One of the biggest trends in our industry in the last ten years or so is content marketing. It’s gotten to the point where it’s almost a buzzword, and many thought leaders have declared that its time has passed.

The reason for skepticism is that so many companies don’t do content marketing right. They spend time and money cranking out mediocre, non-targeted content… and when they don’t see results, they scrap it.

But the truth is content marketing, when done right, can help marketers accomplish very specific goals. Yes, it can even help sales. But you have to approach it the right way.

Here are some ways content can support your sales efforts:

Answer Customer Questions

This is perhaps the most obvious use of content marketing, but it’s one that’s often overlooked.

People like to research their purchase decisions, long before they contact any sales representatives. As part of that research process, customers will invariably have questions.

If you can be the one to answer those questions best, you can position your brand as a trusted resource and authority… bringing prospects into your sales funnel.

Tip for success: Answering customer questions requires that you know specifically what they are seeking. The best way to do that is to work closely with the sales team to align their field experience in overcoming objections for developing marketing content.

Tell Interesting Customer Stories

Everyone loves stories. Especially stories about others who are similar to them.

You can apply this concept to your content by telling stories about existing customers, and the interesting things they do in “project profiles”. The idea is to celebrate your customers — show what makes them unique — and recognize how they use your product or service to make their lives and work better.

It’s important, however, to keep your focus on the customer and put your product in its proper context.

Tip for success: No one knows your customers like your sales team, so work with them to identify customers with particularly interesting stories and outcomes.

Help With Product Configuration

If you have a product that’s complicated, offers many options, or needs to be configured for specific uses… content can be especially useful in helping your prospects to realize opportunities in becoming customers.

How? By having content that walks them through the configuration process. By showing them the options and decisions they’ll need to make, you’ll give them the knowledge and confidence they need. And what’s more, you’ll make the sales process go smoother.

Tip for success: Work closely with your sales team to understand the queries customers have when specifying a product.

If you were reading carefully, you saw that in each of the tips for success, we recommend getting cozy with your sales department. They are often your best resource for market and customer intelligence.

My favorite quote is from Philip Kotler, “the sales department isn’t the whole company, but the whole company better be the sales department.”

It only makes sense that, if you want to create content that helps the sales effort, your methodology will celebrate sales and marketing alignment process.