A few weeks ago, my family and I spent eight days in Walt Disney World. It was the first time my kids (ages four and five) had ever been, so it was a truly magical experience. And we learned something about our son, Jack, while we were there—he LOVES speed!
This presented a problem when we’d ride the traditional kiddie rides or Disney’s (many) meandering boat rides. “Why isn’t this ride fast? When can we ride a fast ride? What’s the fastest ride?” Jack had a need for speed that was unquenchable.
While listening to my son’s interrogations about speed, I couldn’t help but recall similar questions from clients: “Why does it take so long to nurture a lead? When will our content campaign actually produce a sale? What’s the fastest way to get a cold lead to be sales ready?” It turns out that executives share my son’s need for speed (which bodes well for his future career, I hope).
Most content doesn't convert to sales (or sales opportunities) very fast... if ever.
At Bonfire Effect, questions like these from client executives have led us to make a critical confession about content: Most content doesn’t convert to sales (or sales opportunities) very fast… if ever.
Let that sink in for a minute. If you’re like most marketers, you’ve heard “content is king” preached like it was gospel truth for the past decade. Maybe you’ve invested in content creation—blogs, videos, social posts, infographics, eBooks, and more. And what do you have to show for all of that content?
If you didn’t do things right, all you have is an impressive pile of content. If you DID do things right, then maybe you also have a large and engaged email list and social following… and maybe that means you’re top of mind for those followers. It may also mean that you rank high on high-value search terms, making your website easy to find. And if your marketing and sales teams are aligned with each other, it might even mean that your sales team has a library of relevant content to share with their opportunities to help answer questions and objections that come up.
Now don’t get me wrong, none of that is bad. But it takes a LONG time to see results. You need tons of consistent content production over the course of months or years before you see decent SEO results. You need to constantly stay in front of your prospects to make sure they think of you when they decide they’re ready to buy. And you often need to ping those prospects dozens of times before they are motivated to take action.
So what if there was a better way? What if there was a way to quit the content time and budget suck? Or if you really love content, what if you could still produce all of that content to drive traffic, and then once an ideal prospect hit your website, they were immediately dropped into a nurturing fast-track that took them from cold to sales ready in days (instead of months)?
For the past couple years, Bonfire has been perfecting a strategy to quickly move cold (or even stale) B2B leads to sales-ready B2B leads in days, and I want to share what we’ve discovered.
5 Content Accelerators
First off, every good piece of content moves leads toward a sales conversation. Some content moves them down the buyer’s journey a little, while other content moves them A LOT. And it turns out there are five consistent accelerators that determine how far (and how fast) a piece of content will carry a lead:
1. Value of the Pain Solved
High-velocity content solves a very real and tangible pain for the prospect. The bigger the pain (measured in financial or emotional terms), the more motivated the prospect will be to take action.
2. Completeness of the Solution
High-velocity content provides a clear roadmap for solving the prospect’s pain, instead of just flirting with a small piece of the solution. This doesn’t mean you give every detail, but it does mean you give a very clear overview of exactly how to solve the pain (and perhaps provide some details around one to two pieces of the puzzle). The more of the solution you provide, the more reciprocity you elicit from your prospect (which makes them want to do something for you).
3. Feasibility of the Solution Provided
High-velocity content gives the prospect a solution they can actually implement right away. It doesn’t require them to buy something from you or drastically change their situation before they can get started.
4. Covers Every Step of the Buyer’s Journey
High-velocity content walks the prospect through every step of the buyer’s journey. It attracts with a tangible “top-of-funnel” promise (“solve XYZ pain”), elicits a “middle-of-funnel” desire to solve their pain in a specific way (which is supported by your offering), and leaves them with a “bottom-of-funnel” conviction that you are the best provider of the solution they now desire.
5. Momentum of Action
This is the hardest attribute to understand and get right. High-velocity content gets the client moving NOW. You can do this by making the content available for only a short period of time (for instance, a live event or live webinar both have to be consumed at a specific time… they can’t be “saved for later”). You can also do this by promoting a limited-time offer in the content (hint: it often works better to offer a “free deep-dive consult this week” than to offer discounts or bonuses for purchase… especially when selling to businesses). The key is that you want there to be some urgency to consume the content and take a next-step action right away.
When you think about your latest blog post, how many of these attributes does it check? And don’t even bother comparing even your best social media posts. If you’ve done things right, then you might have a white paper that checks three to four of these five boxes. But the absolute best way to check all five boxes and accelerate leads through the sales funnel is to…
Host a Live Event
Live events, when done strategically, leverage all five accelerators listed above. In fact, they are almost the only kind of “content” that can legitimately leverage the “momentum of action” accelerator since they have a built-in time limitation (you have to register before the event and before seats are all taken, and you have to actually attend the event to get the value).
And while live events used to be complex and expensive to host, it is now easy to host a live virtual event in the form of a webinar. You save yourself most of the costs of hosting the event, and you save your prospects the friction of travel, parking, annoying small talk (okay, some of us like this one), etc. They can enjoy from the comfort of their home or office (and so can you!).
If high-quality webinars are not part of your lead-generation and marketing funnel, then you are leaving revenue on the table—period.
This is why we have found webinars to be the number-one highest-converting and highest-ROI channel for B2B and B2G clients alike—moving cold leads to qualified warm leads in as little as a week. If high-quality webinars are not part of your lead-generation and marketing funnel, then you are leaving revenue on the table—period.
But before you dive in blindly, you must keep in mind that a great webinar is not simply a good presentation. There is a very specific formula for building a webinar that generates sales-ready leads at twice the rate of any similar investment. The best webinars:
- Build rapport
- Teach something valuable
- Do not pitch
- Give a next step for marketing-qualified leads (MQLs)
Now… What to Do With Long-Tail Content
Okay, now that we’ve (used a blog post to) bash blog posts and social media, let’s talk about how those tactics and content types CAN be used to drive leads… AFTER you have your high-velocity foundation laid.
Since the value of long-tail content is primarily bringing traffic to your website, you can focus on converting that traffic into your high-velocity content (i.e., your webinar). Use strategic CTAs, inline links in your articles, etc. to drive prospects to register for your webinar.
When your prospect isn’t ready for a sales conversation, even after the webinar, you can also use your existing content to further nurture that lead using your marketing automation platform (click here to read our guide for finding the right platform for you). Just be sure to include opportunities to register for future webinars in that nurturing plan—always giving leads a fast track to become sales ready.
There’s probably a place in your marketing plan for long-tail content, like blogs, social media, short videos, infographics, and more; however, you should ALWAYS invest first in a foundation of high-velocity content that quickly moves the right leads from cold to sales ready in a matter of days (not months). Once you have that foundation, then you can continue driving traffic using your long-tail (low-velocity) content...always looking for ways to get that traffic opted in to your (high-velocity) webinars. While high-velocity content might require more time and investment upfront, this approach will save you a lot of sweat, time, and dollars down the road.
And remember, the best high-velocity content available to you is a webinar. The good news is that you don’t need a new webinar every week… just a few great webinars every year will do. So focus on quality, not quantity.
With all of that said, if you’d like to learn more about this process and get detailed steps, check out one of our upcoming online training events on using webinars to double your sales-ready B2B leads.
And if you’re looking for somebody to jump in the foxhole with you, then check out our two options for getting help in creating your own high-velocity funnel using our SalesFlume system.
About the Author
Aaron Owens is the Strategy Director for Bonfire Effect. His strategies have helped double and triple growth rates for companies across energy, tech, government services, health and wellness, and manufacturing.