Feeding the Marketing Content Pipeline

Scott Richardson

The marketing content pipeline is closely related to, yet distinct from the sales pipeline. By delivering the right content via the pipeline, marketers are able to interface with customers early on in the lead generation process and then continue to feed salespeople with the materials they need throughout the sales effort.

Marketing can prepare to contribute to the pipeline by first conducting market research – the core component in the beginning of any lead generation/customer acquisition effort.

Research enables marketing to understand target markets, track changes in these markets as they occur, develop profiles of what best customers look like, and identify obstacles that exist to marketing products and services to these customers. In this way, marketers “prime the pump” with the information they, and ultimately sales reps, need to pursue the most high-potential customers.

Once these high-potential customers are identified, marketers can begin to interact with them in ways that will serve to establish relationships based upon knowledge and trust. Marketing’s early communication initiatives will predispose these prospects to react favorably once sales enters the picture.

One effective way marketing can communicate with prospects is by presenting them with materials that are customized and relevant to their specific needs and situations. Based on the market research that has already occurred, this personalized content can highlight the company’s ability to deliver more value to that particular customer than others can deliver. This establishes your company as the best fit with the customer – the “obvious” choice.

This has been made easier thanks to the use of online portals developed with the latest marketing asset management (MAM) technology. With this technology, marketers can organize materials in ways that are most beneficial to those using, accessing and receiving marketing content.

Portals developed with MAM technology are useful in a number of ways. Key among them is that they provide sales with the marketing tools they need to be successful, helping them quickly find specific materials and immediately getting them to hot prospects, keeping them abreast of newly-developed materials, automatically sending them updated materials when there is new content and pricing, enabling them to package sets of materials with specific recipients in mind, and more.

These MAM portals streamline the outward flow of collateral, including audio and visual content, from marketing to sales and sales to customers. They also allow information to flow back along the pipeline. So now everyone can be in the loop, responding back and forth as needed and keeping an ongoing dialogue between all parties.

Generating Interest

So what is some of the content that marketing can push through the pipeline that will engage prospective customers before the actual selling begins by sales? Here are some ideas:

  • A sheet on ROI that quantifies the payback that others in the prospect’s market have realized from investing in the kinds of products or services your company offers.
  • Short articles or white papers that are informational, not self-promotional, and address key business issues in target customers’ markets. These can also be offered to the media as contributed stories that will raise your company’s visibility in the overall market.
  • Case studies of current customers similar to the prospects who have benefited from your products or services. Offer these current customers as references if possible.
  • Monthly informational newsletters or “tip sheets” that provide both current customers and prospects with useful tidbits from industry analysts, published articles, and other non-vendor-specific sources. This can also be done via a blog.
  • Invitations to webinars that highlight how your kinds of products or services are designed specifically to help companies like theirs.

A major benefit of this early, customized communication between prospects and marketing is that it will be easier to gauge the interest level of prospects by their responses. Looking at these responses, as well as other key factors, it can more easily be determined which prospects are most favorably inclined toward your company and to buying your products or services.

At this point, prospects can be determined to be qualified and enter the sales portion of the pipeline, or it can be decided that they should fall out of the pipeline. As sales enters the picture, its job has been made easier, and the chances of converting the prospect become greater.

The final stage – and goal – of the process hopefully will now take place. With all of the groundwork in place, the prospect will become a customer.

Scott Richardson is CEO and president of Longwood Software, developer of the RevBase® (www.revbase.com) SaaS marketing asset management solution and the ForFile® (www.forfile.com) SaaS file transfer service. Contact him at scott@longwoodsoftware.com.