Sales and Marketing Software

Who is Thinking About Content?

By Bob Johnson, VP & Principal Analyst 

Sales Automation, Marketing Automation or CRM: Who is Thinking About Managing the Content Portfolio?

Take a look at automation tools as vendors strive to one-up each other with features, integration, accessibility and analytics. They all tout how they have a better way to manage processes, drive programs and convert prospects into revenue.  But in the end they all risk losing market position because they lack a willingness to tackle the toughest job of all: to profile, categorize and manage digital content.Curating is central to any path that offers long-term success for customers and the vendor(s) that address it with more than lip service are destined to win.

It is exciting to invest in a sales, marketing and/or CRM system with newfangled functionality that intends to save time, improve consistency and performance. The lines between these areas continue to blur coordinated by marketing or sales operations and sometime IT, each of whom work diligently to put more science into the art of customer pursuit.

Within vendor organizations, teams work with these tools for inbound, outbound and sales enablement, touching multiple functions. But the use of these tools are mostly campaign, quarterly or sales-cycle focused to fill funnels, drive processes, manage pipelines, generate reports, prioritize target accounts and deliver customer information.  Important, yes, but a big void remains - who will pay attention to the millions of dollars sunk into existing content and new digital content creation? Which my back of envelope calculations for the technology industry reveals to be in excess of $400 million spent yearly, just in the United States.

Long-term efforts to leverage content into revenue has a major flaw in that almost all content is not profiled by buying stage, role, focus, topical focus and/or value area. It remains “asset profile” challenged and that puts it gently. So who is responsible for making the content portfolio “smarter” within your organization? Most continue to ignore getting a handle on the content portfolio, except around an immediate campaign-driven need, in fact they see it as rear-view dirty work that will only tell them that their portfolio is misaligned with buyer needs or, to put it another way, that their baby is ugly. Who has the executive role to place demands on the organization to get this critical job done? Right now, no incentives, no goals, no rewards, and no requirements equals no progress. But it requires a mandate which is highlighted by  a client of ours who did take a step in the right direction. They built a standalone tool to enable existing assets to be profiled internally and then gave the go-ahead for the business units to proceed. They got nothing but malicious compliance, a kind of “we’re doing it” or “we’ll do it when we can get around to it mentality.” Nothing happened. It is a central issue that Marketing and Sales executives must come together on as a priority to ultimately enable and drive strategic imperatives on many levels.

But wait, there is an outside responsibility here. That is amongst automation vendors, cloud-based or otherwise who have not, in any significant way, addressed the content conundrum with assessment processes, content frameworks or asset profile-based fields. They must be held responsible for giving customers the product functionality to make efforts to get a handle on the portfolio and profile it to actually mean something in ongoing execution. On the flip side, you as an executive must take responsibility to press automation vendors to deliver better content-related functionality. At least to provide the ability to incorporate research based buyer preferences around content types and formats based upon buying team role and focus. Hello? Hello?

So, IDG Connect calls all sales automation, marketing automation and CRM vendors. Let’s make this happen for customers. Let’s work to bring this functionality into the realm of reality, to the benefit of customers, not for revenue but because it is a critical mission. Or, if you’re an automation customer let’s talk about how we can arm you with some of our research to increase vendor/customer discussion and drive better content management focus and action.


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Bob Johnson

VP & Principal Analyst, IDG Connect

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