By Kath Walters

There should be a special word for the feeling of dread we feel when the phones fall silent in any business. Call it what you will, we all know what it means: we might be busy now, but we will not be busy for long. There are problems ahead. Tight cash flow. Too much time and not enough to do. Lying awake at night scouring the corners of our minds for solutions.

The rise of content marketing — wonderful as it has been for brand building — has created a false sense of security about sales. We’ve been led to believe that our content marketing program will generate sales leads. Publish and the phones will ring, the content marketing agencies tell us. But, like the guys who sold the picks and shovels on the goldfields, their sales are a surer bet than ours.

We work hard on our content strategy. We create and share great content. Silence.

So we start calling the digital marketing agencies for search engine optimisation. Then we call the inbound marketing and sales software companies to automatically send welcome emails to new subscribers, and then automatically stalk them with follow-up emails.

The bills add up. And still the phone is not ringing.

As marketers, we know that our content is building the company’s brand and reputation. We’ve done the work to segment and understand our market and our prospects. We create and share stories on relevant topics that have heaps of value. Why doesn’t that kind of brand reputation convert into revenue?

Use content to generate sales

Content marketing is like a radio show: it broadcasts our message. Sales are like talkback: it’s a one-to-one conversation.

The goal of content marketing is to shift our relationship with prospects from potential to actual. From broadcast to talkback. From telling to listening.

Here’s the secret: use the content you create to start a real one-on-one conversation with prospective clients.

Content is the bridge. It’s the door-opener for conversations. Why does it work? Because content is about give, not take. It focuses the conversation on your prospect. It’s not about us. Content is about value. And what do our clients buy from us? The value we provide to them.

Next time the phones fall silent, try sharing some of your content with a prospective client and inviting an open conversation. That is the way we build relationships and sales.