This post is Part 5 of 6 in a series covering a thought leadership webinar I co-hosted recently. Click through to catch up on the previous posts:
How to Capitalize on the Thought Leadership Funnel
What Is the Thought Leadership Funnel?
The thought leadership funnel articulates the relationship between the organization selling products and services and the buyer in the new customer-obsessed world. Embodied in the funnel is the flow of social media, traditional media, and employee-based activities organizations engage in to acquire, maintain, and propagate advocates.
The funnel does not shrink as you traverse it as future advocates (formerly called prospects) and advocates can enter the funnel at any of the four stages. The different stages of the thought leadership funnel are:
- Awareness: a one-to-many relationship; you reach your audience through social and traditional media.
- Engagement: a one-to-many relationship in which you engage with your audience. At this stage, people attend physical and virtual events (e.g., webinars), read your physical and online content, etc. Good compelling, “engaging” content is more important than name recognition.
- Future Advocate: a one-to-one relationship where you interact directly with individuals (in person, by phone, by e-mail, with direct messages on Twitter, etc.) for them to learn how your solutions address their problems.
- Advocate: a many-to-many relationship. You’ve executed so well with your products and services or in your interaction in the future advocate stage, that you have advocates. Please note that advocates are not necessarily customers and that every employee needs to be an advocate! Advocates look at your brand/organization positively, give you good reviews/endorsements and provide referrals to others.
Example: My fifteen-year-old son does a lot of video gaming. There was a game that he didn’t own that his friends (advocates) kept saying that he had to get. So he bought it. At this stage, he was only a future advocate as he wasn’t keen on the product and didn’t even know the name of the company that created it. He loved the product and it helped him become a strong advocate. He loved it so much that he then looked up who made the game (awareness) and purchased every product the company has published. Amazing. This proves that the funnel doesn’t work top-down–people can come in at any particular stage.