How to choose content to move buyers through your funnel

Do you lead or do you demand? I read a great article from the Content Marketing Institute asking whether we should focus on lead generation or demand generation. I’m going to show you how to answer that question for yourself.

In the article, the Content Marketing Institute – a very highly regarded organisation by the way – argue that your content strategy can’t deal with both Lead Gen and Demand Gen. Lead Gen is all about names and Demand Gen is all about shaping behaviour. Well, I’d argue content strategy must deal with both. What about positioning, differentiation, value selling and closing?

Doesn’t our content actually have to deal with all of that? And are we actually thinking about this the right way? Isn’t that all about us? Shouldn’t we be thinking about the buyer first? What should our social strategy be and our content strategy, our search strategy or our lists strategy? What’s the purpose of each of our tactics? Or are we actually thinking about this altogether the wrong way? Aren’t all of those questions about us? Shouldn’t it actually be about our buyer?

I’ll show you how we use the funnel plan to determine and shape that content strategy. But first I am going to do two things. I’m going to show you how to build content to help buyers move all the way through the funnel and I’m going to invite you to receive more blogs like this. Let’s get first to that content strategy.

How do we build a content strategy that can move a buyer all the way through their stages in their journey? We need a framework for choosing tactics. But it needs to reflect what’s going on for the buyer if it has any chance of working. Well first I need your name. I can’t talk to you if I don’t know who you are. I know that’s not as important if your business relies 100% on inbound. But it is critical if we have strategic targets or defined markets where we must go outbound.

Even if you only have a little bit of outbound you need their names first. Then I need you to know that I exist. But it’s more about being on a list. For example, if you need a plumber call Frank, if you need a funnel consultant, call align.me. I need to be on that list. Then I need you to be interested in a dialog in person or electronically. For example, to get you to watch this blog, it’s you showing interest. I can’t assume much more but at least you’re interested enough to watch this blog and then I need to trouble you.

Perhaps this blog troubles you a little about your approach to tactics or maybe that won’t occur until you meet one of our sales guys that you really buy in that your present approach needs to change. I can’t assume just yet that I’ve got you across the line. When I do, I need to help you work out what it is that you need. Not just from me but from anyone. This is my chance to influence your thinking. So for example, I’m going to argue that you need both sage advice and a good planning tool and a good planning methodology because I’ve got a global network of funnel coaches and the plan and the methodology. But if I didn’t have one of those I’d be trying to argue that all you need is smart advice or a good tool or something like that.

So my opportunity to shape your thinking is at the need definition stage. Not when I put my proposal on the table, way before that. So I need my sales guys to be doing the hard yards now. Then I need you to understand exactly what we can do to align to that need. Again, it’s probably up to the sales guys. However, it’s not as important for them to be arguing the merits of our offer right now if they’ve done a good enough job of shaping your concept of what you need. Because, if they have shaped their concept then you’re going to find what we have to offer, attractive. If they’ve failed to shape it you won’t find it attractive.

So they really need to have done the hard yards of the need shaping or need definition stage. Then I need to help you dismiss all the alternatives. So, I might offer you things like comparison tools and content on comparison. Then, I need you to agree to proceed. So really I just need simple terms and a clear plan at this stage. So my content is going to be all about the clear plan.

Now, once you’ve got that frame set up choosing tactics to help buyers move from each stage to the next stage is what it’s all about. The question should never be what should we do about (insert you favourite tactic here), but how can we get better at helping buyers to move from this stage to that stage.

Here’s how we set up that content strategy using the funnel plan. So clearly we’re going to be talking about the tactics section of the funnel plan and we’re going to be setting up a framework for choosing our tactics all the way through. So let’s add a tactic and for the moment I’m just going to put in the barest minimum of information and the name of the tactic and the stage that we’re trying to get buyers to, in the use of this tactic. Some of your tactics might just inbound and some just outbound. So you probably want to show them differently on the plan or some might be ‘A’ priority and some ‘B’ and so you want to show them differently.

Tags let you select what method you want to use to differentiate the tactics in the funnel plan when you print it out. You can reorder tactics pretty simply. Now of course you can do it in the table but it’s a real pain. Use the reorder feature click on the reorder and you can now drag and drop any tactic within a stage or even between stages. Then click save and the order of those tactics appear in the funnel plan will now change. Now visually we might want to connect those tactics into a bit of a flow so we can add a connection.

Here’s how it works: we select the tactic that we’re connecting from and then we choose a tactic that we want to connect to and that is going to need to be either in the same stage or the next stage along. Then there is recycling. Recycling tactics tend to operate across multiple stages of the journey. It’s kind of like Snakes & Ladders. This is how we return the buyer back to the top of funnel. So we can add around it over a recycling tactic and we can choose where we want it to connect to back into. So what’s the tactic that will benefit from this recycling on nurturing work? I’ll show you how we choose the best tactics for each of the individual stages and for recycling on another day.

Well, if you enjoyed this blog then hopefully you’ll enjoy others. If you haven’t done so already can I invite you to go to align.me/blog and subscribe to either the twice a week blog -comes out nice and fresh or the once a month Funnel Vision insights that collects just the best of the blogs for the month. Or you can go to YouTube at this address: youtube.com/alignmeb2b and you can subscribe to our channel there. Now if you already have but you have a colleague who hasn’t then now might be a great time to forward on an invitation to them to subscribe using one of those approaches – using align.me/blog or the YouTube channel.

But for now, may your funnel be full, and always flowing.

funnel-plan-sales-and-marketing-planning-tool