Don’t Ignore Your Funnel!

smarketingContent is king, but irrelevant content is pretty darn useless. In 2012, producing quality blog content means more than just taking the time to proof-read thoroughly. It’s an issue of making your blog and content offers relevant to your buyer personas, and aligning your sales and marketing efforts, a concept known as smarketing.

Your content calendar should be a road map for driving ROI. In order to blog relevant information, you need to ensure your marketing team or content creators understand your company’s unique sales cycle and the questions prospects ask at every stage. The best content is centered around real-life questions from real-life personas, and it drives results:

Mapping Your Marketing to Sales

What path do your leads usually take before making their first purchase? You’ve been through hundreds of thousands of sales funnels in your lifetime. Think about the research you performed before your last major purchase – which for the purpose of illustration, we’ll say was a crossover SUV.

You probably started off by heading to Google and looking at reviews of vehicles within your price range. You may have looked at reviews of car dealerships in your area, too. You might have even made a few trips in to various car dealerships and performed dozens of test drives before you finally made your decision. You went through a series of stages that are illustrated in the infographic below, courtesy of entrepreneur Saad Kamal:

Smarketing

Awareness

Your 4-door sedan from 1999 has over 200,000 miles. Besides, you’re redecorating and you’re tired of begging your friends with trucks for help every time you want to buy some furniture.

In the awareness stage, a consumer has realized they have a product or service need. They’re not ready to fork over their credit card number and they haven’t picked a company. They’re simply aware that they need a larger car. Content mapped to the awareness stage of the sales funnel will be based on topics and concepts like “How Do I Know if I Should Buy a New Car?” or “Benefits of Buying a Used Car.”

Interest

Okay, so you’ve officially had it. You bought a bookcase from Ikea and had to pay their delivery company to get it back to your house. Besides, you’re pretty sure that an belt on your sedan is about to break, and you’re not sure it’s worth repairing. You’re interested in buying a new car soon, and you’re working on nailing down a price range.

During the interest stage, the content becomes more targeted and specific. Barring pre-existing loyalties, the consumer is open to all brands, models and dealerships in their area. “The Best SUVs in the $30,000 Price Range” or “What You Need to Know About Buying a Used Car” are content that is well mapped to the interest stage of the funnel.

Desire

You’ve spent a few days Googling everything you can about fuel-efficient, larger vehicles. Nothing is set in stone yet, but you’re feeling pretty partial to Honda CR-Vs…or maybe a Toyota Rav4. You’ll probably make the purchase next weekend, but for now you’re reading everything you can get your hands on and making a few test drives after work.

At the stage of the sales funnel known to marketers as “desire,” it’s well-established that the client is actively moving towards making a purchase. They’ve probably recognized that a certain brand might meet their priorities and pain points better than others. If you were a car dealership, writing content that compares, contrasts and highlights details is a strong choice for the desire stage: “Crossover SUVs: Honda CR-V versus Toyota Rav4” or “Why 2009 Was a Great Year for Honda Crossovers.”

Action:

You head to the car dealership and drive away in your new Honda CR-V. You’ve now reached the bottom of the sales funnel in our example, and have become a client at your friendly neighborhood dealership.

How Do You Map Content to Your Buyer Personas?