Bad habits yield bad results – whether they manifest in our personal or professional lives, there’s always a cost or a consequence. Squeeze toothpaste from the middle of the tube and what’s left is wasted; trapped at the back end of the tube. Squeeze your top-of-funnel target audience with product-focused content or messaging that’s intended for mid-funnel and you’re wasting your time and your audience’s attention. It sounds pretty clear cut – don’t do this if you want to be an effective marketer – yet with limited resources, misaligned expectations, or other pressures, any of us could potentially fall into this bad habit. To nip this bad behavior in the bud, here are a few reasons to never compromise on aligning content to the buyer’s journey and to never squeeze your funnel at the top.

DonMind Your Marketing Manners:

Imagine you’re just starting a company and you’ve been invited to a dinner party full of investors. Upon arrival, you wouldn’t just blurt out “I’m here, who wants to invest,” would you? Of course not – that’d be extremely rude and ineffective. Instead, you’d politely converse with a few patrons, listen for their interests and pain points, and then craft tailored pitches for any relevant people. Blasting out product–related content like datasheets and technical specs at the top of your funnel is just as rude as blurting out your intentions immediately at a party. The middle of the funnel, however, is the point at which you receive permission from your engaged prospects to change the story line from their general interests to how your offering can help solve relevant problems. It’s not just good marketing to save product-focused content for the middle of the funnel; it’s also just good manners.

Too Much, Too Soon:

Returning to the mid-squeezed toothpaste tube faux pas, there are times when bad habits pay off initially – like the first big burst of toothpaste that a squeeze from the middle may produce – but afterward, air pockets, tube crinkles, and other disruptions from improper squeezing make that first squeeze more costly than convenient. Similarly, sometimes top-funnel squeezes do produce a few positive results, but in the long run, the overall funnel will not be as efficient as it could be. Best-in-Class companies, who are 93% more likely than All Others to align content to the specific stages of their buyer’s journey, get it. That’s why the Best-in-Class also understand that it takes 10 content marketing touches to progress a prospect to a closed-won deal. Those who would squeeze the top of their funnel end up pushing out too much of their content too soon, so when buyers need more touches to keep their buying journey going, these marketers find themselves coming up empty.

All Content, No Strategy:

Lastly, please, please, don’t waste good mid-funnel content on good prospects at the top of the funnel and then blame bad results on the content. This creates a vicious cycle of misaligned content creation that often ends in marketers giving up on content altogether. Content alone is not a strategy; it’s a tool. To be successful as content marketers, we need to be strategic in how we use these tools. This Alanis Morissette-esque strategy of “ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife,” ironically enough, is the hallmark of content marketers without an actual strategy. If you have good mid-funnel content, don’t waste it by squeezing it into the top of your funnel under a bad strategy.

For more information on the right kinds of content to use throughout the funnel, download my colleague Trip Kucera’s report, Content Marketing and the Road to Revenue: Answering the Questions.