Printed literature that B2B companies have used for years is a go-to-market tool that is becoming extinct. More of the sales process is now online, and literature resides on web sites and in the cloud. Buyers either prefer it or are grudgingly forced to accept it. Sellers clearly enjoy the cost savings. And then there is the unanswered question of ROI. How do you prove the value of literature used on sales calls? Such metrics essentially don’t exist. But there are aspects of sales literature programs that have merit today.
Way before there were corporate web sites, wise companies already knew how to map literature content to specific steps of their customer buying process. Too much information too soon or too little information too late in the cycle, and sale would be lost. While digital marketers may imply that content mapping is new, in fact it is not. Industry leaders were practicing the same concept with collateral, direct sales reps and literature centers before the internet was invented. Those same fundamentals are now being applied to sales support online, often in the form of printable files.
The huge advantages of digital collateral include the means to easily update individual items more often; the ability to add links within the text and thus keep prospects on your web site longer; and with marketing automation, the ability to track viewer activities and responses. Now companies can have the metrics to prove the ROI of sales materials.
Of course there are still areas where printed literature may make sense. Examples here include China; 3rd party sales reps who require additional levels of support; demographic segments that spend less time online to make a buying decision; and for “big ticket” items where literature is a tiny fraction of the cost of selling.
Literature, like printed media, is fading away. But the fundamentals of content mapping, creative designs and production live on to help digital marketers make the sale.