We create content for a purpose. That purpose is usually to move prospects closer to a purchase. Top of funnel content is meant to attract people, middle funnel content changes how prospects frame their problem, and bottom of the funnel content convinces them that we are the right organization to do business with.
But what customer likes funnels? The second you click something on a website you’ve surrendered your inbox to the hell that is someone’s funnel. You’re not the only company doing this. Everyone is. And it’s causing people to pay less and less attention to brand’s messages.
What if the reason is that the funnel is backward? As “consumer-centric” as we say we are, we’re still making content from our perspective. How can we create content that truly solves for the consumer’s needs?
Maslow outlined a hierarchy for all of our needs in his famous pyramid.
These needs are present in our professional lives and content can solve them.
Physiological needs: We might not have physiological needs online but we do have some basic emotional needs. We all have the need to feel: intrigue, humor, shock, sadness. It’s easy to consume content that has an immediate payoff. It’s the headline you like without reading. It’s the photo of some expensive dinner your neighbor is bragging about. It’s the meme that gets forwarded to you by a co-worker.
Safety Needs: Safety in the workplace boils down to job security or performance. This type of content is the most likely to be googled or appear in the form of a question. “How do I do XYZ?” or “ABC Template.” These are resources that solve an immediate need experienced in daily work.
Belonginess: We all feel the need for a sense of professional belonging. It’s why we join LinkedIn groups and attend conferences. We also want to know how we, or our organization, compare to others. Surveys, case studies, and benchmark reports satisfy this need.
Esteem Needs: Become a successful thought leader and you’ll create a separation similar to that of celebrity status. You have all the answers. Content at this stage puts the reader on an equal level and takes them backstage to see the inner workings of your business and thinking.
Self-actualization: We all want to be good at what we do. Better than good. We want to be world class. Content that helps get people thinking or inspires them to bring out their creativity and natural talents.
Of course, if you flip the pyramid… it looks a lot like a funnel. And maybe this content isn’t so different from what we assign to funnel stages. But the mistake we make by looking at the funnel (and not the pyramid) is trying to force the customer to fit into stages they aren’t in.
We assume everyone starts at the top.
We score people to determine when they should move to the next stage.
We trigger automated emails to entice a quicker sales call.
We make it about us.
The reality is people always consume content based off of their own needs. They find you due to a trigger in their life. Making it about you is like having a conversation with someone who always changes the topic back to themselves. It sucks.