Have you thought about the top of your funnel?
Sometimes we spend too much time trying to close a sale, and not enough time building trust with our leads. Relationships are everything.
Aside from your product or service, what are you offering to the community you're trying to reach? What gestures and overtures are you making, to build a good relationship with your audience and target market?
For the past few years, every time someone has a modicum of success with something like blogging or social media or even PPC advertising, the tendency is to pour energy and effort into that, hoping to maximize that success. And then, inevitably, there comes a lull. The posts and ads aren't as effective anymore. There's drop-off. Email campaigns continue to rule the digital marketing world, and everything else is a fad.
Except people keep doing the "everything else," and succeeding. How?
The point is the relationship. When you make that first contact with a prospect or a new customer, there's a bit of first-date magic that happens. The problems start, though, when you try to replicate that first date over and over. Fatigue sets in. The person you're courting starts to get wary. They've heard this all before. They don't feel that sense of "new" and that adventurous excitement they felt on the first date. You're starting to feel two-dimensional.
You've heard of marketing funnels: Start with a broad offering, bring the prospects in, then nurture them and narrow things down until you can close the sale. That's standard. It's proven. It works.
The top of your funnel is where you start building the relationship that leads to all that nurturing and closing. What are you doing to get that relationship off on the right foot?
Start by focusing less on "prospects and leads" and more on adding value to the community you're trying to reach. Create deliverables that can get attention, because they're useful.
Forget viral—that's a myth. You'll never be able to purposefully create something that goes viral, becuase there's no formula to follow, no pattern to replicate. But a sure bet is to add value, and to build trust with the community you serve.
Some ways you can add value and build that trust (and lead people to the top of your funnel) include:
- Infographics—Those quirky, fun little one-pagers that tell people about something they might be interested in, or have need of. They're visual and cool, and easy to pass around (so more prone to going "viral"). Create infographics that inform and educate, and put a very light call to action that directs people to you for more information, more help, more relationship building.
- White papers—These are basically articles that cover something your audience wants or needs to know about. These are written explorations of a topic that go beyond the surface and get into specifics. They don't have to be hyper detailed, but they do have to be a good jump-off point, a reference that people will hold on to for its intrinsic value, and pass around because they know people who need what's in there. Again, use a light CTA. Upselling gets tricky in a white paper, because it destroys some of its integrity. But directing the reader back to your website for "more like this?" Bueno.
- Blog posts—Like this one! Again, focus on value, not sales (though a tiny bit of upsell is fine). What can you offer the reader? What will build their trust? How can you show you know what you're talking about, and you can use that knowledge on their behalf? Is this time consuming? You bet. And you need someone who is an expert in your market to actually write the posts and vet the responses. It's like having a business within your business.
- Social media and forums—Much more participatory, and even more time consuming, but there's nothing quite like interacting directly with your clientele in an environment they have voluntarily dipped into, in search of answers, validation, and relationships. Again, you need someone who understands your market, and your business. But most important, you need someone who can monitor and respond on these channels continuously, to build that relationship and trust.
- Landing Pages & Free tools—Pick a topic, expand. Much like white papers or infographics, the point here is to provide value that brings in prospects, but doesn't treat them like "just a prospect." The idea is to create something that enhances the community you want to be a part of. Think "useful." Mortgage calculators, insurance rate comparison tools, HTML sandboxes for testing code, internet speed tests, A/B test environments for simple 1:1 comparisons—these are a few landing pages that exist right now, and have tools that the prospective users need and use. You can ask for registrations before allowing use, but it's better to give the freebie and offer more in exchange for registrations. Is there an aspect of your product or service you can offer for free, with a cool online tool? This is the place to put an upsell, once the user is hooked.
These are just a few of the ways you can open up the top of a funnel. Where you go from here needs to be part of a strategy, but getting prospects to know and accept you as part of their community is a priority, and the first step.
Spend a little time thinking about ways you can create a good lead-in for your marketing funnel. If you're having trouble thinking of anything, or if you need help building the resources you have thought of, you can always get in touch with us at Happy Pants Creative.
(that's what is known as an "upsell")