Ok, so I’m calling him out. In public. (Sorry, Shmoop.) My husband squeezes toothpaste from the middle of the tube. It makes me nuts, mostly because it is so wasteful since all of the toothpaste at the end of the tube never quite makes it to the toothbrush when you use this approach. We end up throwing away a ton of toothpaste, regardless of my futile efforts to use the butt end of the toothbrush to push the left behind toothpaste to the middle where it stands a chance of being used. Ugh. My son does it too, following my husband’s example as the Bamm-Bamm Rubble of toothpaste squeezers.
Yes, this is a marketing-related post, so hear me out. Squeezing toothpaste from the middle of the tube is like using product-oriented content at all stages of the marketing funnel. Marketers, please, please, please do not use product–related content like datasheets and technical specs at the top of your funnel. When you do that, the effect is the same as squeezing the middle of the tube; you’re applying pressure to leads before they’re ready, pushing away and wasting valuable potential opportunities.
The middle of the funnel is the point at which you receive permission from your engaged prospect to change the story line from thought leadership around their problems and what good looks like to actual solutions. Someone who has stuck with you this long across multiple touches will be ready for you to change your tune to sing the benefits of your solution. They’ll go along for the ride. The middle squeeze is not for prospects at the beginning of the funnel; like the toothpaste that gets left behind, these leads can be turned off by content that is not geared for them and quickly hit that “unsubscribe” link – the equivalent of giving you a cold shoulder.
Prospects at the beginning of the funnel need a different tactic. They may not know they have a problem that can be solved by your solution and they need credible, easy-to-consume information that helps them self-identify as a prospect for you. So what kind of stuff works? Well, research is a good starter as B2B buyers say that research is the most valuable content vendors can use – 77% of direct decision-makers value it according to CMO Council. However (and this is a big one,) you can’t expect a top of funnel prospect to read a 15-page research paper. The research must be credible and presented in a more snackable fashion.
Aberdeen has started to introduce new, shorter pieces of content containing the most pertinent research findings on a variety of topics. This content is ideal for top of funnel content marketing campaign activity. Our traditional, longer pieces of 15-page research insights are best used later in the funnel, as a prospect is willing to spend more time considering their problem. If you’re a marketer looking for research to support your buyers’ journey, check out Aberdeen’s new content bundles, and let us know what you think about Aberdeen research in a more snackable format.
And if you’re my husband, please reconsider the impact of your middle tube squeeze. You may be setting a bad example for marketers worldwide.
PS: Aberdeen.com has a great paper on the topic of content use throughout the funnel, Content Marketing and the Road to Revenue: Answering the Questions. Check it out.
Photo by Patrick Feller