The Flipped Funnel: Expert Content Marketing Tips from IBM’s Leslie Reiser and Paul Gillin


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According to social marketing strategist, the traditional sales funnel is being complimented—and in some cases replaced—by the “Flipped Funnel.” Before the web, social media and search technology, prospects knew very little about brands’ mission and offerings. It was the marketer’s job to educate customers and steer them toward purchase. The Flipped Funnel, illustrated on the left, is the consumer’s new pathway to purchase. Consumers now tap into multiple resources, 10.4 on average, according to Google’s Zero Moment of Truth before handing over their credit card. This means that brands need to prove value before jumping into a sales pitch. By publishing content that helps consumers address their problems, companies can effectively navigate the Flipped Funnel, build trust and loyalty among their customer base, and ultimately be more successful.

To help companies navigating the Flipped Funnel, we invited Paul and Leslie Reiser, Program Director, WW Digital Marketing of IBM’s General Business division, to share their insights on how to How To Kick-Start Your Content Marketing Program. Here are a few of the important takeaways:

1. Define Your Objectives:
Before you embark on conquering the Flipped Funnel with content marketing, remember that all members of your executive team need to agree on the business goals your content needs to impact. Prior to launching the Midsize Insider IBM’s educational initiative for business owners and IT professionals in small to mid-size businesses, Leslie and her team confirmed their indicators for success. IBM’s Midsize Insider will strive to become a trusted resource among its target audience, drive broader awareness of IBM’s product and solution suite, and help influence future purchase decisions. Every piece of content published on – over 1,100 articles since the 2010 launch, is crafted to help IBM meet those goals.

2. Develop a content strategy:
Now that you have established what your content needs to accomplish it’s time to build your strategy. All content strategies, Leslie and Paul stressed, must start with your audience. The more research you do on your prospective customer’s interests and information discovery process, the more equipped your brand will be to deliver content that resonates. For the Midsize Insider, Leslie and her team decided to focus on trends and topics that would help their readers improve the efficiency, cost savings and ROI of their business operations.

3. Build a Group of Passionate Writers:
Quality content does not fall from the sky. Companies need to invest in writers with industry expertise and the ability to tell compelling stories. Recruiting a group of writers with diverse backgrounds, such as expert freelance writers, business partners or analysts, will help you to accomplish your specific content goals. Leslie ensured that IBM recruited an experienced team of writers with deep IT domain knowledge, who can generate advocacy and provide a forward-thinking perspective.

4.Promote with Paid, Owned and Earned Media (POE):
Once you begin consistently publishing content, come up with a plan to fuel its promotion. As Paul Gillin advises, there are three areas where your content needs to find a home:

  • Paid Media: Placements that your brand purchases, such as display ads, paid search keywords and sponsorships;
  • Owned Media: Properties that your brand has complete control over, including your website, blog and social media channels;
  • Earned Media: All channels where others are talking about your brand, such as social media, review websites and publications.

By promoting content across all POE media, IBM drew over 70,000 visits and 95,000 page views in Q1 and Q2 of 2012 alone.

We want to thank Leslie and Paul for sharing their content marketing expertise with our community. For more content insights, listen to the webinar in full or download our white paper, How to Kick-Start Your Content Marketing: A Seven Step Approach to Delivering Success

We look forward to hearing your content tips and tricks—leave a comment below or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

David Woodrow

David Woodrow
David Woodrow is the Senior Vice President of Strategic Services for Skyword, responsible for clients' content marketing programs, author of Maximum Sales Velocity: How to Build a World-Class Sales Organization, and an experienced online community manager for Fortune 500 companies.


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