The Growth Marketer’s Cheat Sheet: How to Drive Sales Growth

As potential customers increasingly rely on online research to substantiate purchasing decisions, your content is becoming more crucial to sales growth than ever before—which is why you must efficiently create a high volume of high-quality B2B marketing content to reach your future buyers.

Content Types: Demand Gen vs. Lead Gen

First, let’s establish the types of content you need to fuel your marketing efforts.

Demand Gen Content

Demand generation (demand gen) content is the kind of digital marketing that increases overall brand awareness. This type of content should drive traffic to websites where prospects can learn more about a given brand. With this in mind, demand gen content should be easily accessible and shareable, which means it should not be gated. Your goal is to distribute your content as widely as possible to get more people interested in your brand.

The following are the content types necessary to drive successful demand gen campaigns:

  • Blogs
  • Infographics
  • Checklists
  • Videos
  • Newsletters

All of these types of content offer relevant information in an engaging and accessible way. They should be entertaining and enlightening at the same time, which requires in-depth research presented with a conversational tone. The most effective demand gen content strikes a careful balance—it is packed with information while still being entertaining to read.

Additionally, content like blogs, infographics, and videos should be shareable, often linking to other content on your website to keep viewers engaged. Remember, the goal at this stage of the process is to generate interest by demonstrating your value to potential customers. Your demand gen content must spark and maintain the viewer’s interest.

Lead Gen Content

After generating interest with your demand gen content, it’s time to turn that interest into action. This is where your lead gen content comes into play. This type of content is used to capture contact information for outbound nurturing, which means it is typically gated. This means that viewers must see the content as valuable enough that they are willing to share their contact information to access it.

However, many potential customers are protective of their personal information. They must be convinced that this piece of content will provide them with a comprehensive understanding of a valuable topic. 

Below, we have provided a list of the most important types of lead gen content that you must continually generate to be considered on the shortlist of your potential buyers:

  • White papers
  • Maturity models
  • Webinars
  • Solution guides

Generally, these types of content are longer and more detailed than demand gen content, requiring more in-depth research than their attention-grabbing counterparts. At the same time, these articles must be engaging and interesting to read. Additionally, remember that these types of content should be informative—and not just a product pitch. 

To summarize, demand gen content is designed to provide small chunks of teaser information in an easily digestible format to catch users’ attention. On the other hand, lead gen content builds on that positioning to bring your product closer to the front of mind—as something to really consider in the short term.

Together, both content types should position your company as a thought leader in your entire ecosystem. This process lays the groundwork for sales growth through your content.

Sales Growth Through Marketing Content

Content is a Product

Now that we’ve established the main types of content fueling your B2B marketing campaign, how can we streamline the content creation process to increase sales growth?

The key is to consistently create fresh content that sparks and maintains potential buyers’ interest. However, maintaining a content cadence that keeps up with the demand of your customers and facilitates sales growth can be both challenging and expensive. 

Thankfully, by reframing your perspective on content production, you can increase the speed with which you create and publish content—effectively increasing sales growth in the long run.

Think of it this way: content is essentially a product. Here’s why:

  1. It can be designed, made, and distributed for mass consumption.
  2. When completed, it has a significantly greater value than the sum of its parts.
  3. Although it has a limited shelf-life, it can be stored and distributed on-demand.
  4. It has a learning curve—those who do it more will learn how to produce it at a lower cost.
  5. It has an economy of scale—the more you make of it, the less the unit cost.

Knowing this, you can start streamlining content production in the same way that products are manufactured in a factory. 

Factories excel at making large quantities of a product at a high level of speed, accuracy, and quality at the lowest price possible. At the same time, factories can make many different products to order using strategies that allow them to make many things out of a small set of fundamental units that can be recombined to make many “products.”

By applying this framework to content production, you can accelerate your demand and lead gen content cadence, drawing in more potential customers in the process.

The Creative Content River 

As an example of this idea in action, consider SOMAmetrics’ Creative Content River. The Creative Content River leverages modern manufacturing principles to produce high-quality content at a higher speed and lower cost that is difficult or impossible to match using internal content creation teams.

Through three key phases—designing, making, and delivering—the Creative Content River maximizes content output in a cost-effective fashion, which increases sales growth from marketing in the long term.

Download this white paper for more information about the Creative Content River and how you can drive sales growth through your content.

Lead Generation: Quality vs. Quantity

Which would you rather pass along to your sales team: a large number of leads of varying levels of quality, or a select handful of high-quality leads?

At first glance, a large number of leads might seem more valuable than a mere handful. More leads mean more opportunities to make sales, right? 

In reality, it’s not quite that simple. Experienced marketers know that the quality of a lead is the most important thing when it comes to increasing sales growth rates—far more important than the number of leads generated by your marketing efforts. In this case, less truly is more.

