“So just what is the buyer’s journey and why should I care?” This is a question on many people’s lips as they stare down the monumental process of kicking off their own B2B marketing efforts. First off, good question. Shouldn’t selling be about your company and your product? After all, it’s great. It’s definitely the best product or service out there and you have no problem telling people just how great it really is! So why aren’t people paying attention and if it’s all about you then why should you care about the buyer?
The problem is that how people buy products has changed. It used to be that customers would come to you. Asking your sales people to educate them and then make their decision based upon that experience. The Internet has changed all of that. The old way of doing marketing and sales was all about you; now it’s all about the customer. Remember that and you’ll be fine.
So where does the buyer’s journey come in and what does it mean? The buyer’s journey is a phrase that describes the new sales process. It traces the three general stages that a buyer moves through before they make their sales decision. This journey can take days, weeks, months and even years to finish. (I know, that’s hard to hear, but don’t give up hope yet!) Understanding how this process works will give you the power to create better informed, happier and more loyal buyers.
Phase 1: Awareness
At the beginning of any buyer’s journey, your potential buyer is unaware of quite a few things. The first is the fact that they even have a need. Second, honestly, unless you’re IBM, your potential buyer is probably unaware that your company even exists. And lastly, they’re unaware that your company can help solve their problems.
Although it may sound like a wasteland, this stage is actually key in building your sales funnel. For buyer’s in this phase, you should focus on how creating brand awareness and establishing your company as a thought leader in your industry. Offer material that is informative, helpful, funny and never “sale-sy”. Your goal is to establish your company as a brand to consider once your buyer makes the leap into purchase research.
Phase 2: Consideration
Once your buyer discovers, that yes, they indeed have a problem and that they need to fix it; they will begin to seek out possible solutions. This is where your first efforts will be tested. Has your content been good enough to make you stand out from the pack? Will your potential customer begin to seek out additional information on your company, products or services?
A shocking 72% of buyers turn to Google when they are looking for solutions. You can help cut down this number with a savvy top of funnel marketing campaign, but in order to attract customer you may have missed you’ll need content that justifies your buyer’s purchase decision and a good SEO strategy. Content at this stage should be solution oriented and you might want to consider using a marketing automation tool to track downloads. This will give you an idea as to what your buyers are interested in for the future.
Phase 3: Decision Time
Before pulling the purchase trigger, buyers will turn back to Google to perform in-depth comparisons of the campaigns they are considering. Remember, it’s their job on the line if this solution goes wrong so they’re going to be thorough. They’ll be searching to make sure that your product really is the best one on the market to address their company’s particular pain points so make sure you have the content to answer each and every one of their questions.
It’s also at this point that your audience goes wide within the company. So make sure that your content at this stage will appeal to both influencers (manager-level) and key decision makers (executive-level). Highlight customer success stories and put industry research that puts your brand in the limelight front and center.
So there you are, the buyer’s journey in a nutshell. Figuring out its nuances for your unique company will take some trial and error, but if you target your content in these three areas you’ll be sure to cast the widest net possible. Just remember, it really is all about the customer. Make sure that your content is always serving their needs and you’ll be fine.