According to Gartner, 99% of buyers of complex products and services begin their purchase process with a Google search.
When that buyer types in a search term, do they find you? The way they find you is through content.
This is an executive-level overview of the Internal Content Marketing Agency (ICMA). It is written for the top sales executive in the organization. It’s designed to give a basic understanding of what an ICMA can do for your company. It is intended to provoke you into wanting to learn more.
According to the Sales Executive Council, 57% of a buyer’s purchase decision is made without a sales rep being present. This is an average across all industries. In the last four months I have asked eleven Sales SVPs what the number is for their company. Answers ranged from 20% to 70%.
What’s your number? If you agree with this fundamental concept, what are you doing about it? How do you engage Buyers when a rep is not in front of them? Is your company relying on luck or chance? Let’s demystify this topic so you can determine if you have a problem.
What is an Internal Content Marketing Agency?
It’s a new department in your company. It helps you make the number by producing custom content for you. It can be located within your Sales or Marketing organizations.
What does it do?
It produces content of sufficient quantity and quality to meet the needs of the Marketing and Sales departments.
What does it mean to use an Internal Content Marketing Agency
Your company will be able to sell the way your Customer wants to buy. You will be able to sell when a rep is not present.
This is not our core competency. Why not hire an outside firm to produce content?
A third party will never know your customers like you do. They will not know the intricacies of your products and services like you do. They can’t have your sense of urgency or your passion for your customers.
An Internal Content Marketing Agency has 3 key business objectives:
Creating an ICMA is a heavy lift. It’s hard. If you have not done it before, you will likely need expert assistance. There are almost two dozen strategic considerations to be made before you even begin. Let’s examine two quick examples: How often will you generate content and what will it be about?
To determine this, you’ll need an Editorial Calendar. Here’s what it might look like:
You’ll also need a Production Schedule. (Which persona is the content for? What’s it about? Who will write it, etc…?)
If it feels overwhelming, consider this: our firm produces content every 24 hours, 365 days a year. Want a battle-tested example of a Production Schedule? Download this one. This is the actual tool SBI’s blog teams use as a template. Each team of subject matter experts relies on it. We are laser focused on creating content that addresses topics our readers care about.
These are just two examples of tools you need to support an ICMA. There are many other pieces to this puzzle. These two give you an idea of the scope of this type project. I provided them as two examples of elements you should think through.
The Key Considerations
The key considerations are pretty simple to break down. There are only two big questions:
1. Does my company have a problem in this area? To find out, read these questions. If the answer to any of them is “No,” you might have a problem.
Do my prospects find me online every time they search for a solution to their problems?
Does my company “own” the online space around the products and services I sell?
Does my company have deep expertise in Search Engine Optimization?
Is my company (or outside vendor) producing enough high quality content to enable my sales reps? To support my marketing team?
2. Could this problem impact me making the number in 2013 and beyond? This is a simple one to answer. Will your customers use the internet more or less in the coming years? Would your field sales teams be more or less effective with awesome content support? I thought so.
Why should you care now?
In a preview of the 2013 Content Marketing Benchmark Report by Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute, only 36% of businesses believed their content marketing is effective. You can access an excellent blog on this topic by my peer Tony Zambito here.
You have a real opportunity to gain first-mover advantage in your industry. You can turn your internal pieces of content into your best salespeople. The New Year is here. Your forecasts are finished. You are entering the starting blocks. It’s time to learn more about how an ICMA can help Buyers find you.
As you attack the FY13 number, recognize a simple fact. Your "best sales rep" could be the content you produce for prospects and customers.