Gini Dietrich

Plan Your Content Using a Marketing Funnel

By: Gini Dietrich | November 18, 2014 | 
41

Plan Your ContentBy Gini Dietrich

Do you plan your content?

As you know, we have a theme here every month (this month is planning!), but until earlier this year, we weren’t very intentional with our editorial calendar.

And, even with the theme, I don’t do so hot with staying on topic when I write (which is five times a week so I figure I get a break!).

But I have a big goal to be much more intentional in the coming year. This doesn’t mean that the content will become robotic.

Rather, I’ll follow a series all the way through—or write long form content to really dig into a topic. I’ll also pursue content hubs, which we require of our clients, but don’t practice ourselves.

To prepare for all of this, I’ve started to plan what I’ll write about (and Lindsay Bell will be grateful because I won’t ping her at 5:11 p.m. and say, “What should I write about tomorrow?”) and have followed the marketing funnel to do so.

The Marketing Funnel

In the marketing funnel, there is a lot of content you can create for each step in the buying decision. It’s broken down by top, middle, and bottom. It’s an easy way to plan your content.

At the very top, of course, is how people find out about you: The social networks, blogging, search engine optimization, email marketing, and other types of content you might produce.

Once they land on your site, you should have a content plan to take them from “kicking the tires” to “I cannot wait to hire these guys!”

That plan should include:

  • The very broad content at the top that helps a prospect become educated about an issue, challenge, or solution. For instance, “What does a PR firm do?”
  • The discovery content is in the middle and this is where a prospect begins to trust you. You’ve answered the question they have in a way that makes them feel like they trust you. Now they want to know how they might successfully hire a PR firm.
  • The consideration content is at the bottom. They are ready to buy…and have likely narrowed down their choices to you and one or two other organizations. This is where you can begin to talk about yourself, but not from your point-of-view. You have to do it from their perspective, which is why case studies and testimonials are so powerful here.

The Marketing Funnel

At the top, you’re giving content away. In the middle, you have some free and some behind a landing page so you can begin to collect email addresses. The bottom answers questions such as what it’s like to work with you and how much you cost.

Plan Your Content

As you plan your content, you want to think about your goals and your audiences.

  • The top (or broad content) goals should simply be to build industry awareness, attract links, and reach new audiences.
  • The middle (or discovery content) goals should be to create awareness of a solution you have to an industry problem, awareness of your organizations, and help prospects to remember you.
  • The bottom (or consideration content) goals should be to build product awareness and convert prospects to customers.

Now it’s time to figure out your specific topics.

For purposes of this exercise, let’s stay with how one might hire and work with a PR firm as the topic.

Top-of-the-Funnel Content

See how this content is very broad?

The only keyword I’ve used is “PR firm,” but I’ve created six different pieces of content using it that a prospect might search to figure out if they need to hire a PR firm.

Pretty much anyone interested in what a PR firm does, or in hiring a PR firm, will land on this content. They may or not be a good lead for us, but this allows us to capture their attention and lead them to the discovery phase.

Middle-of-the-Funnel Content

This gets a bit more in-depth. Now we’re answering questions for informational searches.

The content starts to give the visitor information on what to do next—what to expect, what kinds of questions to ask, and who already uses a PR firm successfully. It also begins to qualify a lead and bring only the best prospects to you and/or your sales team.

Bottom-of-the-Funnel Content

At the bottom—when people are getting ready to make a decision—you can provide content that shows your key differentiators, your process, and your positioning statement.

I’ve even included here why you’d want to work with a boutique or a virtual PR firm.

The point is this is where it’s time to talk about what makes you different. Everything to this point has been demonstrating the way you think and building trust through a computer screen.

Now you can plan your content to provide the best information about your organization, and your products or services.

Do a Test Run

To plan your content, you should do a test run right this very second.

Seriously, stop reading and pull out a notebook or open Keynote or PowerPoint.

Draw three circles. Label them just as I have above: Top-of-the-funnel, middle, and bottom.

Then re-read the content goals for each phase above.

Now, choose a topic. Any topic, but make it one that prospects are always curious about when you finally speak to them.

It could be pricing or delivery or warranty or just education about your industry.

Pull out your phone and set a timer for two minutes. Then fill in as many broad topics as you can in the first circle.

When the timer goes off, reset it and do the same for your middle-of-the-funnel circle. Just write headlines around your topic.

Then do it for the third circle.

It may not be exactly as you want, but in the last 10 minutes, you likely created 15-20 different pieces of content you can create around one topic.

This is how you plan your content, and become very intentional, without it seeming like you’re a robot and don’t have personality.

Give it a try!

image credits: The main image is courtesy of Shutterstock. I created the others with Numbers and Keynote.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

Spin Sucks in Your Inbox

Leave a Reply

41 Comments on "Plan Your Content Using a Marketing Funnel"

avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest
Howie Goldfarb
1 year 9 months ago

What is this PR thing you mention and why would it be in a funnel? Oh geez totally forgot the coffee was brewing the french press brb!

Howie Goldfarb
1 year 9 months ago

See I told you! Ok now back to this funnel thing.

