We often talk about content creation and repurposing it using different channels, like blogs and social media. What isn't often mentioned is how to create different types of content for different stages of the sales funnel: branding, sales, and retention

Every end goal can call for a different kind of content. For example, you might need content that's designed to move people closer to a sale, make you more memorable (branding), or help you maintain clients (retention). Usually, in your marketing funnel, your target audience is within one of these three stages:

  1. Awareness (made aware of your brand)
  2. Consideration (considering your solution)
  3. Decision (moving towards buying from you)

What content the customer needs to consume in each stage differs. But the first hurdle, as Devin Reed, head of content strategy at Gong, notes, is simply making all your marketing messages relevant to the consumer: "When it comes to actually creating engaging content, it needs to be relevant, insightful, and actionable. This is critical if you want to grab -- and keep -- their attention. Unfortunately, most B2B companies focus on themselves, specifically their product/service, and as a result, their content is boring and fails to influence how their audience thinks or acts."

Let's take a closer look:

Branding

Being memorable, or staying top of mind, can be achieved using humor, talking smack at your competition, or using viral content on social media. But my favorite method involves using CTV, or call to value, creating content with the purpose of educating. Becoming an authority in your space. As Reed says, "Strive to create different content. Our strategy wasn't to create a better sales blog, it was to create a different sales blog by including research from our proprietary database."

Sales

After educating your audience, your prospects are in the consideration stage. Then, content should move towards call to action (CTA): content with the purpose of selling -- triggering a click -- moving closer to desire or away from pain through strong copy. Reed says, "As buyers move from awareness to consideration, I begin introducing our solution. Then, as buyers move towards decision, that's where I rely heavily on customer stories and social proof. Content is more focused on how our clients specifically use Gong to solve various challenges.

Retention

Your end goal shouldn't be to simply make a sale. Instead, it should be to create loyal, long-term customers. Here are three methods you can implement today for better retention content:

  1. Use storytelling in your marketing: Customer-focused stories win. Describe how your product or service empowered a business with a solution that yielded results.
  2. Publish quality content consistently: Creating a blog is crucial nowadays. Aside from helping you rank higher on search engines, it enables you to build trust with your ideal customers and craft a unique voice for your brand.
  3. Continue to educate your audience: Having a separate section for unique studies and stories (not blogs) is a way to stand out, and is one of the best ways to show up for your audience consistently. Try different mediums, like podcasts, vlogs, guides, and case studies. 

Now, let's focus on a topic that is often ignored. Retention branding.

Are you pleasantly waving customers good-bye when they choose to leave or are you pointing a sword at their backs, making them walk the plank while they gaze at sharks below?

Even after you lost the battle -- when a client cancels their membership or unsubscribes -- the psychology of user offboarding is paramount. Just like the aftertaste a drink can leave you with, the offboarding experience can make or break your brand's reputation. An unreasonable layer to a journey's end can cause friction and leave a bitter taste.

Making it hard for customers to leave your product is unethical, and usually does more harm than good. There is a way to make a person smile even as they're about to unsubscribe. AppSumo's messaging around canceling a subscription is a good example: The unsubscribe screen says "It looks like you've had enough of us (tough but fair)." A small thing like that can take a stressful process and make it more enjoyable. It's a reminder of what brands should do: let you leave with a smile, remembering them positively.

That's retention branding. If you still want to leave, at least you left smiling. If you changed your mind, you stayed smiling. You smiled either way, and that matters.