The problems created by sales and marketing misalignment in content creation can be huge.
There’s no getting away from the simple fact that Sales and Marketing are two different beasts, yet surprisingly, even today many fail to understand this fundamental.
There are company executives (not very good ones) who persistently think in terms of sales and marketing as being synonymous. Then there are those who think that the sales department is a division of marketing.
And that is before we get to the ones who think that marketing is a division under sales.
Confused? You shouldn’t be, but the fact remains that the differences between the two can cause more grief than almost anything else within the marketing-sales cycle of a business.
The difference between sales and marketing
If there are problems in this area in a company, it’s usually lack of understanding or even comprehension about what the other team does – and this can provoke lack of respect – or appreciation – for what ‘they’ do.
Here’s a quick story to give an example:
There was a sales professional recently who worked for a national company. They pointed out to the marketing director that the marketing lead generation team (tele-canvassers) were being paid per appointment made – and that this was a mistake. They then suggested that instead, the income of the marketing team should be partially tied to the success of the sales conversion rate of the leads they each generated. This would, it was pointed out, closer align the goals of the two departments and overall benefit the business, as the two would then be working together, not against each other.
The suggestion to the marketing director was met with a blank face and profound confusion.
The problem with the setup – as you can probably already see – is that the marketers would make an appointment with anyone – valid prospect or not – which earned them their pay but wasted the sales team’s time and efforts by often sending them on pointless, unqualified trips.
Essentially this deal always results in a trade-off of Marketing KPIs vs. Sales KPIs. And a lot of animosities.
OK – that’s standard for probably 50% of businesses up and down the UK – but what has that got to do with content creation?
Sales and marketing misalignment in content creation
The point of the story above (a true one, as it happens) is the fact that sales and marketing have different objectives – within their own departments – yet they are, of course, working towards the same goal – a sale.
When they become too inward-looking and too focussed on department targets, they lose sight of the company purpose. Then, when Sales comes along and asks for some marketing material – a brochure or a video, for example – without due care, Marketing will conjure up an amazing 6-minute video highlighting all the main features of the company’s product.
When, in fact, what the sales team needed was a 90-second overview of the product’s 3 main benefits to the customer.
Worse still is the situation that often occurs, when a marketing department produces marketing materials, and the sales team produce their sales content. When this happens, there is often no continuity or maintenance of the standard. This results in confused customers and out of sync content through the sales process.
What we are really talking about here, of course, is communication.
Lack of communication – and therefore understanding – results in almost all the difficulties experienced between sales and marketing departments within a business.
Lack of communication creates a content creation gap – and the result is a misalignment of sales and marketing campaigns – or worse.
How to bridge the content creation gap
Plan all your campaigns together
Plan, plan some more and then make sure you have planned everything.
Sales and marketing campaigns need to be planned together – with each understanding and agreeing with what the other is doing.
Marketing content (printed or video) and initial outreaches take time to plan and create – so plenty of time needs to be built into the campaign planning.
And content needs to be planned together in detail – to ensure continuity and syncing of ideas / visual appearance etc.
Rather than working separately, sales and marketing heads need to work as a team.
Of course, in practical terms this will be different for everyone – for a small firm, this may be just two people meeting up once a week. For a large enterprise, this may require a ‘task-force’ make up of staff from both departments, working together for some time.
Content creation hack: Have a checklist of essentials that you need to work through – together – for each content project. That way, you’ll never miss a thing, and you will always know where you are at and where everyone else is.
This could be a simple spreadsheet, a Kanban board or any project management app – depending on what works for you. But have your list of items mapped out and stick to it.
Find what works for you – but above all else – communicate.
Keep focussed on the goal, not just your KPIs
Yes, KPIs are important – they tell you where you are at compared to what is expected. But if their importance overshadows the purpose of the business, then they are no longer helping you.
Thomas Watson Sr – one-time president of IBM in the early part of the 20th century said it well:
“Nothing happens until a sale is made”
Making a sale is the fundamental business of almost every business. So keep one eye on your KPIs – but keep the other on your company mission.
As far as content creation goes – have KPIs for your content production. For marketing, set targets and monitor the success of each stage of the content as it is rolled out – but always be asking questions such as ‘does this make the sales process easier?’ and ‘will this actually contribute to a sale being made?’
And don’t just ask yourself – ask the sales team!
In reality, of course, to keep focussed on your goal, you will be keeping a close eye on your sales KPIs, but what you really need to be doing as well, is monitoring how your marketing is directly assisting and leading to sales. It’s not enough to know that marketing has produced X leads; you need to measure the quality of those leads and, for example, how many of those result in sales.
This works the other way around as well – the sales team need to be doing the same thing when producing content – and constantly referring back to marketing for input.
In other words – stop seeing marketing and sales as two discrete functions; they are not. They are two parts of one process.
Content works best when it is planned and streamlined from the start to the end of the sales process – but the sales process begins with marketing.
Content creation hack: Keep your eye on the goal, and keep asking others for feedback.
You have probably already noticed, but this is just another way to say keep communicating!
Always write a video brief
Another problem point – and this is especially true of video content creation – is that you may have one particular idea in your head about how a video will look – but your videographer may have another!
You need to communicate what is planned inside your mind to the videographer, film editor and anyone else involved.
A video brief is a great tool which you should always be used if you are not directing or shooting a video yourself – and even then they can be useful.
As a bare minimum, a video brief is a list of descriptions and anticipated visual outcomes that you expect to see from your video.
A good brief will include just about all the information drawn from the previous areas we have already discussed above – and set them down in a written form.
A really great video brief will also cover other aspects – such as what you hope the final video will achieve and how you plan to measure its success.
Content creation hack: Always use a written video brief. It not only clearly communicates your vision onto paper, along with useful metrics and other detail, but the act of writing it all down clarifies in your own head what may (up to this point) still be a woolly and confusing idea. Video briefs enable clarity.
In essence, a video brief is the hymn sheet that you want everyone singing off.
In fact, we think that the video brief is so important, we have covered it in more detail in How to write a comprehensive video brief.
If we had to sum all this up in one word, it would be communication, but it is equally important to know how to communicate, as well as when and what to communicate, and who with.
Although we have mostly been discussing video content – the same rules apply for photography or, indeed, any kind of visual content that you need to produce – digital or physical.
As Henry Ford once said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”
The trick is to move forward together.