I’ve been at a conference most of this week, and in several conversations with vendors, an identical topic of conversation has kept popping up with regards to their prospect pipeline… The same concept was phrased to me in different ways as “mid-stage stagnation”, “qualification holding patterns” and, less charitably, “pipeline constipation”. By whatever term, this is the “battle of the pipeline bulge” that a lot of really great companies are facing as they move their prospects from the top of the funnel down into deeper qualification and commitment. For these companies, getting folks into the top of their funnel is not their unsolved problem, its building the conveyor belt that moves the prospect into deeper engagement.
Without question, this problem is why high-growth marketing automation vendors like Marketo, Silverpop, and Eloqua are who they are, as well as an entire ecology of other tools following in the slipstream. You can make a good argument that such tools are a necessary prerequisite to developing a good lead nurturing system. However, its becoming clear to many companies that these tools alone are not sufficient to cure the battle of the pipeline bulge… They are only as good as the content offers you put into play. In other words, the conveyor belt that moves prospects through that bulge IS engagement via appropriate content, tailored to the needs of the prospective customer.
Granted, I’m undeniably biased as the co-founder of a company that automates the creation of targeted content for vendors, but take TechValidate out of the picture and the fact still remains: However you’re doing it, establishing a true system for all of your marketing content is every bit as important as building a system for managing the capture and cultivation of those prospects.
Few companies have yet evolved to the point that their content generation for supporting pipeline development is sophisticated, staged, targeted and automated. We are all early in that evolution. But, I feel very strongly that increasingly nimble content automation must take place. If we can’t all figure out how to automate the delivery of the right content to the right prospect at the right time, the Bulge in the middle is going to remain.