A friend joined as the VP Sales at a Rs.250 crore family-run IT infrastructure repair and support Services Company. Most of the existing business came from government contracts on the strength of low pricing and connections.
With increasing price competition from newer and aggressive players, the margins and business volumes were dropping on a year-on-year basis. His brief – revive the fortunes of the company.
The Sales Head analyzed company metrics, competition and market trends; and, after brainstorming with stakeholders, recommended leveraging the existing company infrastructure – manpower and national presence – to generate sales growth by directly selling to private sector clients, instead of low revenue government deals.
He urged the use of Content Marketing tools to support the direct sales efforts. It was a large untapped market with scope for higher margins.
Content Marketing to establish market connect
The management reassigned existing employees to generate direct B2B sales from corporate clients. Unfortunately, they continued to flog the traditional cold calling approach to generate leads.
The direct sales team struggled to establish the company credentials, provide references or even get appointments with the decision-makers to pitch their services. Prospects were just not sure about the company’s credentials. So, despite actually having a national infrastructure, they continued to struggle to bring in new corporate clients.
The Sales Head emphasised upon the need for content marketing, to address the above gaps and generate organic leads. He suggested specific content marketing initiatives; and the immediate need to update the website and make it SEO-friendly; to establish a meaningful digital presence of the company.
The owner, however, refused to invest in the digital space and made piecemeal efforts and deputed a junior sales coordinator to upload random online posts of Happy Diwali, Environment Day, Employee of the Month on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
No prizes for guessing; it made no difference. Sales and revenues continued to dip and the Sales Head and his team were shown the door. So were a few more of his successors. The company turned into bank defaulters.
As a last resort, the Bank appointed an external consultant to revive the company.
10 basic steps in Content Marketing Strategy
While the Consultant recommended numerous radical changes in the organization’s work methods, he suggested the following Content Marketing Strategy to ensure strong brand affinity and Lead Generation, to generate higher direct sales from corporate prospects.
- Identifying the target customer segments and key decision-makers to engaging within the digital space.
- Generate content to establish thought leadership, enhance the reach and generate leads.
- Use of different social media channels to promote content with SEO friendly keyword phrases to increase engagement rate.
- An interactive blog to keep industry stakeholders interested and coming back.
- Posting technical industry articles and updates that inform the target CIO and CTOs.
- Hire a Content Writing company to research the company portfolio, competition, industry trends, and best practices to create quality marketing content.
- Hire a dedicated in-house marketing resource.
- Posting case studies and white papers to help client CIOs with best industry practices and showcase company expertise.
- Send out email newsletters with tips and reminders.
- Encouraging customer testimonials on the company website.
With no choice but to heed the Consultant’s recommendations, the management recruited a small marketing team and hired a #content writing company to execute the above.
Over the next 12-15 months the tide turned gradually. Today the company is in the black with rising sales and revenues.
It thus becomes clear that it is important for even B2B companies to engage in Content Marketing, in order to expand the business’s audience, brand affinity, lead generation, and sales; And, especially so in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic.
So whether it is a small, medium or large business; or a one person show, social media is giving us a great opportunity to build direct connects with potential customers by sharing relevant and engaging content.
This article was first published on Linkedin by the author titled – 10 content marketing lessons learnt the real hard way
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