There’s a simple trick to maximize your content marketing return on investment.
It will shorten your sales cycle, bring in an audience that’s ready to make a purchase, and empower greater marketing and sales alignment.
That trick is: Start from the bottom and work your way up.
By that I mean, start by creating bottom-of-funnel content: content that answers buyers’ questions as they are on the brink of a purchasing decision.
There are a number of advantages this gives you:
- Shorter sales cycles, since your content attracts buyers that are closer to making a purchase.
- Engaged buyers, since your content helps to educate those buyers who are actively researching a potential solution to their problem.
- Increased likelihood of a close, since your content can help nudge buyers toward making a decision.
But of course, this begs the question: What exactly is bottom-of-funnel content?
When I started thinking about how to create bottom-of-funnel content years ago, my mind immediately jumped to product marketing. You may have thought the same thing.
This is a completely natural leap. After all, if we’re trying to speak to buyers as they’re about to make a decision, doesn’t it make sense that we should tell them all the benefits of our products?
Yes, but also no.
While you should leverage product marketing in that bottom-of-funnel stage, there are so many other bottom-of-funnel content possibilities — educational content, case studies, testimonials, how-to guides, etc.
And while product is important, sometimes your buyer wants to know more about the problems you solve before they take a look at the solution itself.
Here are some questions to ask to ensure that your bottom-of-funnel content doesn’t lapse into product marketing.
1. Is your content primarily educational?
The purpose of your content is to educate your buyers as they progress along their path to a purchase. This is true for the bottom of the funnel just as much as the top.
That’s right, bottom-of-funnel content is educational, just like the top. The only difference is that bottom-of-funnel answers very specific questions that center around the decision to purchase.
In either case, it comes down to two things: giving them the information they need to make the best purchasing decision possible, and driving the next steps.
While you may immediately jump to the conclusion that this means educating buyers on the value your product has to offer them, there’s a nuance here that you should probably consider.
Not every person is uniquely positioned to take advantage of what you have to offer. While your product may have a broad market fit, you don’t and can’t serve everyone.
Educating your buyers at the bottom of the funnel means that you are educating them on what the best solution to their problem may be. That may be you and your product.
But if not, your content should help them decide that.
This may seem counter-intuitive. After all, shouldn’t you want to try and sell to as many people as possible?
The answer is a firm no.
While getting short-term revenue is important, it’s even more important that you attract, engage, and close people who are going to get the most out of what you have to offer and, thus, stay with you over the long haul.
Creating content that helps people figure out where they fall in that breakdown can be immensely valuable in helping you attract a stable customer base.
2. Does your content tell a story?
People love to tell and hear stories. It’s one of the things that basically everyone can agree on.
Your content is one of the best places for you to tell a story that engages your buyer. There are multiple ways to do that.
For starters, you can tell a story that places them as the subject by describing the problems they face. When you provide a compelling solution, they’ll be interested to learn more.
Or you could tell a story with a similar customer as the subject, like in a case study. Hearing about the successes other people have had with your product can compelling to someone who wants to get the most value out of what you have to offer.
Or you could tell a story about yourself and your business, sharing how you got to this point and why you’re in a unique position to help.
The one thing that’s probably not going to make the most interesting story: your product.
Seriously. Try it.
Try to come up with a story about your product that’s actually interesting. I’ll bet you’ll find yourself slipping into one of two patterns: you’ll either start to tell the story of how and why you created the product, or the customers who found it valuable.
This just proves the point. People connect to people, not things.
3. Does your content focus on solutions rather than features and functionality?
Your product marketing is necessary for sharing what your product is, what it does, and how it helps the buyer solve a problem or pain they have.
But your bottom-of-funnel content should reach beyond that and focus on the why.
No matter your specific product or service, every company is in the business of selling solutions. By that we mean that buyers have problems, and you have a solution to that problem.
That’s what you’re selling.
Sometimes, that solution is extremely well-defined and fits a specific need — and only that need. Other times, there are multiple ways a product can solve a problem.
In any case, thinking of your product as a solution can help you create content that drives the buyer to make a purchase:
- Addressing a need they currently have
- Offering something that relieves their pain
- Answering their burning questions
- Solving their most high-priority problem
All of these are interesting and relevant topics that don’t fall into a dry list of features and functionality.
4. Does your content refer to your products as an example of what’s possible?
I’ve spent this whole post so far saying why you shouldn’t leverage your products in your marketing content.
Here’s the reason: I think the sentiment among most companies is going to be to push products too hard in marketing content, which can turn out to be detrimental in the long run. After all, how can you be a trusted resource to your audience if you’re always trying to sell them something?
That said, I am completely in favor of you mentioning your products in your content, especially when we’re talking about bottom-of-funnel. It’s just all about getting the context right so it helps your buyer, rather than coming across as too pushy.
I’m not going to say there’s only one right way to get this right. It all depends on the buyer and what specifically they want to know once they get to the bottom of the funnel.
In many cases they’ll want to know about your product as soon as they come across your website. Others need more time to think about what they actually need and want.
One easy, clearly definable way to get this balance right is this: use your products as an example of what’s possible.
If you’re talking about solutions to a problem, present your products as a “for example.” That way, your audience is clearly aware of what you do, but you don’t sound like you’re pitching them in every piece of content.
5. Does your content drive the next logical step?
Keep in mind that even if you’re generating content that addresses bottom-of-funnel questions, many of the people you attract through that content won’t be familiar with your business.
While there are people who are going to be so enticed by who you are and what you do that they’ll immediately want to buy something, it’s not always the case.
Don’t assume that just because someone is asking bottom-of-funnel questions that they want to do business with your company specifically.
Your bottom-of-funnel content should drive the next logical step in the buyer’s journey, which involves a tie-in to your product marketing:
- Learn more about the specific solutions your company offers
- Watch a video demo or presentation of your products
- Set up a time to talk to sales
The point is that just because someone is at the bottom of the funnel doesn’t mean they’re ready to buy from you. They’re just ready to buy.
Your content should focus on building a relationship with them to the point that they are confident in your company and what you have to offer — and they want to do business with you.