Sales and marketing technology has skyrocketed in the past few years—in terms of hype, industry and investment. The historic successes of CRM and MAP solutions, for example, have opened the doors for hundreds of other sales and marketing tools to help organizations operate more efficiently and effectively. But the proliferation of tools has made it incredibly difficult for sales and marketing leaders to navigate the landscape and strategically invest in the tools that will help their teams reach their specific goals. The terminology surrounding these solutions doesn’t help, either; different analyst firms and especially vendors all seem to offer slightly different definitions for the categories of sales and marketing solutions, clouding buyers’ perceived needs and distracting them from their objectives.
One of the biggest booms in vendor offerings is centered on content: specifically the creation, personalization, distribution and measurement of content by both sales teams and marketers. There are multiple categories and even more subsets of content-centric solutions that overlap and sometimes overpromise on capabilities, but three marketing-focused categories have been in the spotlight lately: sales asset management, content marketing and marketing resource management. These three categories are explained below, as well as their capabilities, differentiators, and the goals each helps your organization achieve.
Content Marketing Solutions
- What are they? Content marketing tools help marketing teams improve the content lifecycle by optimizing the creation of effective, audience-centric content for buyers throughout their journey.
- Goals they help achieve: Choosing the right channels through which to distribute content to the right audiences (social media, marketing automation solutions, CMS), consolidating and streamlining workflows and content delivery schedules, efficiently conducting content reviews and edits, and storing content so it’s easily accessible and referenceable.
- Solution capabilities:
- Audit & inventory: easily manage buyer-facing assets such as blog posts, guides, whitepapers and infographics
- Creation: allow for asset creation from the ideation and planning stages
- Distribution: allow for delivery of content to buyers through social, CMS and MAPs
- Measurement: provides analytics to determine content ROI (as well as marketing-qualified leads, sales-accepted leads, and conversion rates)
- Personalization: lets marketing users customize and organize content based on personas and/or segments for various stages in the buyer’s journey
- Workflows: collaboration, calendar, and content review capabilities
- Verdict: Content marketing platforms are ideal for marketing teams that need to efficiently create, schedule and deliver the right content directly to buyers. Content marketing solutions have limited to no dealings with sales teams, because they are focused more on early interactions with buyers that occur before sales involvement.
- Vendor sample: Contently, Curata, Kapost
Marketing Resource Management Solutions
- What are they? Marketing resource management solutions are concerned with planning, budgeting and managing marketing projects. Resources, in this context, refer to the marketing organization’s overall resources, including budget, headcount, and operations, and in some cases marketing content.
- Goals they help achieve: Effectively planning, executing and managing budgets, operational and process-related projects, aligning cross-channel execution and applying cross-channel customer insights, formally developing agile content strategies.
- Use cases:
- Budgeting and financial management: enabling oversight for distributing marketing budgets across multiple channels
- Planning and resource alignment: providing a more strategic, process-oriented approach to campaign planning, calendaring, and scheduling
- Creative production and content curation: providing a central repository of all internal marketing materials (such as budget documents, event and editorial calendars, metrics reports); includes marketing asset management as a critical component
- Verdict: According to SiriusDecisions, MRM systems used to be centralized command-and-control platforms that hindered marketing productivity by forcing process onto creative organizations. MRM solutions are now more usable, data-focused and integrated into today’s marketing processes. For marketing organizations looking for more centralized and standardized operational processes, MRM solutions may be the right decision, but similar to content marketing solutions, MRMs do not integrate or interact with the sales process.
- Vendor sample: Orbis, Siebel, Teradata
Sales Asset Management Solutions
- What are they? Don’t let the name fool you; Marketing is just as involved in sales asset management as Sales. Sales asset management solutions facilitate the management of sales content through multiple access points, allowing salespeople to sell more efficiently and provide a more personalized experience for buyers. SAM solutions support Marketing’s creation, storage and delivery of sales content for both internal and external use, as well as the measurement of sales asset effectiveness.
- Goals they help achieve: Managing content through different delivery channels (including portals, mobile, email, CRM, and more), improving sales productivity and effectiveness, maintaining consistency in messaging, proving content ROI and contribution to revenue through analytics
- Use cases:
- Content creation: aiding content creators (in sales, marketing, or sales enablement) in the creation of new content templates, presentations, and whitepapers, and package that content in specific formats that support reps in various sales activities (like playbooks or proposal responses)
- Content management: tracking authorship, expiration dates, tagging, folders and search capabilities to facilitate retrieval (or serving up content based on a rep’s selling interaction) by solution, stage, role, buyer, industry, and/or market
- Content storage: storing content in a centralized repository or allowing content integration from other repositories and data sources (such as Salesforce, Dropbox, or web CMS)
- Content delivery: allowing reps to easily access, assemble, personalize and deliver content for their own consumption or for external use with buyers (through mobile, laptop, presentation links, private portals, email and more)
- Measurement and reporting: track and measure content usage by rep, team, activity, external consumption, and/or impact on won deals.
- Verdict: Sales asset management solutions, while focused on sales success, provide a platform for Sales and Marketing to work together to drive revenue. This technology is ideal for large organizations looking to bridge the gap between Sales and Marketing, consolidate large amounts of content and make it more accessible, useful and customizable for salespeople, and give Marketing a more quantifiable way to measure its contribution to sales activities.
- Vendor sample: SAVO, Seismic, Showpad
Every organization has different challenges when it comes to sales and marketing success, so it’s important to clearly define your organization’s goals before determining what solution is right for you. Understanding the difference between content marketing, marketing resource management, and sales asset management is a great place to start when navigating the complicated world of sales and marketing technology, and will help you find the right solution with more efficiency and less headaches.