James White
17th February 2020 - 6 mins read
S

ounds great, doesn’t it?

But the reality is, it is simplistic, outdated, rigid and even wrong and that’s why I think it is time to take a hammer to the funnel.

The big problem with the funnel is it doesn’t reflect the modern consumer’s experience or the way they interact with brands. And it is also prescriptive about where different content formats sit in the process, whereas it should be the content within each format that is the decisive factor – not the delivery method.

Just because someone is at the start of a process to buy a product doesn’t mean they need the same form of marketing content to take them further along that journey.

Everyone is different. When I have gone out to buy software, like Communigator, I have tended to go on YouTube and looked at ‘how to’ videos. I wanted to find out more about how you import data and how you create dashboards.

Most marketeers would argue that is the back end of the funnel, where you are really deciding what you are going to buy, but I used it right at the top.

The top of the funnel for me is about peer review and word of mouth. I am more likely to talk to people and ask how they do things.  Yet this doesn’t get a look-in in marketing funnels.

The other top of the funnel – the awareness piece - for me is people picking up the phone and calling me or going to a conference and seeing a good speaker.

And, I’m sure I’m not alone – different types of content appeal to different people at different times.

You simply cannot afford to put everyone in the same pot and say that just because they are at a particular stage of the process, they need that type of content, delivered in a particular type of way.

Let’s take podcasts as an example. These are typically placed in the ‘awareness’ section at the top of the funnel. But why do they need to sit there? Surely, they could also play a role in other stages, such as research and comparison.

You could have a podcast talking about the different types of automated marketing software and that would sit in the comparison section. Or you could have a podcast talking about pricing or ROI which could sit in the ‘purchase’ section of the funnel.

As I say, it is the content within each format that decides where it should be used in the process, not the delivery method.

So, if you are not going to base your marketing on the funnel, what should you do?

Well, you still need a process in place that gives thought to where different parts of content should be. And you still need a method or process for identifying buying intent.

Ultimately it is all about having good quality content that engages, convinces and compels your audience, regardless of whether they come to it at the start of the buying process or when they are about to make a buying decision.

You need to offer them something that adds value; that showcases your expertise and highlights what makes your brand different.

That is why at Thirty Seven, and our sister company Media First, we put journalistic principles at the heart of every bit of content we produce.

And that means we aim to tell the TRUTH.

By that I mean our content is:

 

T topical, of the moment, and something people are talking about

R relevant to a specific audience

U unusual. Not what people already know or expect

T trouble. Show how you are solving a problem. Or, if your story is not strong enough, a journalist will look for their own trouble angle

H human interest. What is in it for people? What impact will it have on your customers and the journalist’s audience?

 

The aim is for the content to include at least four of the five elements of TRUTH to create something meaningful.

But the human aspect is crucial.

The most common phrase you will hear in a newsroom is ‘so what?’ Journalists will look at a potential news item and ask ‘so what does this mean for my audience?’

At the very least they will want to know who the people are behind the story. Take a look at any newspaper, news website or news programme and you will find all the stories have a human angle.

The reason is simple – people are fascinated by stories about people, not policies, procedures initiatives and protocols.

As well as telling the TRUTH you need to say AMEN (no, this blog hasn’t taken a strange turn towards religious preaching). This means you need to ensure the content you produce is suitable for the target ‘Audience’; that you are clear on the ‘Message’ you want to get across to that audience; that you have ‘Examples’ (ideally human ones) to support and explain that message; and that you have considered any potential ‘Negatives’ that could be raised.

Unless you are working for a company with a huge marketing budget, and lots of people producing the content, the ‘topical’ element of what makes quality content is tricky.

The key is to balance timely content with content that is evergreen (not time-sensitive) and that can also be sliced and diced in different ways. At Media First, we have recently taken a number of blogs and used them as the basis of downloadable eBooks aimed at specific sectors.

Similarly, there is no reason why videos can’t be turned in to podcasts or why parts of a Whitepaper can’t be turned into an Infographic. Not only does this ensure your carefully crafted content is working harder, but you are also providing more ways for consumers to access content in the ways they are most comfortable.

The other key journalistic principle you need to use in your content is proof reading. You should ensure that your content is seen by three sets of eyes before it leaves your office. This helps to ensure your content meets its aims and objective and that those typos and errors that can undermine content are eradicated.

I mentioned earlier the importance of still having a process behind your content once you have moved away from the funnel.

That process needs to be flexible and it also needs to be something you are prepared to interrupt. At Media First, we would normally see someone downloading our content as a sign of a hot lead.

But recently we decided to interrupt that and call people before they reached that stage.  We called 135 people – identified by the pages they had visited on the website. 90 people got dropped, two were not the right contact and one was international, but we generated 34 proposals and eight hot leads – that is a ridiculous conversion rate for new business development.

 

It’s time to take a hammer to the funnel – or at least throw it out. There is a better way, and quality content lies at its core.

 

At Thirty Seven, we offer content and design services to ensure your campaigns reach the right audiences at the right times. Our journalist led approach ensures your content is interesting, engaging and informative so you gain brand awareness and engagement whether it is a podcast or email marketing.

