Content Marketing Opens Locked Doors When You Tell, Not Sell

green-doorsContent Marketing Opens
Locked Doors When You
Tell, Not Sell

Most of us understands by now that in order to sell a complex product or service, we need to cultivate and educate prospective buyers. If you’ve followed my blog, you know I urge my readers to educate on the value brought to the prospect, not on how your product or service works.

Your prospect is better equipped to understand your point of differentiation when you emphasize your value to him. I call this education-based content, and it is organized around your core marketing message. While we’ll agree that this is not nuclear physics, you’d be surprised how often it’s misunderstood, muddled, or outright ignored by firms.

What is Content?

MarketingProfs, considered by many as a top end content authority, offers this deceptively simple definition, but let’s start with it:  “Content is anything you create or share to tell a story.”  And who is the hero of your story—your prospect, customer or client?

Content messages carry weight when delivered or embedded across multiple communication channels  in the form of a written or visual materials such as advertising; articles; blogposts; case studies; online videos; newsletters; press coverage; research reports; sales brochures; seminars; webinars; and white papers. This content builds credibility with your market, as well as reinforces your marketing strategy.

‘Content is King’

It’s the way buyers first discover for themselves who you are, what you do and why it matters to them. Wired to take action, they want to read more, click here, share with, or otherwise engage with your content in a meaningful way. Content ignites your kindle of ideas. Content sparks the sunrise conversation in the world of the complex sale.

When you dedicate your marketing efforts to producing great content (with killer keywords), you might just pull back the curtain on the Internet’s Wizard of Oz―Google.  Below are some types of content Google craves in delicious oeuvres of words and images.


All the content above, except number eleven, should succeed in enticing your prospects and clients. Dennis Miller aside, few of us want to hear rants, though most of us welcome humor. If you really care about producing great content, blend in a skoosh of curiosity, surprise, personality and emotion. It’s hard work and takes talent. If you’re not good at it, hire someone who is a professional, then collaborate on ideas, thinking and strategies.

The key to unlocking the power in education-based content is the clear absence of sales messaging. Inform and seek to influence your prospects.  Resist selling.  Allow your prospect to self -discover your solution over time with an authentic educational message.

Why Content Sells

An education-based approach to content marketing reveals library full of benefits for all it touches:

  • Creates a flow of information that helps prospects seek you out

  • Gives prospects what they see—knowledge

  • Saves prospects time and money in research

  • Reaches prospects early on when they first express interest in the subject

  • Informs and advises, thus prospect doesn’t feel you are selling to him

  • Generates a positive prospect experience

Equally important, when you produce and distribute education-based content, you position yourself as a professional advisor versus a salesman and, in the process, your stature as an authority in the field grows. Better yet, education-based content lays the foundation for that coveted reputation as a trusted advisor.

In short, content as education-based marketing captures the attention of prospective customers earlier in the decision making process; it also establishes a relationship of trust and can produce higher closing ratios.

This same educational strategy should be extended to your prospect’s or client’s advisor network, the interested professionals who can help you close sales. If you sell to builders, think of those who influence the builder’s decision to buy your products and services such as architects, property managers, and real estate professionals.

Content as Influencer

When you’re using content in the social selling space, work to be an expert, not the salesman. Rather than attempt to sell your product directly, first try to help prospects by answering their questions, engaging in their discussion, and responding to their comments. This goal can be achieved by creating and sharing content that users find valuable and validates their pre-purchase research.

By consistently delivering information that addresses questions and concerns, you will not only build a positive relationship with your community of prospects, but also you will favorably influence purchasing decisions in advance. Once at your website, for example, the more a visitor values and interacts with your content, the more he or she will be willing to engage with your company and be receptive to the selling process.

As we discuss in MERGE, you can’t take a singular approach; you need to develop a communication and marketing strategy. I’m always on the lookout for opportunities to create integrated marketing and communication. So when I work with a company that still refers to a single piece of content they’ve created, say a white paper, webcast or blogpost, I urge the client to think of content on multiple levels.

“The one effective way to build awareness and drive prospects to you is to generate a rich, colorful cornucopia of content, publish it on diverse channels, and then readily engage with visitors at every possible opportunity.” <strong>Bill MacDonald</strong>


  • study by Kapost and Eloqua found that content marketing ROI outweighed the ROI of paid search (a temporary investment that is widely believed to be the most cost-effective marketing tactic) by more than three times.

  • The cost-per-lead for paid search was $111.11.

  • The cost-per-lead for content marketing was $32.25

  • Technical Sales Call (Assumes Subject Matter Expert and Sales Representative) $215 for the representative plus $100 for the SME or a total of $315 (

The information above compresses the total impact of content marketing but, as you can see, the efficiency of content marketing surpasses other forms of marketing.

Always Repurpose

Take a major piece of marketing content, break it down into various items and push it out into different channels. Whether it’s a white paper, e-book, buying guide, article or post, you can rewrite it to emphasize another angle, another market segment, or another new idea. Then, share and distribute your repurposed content to relevant audiences across multiple platforms.

Think of building blocks where each piece can theoretically stand on its own. It is simpler then to disassemble long-form content into various deliverables. In doing so, you use your marketing assets with utmost efficiency. Consider this: You plan to conduct a webinar entitled, Ten Things to Consider when Selling Your Company. Create more impact by adding a guidebook, a series of spin-off articles, or a micro- blog.

What’s more, during the webinar, you can quote from an ancillary study and make it available to attendees on request. The webinar then can be posted on your website (pre-recorded) with links to your blog, supportive articles, the guidebook, as well as posted on authority sites as LinkedIn.

Curator vs. Creator

Keep in mind, you do not have to be the creator of all your distributed content to be accepted as a valuable resource. Curate your content. Curating simply means discovering, compiling and delivering digital content that relates to a particular subject matter (attribution to every source, of course).

Instead of creating new information, look for useful articles or commentary from online platforms, and share it with potential prospects via social platforms to drive opportunities. Curation that succeeds in contributing to others’ knowledge and respects the recipient’s time can establish thought leadership, boost brand visibility, and search-engine presence.

Let me share an example:  I post many articles and blogs I read from the Harvard Business School on LinkedIn in various discussion groups. When I do this I notice my website traffic increases, and I see more visits to my LinkedIn profile. This activity builds awareness and spreads knowledge through valuable content.

No matter whether you create or curate, first make sure to listen to your audience, then show them that you have their best interests in mind long before attempting to sell your product or service. The more your content is valued, the easier it is to gain the interest and support of key influencers in the social world, those persons who can help you develop and expand the visibility of your organization and its brand.

Ready. Set. Go unlock some important doors.

See you on the upside, Bill

News Alert

MERGE 2.0, read my latest book, now released by the publisher and available on Amazon to purchase.  Learn everything you need to know to book revenue in the new realities of B2B professional selling.

And, if you’re not a reader and prefer interactive learning, take our MERGE 2.0 online learning course.  Go here for more info.

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