In this blog, we’ll explain how the quality of your leads positively impacts your sales pipeline value, and how this knowledge can help you increase your company’s sales growth rate.

Sales Pipeline Value—Quality is More Important than Quantity

Your sales pipeline value is the single most important thing impacting sales growth. Increasing your pipeline value is guaranteed to increase your sales growth rates.

But how, exactly, can a company increase the value of its sales pipeline? The answer is to increase the quality of leads in its pipeline. 

Hubspot defines sales pipeline value as “The total value of every qualified opportunity in your pipeline.” As you can see, this definition excludes unqualified leads entirely. The focus is entirely on qualified, high-quality leads who are likely to convert into sales.

To illustrate this idea, let’s refer back to the two scenarios we introduced above. What is the value of your sales pipeline in these two instances?

Scenario 1: Your company has a large number of leads of various quality levels in its sales pipeline.

  • With such a large number of leads, chances are that your pipeline is clogged with low-quality leads that are unlikely to convert into sales.
  • This results in a low-value sales pipeline. Deals are unlikely to close as your salespeople waste time on leads that only result in dead ends.

Scenario 2: Your company has a smaller number of high-quality leads in its sales pipeline.

  • These leads are genuinely interested in purchasing your product, which means that they are more likely to speak with your sales team and eventually purchase your product.
  • The result is a high-value sales pipeline. Without low-quality leads sapping your sales team’s time, your salespeople can focus on the handful of high-quality leads that are likely to convert into sales, which will increase your sales growth rate.

As these scenarios demonstrate, the key to increasing the value of your sales pipeline is to find leads that will actually convert into sales. The rest—all of the low-quality leads that are unlikely to talk to sales—will end up wasting your sales team’s limited time. 

But how can you separate the high-quality leads from the rest? What are the signs of a high-quality lead? And how can you ensure that you generate high-quality leads through your marketing efforts?

What We Mean By “High-Quality Leads”

Let’s define what we mean when we talk about lead quality. 

The hallmark of a low-quality lead is a lack of interest in talking to sales. Your lead generation efforts might capture low-quality leads for a variety of reasons—perhaps the lead was simply researching your product or industry with no intention to buy. Maybe they simply don’t have the budget to purchase at this time. Whatever the specific reason, these leads are unlikely to make a purchase, no matter how effective your sales team is. 

So, what defines a high-quality lead, then? A high-quality lead is highly motivated and well-informed and is therefore ready to act sooner rather than later. High-quality leads have the organizational power and influence to find the budget to make a purchase. Both the motivation and the power to act must be present at the same time.

With these key characteristics, high-quality leads will be responsive to your sales team’s efforts. They are more likely to purchase faster, at a higher rate, and larger average deal size, all of which ultimately increases your sales growth rate

How can marketers reach these leads? Through well-researched and engaging content that addresses your prospects’ specific pain points, you can attract the high-quality leads your company needs to maximize its sales growth rate.

For more information on how lead quality impacts sales growth rates, and how to generate them, download this white paper.

What Different Types of B2B Buyers Are Looking For

B2B Buyers Are Becoming More Like B2C

Like all consumers, B2B buyers are flooded with marketing messages each day. In the digital era, we’re all used to accessing information and making purchases at the touch of a button. Your company only has a micro-moment to make an impression on a buyer before they click or scroll away, moving on to the next thing. This could be your only chance to capture their attention.

To make matters worse, B2B buyers overwhelmingly prefer to spend less time with sales—on average, they spend a mere 5% of their buying journey with any given sales rep. They spend more of their purchasing journey with your content, researching online for themselves to determine if your product is right for their company’s needs—which means your content has to appeal directly to them to convince them to seriously consider purchasing. 

Altogether, this means that B2B buyers are approaching the buying process more like B2C consumers. Informed by their experiences in the B2C space, B2B buyers expect a more intuitive and immediate buying experience than ever before. Forward-thinking experts in B2B marketing are already aligning B2B sales activities with their B2C counterparts, using virtual reality and other virtual experiences to reach potential buyers. 

To keep up with these rapid changes and design the right content experience for a specific target market, it’s more important than ever for B2B marketers to have a complete understanding of their buyers. 

B2B Buyer Types

Different buyers have different buying habits. Some prioritize getting the best deal, while others are more worried about falling behind because they haven’t purchased the latest product. Knowing the differences between these buyer types will inform how you structure your content experience as a marketer.

Below, you’ll find the three main types of buyers in the B2B space.

  1. Visionaries (or Early Adopters)

Visionaries are constantly looking for a significant competitive advantage, a capability that does not exist yet, a “game-changer” that nobody else has. Improvements have to be in orders of magnitude (5X, 10X). Cost is not the priority. They are willing to accept projected ROI. Perceived gain always outweighs the risk in the buying decision.

