It’s not that I don’t like to “sell” in my writing -- in fact, I think as content marketers, we all, to some extent, channel our inner salespeople. But as marketers, we’re allowed to do so in a much more indirect way, introducing the context within which someone might want to purchase our product or service rather than saying overtly, “Here’s my product and have I got a deal for you.”
But in some cases, being subtle in our content marketing may also be doing us a disservice. Take for example, our adherence to the buying cycle when we create our content. If you let the typical marketing funnel inform the types of content you create, you’re generally dealing with three main sections: top-funnel content that helps build general awareness for your brand through thought leadership on certain subjects; mid-funnel content that helps educate and engage prospects with what you have to offer; and bottom-funnel content, which tends to be highly product-focused and centers around influencing the ultimate purchase.
Most content marketers in the B2B space create top-funnel
content to help drive initial interest from prospects. In most cases, the general rule has been, if you want to drive the most leads for a whitepaper or eBook, make your topic as broadly appealing as
possible to your industry. For example, if your company sells collaboration software, don’t talk about “collaboration software." Instead, talk about conquering the technological challenges
of managing widespread global teams.
This approach makes total sense if you want to cast the widest net possible when it comes to attracting potential customers. But in some cases, it can also harm your sales process: prospects may not have a clear idea of what exactly it is your company does, which could slow the overall purchasing decision, and perhaps even cause them to pursue a competitive solution.
A better approach is to supplement your thought leadership with content that addresses exactly what your product or service does and the value it provides. This doesn’t mean providing a limited offer at the end of a whitepaper. It can be as simple as diversifying the posts on your blog to include more “bottom-funnel” themes. For example, don’t be afraid to include content covering profiles of your best customers and how they use your product, or creating a video clip highlighting certain features of your product and the benefits it brings.
Similarly, use all of your marketing channels to help showcase products in nonobtrusive ways. Build an “accelerated” email nurture path that offers engaged leads a personalized demo a day sooner than other leads who are not as engaged. And consider using online ad retargeting to remind your prospects why they downloaded that whitepaper in the first place: because they have a business challenge that only your brand can solve.