The concept of buyer’s journey shows just how much the sales process has changed for small businesses. However, the added emphasis on creating informed consumers works heavily in your favor. Understanding the buyer’s journey allows your business to build an efficient and effective sales cycle.
What is the Buyer’s Journey
The buyer’s journey is the path consumers take during the sales cycle. It focuses on the stages buyers reach as they learn about a product or service and make purchasing decisions.
The buyer’s journey is broken down into three main parts.
Awareness – Before considering a product or service, consumers need to be aware they need it.
- Example: A homeowner discovers that their basement is taking in water and asks “Why is my basement leaking?”
The awareness stage of the buyer’s journey always involves a question or problem. Consumers aware of a problem or possibility will decide if it’s worth resolving or pursuing.
Consideration – At this point, it’s safe to assume the consumer wants to resolve their problem. Now they will look into the solutions available to them.
- Example: A homeowner realizes that their sump pump has failed. They research options for repairing or replacing a sump pump.
A consumer who enters the consideration stage is in problem-solving mode. The information presented in this part of the buyer’s journey will determine if a consumer makes a purchase.
Decision – Once a buyer decides on a solution, they are ready to take action.
- Example: A homeowner decides the best course of action is to replace the sump pump and contacts a local contractor to replace and install it.
Now all options have been carefully weighed by the buyer. They selected the one most likely to provide a positive result.
Content Marketing and the Buyer’s Journey
The buyer’s journey is not an arbitrary process. Sure, it may seem like the consumer is in command throughout the process. Yet, small businesses who provide quality content will influence the choice a buyer makes.
If you are offering a service, you’ve already anticipated the type of customers who need it. Content at the awareness stage will not create a new problem you can solve for consumers. Rather, you want to help them understand a problem they already have.
Content used to assist buyers at the awareness stage should do the following:
- Clearly identify how your prospect should perceive their problem. (i.e. Is it a priority?)
- Present possible challenges prospects dealing with a problem or pursuing a goal related to your products or services might be facing.
- Outline the possible consequences a prospect might experience if they don’t resolve their problem or pursue a goal.
The biggest pitfall business owners face in marketing is failing to appropriately explain their audience’s problem. Industry lingo and shop talk will lose the interest of your leads. Take time to understand the problems your products address from a consumer standpoint and explain it in relatable terms.
Find channels to promote your awareness content as part of your content marketing plan. Look for pages and forums where your ideal customer would be. Ask yourself, “Where would this customer go to understand the problem they are facing?”
Content for Consideration
Telling a consumer to buy your product is not the same as presenting a solution. Consumers today want to know the “why” and “how” before making a purchase.
It may seem odd to offer your prospects “How-Tos” or discuss the pros and cons of services in your industry. The reality is that if you don’t offer that information, another business will.
Content for consideration needs to be informative and offer value to establish your business as reputable. If you’re a contractor providing advice on sump pump care, consumers aren’t just considering the information. They’re considering your business as well.
Remember to not give customers a hard sell at this stage. To create well-balanced content here, ask yourself these key questions:
- What solutions does my ideal customer want to know about?
- What does my ideal customer value most in possible solutions?
- Are the solutions I’m providing easily understood by my ideal customer?
There are several ways to promote content for consideration, social media being the most popular. Pay close attention to how your ideal customer likes to receive their information and plan accordingly. If your customers like tutorials and detailed explanations, video marketing may be best. Always prepare your content to be delivered in a way your ideal customer can get the most out of it.
Call for Decisive Action
After guiding your leads through the consideration stage, the decision stage becomes a lot more direct. This is where content will focus specifically on how your business best solves their problem.
That does not mean spamming consumers with promotional materials and “Buy Now” offers. Guide their decision by highlighting what your business offers compared to the solutions they’ve already considered. Additionally, any content created for this stage of the buyer’s journey should be for all parties involved in the decision.
Content at the decision stage should demonstrate the following:
- How your products will meet or exceed your prospect’s expectations in relation to the solutions offered.
- The clear understanding your business has of your prospect’s problem or goal and their desire for a resolution.
- What provisions your business has (if any) to allow your prospect to compare or evaluate your product or service before they make a purchase.
- Why the prospect should choose you over your competitor.
Email marketing is the most common method for marketing content at the decision stage. Still, your channels available will depend on the contact details gathered from your prospects. All content at this stage should include a clear call to action.
The buyer’s journey isn’t just another step in your content marketing plan. Rather, it’s a guide that will help you identify the type of content you need and how to make it effective. All small businesses must use this guide as a way to create a dynamic content marketing plan.