At Sales For Life over the last couple of months, we’ve been analyzing our content marketing performance, and of course our content marketing spend. Looking back historically, only a few years ago in 2017, we had a $1 million per year spend in our marketing department, and for lead generation. Our content marketing was truly a machine. We had blogs, e-books, infographics, and webinars being produced at a consistent pace, all with the intention of driving inbound demand flow.But in late 2017, we started to see cracks in that process – in that the cost of customer acquisition, compared to the lifetime value of the varied accounts it was tracking, just didn’t make sense. We decided to make some changes, and slimmed down operations, especially on the marketing side.
That made the cost of customer acquisition much more palatable, but we started to see a diminishing return of inbound leads. Even as we spiked up content production and sharing, we were continuing to see a diminishing return on investment.
So, about a year ago, I started paying attention to what best-in-class companies were doing, and I began to watch four companies –
1) VaynerMedia, owned by Gary Vaynerchuk – Gary is the gold standard in teaching other organizations on how to use social media marketing. This is not a social selling blog; it’s about content marketing that fuels insights and intellectual property that the sales team can share;
2) Russell Brunson’s company Click Funnels;
3) John Barrows’ sales training organization;
4) Jane Dunlap’s company Skaled.
I started noting what they were doing, and it was completely different than what we were doing here at Sales For Life. We were consistently creating blogs, e-books, infographics, and webinars, but a lot of it was a traditional demand generation waterfall – we shared a blog, which led to an e-book, the e-book is downloadable and gated; we would collect people’s phone numbers and emails, phone them right away, and try to convert them from marketing qualified lead to sales qualified leads. But that interrupted marketing style – while it obviously works, is being tested against the newfound marketing that Jay Dunlap called the age of the IP influencer.
This is reverting to Gary Vaynerchuk’s book Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook, in giving away an immense amount of value in intellectual property – where you come to the mindset that there is no intellectual property or insights a customer can’t already find on the internet. But what you’re doing is packaging and polishing and synthesizing everything you know, and making it easy for them to find it.
This really speaks to Daniel Pink’s book To Sell is Human, where he reverts back to a concept called “caveat venditor” – he cautions the seller to beware that the buyer now holds more information and power than the seller themselves.
So about six months to a year ago, when I started to reverse-engineer these four best-in-class organizations – their content sharing framework, their act in production, their content sharing style – it became clear that we at Sales For Life had an antiquated model that would become irrelevant over time.
I’m sharing this blog not because we have the answers, but we are evolving ourselves, and looking at best practices. And you’ll notice in 2020 that our content will dramatically change:
1. Content will be in video format.
2. That video format will be in 5-10 active consumption styles. It will provide immense value without the immediate expectation of collecting info from a buyer, and ultimately converting them from a marketing qualified lead to a sales qualified lead.
This is counter-intuitive to how most marketers think, and it might be a bit scary. But it has been proven by others in our market, especially John and Jane, who have done a fantastic job of building a community, which is fueling a massive amount of lead flow.
And Gary Vaynerchuk is always talking about patience, being long-tailed, and having long-term thinking – which is difficult for most companies to do, but this is the stand we need to take.
If we look at building a community as an adventure we’re embarking on together in the next 5-10 years, we will create content that serves them in that manner. And we’re excited for this journey.