Lately I have been questioning how most people nurture leads. The usual method is to structure a basic set of content streams along the lines of buyer persona and/or buying stage. Assuming, of course, it is possible to completely know where the lead thinks they are in the buying stage.
There are two major assumptions in lead nurturing, both of which are flawed.
- Assumption 1: it is possible to know where the lead thinks they are in the buying cycle.
- Assumption 2: our content tells the story the lead wants to hear about themselves.
Marketers continue to think about their needs ahead of their audiences. Our conversations are mostly about “Which will get the response” from a lead, rather than, “Why would the lead want to download this?”
It’s natural. We’re human. So is your lead.
As a human, we have stories and scripts in our heads about who we are and what we want to do. If I am given a task to find marketing attribution tool, I may already have my own half-baked ideas on what that should do. I probably already have some models I want to use, but can’t because of some current limitation. But I want to be the hero that finds the solution and get points with the higher ups. How can I ensure I find the right vendor+tool combination that actually solves my problem quickly?
Maybe no one got fired for hiring IBM, but do you want your story based on fear, or heroism?
Take a look at the content currently in your nurturing streams. Is each email essentially a one-off? Did you repurpose it from a batch and blast about some big pdf you published? Are the emails in a rational order? Does it try to lead up to something you want, or the lead wants? Is the goal of the nurture to help you, or the lead?
We do have to make assumptions in marketing and test those assumptions to see what resonates. Why not start with better assumptions about your audience and get a head start on the competition?
You are in someone else’s audience
Are you in a vendor’s nurture track right now? How is that going for you? How many newsletters have you unsubscribed from this year? Do you even subscribe?
So why would you expect the same tactics to work on your audience, if it doesn’t even work on you?
A New Approach to Nurturing
First, I urge you to test approaches and content at all times. Not every idea works all the time when people are involved.
There are three assumptions in this approach:
- You can think like your audience, because you know them so well you use the words they use.
- People want you to tell them a story where they can imagine themselves as the hero.
- You have permission to tell the story.
Thus, if your content is helpful to the targets and is ordered in the proper way, you can serialize a special story just for your lead. Show them how to solve their problem and they will think of your firm first. Remember to ask for permission (opt-in!) to tell the story.
[Updated May 13, 2016] I updated this deck a bit from the live version to answer a couple of questions asked at the event.
Also see this great summary thanks to @quietmarketer
— Mae Steele (@QuietMarketer) May 11, 2016
Join me for more on this topic when I speak at the Marketo Summit in Las Vegas on May 11 at 1pm in Room 319.