great content unfair advantage

How Great Content is Your Unfair Advantage with Paul Selway

Talk about a career arc.

Paul Selway got his start working in technology for England’s Ministry of Defense (or rather “Defence”) before diving into the world of sales and management consulting.

In 2008, he and James Smale founded Redpath Consulting, a full-service Salesforce and Pardot consulting and implementation company based in Minneapolis. He chatted with me about sales- marketing alignment, how to justify a marketing budget and the extreme sales advantage of good content.

This transcript has been edited for readability and clarity.

Nels: You spent a lot of time as a management and sales consultant before starting your own consultancy. Tell me about Redpath and why you started it.

Paul: I spent thirteen years in technology, mostly with the Ministry of Defence in England and learned a lot about software and hardware. After that I moved into the software-development side and learned a lot about that life cycle.

I then moved into a management consultant role, where I started to focus on solving the business problems for the wealth management market and then more laterally at a healthcare life sciences market.

I came across Salesforce when I opened my first consultancy, helping a financial company implement the platform for 6,500 users. I was on the team that managed for quality control and assurance.

I was totally intrigued with the technology because I could build things without having to code it and then deploy it and then recode it. I could do it declaratively with different configurations and I got really excited about it.

So in 2008, Jim [Smale] and I started Redpath.

N: As a sales- and management-minded person, tell me about your relationship to content and content marketing.

P: People have moved from engaging with the traditional channels of content like magazines, radio and TV to a more passive, digital engagement. And what I’ve found is it’s very easy to send people emails and texts or social media posts, but it’s also very easy not to engage them using these mediums. The answer to this, of course, is creating compelling content, which to Redpath means content that educates while building the Redpath brand. It’s also really important to us to create content that has a clear next step for readers. A powerful, engaging CTA is one of the most important elements of any piece of content.

N: What are some of the ways you measure return on your content investment?

P: There’s a famous saying that I’m sure all marketers know: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

[INFOGRAPHIC: How to Measure Content Marketing]

With Salesforce’s marketing automation, sales, campaign and customer service engines, this isn’t true anymore. We can actually assign a dollar amount to the content, and we can pinpoint the piece of content a prospect first interacted with and identify the series of content that led up to that first call. So for me, as a manager, I can easily justify my marketing budget because I can see how much revenue is coming in the pipeline because of it.

N: Is that how you advise your clients to talk or think about content as well?

P: Yes. We frequently see is a “spray and pray” approach and that every once in a while, they’ll reach a prospect and get some business.

But what we encourage (and what we use marketing automation for) is really more targeted efforts with high-quality content. At the end of the day, if you send out eight bits of content and four people respond, that’s much better than sending out a thousand bits of content to get the same response.

So we’re really looking for that targeted, on-point messaging and mass personalization.

N: Has Salesforce’s acquisition of Pardot changed your business and how has marketing automation as a whole changed the marketing field?

P: Exact Target is a pretty amazing C2C platform and was acquired by Salesforce to become their Marketing Cloud. Before that, Exact Target acquired Pardot, a B2B marketing automation engine.

As we’ve been building our business, not only do we sell and consult on Pardot and Marketing Cloud, we use it internally for all our digital marketing. From our point of view, the ability to get that granular ROI, down to the content itself, has enabled us to do more with less.

We can send mass personalized messages out and estimate what the likely response will be. For us that’s wonderful because justifying a marketing budget is always tough, and I think having another sound data point when it comes to budget and ROI planning is a game-changer for everyone.

N: What challenges does that come with? Where are people struggling when it comes to implementing marketing automation?

P: From our customers, the biggest challenges are with content. Marketing automation is only as powerful as the content you’re feeding it. If you send out bad or stale content or content that isn’t engaging, you’re just another spam block. Not only that, but you could damage your brand.

A lot of customers think they can buy the tool, turn it on and suddenly the money starts rolling in. And that’s a poor misconception. Without a marketing or content strategy you’re likely to just do bad stuff faster.

N: How has the relationship between the sales and marketing departments changed in the last five to ten years?

P: In the old days, marketing used to send leads to sales and sales used to ignore them.

Sales never spoke to customer service so they’d turn up a customer and would be surprised they’d received a marketing communication or had several open support tickets.

Now, with Salesforce being a single process and data hub, sales and marketing are becoming much more aligned. Sales is now driving marketing and marketing is driving sales. So there’s a symbiotic value developing that traditionally isn’t there in a lot of organizations.

Also, customer services are becoming part of it because they’re also feeding leads and opportunities to the top of the pipeline and informing marketing based on things they hear from the call center. Having all that information in one place gives salespeople an enormous advantage.

Imagine you’re a salesperson and you go into the first meeting with a prospect. You can either blow it or knock it out of the park. You might want to know the client went to three events or received several eBooks and seems very engaged. You may also want to know if this prospect has been in the news. Are they going bankrupt? Are they being acquired? Did they sign a big new contract?

[RELATED: How Content Accelerates Lead Generation]

If a salesperson has that information, chances are they would out-perform a competitor. Today, knowledge gives you that performance advantage.

With all of that knowledge going into an artificial intelligence, predictive model, it will tell salespeople which leads to call and which opportunities to focus on based on prior behavior over multiple years.

So then, the salesperson can look at a thousand leads from marketing and call each one. OR they can see the top ten. Or the top 20.

N: What’s the best advice you have ever received?

P: Less is more and quality is king.

These days, people have information overload. It takes a lot to get them to call you so you have to wow them with content.

You typically only get one chance and it doesn’t take much to hit the “unsubscribe” button.

This blog is part of the ongoing Brandpoint Interview Series where we talk with marketing professionals about their career, unique perspectives on the industry and some key advice they’ve learned along the way.

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