CLASS #3
Collateral, content
and copy
3.1 Early Content
Regardless of the situation you inherit in your new role, you will undoubtedly find there is a lot of content to build. This is your team’s bread and butter, where most of their day-to-day efforts are already going. It will be your role to guide those efforts to create the most effective and usable content they can.

Too often a new CMO will come in and look to immediately build the most sophisticated content they can. But just as often, they are simply unable to get it up and running quickly enough to have an impact on lead generation. Content always is long tail and takes longer than you think to launch.

Right away, you will want to work with the Sales Leader to get an order of importance for different messages and campaigns. Which content is highest priority, in what order will it need to be delivered?

This cadence allows you to prioritise your actions in the coming quarters.

The CMO needs to listen to sales. Making the sales leader happy will shift the relationship between your two departments. Suddenly, you’re providing a valuable service.

You will want to build on these sales conversations to map out an updated content calendar, with focus placed on repeatable outputs that come at a regular cadence.
Make a point to design your content to serve your sales workflows. Start with your funnel.

If you have a single solution in one vertical, it’s quite simple. If you’re in multiple verticals, offering multiple solutions, you will need to map and structure content across each vertical individually.
Think about how this content might be distributed:
Make sure you’re synced internally. Do not produce content in silos. Keep the content calendar centrally visible to your team, and ensure it tracks ownership and delivery of projects in a central way. A well-crafted content calendar is a critical tool to communicate and ensure accountability in your own team.

The well-designed calendar can then be populated with specific messaging and stories based on your conversations with sales. You and your team can find the right channels to best serve the messages. The cadence should be set well in advance, but the messages themselves can be assigned much closer to the release date to ensure you’re delivering timely messages, and that you are able to remain responsive and nimble.

I recommend planning out a calendar for a rolling calendar year into the future. Know what channels and frequency. But then populate that calendar with specific messages and assign ownership amongst your team no farther out than a quarter at a time. This should be a regular meeting on your team’s calendar in which these decisions are formalised.
And maintain a “Parking Lot” for messages and long-term campaigns beyond that quarter. Keep those ideas visible, but don’t waste energy mapping out messages too far ahead, as those plans will always be fluid.

Some marketing teams will create content for sales without consulting sales first. This results in huge amounts of wasted time.

Have an agreement with Sales about what early-stage assets are needed. Ensure the sales team buys into this by adding instant value with ready-to-deploy assets, particularly assets that support sales conversations. Give sales what they ask for, and deliver well-run campaigns that lead to smooth conversations.

If your content is seen to enable more closes, then the sales team will be more willing to buy into your long-term marketing plan.
Homework: Content Calendar
This key bit of kit is one to establish right away.

Here is a quick checklist to get this in place almost immediately:
  • Review what is already in place, or set up a shared document from scratch.
  • Assess areas that need more/less content or frequency.
  • Identify things that are missing, new projects needed.
  • Adapt based on your assessment of what’s needed.
  • Assign to proper distribution channels.
  • Populate with messages for the next three months.
  • Set a calendar reminder to revisit this every quarter, or make it part of a quarterly schedule your team already observes.

Execute using tools such as Asana and Confluence to have a central repository plan for the roadmap.

Homework: Overcoming Sales Objections

The best strategy for building content for quick wins is to focus on sales objections as thought leadership. By this I mean developing direct responses to the most common objections you hear from prospects.

Start by collecting the top objections from the sales team, or challenges they have in the current sales cycle.

Once you’ve collected this list, have sales reps help you prioritise it in order of importance.

You should aim to have the top ten, ranked by how frequently they apply.

On each challenge spin up a thought leadership “counter argument” to the challenge.

Each response should be useful, informative and seem to be written in the thought leadership context. Be careful the responses don’t feel like sales pitches, but instead like a value add.

This approach to defining your early content works so well because you will not only get content out quickly but you will also provide sales with content they will actually want to use.

Doing this exercise can populate your first 3–6 months of messaging!
3.2 Focus on Customer-Centric Messaging
So you’ve got the framework in place for a content-generation machine. Having that capacity for generating content is key, but it’s also going to prove critical that you can lead your team to deliver effective messages.

It’s common for companies to make the marketing about themselves. When we create marketing collateral from internal interviews, we build stories around ourselves. This practise is company-centric, not customer-centric. We want messages that focus on how you help the customer. How you help solve the customer challenges. How you are educating prospects on the market shift.

