In a previous post we looked at why it’s not good to include sales requests in your content marketing.
The next question that comes up is:
Ok, so how do we create more the right type of content?
Here is a list of ideas. The type of content that educates and entertains your target audience. The type of content that earns attention for your brand, builds authority, builds links and brand mentions and helps bring customers to your brand.
But customers won’t come via this content. They’ll come when they’re ready to buy and they’ll usually find you with more sales-type terms like when they search for your brand name or for the product you sell.
But in order for them to know about your brand you need to create more top of funnel content first.
1. Identify Your Customers
The first step is to know your customers. This is the obvious one. I won’t spend too much time on this one. Knowing your customers is a large part of content marketing.
2. Identify Influencers
I also agree with Rand Fishkin on this topic. Content marketing and top of funnel content isn’t just about your customers. That’s limiting the scope of the audience you can reach.
Influencers can be anyone that directly or indirectly influences your customers to discover your brand and learn about your products.
The goal with content marketing is to raise awareness for your brand. Getting links to your top of funnel content. Getting brand mentions. All that good stuff.
You need to know your customers and influencers in order to create more top of funnel content. Because if you don’t know what your audience wants you’ll get writer’s or creator’s block.
3. Identify Education
Now you want to identify what education your audience (customers, influencers, etc.) is interested in. What they’re looking for and what they’re interested in.
You can survey your current customers asking what education they’re interested in. What blogs they read. What magazines they subscribe to. What documentaries they watch. All that type of information.
We often think about education as professional-related, but education also deals with personal life. If you’re customers and influencers, for example, are mostly parents then odds are good they’re looking for parenting education online.
That might be an opportunity to create that type of top of funnel content.
4. Identify Entertainment
Your audience also wants to be entertained. And a lot of brands are starting to get better with creating entertaining content. But many are still kind of halfway in on it. They’ll create entertaining commercials. Entertaining sales content. That might get a little attention.
But entertaining content like Serial gets tons of attention. Oh, and it’s brought to you by Squarespace…
When you learn what your audience wants for entertainment you know more about the type of content you need to create. And the more you know the more you’ll actually create.
5. Identify Focus of Attention
Finally, this one is related to the previous two. You’re looking for anything else that grabs the focus of your audience’s attention.
Facebook is a big one right now. Before that it might have been email. Maybe it’s some kind of game. There are all kinds of things that hold our attention.
For creating top of funnel content you want to know what holds the focus of people’s attention and create a way to intercept that attention.
For example, if your audience is focusing attention on Facebook then it makes sense to advertise on Facebook and create native content on Facebook (that is educational and entertaining).
6. Copy, Tweak, Repeat
Now you know the audience and you know the type of content.
Don’t get hung up at this stage. It’s another stage where brands get stuck and fail to create top of funnel content. They start thinking about sales again. They start trying to reinvent things.
Don’t overthink it. See the type of content that’s out there, copy it, tweak it a little and repeat.
Focus on quantity. You’ll learn more the more you create.
I’m a fan of copying and trying to add on.
Here’s an example of entertainment content.
The sitcom Cheers played on the “Will they or won’t they…” narrative with the main characters in the ’80s. They actually did it twice in the show’s run.
Friends came along in the ’90s and did the same thing.
How I Met Your Mother did the same thing in the ’00s.
The same thing done a little differently.
7. Test Small, Implement Big
Lots of people invest halfway in top of funnel content. That approach leads to failure.
Try a bunch of things in a small way. Create blog posts or podcasts or video. Try it all, but pay attention to the early returns. See where you’re getting attention and after you’re convinced that you’re on to something go all in.
If the first few podcast episodes are gaining traction, put all the resources into it and ramp up the quantity.
8. Overestimate Resource Requirements
A big reason brands struggle with creating top of funnel content is they don’t allocate enough resources.
One person spending 5% of their time on social media won’t cut it.
Double your expectations or even 10x your expectations. If that is overwhelming then you’re not in the right mindset to succeed with top of funnel content.
It’s better to overestimate the resources you’ll need for this strategy.
9. Solidify Your Brand
By this I mean solidify what you’re selling and what your brand stands for. You want to prepare this because over the long run as you build your top of funnel content you will raise brand awareness and you will increase sales-intent attention. People will want to buy.
You want them to know what you sell so they know what to buy.
10. Put Your Head Down For A Few Years
Patience is a big key to all this. Top of funnel takes patience.
Look at the top of funnel content you love. Odds are high that the creators have been putting in years before they reached the point where people cared about them and the content.
If you’re going to follow the same path. Content marketing. Top of funnel content. You have to put your head down and be patient.
Top of funnel content can be a great way to bring in more sales. But not direct sales. Many struggle to create top of funnel content because they can’t get past the sales and conversion mentality. And they also can’t figure out the process for creating top of funnel content. Hopefully the steps above will set you on the right path.