Have you ever sat down to write out a post on social media and felt like you didn’t know what to write?
Or, you knew what you wanted to say, but you weren’t sure how to say it? 🙋🏻♀️
It’s a really common challenge a lot of small businesses and marketers have faced before.
To help manage this problem, one fail-proof approach is to map out what your customers go through before they buy something and make a strategy aimed at people who are in different stages of making a purchase.
Instead of making a bunch of posts and wondering why some worked and some failed, you’ll be able to focus your efforts and goals on what your customer needs.
In turn, this helps you understand what kind of content you need to be creating. This can be achieved by mapping out your content to the buyer’s journey.
What is it? ⠀
The buyer’s journey is what your customers go through before choosing to buy from you.
When you know how your customers think, you’ll understand how to reach them.
It’s a powerful asset that will set you apart from the wannabees and puts you in with the heavyweights.
How does it work?
There are three phases:
- Awareness — they don’t know what to call their problem but know they have one.
- Consideration — they’ve named their problem, aren’t buying, but are thinking about options.
- Decision — they’ve decided on a solution and are ready to buy.
At each phase, your customers require different types of info about your services.
Why is this important to understand?
If you try to sell something before someone is ready, you’ll fail.
How can you use the buyer’s journey for your business?
When customers aren’t ready to buy from you, you should still be marketing to them.
By creating content that speaks to the different pain points of the buyer’s journey.
If you understand how each phase works, you can map out a stronger marketing plan that will nurture leads and generate more sales.
Here’ a visual rundown of what we’ve covered:
The Awareness Stage
Ever had a problem, but you weren’t sure what to call it?
Say you get an intense headache and you’re not sure what’s causing it or how you can fix it. The first thing you’d do would be to run through all the things that could be the source of the problem.
Trying to medicate beforehand won’t work.
If you don’t understand the source you’re not ready to shop for anything. As a business owner this matters because, at this stage of the buyer’s journey, your customers aren’t ready to buy.
If you know someone is at this stage of the buyer’s journey, the best thing you can do to market your business is to position yourself as an expert and provide educational material that will help build trust.
It’s the long game you need in order to build an audience that will buy from you. It might sound crazy, but I promise it’s the missing key to your marketing strategy and growth. 🌱
How does the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey work?
Let’s go back to our headache example. When the suffering starts, you’ll start asking yourself questions to trace what might be causing the pain.
…Did you get enough sleep?
…Did you have too much wine last night?
…Are your eyes bothered by the light in the room?
…Did you skip breakfast?… Ohhhhh yeah, you’re hungry!
Why is this important?
When you’re not sure what to name your problem, you’re not ready for a solution. In this example, you wouldn’t take a nap, take an Advil, or change the lighting because you’d still have the same problem (being hungry).
How does this apply to your content marketing strategy?
If you know that your customers have a problem before they’re ready to hire you, then you can speak to their pain points. You can’t ‘sell’ a solution, because the customer hasn’t defined the problem.
How can you do this?
The key in this stage is to focus your content on educating people and not talking about what you’re selling.
Because they’re not buying.
What should you do instead?
Keep it educational and position yourself as an expert:
- Share your knowledge
- Talk about your experience & insight
What would that look like?
Blogs, infographics, or IG posts about your industry.
Here’s a visual to help reiterate the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey:
The Consideration Stage
Have you ever tried to sell your product or service to someone who sounded interested, but, at the end of very lengthy sales pitches they weren’t really shopping?!
They were probably still in the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey.
People aren’t ready to buy at this point, but you should still be marketing to them.
By planning your content around problems that you know your customers have.
Position your business as one ☝️ option to consider. Then, you need to provide info that helps them understand the benefits of different options.
Doesn’t that mean I’ll highlight my competition?
But, they already knew about those guys. You can’t roll into every sales pitch like you own the place. You’ve got to earn their trust and respect before people will buy from you.
This is where your Sales and Marketing teams need to work together to make magic happen. ✨
How does the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey work?
Let’s say you know you’re hungry. You’ve got a defined problem (hunger) and a goal (eating food)…Now what?
It’s time to pick something to eat!
- Head for the nearest drive-through?
- Eat an old granola bar in your backpack?
- Go to the grocery store?
There are pros and cons to each solution:
- Fast food might be the tastiest, but it’s not a healthy option.
- The granola bar is the most accessible, but least appealing.
- The grocery store is the best food, but takes longer to get.
There’s a lot to consider in the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey.
At this point, you’re not ready to buy anything because you’re still deciding what will be the best option for you!
How does this apply to your marketing strategy?
When you create content for this stage, your focus needs to be on defining different ways someone could solve their problem.
Many companies struggle to identify when their customers are at this stage of the buyer’s journey and they don’t understand how to create content for people who are stuck.
Here’s how to do it:
- Plan your content around solutions you know your customers have
- Position your business as one option to consider as their solution
- Provide information that helps them understand the benefits of different options
Here’s what people ask themselves when they see content like this:
- Is this brand an expert?
- Can I trust what they’re saying?
- Is this product something I should look into?
What format would this look like?
- Comparison guide
- IG live
Below is a slide deck to help visually explain how this works:
The Decision Stage
The decision is where your Marketing team is just about ready to hand over the prospect to the Sales team. This phase is what most people think of as traditional marketing and make the error of focusing here too much.
In this example, we walked you through a process you experience all the time (being hungry) and applied it to your marketing strategy.
You’ve got a defined problem, have weighed out the pros and cons of different solutions, and are ready to make a purchase.
To market to people at this stage, you need to prepare material that will help close the sale. I’m talking about demos, discounts, and pitch calls.
How does the decision stage of the buyer’s journey work?
In a nutshell, it’s the beginning of the sales cycle.
By the time you get to this stage, you’ve done the following:
- Defined your problem (ex. you’re hungry)
- Analyzed different solutions
You’ve considered the pros and cons. Now it’s time to make a decision between the following options:
- A stale granola bar
- The grocery store
- A fast-food place
Like in any purchasing decision, you’ve got to work within some constraints. In this example, let’s say you only get 30 minutes for lunch.
That rules out the grocery store. The granola bar is looking kinda blah.
Solution: Fast food it is!
Now, you’re ready to make a purchase. You’re comparing different drive-through options to see which one will be the best choice for lunch.
You need to decide between getting a burger, sandwich, or salad. Turns out, you aim for the middle and get a sandwich.
How does this apply to your marketing strategy?
This is the sweet spot where Marketing and Sales need to work together.
To connect with people at this stage of the buyer’s journey, content should be developed to help convince these prospects that your company is the best place to buy exactly what they need.
In this example, it would be to show you that a sandwich is the best option to help satisfy your hunger and give you something kinda healthy.
As a consumer, this buyer’s journey probably took you about 2 minutes to figure out. However, the bigger the purchase, the longer this process generally takes. For example, shopping for a car or investing in B2B SaaS product would take you 1-2 months.
To round it out, here’s a slide deck to help summarize how this works:
It’s important to create marketing material for each stage of the buyer’s journey.
If you can get behind this methodology and start applying it to your marketing content, you’ll start to see fairly different results right away. You can apply this strategy to your blog, social media schedule, and paid ads.
If you’re interested in learning more, I’m putting together a course that will walk you step by step on how you can do this for your business. Contact me if you’d like to sign up or learn more.