Six Ways Digital Publishing Can Help Drive B2B Sales in 2021
Written by Matt Berringer
Traditionally, digital publishing has been thought of as a tool for print publishers to replicate their print issues online with digital editions and e-replicas. In a digital-first, COVID-19 restricted world though, forward-thinking sales and marketing leaders are giving digital publishing a second look.
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How to Use Digital Publishing to Increase Sales
1. Link Collateral to an Industry or Persona
One of the biggest constraints of traditional printed collateral is that high-quality collateral is not cheap. Sales and marketing leaders often traded off highly personalized collateral in exchange for good enough, generic collateral that could be printed in bulk and used for nearly any purpose.
The end result? Sales reps working to generate more valuable leads rarely know where to find the collateral. Typos are found. The descriptions become outdated. The list goes on and on. And so typically stacks and stacks of boxes full of the unused collateral shift from one storage closet to the next, until someone finally says, “These are pretty outdated, do we need these anymore?” And the cycle starts all over again.
The logistical hassles of getting the right collateral in the right rep’s hands at the right time have only been amplified by the challenges of COVID-19. Print collateral is much less effective if your sales force isn’t doing in-person selling. Oh and by the way, how do you know if anyone (much less your targeted audience) is actually reading your collateral? The solution is often a clunky combination of tracking phone numbers or unique URLs.
Digital publishing offers sensible, budget-friendly solutions to these challenges. With digital publishing, companies don’t incur a lot of additional expenses to produce a different version of their brochure. Experienced marketers can quickly ramp up bespoke collateral specifically targeted for a targeted industry or persona which takes into account the company’s background and needs. Imagine being able to send a personalized brochure that speaks directly to the needs of each member of a target account’s buying committee or targeting your messaging to resonate with a particular industry. It’s all possible with digital publishing and much less expensive than printing it all.
Digital publishing also helps your team jump the hurdles we mentioned above. Salespeople can access them from anywhere (no more storage closets). Marketers can update them at any time (no more typos or outdated descriptions). Tracking who is reading your collateral and what they are interested in? Digital publishing helps there too. With full reporting and engagement analytics, you can discover what’s working and what isn’t.
2. Upgrade (and Protect) Your Sales Deck
Marketing folks, does this sound familiar? Your team spends hours upon hours sitting with sales leaders to get the deck just right. The value prop is clear. The order is perfect. The logo is properly sized. The colors match your style guide perfectly. It has spots to personalize the presentation for each prospect and it’s ready for the sales team. You proudly send out the link and the feedback is positive. You sit back and exhale not knowing if they will ever actually use what you sent.
Then, months later, you’re copied on an email with the sales deck attached with the title “SalesPrez(Copy)(Copy)1.” You open it just to see how it’s been personalized and find that it has, in fact, not been personalized, it’s been downright vandalized.
Pixelated and mis-shapen logos with white backgrounds abound. The slides have been reordered. New slides have been added and they don’t match the color scheme. We could go on, but you get the (pixelated) picture. For decades software like PowerPoint has been the go tool for presentations.
To be fair, they are a powerful tool to help guide sales conversations. So we’re not arguing that you do away with the sales deck, we just think it’s time for an upgrade. That’s where digital publishing can help. Using the same tools editorial publishers have been using for years, you can create engaging, perfectly sequenced sales decks that look good on any device and (you guessed it) can be locked down.
Unlike PDFs (which are a traditional way to lock down documents), documents published on digital platforms look great on any device. Have you ever tried opening a PDF on a mobile device? That’s not the experience you want to deliver when you’re trying to impress a prospect.
Not only can digital publishing alleviate sales deck anxiety, but it can also provide additional benefits including in-depth analytics that can show you how and when people are interacting with your presentation.
If you’re looking for a unique way to upgrade your sales decks, digital publishing has an answer.
3. Use Business Cards for 2021
Business cards have been around since the seventeenth century. And for the most part, they’ve remained unchanged. I’m sure your desk at work probably has a few in it right now. Printed cards have their place for sure, they wouldn’t have hung around for more than 300 years if not. However, business cards, like printed collateral don’t do much for a digital-first world where in-person meetings have been drastically reduced.
They also suffer from some of the same challenges of printed collateral; information quickly becomes outdated, logos change, titles change, etc. You also can’t learn a lot from a business card.
So, what if we update the concept of the business card for the 2020s? Instead of being printed, let’s make it digital. Instead of being static, let’s add a video that tells prospects more about the person they’re working with. While we’re at it – why not add related sales materials to the same (awesome on any device) document? And let’s add in a Calend.ly (or other scheduling) link so people can quickly set up appointments with your team. And to bring it all together, let’s add in analytics that can show you how and when it’s being viewed. Now your business card is a valuable digital asset in your marketing strategy.
Sounds better than a piece of crumpled paper, doesn’t it?
4. Utilize Curated Newsletters and Magazines
For many years, content marketing has been hailed as a great way to build relationships and a reliable sales pipeline). Digital publishing can help sales and marketing leaders push the needle even farther with curated, custom publications that drive more engagement than a website but cost much less than printing and mailing magazines.
If you’re like a lot of other companies, you’re churning out content each month. The challenge is getting eyeballs on it, driving traffic to it, and building engagement with it. Digital publishing allows you to repurpose that same content into a robust, premium reading experience that nurtures prospect engagement and builds community around your brand.
Aren’t email newsletters good enough?
Email newsletters are great but they are often lightly skimmed rather than read. Digital publications though are read more deeply and provide many more opportunities for reader engagement (videos, forms, animations, and more). Our advice – do both!
Build out an email newsletter that highlights the content of your digital publication and link directly to each article in it. When a reader clicks through, they can read that article and everything else you’ve put together.
By creating valuable pieces of content and sharing it in an easily accessible manner, your company will be building trust and developing the relationships needed to drive sales in the 2020s.
5. Move on from PDF eBooks and White Papers
Perhaps one of the most obvious uses of digital publishing to drive sales is replacing the PDFs marketers so often turn to for premium content. Nothing is less impressive to today’s digital natives than trying to view an unresponsive PDF on their mobile device. PDFs had a good run but if you want to impress clients and prospects with your brand’s image, it’s time to show them we can do better.
With the power of digital publishing, you can create responsive, engaging publications that feature videos, animations, customized toolbars, slideshows, and more. Don’t settle for good enough because PDFs aren’t good enough anymore!
6. Upgrade Battle Cards and Sales Enablement
Up to this point, we’ve primarily discussed ways to upgrade your sales game by enhancing the collateral you distribute to prospects and clients. Battle cards are typically kept close to the vest and accessed only by sales teams. That doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t upgrade them though!
What are Battle Cards?
Battle cards are typically one-page documents that show how your product or service stacks up against a competitor or competitors. These can be an invaluable resource for new salespeople as they engage in conversations with prospects. As with most of the other items we’ve discussed here though, these documents are often locked down in a static PDF where they quickly become outdated.
Well-meaning reps download them to their laptop and never receive the updated versions or never reference them. By publishing your battle cards on a digital publishing platform like PageRaft you can provide your reps with an always up-to-date, accessible on any device, and searchable resources that they can access quickly (even during a prospect conversation).
Take your sales enablement materials to the next level with digital publishing! If any of these ideas have sparked your curiosity, get in touch with us today! We’d love to help!