How A Content Marketing Strategy Will Help Fill Your Marketing Funnel (Part 1)
Are you looking for the absolute, hands-down, best way to attract high quality leads and customers to your business?
Are you wondering why the traditional marketing tactics you’ve always used aren’t working as well as they used to (or even at all) anymore?
Chances are if you’re in a marketing role today, life is challenging. It’s likely that the old marketing tactics you’ve always used like trade shows, direct mail and buying mailing lists probably aren’t turning out the results they used to. The world has changed and customers are now in control. That means that you need to change the way you market. A great content marketing strategy is the best way to bring these customers to you and lead them down your marketing funnel.
Over the next few articles, I’ll be revealing a proven methodology to get the attention of your ideal customer and draw them in to your business without using high-pressure sales pitches and tacky hard close strategies. Wouldn’t that be nice?
It turns out that your customers are normal human beings - just like you and me! And just like you and me, they don’t like being sold to. We all like to buy, we just don’t like to be sold. If your only way of getting their attention is to interrupt them with impersonal messages and advertising then you should probably get used to being tuned out. It’s time to toss that old marketing playbook in the recycle bin.
First off, you’d have to have just come out of a 20-year coma if you weren’t able to see that our world has gone digital. Access to information is abundant so long as you have an internet connection. This means that buyers no longer have to rely on sales people to find a solution to their problem or to research products and services. In fact, most customers are upwards of 80% of the way through the buying cycle before they ever even contact a business.
Let me explain. Buyer’s behaviour has drastically changed in the past few years. The way people buy fundamentally hasn’t changed, but the process they go through to get to the point of purchase has and that's why marketers are switching their focus to inbound marketing. To capitalize on this, you need to understand the buyer’s journey.
There’s three distinct stages in the buyer’s journey: awareness, consideration and decision.
The Awareness Stage
In this stage, buyer’s aren’t looking to find a solution. They’ve only just discovered that they have a problem, and as a result of this problem they now have a need for information. They’ve now become aware of their situation.
The buyer begins to conduct their own research focused on vendor-neutral, 3rd party information around identifying their problem or symptoms. It’s not uncommon for people to search Google or even to ask for advice from their social graph (the people they’re connected to such as friends, family and colleagues).
For a marketer, this is a golden opportunity to get the buyer’s attention. You can gain their interest by providing helpful information that relates to the symptoms of their problem, the triggers or causes of their pain, and tips on how to solve the problem.
If you’ve heard the buzz around content marketing or heard people talking about business blogging, these are the tools you want to use to provide that helpful information. The first step is to have these people identify themselves to you. We do that using a premium content offer such as an eBook, whitepaper, checklist or guide that visitors can download in exchange for submitting a web form with a small amount of contact information; typically a name, email address and maybe a few other fields.
The task of your content in the awareness stage is to help the buyer better understand their problem and to provide solutions on how to fix it. Many companies screw this part up by pitching their products or services as the solution. Don’t make that mistake. Your objective here is to be helpful and demonstrate your expertise in this area. This is more of a positioning move, not a sales move.
The Consideration Stage
Buyers in this stage have now clearly identified the source of their problem and your content has already provided a set of potential solutions to them. The buyer is now considering their options, which may or may not include your product or service.
At this stage of the buyer’s journey, the buyer is now looking for information about your product or service as well as those of your competitors in an effort to educate themselves on the choices they have available. The best way to stay relevant to the buyer at this point is to provide content that supports your product or service as a consideration.
To help buyers better understand how your products or services will deliver a solution to their problem you’ll want to use content pieces such as case studies, testimonials, brochures, product comparisons, webinars or demo videos.
The Decision Stage
The last step of the buyer journey is for the buyer to make a decision. This is the stage where buyers will reach out to the businesses they are considering to speak to someone in sales. It’s up to sales to assist the buyer in making a decision, which hopefully will be in your favour.
To help the buyer make the best decision possible you may want to create offers such as consultations, demos, or free trials. These types of offers can help sway their decision in your direction.
So now you understand the buyer’s journey. The next step in this process is structuring your marketing so that it aligns to the three different stages of the buyer’s journey. In part 2 I’ll go into more detail around how your website and your content needs to cater to each of these three stages, and by doing so, will attract buyers to your company organically