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Sales in times of COVID-19: personal content instead of personal contact

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What makes a good sales manager great? His sense for content in its situational and temporal context. In his case: personal content. Because personalized content with a sense of place and time is the way to really communicate with your target group and to promote your product or service in the right way.

What does personalized content look like in practice? Just Google ‘sales pitch’, and you will be presented a myriad of examples to choose from. Such as this one. Or look up ‘sales funnel’. And then you will read something along the lines of ‘a model that illustrates the theoretical customer journey toward the purchase of a good or service and that typically has the following basic stadia:

  1. Awareness
  2. Interest
  3. Decision
  4. Action
  5. Customer satisfaction
  6. Repeat purchase’
Content is king

“And that concludes the first fifteen minutes of lesson 1 of the beginner’s course in marketing”, you might be inclined to say. And I agree completely. But the point I want to make is that it is not simply a matter of pushing leads through a funnel. The key factor here is that you communicate with your target at every stage. Information, news, content, or whatever you call it, is crucial for this process.

And by content I do not only mean the content product as such, but I am referring to the entire circular ‘content process’. This process includes content monitoring (following trends, issues and relevant media in order to be able to respond quickly and to proactively express opinions) content creation (developing custom information, based on situation, time and person) and content distribution (distributing content to the right target groups using the appropriate channels).

 

 

Because content that is not tailor-made, that is not embedded in the right context and that does not reach the intended target group, is completely useless.

 

Let’s go back to the sales manager. As of March this year, he has been unable to properly market his products or services. Mainly because it turned out to be more difficult to properly communicate via Zoom and Teams than many of us – including the sales manager – initially thought. Both image and sound are present, but the content process is isn’t, because the personal approach has been severely frustrated by corona. Non-verbal aspects, for example, did not come across as well as they did in a personal meeting when the conversation was transferred to a 14 inch laptop. Spontaneity became a scheduled task, using Zoom or Teams.

 

Content automation

We were therefore not surprised that our new concept, content automation, raised quite a bit of attention among our clients. We introduced the concept as follows on our website:

“At an agency like ours, everything is about the content. Including marketing. So, although we use a marketing automation tool to help our clients automate their marketing processes and improve their lead generation and sales, we quite pertinaciously use the term ‘content automation’ for this service.

After all, good marketing is not a matter of using a scattergun and hit whoever you can.

Good marketing = good content, at the right time, aimed at the right target group.

And to establish that, we use an excellent tool that offers us a huge range of possibilities. A complicated process can be that simple.”

 

To put this in the right perspective: there is obviously more to content automation than simply using a tool. Otherwise anyone could be a content automation specialist. Content is king. The tool is nothing more than its private plane. It takes you where you need to be (or – in response to current events – where you really shouldn’t have been), but the king determines the destination.

To make things concrete, I would like to further explain the proposition that we have rolled out for a number of new clients. Obviously, details may vary depending on the client.

 

The Wisse Kommunikatie content automation concept
1. Preparations
  • Initial briefing by the client
  • messaging session with extended client delegation
  • additional research by Wisse Kommunikatie, including
    • media-audit
    • media partnerships for advertising and sponsored content
    • competitor analysis
    • SEO and SEA analysis,
    • website adaptations, both content and structure wise
2. Preparations for content automation
  • Set up client account in the marketing automation tool SharpSpring
  • Create the first campaigns, based on the content from phase 3
3. Content production

Production of content for all the phases in the customer journey. For example:

Phase customer journey Content product
Attention press release, infographic, blog, column
Interest webinar, whitepaper, event, client review
Desire demo, trial, data sheet, video tutorial, tips & tricks, strategic session, customer case
Action User manual, onboarding process, webinars, access to knowledge platform, kick-off event
Customer satisfaction Structural knowledge sharing, loyalty program, options for giving feedback
Repeat purchase Ads and special offers, authority and thought leadership-enhancing content, such as our Digital Executive Program

 

  • Corporate content production, with a stable undercurrent of corporate information, ad hoc opinions on issues and campaign-based marketing support

 

4. Content distribution

Using our tool we then distribute the information through the most efficient channels to our target groups, we keep track of the whereabouts of the people on their customer journey, and adjust the content where necessary.

5. Sales

And once this process of consultation and analysis, adaptation and design, content production, distribution and monitoring runs smoothly, the sales department can expect a constant flow of qualified leads. Leads that have been realized without personal contact, but instead with excellent personal content, with all the advantages that the combination of an automation tool and a personal approach yield.