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January 16, 2018

The Power of Content Marketing

The power of content marketing

GUEST: Vince Koehler, VP of Marketing at SBI

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You’ve no doubt heard the phrase “content is king,” but content alone is never enough. To be a successful content marketer, especially in the B2B world, you need to be plugged in to the sales side of things, and vice versa.

Vince Koehler, VP of Marketing for SBI, sat down with us to discuss optimizing the approach to content marketing and ways to ensure it’s aiding the sales effort. SBI is a sales consulting organization and producer of top tier content, including a podcast. In fact, they created one of the first sales content blogs on the internet.

Here’s what we learned from Koehler.

The Evolution of Content

Not long ago, most sales content was provided by technology vendors and articles were obvious to those already in the industry. “It always leads you to a trail to buying their technology,” Koehler said. “We made sure our content was way beyond the obvious.”

The Sales Benchmark Index (SBI) realized that it needed to constantly evolve its content each year to stay relevant. Instead of providing surface-level information, Koehler sought to understand the needs of the audience and provide insights that would actually help them.

Part of content evolution is being able to adapt and use new technologies, but also taking advantage of opportunities where technology hasn’t quite caught up. Koehler cites YouTube as an example – its mobile app requires viewers to keep their screens on to play content. SBI discovered this was problematic for many sales leaders who wanted to listen to videos at the gym without watching them. This buyer discovery lead SBI to create their own mobile app that gave their audience the content experience they were looking for.

“We love the darwinian aspect of content marketing,” Koehler said. “Those technologies that are out of alignment with the buyer get left behind.”

"We love the darwinian aspect of content marketing"

Harnessing Focus

According to Koehler, determining which topics to focus content on requires a level of discipline. Instead of jumping to the finish line and covering the latest trends, content marketers need to be doing the right level of buyer research, buyer segmentation and asking themselves how they can win over the competition.

“When done right, you’re earning brand preference and you’re doing it in a real pure way that’s helpful,” Koehler said. “If you’re offering up content that answers questions they have, they’re running down the hill toward you.”

"If you're offering up content that answers questions they have, they're running down the hill toward you"

Dealing With Challenges

To Koehler, the challenges of content marketing haven’t changed in recent years – the question remains the same: “When do you give up on something that doesn’t seem to be gaining traction?” 

Podcasts, for example, were an unknown. At first, they were more effort than reward for SBI, but eventually they paid off and are now one of SBI’s strongest marketing tools. Koehler is now facing a similar situation with high quality longform video – but he believes it’s a bet worth taking. “You have to have enough of the marketing engine producing a strong ROI to put down some bets that are going to pay off later,” Koehler said.

In order to guide content creation, it’s crucial to track and attribute ROI across the content spectrum. Koehler does this through two different views. The first view is basic table stakes – the marketing contribution of sourced leads coming into the funnel that are being influenced throughout the funnel. This requires a communication with sales. The second view is a deeper level of understanding about revenue attribution. This allows you to trace each dollar back and gives you the “why” and tells you where to invest more.

"You have to have a strong enough marketing engine"

What is Most Effective When Someone is Trying to Sell You?

We like to ask all of our podcast guests this question. Here’s how Koehler answered:

“What gets my attention is when it’s obvious it’s not a one-to-many message. When it’s obvious it’s somehow tailored to me but not in a fake way. I get 20 emails a day that look customized but then when they refer to my company name, it’s got LLC at the end of it and it’s coming out of a database."

Acceleration Insight

In every episode of the B2B Revenue Executive Experience, we try to pull one nugget of wisdom from our guests that they would impart on a sales professional. Here’s this one:

“Sales and marketing together need to embrace ABM. The most important aspect is the sale and marketing leaders sitting down and figuring out how to replace leads with opportunities, because the two truly work together. Because the sales leader, he just wants marketing to give him new logo leads that their salesforce wouldn't’ have gout without him. But the lower hanging fruit is cross-sell, upsell within major accounts where marketing through content, through one-to-one events, through true customer success marketing...you can harvest a lot more from the customer base. Sales and marketing need to work together on those core accounts and have a larger portion of the marketing spend go against helping sales pull in the largest whitespace they can.”

This post is based on a podcast interview with Vince Koehler, VP of Marketing at SBI. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to the B2B Revenue Executive Experience.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.