At BIG, we have a simple way of looking at our sales funnel. We make a farming analogy. Just like a farmer, a business is going to plant their leads (through lead capture), they are going to nurture their leads, and then they are going to harvest their leads. Just like in farming, if you don’t take care of your leads, you won’t have a strong harvest.
Life on the Farm
This simple metaphor is an effective way for looking at lead conversion. It holds up from many different angles too – deciding what to plant means which markets you are going to pursue, leads from different markets have to be planted in separate fields and nurtured with a different mix of tools in order to grow most effectively, if you leave a ripe lead in the field too long, they will eventually go stale and no longer be harvestable, etc.
Not only this, but the simple plant-nurture-harvest mode of thinking helps us figure out how best to use our content in this sales funnel. Without drawing out an elaborate sales funnel with conversion metrics and the return on dollar spent yet, we can decide which pieces of content are going to go where to nurture our leads.
Integration Example – Re-engage the Disengaged
Let’s consider the case of a healthy foods manufacturer. Perhaps they have been working on content marketing for some time and have developed a series of articles, some videos and multimedia, infographics, and a long form piece of content meant to be educational. Each of these can be effective on their own but using them in a systematic way to nurture our leads further down the sales funnel to the harvesting stage will be most effective.
For this example, we will assume they already have an audience that has been drawn in and is at least aware of their product. These people have subscribed to a social media page but are generally disengaged. So, the challenge is to engage them and gather further information on them in order to best meet their needs.
So the first order of business is to catch their eye. Since this group of leads is generally disengaged, a long, involved piece of content that asks quite a bit of them may not be appropriate right away. Instead, we can use some quick multimedia to build up greater brand awareness. Instead of asking anything of them right away, perhaps we spend a few weeks simply putting our message in front of them. A well-designed image or gif that clearly articulates what differentiates us from the competition can begin to nurture our leads.
Once this seed has been planted in their heads, we can get more elaborate. Now we can begin to nurture this group of leads with articles and short embedded videos, teaching them healthy eating tips and tricks – something related to our product but not explicitly commercial. It is still too early to ask for any sort of commitment, but after someone has engaged with an article or a video, they may now be prepared to commit to receiving your long form piece of content. This could be a long explainer on health food trends, new recipes, or something else. At this point, it is appropriate to introduce your brand and extend an introductory offer. This is of course a very high-level overview, but the idea is straightforward.
Well, That Escalated Quickly!!!
Essentially when used properly in the sales funnel, content is a tool of escalation. By creatively using different mediums to deepen the relationship with the customer – the best brands find a way to make it two-way communication – companies can guide their leads through the sales funnel in a very low-pressure way. The best sales people don’t really have to sell at all if they position their product or service in terms of value for the customer.
Content is the ideal tool for nurturing leads. Knowing when and where to use each piece of content is key for having a healthy harvest. But of course, you must plant your seeds first. This is what we will be discussing next month – how to generate leads. This is an ongoing challenge for businesses of every stripe in every industry. There is a lot of terminology and theory floating around about lead generation, so it will help to go through and define some terms first. After this, we will get into sourcing, prospecting, qualifying, and converting leads. Stay tuned!