I spent last Thursday and Friday at the MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum in Boston, gathering tidbits to help my clients and soaking up a little bit of my favorite city in the fall. My favorite session, by far, was “Content Marketing at Scale: The Heavy Hitters Panel.” Aside from featuring some of my favorite content marketing gurus (Joe Pulizzi, Michael Brenner, Jeannine Rossignol, and Doug Kessler), the panel offered some great insights into content marketing, particularly mistakes that larger companies make.

The biggest one seems to be neglecting the top of the funnel. Brenner mentioned that 50 percent of content created goes unused, and a big part of that is probably because it’s not created for the right stage of the buying process. And it makes a lot of sense – the top of the funnel is the widest, but marketing departments are creating white papers and data sheets better suited to mid-funnel and bottom-of-the-funnel prospects.

There’s a way to remedy that, though, and it does involve more content creation. (Cue the groans from the marketing department.) But this is the fun content, not the sales-y content. These are the e-books and tip sheets that define the problem for top-of-the-funnel prospects. It’s the infographics that catch their eye, the customer success stories describing a problem that a company just like them had and overcame, with emphasis on how easy the solution was to implement. What it’s not is a hard sell. It’s all educational.

[tweetthis]Think of the top-of-the-funnel content like the treat you toss into your cat’s carrier before you bring her to the vet.[/tweetthis] Not all cats will scurry in after it, but some will (they’re hungry, and that treat looks delicious). They’ll be intrigued by the tidbit that might help them solve a pressing problem, whether it’s putting an end to shadow IT or scaling social media programs. And like the cat treat, your content is right there to help. (But let’s be really clear: this is not a vet visit for the prospect. Your prospect is going to enjoy his journey, and at the end of the funnel, he’s going to get an even bigger treat: your product or service, which will solve his problem.)

Need help creating your content? I know what kind of treats your prospects will like. Let’s talk soon!