spend a lot of time perfecting our message. But while we often spend hours fussing over the words, I’m not sure we always push ourselves hard enough on the visual articulation. And yet, visuals are more memorable than words. While people remember only 20% of what they read, they remember 80% of what they see. And despite our best efforts to create engaging presentations, according to MarketingProfs, one in three people admit to falling asleep during one.
There is a massive opportunity for today’s marketers to leverage visual storytelling by way of interactive and animated content for any channel to successfully grab buyer attention and keep it. Here’s why:
Interactive content simplifies the complex.
Visual storytelling offers the format, simplicity, and chronology that today’s buyers crave. Interactive content allows you to take a very detailed product offering and show it in a straightforward and visually appealing way.
Interactive content gives sellers influence.
Creating your sales and marketing content in a visual and interactive format makes the salient points more salient. It becomes much easier to point your buyer to what you want them to remember most. The visuals will stick around in their heads much longer than your words.
Interactive content creates a conversation.
When a buyer sees a static, text-heavy PowerPoint slide, she does one of two things: zones out completely or jumps ahead of you by reading the slide while you’re speaking. Neither of which is ideal. Interactive content, on the other hand, allows sellers and buyers to pause as animations build, sparks enthusiastic responses, and transforms one-way sales presentations into collaborative engagements.
Interactive content is entertaining.
Thanks to fewer human interactions, too many Zoom meetings, and the gloom of COVID lockdowns, we’re bored. And so are our buyers. That said, any opportunity for content as edutainment is a good one. Can you gamify your content? Make it an interactive survey? How about a funny yet informative video?
Select one of your most critical sales assets and give it an interactive face-lift. Measure and optimize for success before scaling to the rest of your content library. I find it also helps to start with the right narrative. At Mediafly, we build much of our content with the same proprietary CLOSE™ methodology we provide our customers. CLOSE is a step-by-step framework to get to challenge-based (not feature/function-based) selling stories. You can read more about the methodology in our guide here.
Once we’ve formulated the right message, we then apply our Presentification™ creative process to turn the language into visuals. By transforming our core content from flat and boring to highly animated and interactive, we have seen double the engagement.
CMO Priority #2: Hyper-Targeting and Segmentation
One of the marketing concepts I am most excited about these days is the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). We’ve recently become really mindful of this, and it has done wonders for our pipeline generation. Have you ever heard the saying, “the essence of strategy is deciding what not to do”? In this case, are we wasting valuable marketing/sales time and resources on target audiences we shouldn’t actively pursue?
While it can feel counterintuitive (not to mention nerve-wracking!) to pivot your sales and marketing strategy to drop entire segments for the benefit of targeting one or a few, at the very least, it is worth testing. Depending on your business, the results may even surprise you. Just because a prospect has the ability to buy your product does not mean you want them as a customer. Ask yourself these questions:
- Currently, who are your top 15 most delighted customers? Not just satisfied customers, truly delighted. Meaning they embrace your innovations, grow with you, advocate on your behalf, and continue to increase their business with you.
- What do they have in common? Think beyond the obvious firmographics of company size and industry. Do they all have a complex supply chain? Large product portfolios? Few but complex product offerings?
- What is the size of this addressable market? Is it big enough to grow your business?
- Do you have the right content and messaging to address your ICP challenges? Are you communicating your differentiators in the context that matters most to them?
- How do you deliver content to them? Are your marketers and sellers enabled to create the most personalized and valuable content engagement experiences for this audience at every touchpoint?
Once you’ve defined your ICP, reconsider your sales motions, content strategy, and messaging to specifically address their needs. I am a big believer in testing before scaling, as well as continually reassessing and optimizing.
While the ICP concept is by no means new, many of us don’t give it enough attention. But given the pressures of hyper-growth we all face, it’s no wonder we feel inclined to chase after every prospect!
At Mediafly, we’re fortunate to have the ability to ‘drink our own champagne”, using our own sales enablement platform and content hub technology to create engaging and tailored content experiences across the entire buyer journey. Regardless of if a prospect is consuming content on our website or a sales rep is sharing a presentation with them in a live meeting, our technology ensures the interaction is seamlessly personalized for the needs of the audience and not a generic, one-size-fits-all pitch.
Seeing both the volume and quality of our pipeline increase as a result of our renewed and deliberate ICP approach is a great reminder that sometimes less really is more.
CMO Priority #3: Content Measurement and Analytics
I recently heard a CMO refer to his CFO as CFNO. It was funny, sad, and an accurate reflection of the current state of business affairs. In a world of heightened performance scrutiny, risk aversion, and shrinking budgets, there is little tolerance for failure. If you fail, you better do it fast and recover even faster.
How do you measure and understand what works so you can do more of that and less of what doesn’t? For instance, in the context of this article, we’ve talked about creating interactive content and targeting a very specific audience. That’s all well and good, but how do we know if this content is having an impact?
At Mediafly, we use our own content analytics platform called Mediafly Insights. Admittedly, in a bit of ‘the cobbler’s children have no shoes’ scenario, we weren’t exactly practicing what we preached to our customers on the measurement front. But a year or so ago, we really committed to using our technology to get ‘data-serious’ when it comes to our own content insights.
Now, Mediafly Insights helps us to:
- Understand content usage by rep. What content assets are used most often? In what context? Follow-up? Meetings?
- Understand content consumption by prospect. What did they view? Did they reshare it? How long did they view a specific video? What pages of a specific guide did they read? A prospect’s level of engagement helps us better assess if they are hot or cold.
- Measure the impact of content on revenue. Our Content Impact Grid™ depicts high performing and under-performing content assets at a glance, based on their contribution to pipeline and revenue. Should we keep this eBook? Improve this video? Archive this case study?
- Optimize content strategy and budget allocation. With actionable insights readily available, we understand what works and minimize time and resources spent on what doesn’t.
Relying on our content analytics tools has allowed us to significantly improve our content strategy and better enable our sellers. Personally, in the last year, we’ve:
- Reduced the size of our content library by one-third
- Optimized individual content assets to make them work even harder
- Redesigned our sales application to better surface high-performing content that reps weren’t consistently using
- Increased sales rep adoption of our platform and content by 2000%
- Improved marketing and sales alignment by evaluating, reviewing, and discussing content performance
- Allocated marketing budget and resources more effectively and improved future content efforts
While this isn’t an exhaustive list of my priorities for 2021, in an effort to create a content engagement experience that turns prospects into customers, these have been the most important areas to me in 2020. I consider these my strongest levers to pull and will continue to do so as I look toward the future in 2021.
Curious about how to get started transforming your static, linear sales content into impactful, interactive content that resonates with modern buyers? Check out our on-demand webinar How to Create Interactive Content and Presentations for Remote Selling.
This article is the second in a two-part series highlighting the priorities of various C-level executives in the “next normal.” 2020 has been a wild ride. We hope our learnings and practical tips for 2021 help you advance your own strategy for sales growth.