By Robert Pease, CMO Practice Lead for Heinz Marketing

This is part two in an eight-part series on the keys to marketing greatness in 2015.  Part one focused on demand generation.

in 2015 and leading up to our webinar on November 6 where we will cover them in detail, today we are covering the topic of Content Marketing.

Content is the lifeblood of the modern sales cycle with prospects gathering and consuming information earlier in the process then ever before.  Your content needs to be able to stand alone without the assistance of a sales representative yet still achieve the desired end state when it is consumed be that the next piece of content or direct engagement in a buying process.

What you provide and how is definitely important but more important is mapping your content marketing efforts to the buyer’s journey and the personas that navigate it.  This is easier said than done with differences in the ways people buy and even who is involved in the purchase decision.

Focus on the persona and tailor your content to them are great rules of thumb.  Always write or create with this profile in mind and anticipate what the next question or concern might be.  Avoid being too salesy or writing rigid marketing copy.  Rather focus on the conversation and realize, especially in more complex B2B buying scenarios, that there will many points of engagement before a decision is made.  Make the most of each of those opportunities with great content that is tightly targeted at defined audiences and carries your message clearly.

Now that you understand these dimensions of the sales and marketing content equation focus on optimizing “how” content is consumed.

Short videos, shareable links, visual ebooks all map to consumer content consumption behaviors.  We watch our activity stream in Facebook with images, videos, and other quickly actionable inputs so where appropriate map your content development efforts to this model.

Track and measure how your content is used and even what pieces contribute to accelerating a prospect through the sales cycle to closed customer.  This closed loop view is rare but understand that the whole reason you are creating content is to drive interest at the top of the funnel and remove friction as a prospect journeys through buying decision in the sales pipeline.

Know what works where and design sales playbooks to give your sales team the best odds of having meaningful engagement and shortened sales cycles.

Join us November 6th for more on this and seven more keys to marketing domination in 2015.