Courting Your Prospect: When (And How) Should You Pop the RFP Question?

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November 17, 2021

3 mins read

Courting Your Prospect: When (And How) Should You Pop the RFP Question?

Courting Your Prospect: When (And How) Should You Pop the RFP Question?

Oftentimes when I speak with Campaign Managers and Content Strategists, they are all in on conducting journey stage-based campaigns. They know how to build audiences around journey stages – those who haven’t been to the site, those who have, those who are engaged (consuming onsite content), those ready to convert, or those already in pipe.

But what these Campaigns Managers and Content Strategists are often unclear about is what content to serve up to audiences in each journey stage. They can determine which accounts are in which stage, but don’t know how to treat these accounts differently.

Don’t let your product release schedule dictate your content strategy. Instead, ensure you’re moving prospects through the funnel by targeting them with content that is relevant for their funnel stage and your relationship with them. Here’s how:

Targeting prospects with relevant content

Moving accounts through the customer journey is about relationship building. First, you present your brand to them as a viable offering. Then you build on the relationship by offering them valuable content – ideas that will make them look smarter in their jobs. Only after they’ve demonstrated that they are aware of and engaged with your brand should you start talking about your features and benefits. And only for bottom-of-the-funnel accounts should you start gating content.

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I often equate journey stage Marketing with dating. It’s a convenient analogy for how to build relationships over time. Talk too much about yourself on the first date, and you’ll never get a second one. Ask them to marry you on the first date (gate content) and they’ll run for the hills. And make no mistake, hitting up a prospect with a form fill too early in the relationship is exactly like asking a prospect to marry you. They know they’ll become part of an endless email drip campaign that they may not be ready for.

When driving awareness (getting that first date) – invest in thought leadership. Show that you are a viable candidate because you’re knowledgeable about your industry. To drive engagement, go for a winning combination of tips and tricks, how-to content, and best practices. You’re trying to send your date candy and flowers – little tidbits of content that entice your prospects by helping them look more astute and well-established in their expertise without forcing them to invest a lot of time into your budding relationship. Engagement-building content is crucial to building and sustaining those relationships. And because B2B sales cycles are often so long – a year or more – engagement-building content is likely to be your biggest investment.

Once you’ve got your prospects interested and engaged, you can start talking about yourself – à la your features and functionality. Save talk of your features and functionality and your form fill requests for accounts closer to the bottom of your funnel – accounts that are invested and aren’t scared off by the idea of sharing a little more information with you.

Just try it. Campaigns segmented around journey stages will build those long-term relationships you’re looking for instead of a string of cheap dates (aka “leads”) you’ll end up wasting your time on.

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Bonnie Thomas

Senior ABM Strategist, Demandbase

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