For your products and services to succeed, people have to know about them and that’s the whole point of marketing. Marketing is about creating awareness first and then about getting people to take action.
But the best top-of-funnel marketing is really about deliver thought leadership and high-value content and education that discuss how to solve problems. It’s not about door-knocking with hard-sell scripts and shouting about your product from the rooftops.
But if you shouldn’t talk about your products and services, how do you get the word out?
There are a number of simple tactics that can help build your top-of-funnel marketing without hard-sell tactics.
1. Don’t assume that everyone wants or needs your products.
This is a tough one for a lot of business owners to absorb. Just last week I had this conversation with someone and he found it very hard to believe that everyone in his database wouldn’t want to hire him when they could save money. Saving money isn’t everyone’s motivation.
It’s also important to keep in mind that every business has problems to solve. And the first few times a company hears about your products, they might sound interesting, but it’s highly likely that business has other more pressing problems that need attention first.
Believe it or not, the problems your products and services solve, might not be the most pressing issue the business has that day.
Be a Smart Marketer.
Really understand who your customers are and what triggers them to move forward and make a decision to work with you. The more you understand about what prompts your clients to make a change, the better you’ll be at creating content that is appealing to your ideal clients.
2. Refrain from mentioning your product. At the top of the funnel, prospects are more interested in a topic as opposed to a product. This is what Hubspot refers to as the awareness stage. At this point, they’re experiencing and expressing symptoms of a problem or opportunity and they’re doing research to educate themselves to clearly understand and give a name to their problem. This content should be information that helps potential customers. It should help them identify where they currently have gaps.
Build trust and credibility. At this stage of the game, it’s more important for you to build trust and credibility. As marketer Frank Kern puts it, “Positioning yourself as an authority is the single most important thing you can do to increase your perceived value to your market.”
I think one of the smartest things to do is to get your content everywhere your buyers are before they are even in-market for your product. At this point, your job is to create awareness, so they’re certainly not hanging out on your web site yet. This means you’ve got to find other ways of amplifying your content to eventually get them to your web site.
Be sure to examine what content formats do best with your audience. Whether it’s blog format, research reports, video, checklists, etc., know what your audience likes to consume.
3. Avoid the Mass Marketing. Mass emailing or mass direct mailing. While I know it’s tempting to message a ton of people at once, especially if you’re in emergency lead generation mode, but it’s not a great idea and you could damage your reputation. Furthermore, no one wants to smell desperation from a vendor that will be a trusted source.
A better option is to really segment your lists and develop some targeted messaging. The technology available today can help you get very specific about when and how to reach out to prospects and what messages are resonating.
Really use what you know about your existing client base as this can help you tremendously to segment and then to develop messaging that is relevant to those who have a need for what you sell.
4. Include your sales force. Be sure the sales force knows what messages are going out so they understand what influenced the prospect to take a next step.
There’s nothing worse than taking that next step to have a conversation with a salesperson and feeling like you’ve been duped with a bait-and-switch. Consistency in the messaging is important. The points made in the marketing materials should continue through the sales process to maintain and build on that trust and credibility.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list as far as top of funnel marketing goes, but I think these are some key mistakes I see on a regular basis. Using this short checklist should help navigate a successful approach on every attempt.