Good salespeople talk in terms of outcomes and benefits first, before features. The best marketers talk about the value to the customer before they talk about your product.

In order to get your team’s messaging to shift to a customer-centric approach, the biggest question you must ask is:

3.21 How does your company empower customers?

Put another way: How does your solution help people to become successful? Ask your customers and use their words. What are your prospects’ “jobs to be done?” What are their core challenges? What is their strategy? What do your prospects need to do to be successful in their role (tune into that…)?

Put customer value first

Try to embed the value you create for customers into your story. Tell business stories that aren’t self-serving, but instead show a clear focus on the customer journey. This becomes fascinating to the reader, because it links to a personal challenge they’re facing themselves.

Case Studies: Salesforce and Twilio

An obvious example here is Salesforce’s use of ‘Trailblazers’ as a marketing concept, creating a customer-centric community that appeals to our desire to be innovators.

Twilio did a fantastic job of making their product about the developer. Their marketing focuses on how they make customers’ lives better, and their comms consistently tell a nice story. Could you do the same?
3.3 The Content Marketing Team
We touched upon content in the previous section by talking about what you needed to do to get started quickly which sales can start using immediately.

By this point you will be up and running. You may have hired a Head of Content or Writer to start building the longer-term content marketing plan for the business. I cannot stress enough how important content is to the revenue cycle. It enables all parts of the business from awareness, conversion and sales process to enablement, digital, events and more. This subset of demand generation is really one of the key levers.

The first step with whomever you’ve hired into the role is to get them aligned with the overall strategy and have them work with the content marketing team and plan ahead, hopefully more than a year ahead. I know that’s hard to do in modern day SaaS. But content, even though it supports your short-term wins, also has a tremendous impact on the long-term growth of the business. Getting your content roadmap right will be incredibly powerful.

What you will notice with your new hire is that the original content marketing plan will be a cadence of producing a million pieces of content across the whole funnel. It will look amazing as part of a slide deck, and everyone will feel great about this awesome strategic masterpiece of precision content production.

What I can tell you is that within 3–4 months you will never actually execute on that plan.

The biggest problem you’ll find in building your larger content marketing strategy is that you try to do way too much. Everyone forgets how hard it is to make really excellent copy, let alone copy across so many different streams. It is grossly underestimated, even by seasoned professionals. The reality of executing will catch up to your plans. Your writer/Head of Content may burn out or become disillusioned.

The first piece of coaching and advice I provide is to think differently about your production method. Most writers like to write everything themselves or control their work. This is rightfully so because they take pride in their work and want quality control.

What this will mean though is that you will never get to where you want to go because they can’t scale their efforts. This is something you need to look out for in your new team member. They will either grasp this concept and be excited to build out this new process in a scalable, distributed way, or they’ll fail to understand how to pull it off.

They’ll need to build a virtual organisation in content (unless you are lucky enough to hire 5-10 writers in the team which many do not at early stages of scale). The virtual organisation is not just casual adding of freelancers. A successful virtual organisation is a mindset shift that leads to maintaining an org chart and delivery model that can scale capability as required. And it must do this while maintaining quality control. You will quickly find out whether your Head of Content can deliver on this.

The reason it’s difficult is because in many cases it’s not their natural ability. It requires a lot of proactive management. It will be up to you to support and train the content head in their management role, and help them succeed in this role.

You’ll be coaching them and helping them grow into their new role as you are simultaneously building out the plan.

Just remember to budget time to coach this new role properly, and to stay realistic on what you can actually produce. Keep the focus on the key campaign drivers, sales content needs and overall governance for the content marketing approach.
Homework: Here are some exercises to take on with the new Head of Content early in their role:
1. Audit all existing content and look for gaps.
2. Get close to sales and build a process to get feedback and produce content for them (build good relationships with them from the start).
3. Agree the pillar “Research” content piece.
4. Agree verticalised content across quarters: eBooks, visuals, videos.
5. Proactively build the customer stories pipeline and production.
6. Work with VP Demand Generation to align on campaign rollouts.
7. Work with events head to align on campaign rollouts.
8. Complete the whole content blueprint and cadence of outputs.
9. Create a content calendar using Asana, or other such tools.
10. Coach your Head of Content to get into the business and sell his content strategy.
11. Coach your Head of Content to focus on raising awareness of the content team i.e. through a weekly, well crafted update email.
You have reached the end of Lesson #3 — CONGRATS!

For more content on demand generation please go to www.edwinabl.com. Our next section covers GTM, reputation channels and campaigns.
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