The marketing industry is rife with various kinds of jargon and buzzwords, some of which are overused and carelessly tossed around. Oftentimes, this creates more confusion than solutions when trying to reach customers effectively and generate business. Some of these fluffy terms do have a legitimate place in marketing lingo, however, so it’s important to consider how much value they can provide to you and your business.
Although it may sound cliché, the “buyer’s journey” is an essential framework for your marketing strategy. It can be summarized as the customer’s path leading up to a purchase. This path is broken down into stages through which a customer progresses: awareness, consideration and decision. From a marketer’s standpoint, the process consists of education, solution and selection. Put simply, your business strategy should recognize and answer the “why,” “how” and “who” questions that prospects often pose prior to making a purchase.
The “education” phase should focus on loosening up the status quo and helping buyers identify a challenge or opportunity in front of them. During this stage, buyers will typically search the internet and explore websites. However, highly engaged human interactions are just as important as non-human, low-reciprocity resources such as pay-per-click ads, blog posts and landing pages. In fact, a Sirius Decisions 2017 study showed that live, vendor-hosted webinars focused on the problem are an effective tool for reaching potential buyers.
The next stage, known as “consideration,” comes about when buyers have diagnosed the problem or opportunity and are exploring available options. Buyers begin to compare vendors and differentiate solutions. Because you stayed top of mind with your buyers during the education period, you want to make sure your business gets short-listed. Free trials, email marketing and sales presentation are useful tactics for setting your business apart.
Ultimately, what may differentiate you from your competitors is how you keep potential buyers engaged along the journey. A lesser known tactic is to open a multiuser environment after a webinar or a sales pitch for content distribution. Consider, for example, a members-only LinkedIn group or private channel in Slack where white papers and case studies are shared.
The final stage is when a decision is made. Here, you want to minimize buyers’ hesitations and nudge them to action. Whether it be a reassuring dialogue with a customer rep or distributor, a noncommittal demo period or limited-time discounts, this is the time to reinforce buyers’ decisions and fully convince them to take the proverbial plunge.
Understanding the steps your customers take to get from Point A to Point B is key to a successful marketing strategy. These journeys are unique to every buyer and can be somewhat hard to nail down because each buyer has different life experiences and a different background. However, in most instances, you can find certain patterns in how a group of customers interacts with a brand. These patterns can be gleaned from readily available internal data and research. By mapping out a “buyer’s journey” — as cliché as that expression might be — you can create different personas and deliver content that will resonate with each buyer at their particular stage in the decision-making process.