Creating a Smarter Sales & Marketing Alignment Strategy with Funnelholic Craig Rosenberg

July 2, 2016

Creating a Smarter Sales & Marketing Alignment Strategy with Funnelholic Craig Rosenberg

Topo Inc. Co-Founder and Chief Analyst, Craig Rosenberg, is a sales guy with a marketer’s heart. Or maybe he’s a marketer with a sales guy’s brain. Either way, he understands that sales and marketing work better when they work together.

When we needed a sales perspective to round out The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Content Marketing, Craig was the perfect person to lend his expertise. In his role at Topo and as the editor of the Funnelholic blog, Craig demonstrates a thorough understanding of how sales and marketing can enhance each other’s contributions to the revenue stream.

Read on for Craig’s thoughts on gated versus ungated content, “smart milestones,” and more.

If you were starting a content marketing program from scratch, where would you begin?

Craig: Content is one of the first things you do when you start a company. My favorite quote on content marketing of all time is from Jon Miller, CEO and Co-Founder at Engagio, previously co-founder at Marketo: “We wrote our first blog post before we wrote our first line of code.” But even before that, if you are starting a company from scratch, I think we can all agree that knowing your audience comes first. Knowing who they are, what they care about, and why they buy is step one of any marketing program.

If you’re in the B2B space, rather than starting with buyer personas, I recommend starting at the company level to build your ideal customer profile (ICP) – who is the ideal company, THEN who is the ideal buyer. This allows you to get hyper-specific to make sure your message resonates with the right customers. Otherwise you’re trying to sell to everyone. After you’ve created your ideal customer profile, drill down into the types of people within those companies you need to talk to.

In your eyes, what is the biggest difference between content marketing five years ago and content marketing today?

Craig: Five years ago the message was, “go create lots of content consistently.” Today, I would argue that it’s not about creating a cadence if you have to sacrifice quality to achieve it. This doesn’t mean we need to move away from bite-sized chunks. It means we were wrong about the quantity game. B2B consumers want deep, rich content that helps them do their job better.

The lens we use to view results is also different. For example, it’s okay to produce something really cool and not put a reg form in front of it and measure the number of leads. Actually, it’s almost better to let the content run free. It’s not just the top brands hosting webinars, shooting video and publishing eBooks. These are the table stakes. Everyone is. To stand out, create that amazing piece of longform, quality content and let it run free. Accessibility and convenience can be an advantage. For example, a CIO is NOT going to fill out a reg form—let them get to it. Your brand equity will increase as a result.

Tell us about a brand that has impressed you with its content strategy and execution.

Craig: Airbnb. I am not sure whether they would actually call it a content strategy as much as their web strategy but their blog content reminds me of those travel magazines that inspire you to travel. And it is delivered with elegant design. I am also intrigued by how their actual product is the content. An amazing treehouse in Costa Rica is both their product and content. Very intriguing.

You recently said that the key characteristic of high-growth companies is the ability to truly understand business data and process.

Craig: The one thing I have noticed about the best-run, high-growth companies has been that they understand how everything in the revenue chain (marketing to close) works to affect the other. They identify smart milestones across these processes, track them, and then optimize them. Content IS part of this plan.

Now remember, the key is "smart milestones"—so what is the content strategy intended to do? For example, it's ok to say that the goal of your blog post is to track the number of visits. It's ok because smart companies have built a machine that helps move people to the next step. For example, Hubspot wants you to read their blog post and then sign up for more content and from there sign up to learn more about the product and so on and so on.

Now let me contradict everything I just said.  I am starting to get excited about ungated content that you just let fly on the internet. Whitepapers with no registration form, long form blog content… I am seeing companies "let it fly,” which is un-trackable. But guess what; it’s hugely valuable. I have walked into sales meetings and the prospect has my long form post on their computer. I walk in with instant credibility. Content did that. Un-trackable content did that, and I think it may be worth a ton more than a download.

What commonalities are you seeing among companies that have achieved an effective relationship between marketing and sales?

Craig: The key is "effective relationship.” Marketing and sales will always have friction and that friction can be good if there is a leader who can channel friction into positive activity. If not, it devolves into a fractured relationship that can't be repaired.

The relationship can be managed by collectively agreeing on milestones and using the milestones to determine the health of the business. For example, instead of saying the leads are "bad", have a definition to quantitatively define a "good" lead. That helps eliminate fighting.

Thanks to Craig for joining us. You can find Craig on Twitter @funnelholic, and get more of his insightful industry commentary on the Funnelholic blog.

To learn how to build a comprehensive content marketing strategy with advice from Craig and nine other thought leaders, download The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Content Marketing.

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