Content Marketing vs. Sales Enablement? Relax – We’re Both on the Same Team

January 28, 2015 | Brendan Cournoyer
Content Marketing vs. Sales Enablement? Relax – We’re Both on the Same Team

Red Sox vs. Yankees.

PlayStation vs. Xbox.

Justin Bieber vs. shirts.

sales-enablement-vs-content-marketing

These are rivalries, with each party battling for supremacy over the other at all times. And let’s face it – sometimes it gets ugly.

But content marketing vs. sales enablement? That’s no heated rivalry. It’s not even a mild disagreement. On the contrary; it’s actually a straight-up love fest.

Not everyone agrees, unfortunately. Recently, someone sent me an article from VentureBeat that literally pits the two against each other, titled Content in Crisis: Content Marketing vs. Sales Enablement. The post proposes the premise that while content marketing is incredibly popular, it may not really be all that effective, and asks if B2Bs should instead invest more time and money in sales enablement tools and more traditional outbound marketing practices.

This argument is primarily driven by one of the main sources for the article; a CEO for a company that just happens to generate lead lists for sales teams using tactics that have nothing to do with content marketing. (To the writer’s credit, he actually has some fun calling this fact out in the post.)

And you know what? That’s fine. Everyone is entitled to his or her (somewhat-biased-but-whatever) opinion. 

The larger issue (to me at least) is that the premise of the post is based on a misconception that a lot of folks out there still seem to have: that content marketing and inbound marketing are the same thing. It's just not the case. In fact, let’s put it in bold: content marketing and inbound marketing are NOT the same thing.

Inbound marketing is about attracting target customers to YOU, primarily via the web, by providing the resources and information those audiences crave. Naturally, content is a major part of that – but it doesn’t end there. A great content strategy can fuel all aspects of your marketing engine, delivering the resources needed for areas like email and demand generation, events, and – more commonly – sales enablement.

In a B2B environment, content marketing and sales enablement aren’t at odds; they work together. Now more than ever, sales reps rely on the right content to support their sales conversations. For example:

  • Relevant content that gets the attention of contacts during the prospecting stage

  • Resources to share as part of social selling efforts

  • Testimonials, case studies and customer stories to provide later in the sales cycle

  • Articles that educate reps on the latest trends, buyer interests, key challenges, and so on

  • Blog posts on product updates that keep current customers informed and encourage renewals

I could go on and on. All of these are examples of content that fit into the sales enablement process, and more and more often, it’s the B2B marketing and content teams that are responsible for delivering these resources. And of course, this is in addition to how content marketing can help generate higher quality (and less costly) leads for sales reps to engage with in the first place.

Now you might ask, “Wait a second – you’re a content marketer, and Brainshark provides content-based sales enablement solutions. Aren’t you biased, too?” To which I would respond, “Why are you interrupting me? I’m trying to finish this article!”

OK, just kidding – I see your point. But this isn’t just my opinion here, it’s the truth. It’s how a lot of successful B2Bs operate these days, and for good reason. Content marketing and sales enablement are both (BOTH!) incredibly important. It’s not a matter of one or the other; they work together to create stronger customer relationships, more valuable sales conversations, and ultimately, more deals for the company.

Remember, content isn’t just a bunch of silly blog posts – it’s now become the message you deliver to buyers. And no matter how many lists of leads you generate for your sales team, without the right message, what exactly are your reps going to say?

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