Ask the B2B Expert: Matt Heinz on Full Funnel Marketing Strategy
April 9, 2015
With more than than 15 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations, such as Microsoft, Weber Shandwick, Boeing and The Seattle Mariners, Matt Heinz has a wealth of experience in the B2B space. Currently, Matt is President of Heinz Marketing, a Seattle-based marketing agency focused on sales acceleration, strategic customer acquisition and retention strategy and execution. Read on to learn Matt's insights on how changes in the buyer's journey have altered the way we interact with prospects and about his unique approach to full funnel marketing.
You can find the full interview, along with insights on how to generate awareness, engage prospects, and drive leads with a full funnel marketing approach in The Sophisticated Marketer’s Crash Course in Full Funnel Marketing.
LinkedIn: How has the buyer’s journey changed and has it altered the way your clients communicate with prospects?
Heinz: Buyers are self-educating more. They want to do their own research. They’re not engaging sales as early in the process as proactively as they once did. Companies have to understand that the early part of the buying process really has nothing to do with their product, nothing to do with their solution. I really like what SiriusDecisions has to say about the early part of the buying process. The first step marketers have is challenging the status quo, and the second step they have is convincing prospects to commit to change.
LinkedIn: Is the funnel still a valid metaphor for the buyer’s journey?
Heinz: Is the funnel perfect? No, but I still find it a valuable way of helping companies hone how they execute. Not every prospect follows the funnel in a linear fashion. Prospects come in; they come out; they stall; they go backwards. The actual progression of a buyer’s journey is chaos. You have to accept that different prospects have different paths. It’s why marketing automation systems are so important. It’s why the best companies, in terms of execution, have dozens of segments in their marketing automation tools to relate to those different buyers and those different stages.
LinkedIn: How do you advise your marketing clients to talk with their prospects?
Heinz: When we work with inside sales teams that are following up on inbound leads, what we often tell them in that first conversation with a prospect is you’re not allowed to talk about your product or service. I want to take what you do off the table to force you to have a more interesting conversation, to force you to talk about the customer’s needs. Similarly, from a content marketing standpoint, the companies that do best at the top of the pipeline relate to their customers’ experiences and their issues — even if those topics are only marginally related to what you sell — start to build trust, credibility, and attention with prospects.
The top of the pipeline isn’t about generating leads; it’s about earning the attention of your prospects. The top of the funnel isn’t about you, it’s about prospects and their issues.
LinkedIn: Do you find B2B marketers focus too much on lower funnel prospects?
Heinz: I find that most companies’ content is heavily weighted to the middle and the bottom of the funnel. It’s built for people who already believe they have a problem and have committed to change and are looking for solutions. There’s a couple of reasons for that. One, that’s where companies want their prospects to be. Two, it feels like the ROI of that is going to be greater and faster. Creating content at the top of the funnel, by definition, I’m not expecting that to convert to anything right away. Companies that want sales this month aren’t making investments in long-term pipeline building.
But if you invest in that top of pipeline content, if you invest in these early-stage relationships, you significantly subsidize the acquisition costs of deals not only in the medium future but also well beyond that. There’s an annuity to that: You’re lowering your acquisition costs.
For more thought leader interviews and tips on the most effective tactics for reaching prospects at each stage of the buyer’s journey, Download The Sophisticated Marketer’s Crash Course in Full Funnel Marketing.