  1. Pragmatists (or Early Majority)

Pragmatists take pride in being rational, practical, and objective in their decision-making process. They accept change as inevitable but do not precipitate it and they don’t believe in “game-changers.” They look for demonstrable incremental improvements, case studies, and quantifiable ROI. Cost is not the primary concern, but it is factored in the ROI calculation.

  1. Conservatives (or Late Majority)

Finally, conservatives hate to change unless forced to so due to regulation, customer demands, obsolete products, etc. They do not believe that things get better. In fact, they really believe that things are getting worse, more complicated, harder to use, and more expensive. Cost and brand are everything. They typically buy the cheapest of something they already use all the time.

How to Use This Knowledge to Create Content That Converts

Why, exactly, is it so important to know what types of buyers dominate your target market? The answer is simple: your understanding of your buyers is one of your most valuable assets. Marketers have to know who is in their target market, what they want, and how they make purchases.

Knowing this, marketers can design campaigns that appeal directly to their target market. For example, maybe your target market is full of frugal and conservative buyers who prefer to save their money. You can implement this knowledge in your content by emphasizing the cost-effectiveness of your product. Or maybe your target market is dominated by visionary buyers. In this case, you should frame your product as a cutting-edge, innovative game-changer to maximize your appeal. Finally, pragmatists would most likely appreciate a discussion of the objective facts associated with purchasing your product.

Knowledge of your target market’s buyer type not only informs what you include in your content but the type of content you choose to create as well. Conservative buyers would likely be drawn to money-saving content types, like an advertisement for a coupon or a free trial. Visionaries, on the other hand, could prefer a white paper or a webinar detailing the latest innovation in their field. 

There are many different ways to approach content creation, but the crux of creating content that converts your prospects into sales is implementing your in-depth knowledge of your target market. This is what makes you stand out from the competition. However, we know that content creation is costly—to do it right, you need a team of full-time employees, which is a huge cost in payroll alone for the average marketing budget.

Instead of hiring an in-house team, consider subscribing to receive the level of creative content you need through a service like SOMAmetrics’ Creative Content River.™ Download this white paper, Content That Converts, for more information on how a subscription works to convert your prospects into sales.

The Importance of Behavioral Science in B2B Marketing

There is a common misconception in B2B marketing that businesses are rational entities—meaning that they respond to rational marketing messages—as opposed to consumers who respond to emotional messages. In thinking this way, marketing teams forget about the humans behind the businesses. 

The B2B Institute calls this the “objectivity trap”—people generally assume that buyers are simply rational, profit-seeking entities that don’t suffer from the same decision-making biases as consumers.

A new phrase seems to be catching on, “there is no such thing as B2B or B2C, only H2H” (human-to-human). This phrase is a reminder that regardless of the target audience (companies or consumers), we’re always working with and selling to human beings.

B2B sellers can greatly benefit from applying behavioral sciences to their marketing. Behavioral science takes into consideration the various decision-making defaults that people rely on that push them to take a desired action. It’s the science behind what makes a prospect open an email, click on a call-to-action, or make a purchase. 

Sellers that have fallen into the B2B “objectivity trap” are missing valuable opportunities to put behavioral thinking to work. 

One large area of focus in behavioral science is cognitive biases, which are systematic patterns of deviation from rational judgement. By identifying the main biases that may affect their prospects, sellers can frame and present their products in a way that better deals with those biases.

For example, sellers that are marketing new, innovative products will need to address the status quo bias. People can be generally averse to change and may prefer to stick to the systems they know well. The status quo bias may make it extremely difficult for sellers to market their cutting-edge products if they don’t take it into account when marketing.

To counteract the status quo bias, sellers can address common concerns they think their prospects will have. For example, maybe prospects are concerned about how their roles will be affected by this new system, rather than considering the vast benefits of this new solution. Taking these concerns into account will help sales teams craft an appropriate strategy.

Another important bias that behavioral sciences has noted is the false consensus effect. This effect indicates that people tend to overestimate the extent to which other people are similar to them, leading sales teams to project their own lifestyle and beliefs on audiences. As a result, sales teams tend to focus on channels and tactics that may not align with their target audience. One way to counteract this effect is to base marketing decisions on data, and to test value propositions and messaging before going live.

By taking the false consensus effect into consideration, sales teams can also use it to their advantage. Sales teams can make prospects feel that others in their industry are making smart decisions and encourage their prospects to make similar decisions in order to keep up. 

Clearly, cognitive biases can have a huge impact on the efficacy of marketing efforts. Behavioral sciences have identified nearly 200 cognitive biases that can affect how people make decisions, and these biases have significant implications for the way sellers design and run their marketing campaigns. 

When sellers fall into the “objectivity trap” and prefer the convenient idea that business are merely rational agents, they are leaving vast amount of economic value on the table by undervaluing the importance of behavioral sciences. Behind businesses are humans, and by understanding the biases that shape peoples’ decisions, marketing leaders can build effective campaigns that will drastically impact their contribution to their company’s sales growth.