Different funnels displayed: car oil funnel, cooking funnel, and beer bong funnel. None of these is a content funnel.

Funnels are useful for getting motor oil into a car engine, getting funnel cake batter into cooking oil and getting beer into a frat boy’s belly.

What is a “content funnel”? If you enjoy cooking, auto maintenance or beer bong parties, you know the funnel as an actual tool. If you work in sales, you know the metaphoric tool: the sales funnel graphic. It shows how a large target audience thins out as people gradually learn more about the kind of stuff you sell and decide not to buy it, buy it from a competitor, or buy it from you.

Recently, marketing pros began using a similar funnel metaphor when talking about the hot topic of content marketing. Marketers are telling businesses to demonstrate their expertise by creating and sharing smart content through blog posts, website pages, email newsletters, articles, case studies, webinars and white papers. The idea is that people who might want to buy your stuff are first shopping around online to see who is knowledgeable about this kind of stuff and what can be learned from them.

A typical sales funnel, from awareness to purchase. Use this for your content funnel.

A sales funnel graphic helps salespeople grasp buyer behavior.

People who have a problem to solve ask different types of questions as they move down the content funnel. At the top of the funnel, their questions are aimed at increasing their awareness of available solutions; in the middle, they are trying to educate themselves about the pros and cons of different solutions; near the bottom, they are seeking details that will help them decide whose solution to buy.

For example, the owner of a growing business with the usual array of technology problems feels that managing IT is taking too much of his time. He might first ask, “Should I hire or outsource IT management?” While seeking answers, he might come across a new alternative — managed technology services — and begin asking what this includes and what it costs. Then he might ask very detailed questions of two or three companies that offer what he thinks he wants.

If you have provided knowledgeable answers to all of his questions, isn’t it more likely he will buy from you?

Have a marketing challenge? Call Kim Landry at 484-829-0021 or email [email protected].

Share This