Marketing

5 types of video content to help your business make an impact

Emily Stonham 12th October 2018 — 6 mins read
V

ideo content is the perfect way to achieve this. Using videos to interact with your customer shows them the person behind the product, and demonstrates how it could benefit them in real life. After all, the modern customer is busy. And with more content available online than ever, it’s important that your content stands out from the crowd and captures their interest.

Of course, different content will work for different people.  You need to narrow down your audience and figure out exactly what they’re going to be interested in watching. This means profiling your existing customers and talking to people who chose to buy from you, as well as those that chose not to buy from you. Content formats like surveys or social media polls can be really useful for this sort of research.

There are so many types of video content to consider. Here are 5 of our personal favourites for you to consider adding to your content strategy.

Behind the scenes

A video showing the inner workings of your business is a fantastic way to personalise your marketing and build a deeper level of trust with your consumer. If you’re promoting a product, show sneak peeks of how it’s made or a snippet of a brainstorming meeting. If your business offers a service, try filming a set-up before an event or consultation.

Obviously, you don’t have to show the whole thing, but giving your customers a glimpse behind the scenes can help them relate to your business on a more personal level and feel more interested in what you’re offering.

Some of the best behind the scenes video content comes from online brands. Fashion brands are particularly good at using this style on social media to keep their fans excited about upcoming products and collections.

A great example is the printing company Awesome Merchandise, who create personalised merchandise for businesses. They show behind the scenes shots of their machines embroidering and printing, and take a lot of photos off their staff working or on days out. These pieces of content help the customers feel like they’re in the factory or office with the team, and thus feel more connected.

Interviews

On the other end of the spectrum, an interview could be a great piece of content to film. This could be an interview with a team member, to find out more about the business and their day-to-day life. It could be an interview with a key influencer in your industry, perhaps talking about predictions for future trends or technological developments. You could interview customers, your boss or even strangers at a convention or networking event. There are a lot of possibilities with this idea - just figure out what you’d like to communicate, and work backwards from there.

Our sister company, Media First, often uses this video format to create customer testimonial videos such as this one. The benefit of using interviews in your content marketing is that it offers an engaging narrative for consumers, and can showcase different points of view.

Instructional videos

If you’re offering a product, a video detailing how to use it can be really beneficial for customers. Numbered videos can be really helpful e.g. ‘5 ways to use make the most of…’ or ’10 ways XX product can help your team’.

A key benefit of instructional videos is that it can also help to reduce the strain on customer services, sales and support teams. This style of video will often be created to answer a frequently asked question, and thus make the customer experience more pleasant overall.

A great example of this style of content would be makeup gurus, specifically on YouTube. Jeffree Star, a famous fashion influencer and businessman, creates makeup tutorials using his own products and techniques. The overall effect of this is that the customers gain more information about the product and engage more deeply with the brand itself.

Product launch

A great piece of content to create is a video promoting new products or events that your business is launching. A video could include sneak peeks/glimpses of the product, to generate hype around your brand. This could even tie in with other pieces of content, like competitions or give-aways to get more customers excited.

Alternatively, you could create an in-depth piece of content that highlights the key benefits of your new product, and gives the customer a reason to come back to your business.

This is often done really well by game development companies. When new video games are being released, companies often rely on social media hype to get the word out. They’ll post sneak peeks and snippets of game play, all leading up to an elaborate reveal of the game. A great example of this would be the most recent installation of the Super Smash Bros game from Nintendo.

Vlog

This one may be a less popular idea, depending on the industry you work in, but vlogging can be a great way to humanise your business and connect with your customers on a more personal level. A vlog is essentially a video blog. They’re incredibly personal, and are hugely popular on social media.

An example of the crazy hype that these pieces of content can create is the latest trend on YouTube called ‘mukbangs’. A mukbang is an eating show, with the creator simply having a meal and chatting to the audience. This might sound ridiculous if you’ve never seen these - who would sit and just watch someone eat for fun?

Surprisingly, tens of millions of people tune in to watch these on YouTube and Twitch. The appeal is the personal aspect, where the audience feels like they’re having a meal with a friend. Here's an example from a popular creator named Josh Peck.

Mukbangs can be used for marketing new products from fast food companies, like Taco Bell or McDonalds. They may not seem like the most obvious choice for a piece of content, but the cult following that they have online is immense.

Additionally, this type of content can be tailored well to fit most industries - for example ‘a day in the life of a digital marketing apprentice’ or ‘spending the day at a media training course’. They’re personal, fun and tie in well with the previously mentioned idea about a behind-the-scenes video.

Overall

Overall, it’s worth your time considering adding video into your content marketing strategy. It’s modern, engaging and also quite fun to produce. Customers love video content, and it can do incredibly well on social media.

And they don’t need to be long, either. When Thirty Seven launched a printed magazine earlier this year, we created a 15 second looped video to promote it that could be used on Twitter and LinkedIn- take a look at it here.

If you try out any of these ideas for a social media post, feel free to tag us - we’d love to see it.

Thirty Seven offers a huge range of content creation services, and we’d be happy to have a chat about any marketing projects that we could help your business with.

Emily Stonham
12th October 2018 - 6 mins read

Every company wants to be an authority in their sector - those that engage the media usually are

Media First designs and delivers bespoke media and communications courses that use current working journalists, along with PR and communications professionals, to help you get the most from your communications plan.