I was watching the video for the second roundtable video that I participated in at Content Marketing World and Nick Panayi from CSC said, “the B2B funnel is more like a pinball machine, with leads bouncing everywhere” – I’m not sure that’s verbatim, so go watch it.
Anyway it got me to thinking about one of the big concepts in my next book that I call The Continuum Experience. It’s actually a continuation or extension of the concept of natural nurturing that I presented in my first book a few years back.
Essentially the gist is that the B2B funnel has constraints as a process of elimination based on the limited set of prospects in your database. A bunch go in at the top and a few come out the bottom. If you think about it, it’s like setting yourself up for failure.
Instead, if marketers are willing to look at nurturing as a function that works both with and outside of your database, you then have a construct based on infinite potential–rather than reduced possibilities.
The other thing that the continuum experience does is to eliminate standalone, start and stop campaigns that just halt momentum in its tracks. Why do we ever want to do that?
Creating a Continuum Experience makes sense when you consider that modern marketing is about:
- Meeting and engaging your leads in the channels they frequent
- Providing information that matches prospects needs based on who they are and where they are in the buying process
- Helping prospects choose to become your customers
In marketing, we’ve created a lot of issues for ourselves by naming stuff and then separating it. Marketers have a bunch of functions, including:
- Lead generation
- Demand generation
- Lead nurturing
- Brand awareness
- Sales enablement
- And more…
We segment our activities to address each one separately. But we don’t need to.
- Who’s to say that a white paper that’s being used specifically for lead gen isn’t just as applicable to a prospect in your database and nurture program that hasn’t seen that information?
- What if a prospect in your database and nurturing programs stumbles upon a blog post that fills in a key gap that was holding him back from taking the next step?
- What if your salesperson is in a great conversation when a question comes up and she can share just the right content to help the prospect keep moving? Even if it’s a piece designated to an early-stage nurture program and not publically available.
In any of these situations, should we be sorry that it happened? Or should we be facilitating these types of occurrences as a matter of course?
I’m voting for the latter.
But the only way this works is if our content and communications are consistent and relevant across all the channels we and our audiences use. And it means that we need to be sharing all the pieces of the story across those channels. We can’t just reserve the good stuff for the nurture programs that are only shared with those in our database.
Well, you can, but why would you want to limit potential?
I would stipulate that the pinball thing has always been there, only we now have the technology to see it happening as we engage with prospects in various channels.
So what does it take to adopt The Continuum Experience as a new construct for nurturing?
Dan and I discuss the above points and how personas can help you to speed up the buying process through alignment and progression strategies that resonate with buyers.
If you’re feeling the pinball fatigue, maybe it’s time to change your perspective about nurturing. It’s really about smart marketing that can help you accomplish a variety of tasks in an integrated way that will resonate with more of your prospects. And it’s not accurately represented by the B2B funnel.