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Top of the Funnel, Back of the Net: Why B2B Should Start At The Top

Posted by Billy Hamilton-Stent - September 25, 2015

Did you know 63% of UK boardrooms rely more on content to help inform purchase decisions than they did a year ago?

The Top of the B2B funnel sets the context for the entire buyer’s journey.  It’s the most important territory in content marketing. Here are five reasons why it demands more attention!

What is the top of the funnel?  Where does it start?

The bottom of the funnel is easy. It’s the sales bit.  Folks are doing stuff.  They are signalling, negotiating and buying.  It’s all grown-up and edgy.  It demands the attention of serious people.  You can count it.  You can measure it.  It’s Bond.  It’s Bourne. It’s Thatcher.  No nonsense.  It’s the bottom.

The top of funnel? It’s the Summer of Love.  It’s giving strangers a flower and a hug and begging them to like you.  It’s the preacher on a podium.  Hearts, minds, intentions, values.  It’s Lennon.  It’s Bono. It’s Mandela.  Collaborative and cosmic.  Give it a chance.

Which one is more important?

It’s the top.  The top is more important because it is tougher to own and manage.  And here are five reasons why:

1. The top is nowhere in particular

For starters, there is no start to the top of the funnel.  It can be someone getting up in the morning with a thought, a company buying another company, the Reformation, the Big Bang.  When, and how, is a ‘need’ created?  You have to really, really think about that in order to build a marketing strategy that connects with prospects.

2. The top is further away

You have to wait to get a funnel top.  Building an audience is a long term process and it is surrounded with variability.  Companies hate variables.  The only thing they hate more than variables is waiting.

3. The top is emotional

Buyers connect at the top of the funnel due to an association with your brand (values, promises, perceptions et al) or through you reaching out to a sentiment or concern (emotion) they believe is important.  B2B businesses don’t do emotion.

4. The top is more competitive

You are operating in a world that, even for the most focused business buyer, also includes real lives, other priorities, distractions and all your competitors hammering on the same door.  Imagine giving a salesperson the challenge of selling to a prospect, one-to-one, but in the crowd of the main stage at Glastonbury…when Bowie is headlining.  It’s that.

5. The top is more expensive

All these factors have costs attached to them.  And they are costs that are invariably big and harder to measure than those at the bottom.  Have you ever tried to weigh mindshare?  What is the ROI on the people that don’t download the ebook?

On this basis it is understandable that marketing budgets are more aligned to the bottom of the funnel.  Would you sponsor something that is hard to define, discover and measure?  Oh, and costs a bunch of money?


Can you hear the voice inside your head whispering…’Hey…why don’t you just put on a webinar?’

Double gulp.

Thing is…if you get ‘the top’ right, if you set the right context, it is the tide that raises all boats.  That’s why, despite the challenges, switched-on marketers know it is so important.

We are hosting an event on 8th October called Tech Heads that will share new research about content and its influence on buying intentions. Those intentions start at the ‘top’ of the funnel.

We’d love to meet you there, so please come along.  We hope it gives you ‘summit’ to think about!

UPDATE: This event has now passed, but you can download the Tech Heads report here

Download Tech Heads

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