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How long is your funnel?

Posted by Paula Fifield on 27th August 2020

Over the years I have seen a LOT of funnels. Sales funnels, marketing funnels, long and short funnels, funnel-shaped funnels and funnels that look nothing like funnels at all. I’ve come to the conclusion that, when it comes to the buyer journey and content mapping, simple works best. But don’t be fooled into thinking that simple is easy, oh nooooo…

I get that there are organisations that need a mega-multi-stage buyer journey all mapped out, but I reckon that’s mainly when you’re dealing with a) volume prospects, b) volume products c) volume content or d) all of the above.

As a sales and marketing director for a PR firm that focuses solely on tech, what I’m pushing is relatively niche in the grand scheme of things.

Four is better than 27

With all of this in mind, there is very little point in me working on the basis of a 27-step buyer journey. Basically, my target audience either:

Unfortunately for me, doing PR for a PR consultancy is a bit of a non-starter (for all sorts of reasons… too few publications, fragmented audience, cynical mature buyers 😉 etc.) but in an ideal world, PR and media relations can massively help with no.1 on this list. Given I don’t have the pleasure of collecting column inches, I personally rely on email and social media marketing to spread the word.

When awareness is important. And when it’s not

Creating awareness is mainly about driving eyeballs back to your brand, but once those eyeballs are focused on your website, social media channels or other digital assets, they have to be met with content which is interesting, relevant and entertaining. This is where we change the minds of our ‘2s’ (because I haven’t managed to convince them that our agency IS different and BLOODY BRILLIANT… yet) and stay front of mind with our ‘3s’.

Both of these groups may be interested in your meanderings on the latest topics and trends effecting the industry, but it might be that they want to get their hands on some content that is a bit more ‘self-service’. Benchmark tools, assessments etc. all serve as buyer-enablement content which some audiences may prefer, so try and keep your content varied. And believe me, I know how much easier it is to put together a white paper or report than to build an ‘interactive buyer enablement tool’, but — if you can, do!

 Content utopia

In an ideal world, all of this content planning should be led by marketing, working closely with the user / customer experience and sales teams. It needs to be closely monitored so that at the right time, when your prospective customers convert from a 3 to a 4, your sales team can get their groove on.

Unfortunately, time and again we see clients (and I am also guilty of this at times because lead gen is the part of sales that I love the most!) putting all of their efforts into generating awareness and then… nothing. It’s so important after you pierce the consciousness of a prospective client that you nurture and monitor that engagement.

Catering analogy to the rescue

If there is no measurement, no follow up etc., you’ll still get the incremental non-sales benefits of having fabulous content, more web traffic and improved reputation — but to what end?

And so… back to the sales funnel, here’s my analogy (FWIW!). A content plan that only focuses on generating awareness and then trying to close a sale is a bit like having a sandwich without any filling. Bread aside (I’m a multi-seed kind of girl personally…) that sarnie should be fully loaded, catering to a variety of tastes. Feel free to hold the Marmite though, no need to go crazy. Although… 😉

Paula Fifield

Paula began working with the agency in 2007 as Business Development Director and was appointed as a board director in 2011. Prior to Wildfire, Paula worked at Sun Microsystems, Orange and Morse Group in a range of marketing, customer relationship management and business development roles.