Before your prospects get to the point where they want a demo or to hear about your features and benefits, they need to 1) know that you exist and 2) trust that you’re a reliable authority to solve their challenges.
Some prospects might move quickly through your sales funnel. Some might take longer.
The situations where it takes longer is where content marketing is especially helpful. Content marketing can build relationships with prospects before they’ve even spoken with anyone at your company. It also helps deepen those relationships. If a prospect isn’t quite ready to learn about your service, it can be an excellent way to *show* them that you’re an industry expert. In some cases, content marketing is also a way to demonstrate that your prospect’s problems are solvable.
“Marketing is saying that you’re an expert. Content marketing is SHOWING that you’re an expert.” – Robert Rose, Content Marketing Institute
The following are some of the content marketing concepts that we’ve seen work well for top-of-funnel objectives.
1.) Downloadable Checklists
Think about some of the challenges your ideal prospect is trying to solve. Next, think about what industry expertise your firm possesses that would make that prospect’s job easier. Are there specific steps someone should go through when buying your type of service? What about the technical requirements a company would need before purchasing a certain type of software product?
Checklists are a quick way to provide value. They’re also a good way to gather email addresses of potential clients. However, evaluate closely if it makes sense to collect someone’s email in exchange for providing them with the checklist. The benefit to you is that you’ll have an email you can use to move the prospect further down your funnel. On the downside, it may be a deterrent if they don’t believe the checklist will be worth giving out their email address.
2.) Interesting Interviews with Industry Experts
The thought process behind creating content based on industry interviews can be similar to the way B2C markets use Influencer Marketing. Reach out to experts in your industry or in adjacent industries. Ask for their thoughts on a specific subject matter. You could make the request as simple as a quick quote. You could also create a survey where you ask several experts to answer one question. A bigger request could be asking them to write an article or speak at a conference.
Whatever you do, be sure that both your audience and the expert get value out of taking the time to provide you with the information. Create a blog where you link back to their website. Talk about it on social media and tag them. Feature them in your firm’s email. Finally, be sure to let the expert know when you will be featuring them and how they can share the feature on their own platforms. If getting in front of their audience is especially important to you, make it easy for them and draft a couple of sentences they can copy and paste to their social channels or website.
3.) Infographics that Provide Value
Not surprisingly, complicated information is sometimes better communicated through a picture than a lengthy written piece. Infographics can also have a novelty effect that drives more clicks and get more shares than another technical blog. If you decide to create an infographic, don’t forget to think about what image is best to promote it on social media and email. You’ll want something that is intriguing enough that people will stop and look at it. Depending on if your objective is to drive clicks to your website or not, you might not want to show the entire infographic on social media or email, giving your audience a reason to click through and read more.
4.) Case Studies that Actually Solve Problems
Case studies are the perfect opportunity to show how well your solution can solve a customer’s challenge. The biggest mistake we see businesses make when creating a case study is focusing it too much on themselves. People love case studies that are written with the intent of showing the steps of how another organization/person solved an issue. However, when the primary focus of a case study is about your business, you immediately turn off your reader.
Your product or service can be the reason they solved the problem, but it shouldn’t read like an ad. A quick test to determine if you’ve strayed too far into self-serving promo is to look at how you start each sentence. If most of your sentences start with “we” or your “company name,” take a step back and see how you can redirect the purpose of the study into solving a challenge.
5.) Conference Recaps
An industry conference can be incredibly enriching for the person that attends. You can also make this conference an enriching experience for your prospects and clients. If someone at your company attends an industry conference, ask them to take notes during some of the sessions. Suggest that they jot down a sentence or two from a couple of their favorite speakers.
Once they get back to the office, have them write an article or blog post that summarizes a few of their favorite insights from the conference. Include the speaker quotes as a way of adding credibility to the article and be sure to tag those speakers when you talk about the blog on social media.
Going after low hanging fruit with bottom-of-funnel marketing can be effective for a while, but don’t forget to also focus on content that helps build relationships and moves prospects through your funnel.
For more information about aligning your content to your business objectives, download our FREE workbook, “How to Align Your Content to Your Business Objectives.”