You don’t have to have a lot of money to use sophisticated planning techniques. It just means you probably don’t have minions like ginidietrich does to create these things.

rwohlner
1 year 9 months ago

Good stuff, even for a Bears fan!

rwohlner
1 year 9 months ago

One question how do you sequence this? Do you publish all of the top of the funnel posts first then all of the middle of the funnel posts and so on?

belllindsay
1 year 9 months ago

I love it when you ping me saying “I don’t know what to write about tomorrow!” – as you know, brainstorming is my most favourite thing ever. 🙂

TracyRedefined
1 year 9 months ago

Intentional marketing is smart marketing! Great tips here – thank you for sharing!

ginidietrich
1 year 9 months ago

Howie Goldfarb Bwahahah! That, literally, made me laugh out loud!

ginidietrich
1 year 9 months ago

Howie Goldfarb If you think my minions do this work, you’re crazy! They just sit around and eat bon-bons and make fun of me.

ginidietrich
1 year 9 months ago

rwohlner Ah, you’re so nice to me.

ginidietrich
1 year 9 months ago

rwohlner I would actually do one from each set at the same time. Do a top, middle, and bottom and then publish together.

ginidietrich
1 year 9 months ago

belllindsay So give me a topic for Thursday, then!

ginidietrich
1 year 9 months ago

TracyRedefined You bet!

HeatherTweedy
1 year 9 months ago

What a fantastic and succinct activity to help build content for the funnel.  It’s a really great tool for meetings, too!

ginidietrich
1 year 9 months ago

HeatherTweedy Oh, yes! Totally would work for meetings, too.

Howie Goldfarb
1 year 9 months ago

rwohlner who are the Bears?

Howie Goldfarb
1 year 9 months ago

rwohlner I think ginidietrich writes each on a little piece of paper then puts them into a hat and draws them one by one. That is how detailed she gets!

Howie Goldfarb
1 year 9 months ago

ginidietrich are they called Bon Bons in Canada? cc belllindsay

belllindsay
1 year 9 months ago

ginidietrich It doesn’t work that way. You have to call me around 5:45 pm on Wednesday evening. 🙂

ginidietrich
1 year 9 months ago

belllindsay Sigh

LauraPetrolino
1 year 9 months ago

I love the organization of this and it’s also a really great tool in working with clients to help organize and direct their content creation. It can often feel very overwhelming and the system you’ve laid out here really helps to distill it down in an effective and easy to understand way.

ginidietrich
1 year 9 months ago

LauraPetrolino You’re welcome.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
1 year 9 months ago

SFerika Miss you!

SFerika
SFerika
1 year 9 months ago

ginidietrich I miss you too, lady! SF road trip any time soon? No snow here… 😉

JoshuaJLight
JoshuaJLight
1 year 9 months ago

Funnels are a great tool for maintaining focus on the things that drive business growth. We use them for everything…software development, marketing, sales, etc. It took me a few years in the startup world to figure this out.
I have each team member fill out a weekly report. Each one has a funnel accompanied by weekly goals. Having goals is great. If a goal isn’t met or exceeded each team member has to write up a brief synopsis about what happened.
This analysis is critical because it often helps determine what needs to be done the following week. 
Great article, Gini.

trackback

[…] Dietrich is founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, Inc. and blogs at Spin Sucks, where a version of this article originally […]

lauraclick
1 year 9 months ago

This ROCKS, Gini! I think about this, but haven’t mapped it out in this way. This is a great visual way to think about it.

Question – do you try to make sure every piece of content fits into one of these funnels? Or, do you only keep a percentage of your content as focused on the funnel? For instance, one could argue that talking about trends and industry news could be Top of Funnel content, but it’s not as evergreen or quite as focused on the funnel. What’s the breakdown between that kind of content and funnel content? Just curious.

ginidietrich
1 year 9 months ago

lauraclick I worry less about that and more about answering the questions our prospects have. When I start the process, though, I try to have one topic in each bucket…and then grow from there.

ginidietrich
1 year 9 months ago

JoshuaJLight I love that, Josh! What a great idea!

trackback

[…] Here’s another take on the same idea, presented as top, middle and bottom of the funnel content, courtesy of Gini Dietrich of SpinSucks.com. […]

trackback

[…] Here’s another take on the same idea, presented as top, middle and bottom of the funnel content, courtesy of Gini Dietrich of SpinSucks.com. […]

mtpyeworkshop
mtpyeworkshop
1 year 9 months ago

JeffSheehan Just letting you know we’ve shared your tweet, way to go!!! http://www.mtpyeworkshop.com http://rbl.ms/1DoCxft

Armandt_R
Armandt_R
1 year 9 months ago

JeffSheehan Thanks for sharing! It’s now featured on http://rbl.ms/1xw92Ut

TwumblrGram
TwumblrGram
1 year 8 months ago

smithjmarketing Couldn’t have said it better! That tweet is now on my RebelMouse http://twitter.com/RebelMouse/status/443830212854169600/photo/1 http://rbl.ms/1wAypGk

trackback

[…] Content! […]

trackback

[…] Here’s another take on the same idea, presented as top, middle and bottom of the funnel content, courtesy of Gini Dietrich of SpinSucks.com. […]

trackback

[…] Here’s another take on the same idea, presented as top, middle and bottom of the funnel content, courtesy of Gini Dietrich of SpinSucks.com. […]

trackback

[…] Here’s another take on the same idea, presented as top, middle and bottom of the funnel content, courtesy of Gini Dietrich of SpinSucks.com. […]

trackback

[…] Here’s another take on the same idea, presented as top, middle and bottom of the funnel content, courtesy of Gini Dietrich of SpinSucks.com. […]

trackback

[…] Customers love a shopping experience on a website that is minimalist, sleek, and makes the buying process quick and simple. Part of this process mandates solid imagery and the proper amount of content. […]

trackback

[…] If you ask me, there aren’t many secrets to the success of Spin Sucks. That’s because Gini Dietrich does a pretty bang-up job of telling people, loudly and often, our secrets. How we come up with ideas. How we failed in the beginning. How we plan our content marketing. […]

trackback

[…] like any other business initiative, you have to plan your content marketing […]

wpDiscuz
[postmatic_subscribe_widget]