2 Nov 2022 How to Strategy

Why you should create content for each part of your customer’s journey

Business woman shaking hands with another woman who stands next to a man

For years, the concept of a sales and marketing ‘funnel’ has been prevalent in many marketing consultant’s (‘gurus’) arsenal of weaponry to get businesses to move prospects to the point or purchase. It’s an outdated practice. In this article, I’ll discuss why you should ditch the concept of a funnel and create content for each part of your customer’s journey – however they travel.

In the days when I worked in the technology space, we frequently spoke of sales funnels and how we needed to get someone from being a lead to a qualified opportunity and then converting to a customer. It was a linear approach that was easy to understand. At each stage there were tasks for us to undertake: sending a whitepaper, conducting a product demonstration, sending a proposal, following up and closing the deal.

Life was simple. Then again, we didn’t have smartphones and TikTok dance routines to master.

Funnels are still the lifeblood of many a marketing expert out there who will try to convince you to apply their tried-and-tested blueprint that’s obviously going to work for you in the same way it’s worked for every other business they’ve dealt with.

The problem with funnels

And here lies the problem with funnels: they assume a certain amount of uniformity (and conformity) from the people being targeted by them. Now think about your customers. Are they all the same?

The other thing I dislike immensely about funnels is the idea of forcing people from one stage to the next. I know convincing someone is part of marketing but, to use a modern idiom, it gives me the ick. Who wants to be forced to do anything? It doesn’t seem very modern to me. I much prefer the term ‘journey’ to describe the process of a potential customer moving along and reaching a destination, hopefully ending with a sale, with us.

How much better would it be to open doors along that journey, allowing someone to peer in to see if that’s what they need now, to help them with whatever problem they’re trying to solve?

A better model

I much prefer a model I discovered in 2021 from James Hankins which he calls Hankin’s Hexagon. You can read about it from the creator of it here. To sum it up (possibly without doing it justice), the key idea is that customers can take any number of different paths on their journey to purchase. Thanks to the incredible amount of information available to them, mainly online, one has very little control over the paths they choose. Sometimes the journey is short, at other times it’s long, even repetitive as a potential customer goes back and forth over information (me when I’m trying to choose a hotel somewhere).

Let’s use an analogy of buying a pen. You love a fountain pen. You love the way the ink flows, how it gives you a calligraphy style of signature. You even love the way it makes you feel when someone who’s received a handwritten note comments on how lovely your handwriting is.

Your trusted fountain pen breaks. What do you do?

If you love the fountain pen you have, perhaps you simply buy the same one. The journey is short.

Maybe, however, you choose to review other fountain pens that exist to make a comparison. You consider how they look, whether they are cartridge-based or ink well. You compare where to purchase and how much each one costs. Should you change brands? Decisions!

Perhaps you think about ditching a pen altogether and evaluate whether you need a pen at all, preferring to use a tablet and stylus instead.

So many ways to get to the purchase point. In this example, do any of these specific journeys need you to be involved? Have you ever gone into WH Smith and asked to try different pens? If you needed to try them out, I bet you just took a pen and wrote on the shelf ticket.

I’m sure there must be a study somewhere that shows that today’s customer interacts less and less with a business during the buying journey. Of course, some products and services necessitate human interaction. How do we deal with an audience that wants as much information up front to allow them to take their own path and make their own decision? By using content that is relevant to each part of the journey. Whether you are a business selling direct to consumer, or one that sells to other businesses, you need to create content that helps your potential customer answer the question they are pondering at that point.

How it works with a B2B business

Let’s take another example: working with us and the process you’re in right now, as you read this.

Somehow, you’ve arrived here. Perhaps as a result of putting a question into a search engine and this article being presented as the answer. Something triggered the question, maybe it’s that you want to know more about how content marketing works or can help your business. This article attempts to help you answer that question. If you feel it has, I’ve built some trust with you. That may be the sum of our relationship at this point. Next time you see a LikeMind Media article, you may be more likely to read it.

If you were considering asking a company to work with you on your content marketing, you may consider this article as proof that LikeMind Media has relevant knowledge that you might compare to other content marketing companies out there. You may go and look at the definition of services we offer to see if they look a good fit before reading some of our case studies of work we’ve done for others. When you’re ready, you may call us and chat through ideas and options and ask questions about how we work together in a post-purchase relationship.

Or you may decide that our Together programme is exactly what you need, and you sign up without much involvement, because it fits your price point.

At whichever stage, we are creating content that helps you: articles to show you we have knowledge; service descriptions to show you what we actually provide; case studies to show you that our services get results; social media content to show you who you’ll work with; a conversation to show you we are real and helpful.

At every stage, creating content is the best way to show someone that it is real, and to answer a question they have at that part of the journey.

This is the framework we use at LikeMind Media to help our clients with their content marketing. Whether you work with us or not, it’s a framework I recommend you follow too.

In an adaptation of Hankin’s Hexagon, we categorise different parts of the journey into what we call the ACCEPT journey framework. As part of any strategy we craft, each of these points is considered in the content we create. A piece of content must reflect one of these points in the journey so that it has value and contributes to the person’s decision, even if that’s to rule something out.

The LikeMind Media Method's ACCEPT Journey Framework

Each piece of content you create should be one of those doors that a potential customer can peek through on their journey towards building a lasting relationship with you. Content needs to be interesting, helpful and trustworthy.

If you’d like to learn more about how LikeMind Media can help your customers move freely on their journey to working with you, move along your journey with us by sending us an email, a DM on one of our social media channels or calling us on +44 (0)1509 323363.


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