Apparently, “content selling” is now a thing. Or at least, it’s a term that people are using in an apparent effort to garner attention or rename something that has always existed… or something. But please, let’s stop.

As near as I can tell, content selling is the creation and distribution of content by salespeople. That seems to be how they’re defining it at Hubspot. At the PeopleLinx blog, Michael Idinopulos writes that “Unlike content marketing, content selling focuses on exchanging content with the purpose of generating leads, nurturing relationships, and closing deals.”

Methinks we’re playing semantics games.

Check out the infographic at that Hubspot link, which details the differences between content marketing and content selling. To me, it looks like they’re merely saying the same thing with different words. Which is a waste of everyone’s time.

Content marketing has always been about selling things. After all, it’s marketing, and the marketer’s job is to influence an audience towards making a purchase. But content marketing extends the organization’s reach deeper into the domain of the prospect. After all, 67 percent of the buyer’s journey now occurs digitally; we all know and understand that the customer is in control of this journey now – she conducts research at her own pace, educates herself over time, and buys when she determines that it’s time to move forward. Content marketing – the creation and distribution of audience-focused content (and I would argue the content should be journalistic) enables an organization to build an audience before that audience is ready to buy. If you don’t build your own audience, you’re forced to borrow or rent someone else’s – that’s advertising, and it’s expensive.

The term content selling implies that the organization waits until the prospective buyer is ready to make a purchase. Well, that’s the way marketing used to work. And these days, that’s waiting too long. You’ll never be able to sell to someone that doesn’t trust your organization, and thought leadership-oriented content is among the very best was to build that trust. Forgoing this opportunity strikes me as willingly missing a colossal opportunity.

And if an organization wants to wait until the bottom of the sales funnel to turn on its content engine, isn’t this just the same as traditional marcomm-type content, such as sales collateral? That’s what it sounds like, and there’s nothing new about that.

Now, it’s true that marketing and sales departments need to be more closely aligned. The buyer wants a seamless experience; she comes to know a trust an organization through its marketing, and if there’s a disconnect between the personality and demeanor of the marketing and the sales effort, it can disrupt that sale.

That’s bad.

But it’s not a reason to create a new term just out of the blue.

3 Ways To Apply This Information Right Now

  1. You can disagree with me! After all, this is about having a conversation – tweet me @ScribeMiller.
  2. Reach out to us; if you’re struggling to connect your content marketing to sales, we can help. Contact us here.
  3. Talk to your sales department to create understanding of content marketing and how it can work for them.