No matter what type of product or service people are looking for, customers typically follow a similar pattern in their purchasing decision (often called the buyer’s journey). If you understand the stages of the buyer’s journey, you can provide the right information to prospective customers at the right time and engage them much earlier than your competition – hopefully increasing your chances of making a sale. Sounds good?
So what’s involved? Best to describe it as a 3 step process;
- Awareness Stage: The buyer realizes they have a problem (e.g. John wants to improve his recovery after running – proper diet, getting adequate rest, proper nutrition, supplements, and drinking enough water).
- Consideration Stage: The buyer defines their problem and researches options to solve it (e.g. I’m going to buy a supplement as I have all the other issues covered).
- Decision Stage: The buyer chooses a solution (e.g. I’m going to buy x supplement – hopefully the one you’re selling).
Sounds fairly obvious, right? But if you use it in your marketing content, you’ll help move more people through the stages and to buying your product or service. Simply put, you need different marketing content and tactics for each step of the journey.
The first stage – in the awareness stage, buyers have realised they have a problem/challenge but don’t yet know what the cause is or how to solve it. Most people will Google it to learn about the potential ways they can solve it and the next steps they can take. This is why content marketing and SEO are so powerful. In this phase, people are looking for broad, general information and aren’t yet ready to make a purchase. So take care not to engage in hard-selling tactics at this point, as that is likely to turn people off.
Two key objectives here;
- show potential customers informative content that could be the solution to their problems, wants and needs. Focus your website site and social media posts on answering questions, troubleshooting any common confusion and optimising your brand awareness.
- make sure that people can find your business, product or service.
The overall aim to be as useful as possible, and help the buyer identify and understand their problem. This builds trust in your brand and positions your business as an authoritative source of information.
Tip – what are the common questions you get asked? Use these as the corner stones of your content.
During the consideration stage, buyers have defined their goals and challenges and are looking for the best potential buying options. They start to narrow down their search to specific products or services to help them address their issue.
Here you need to be focused on the buyer’s pain points — not your product or brand and especially not what you think they need. If you ask the right questions, your audience will tell you what they want.
Aside from your core service/product pages, think about using the following to showcase your solution, that other customers (just like your target buyer) have loved it, and how it compares to other options they might be considering:
- video demonstrations
- social proof and testimonials (about why your solution is fantastic)
- comparison charts
- case studies
Tip: Think about your own experiences of buying. If you’re researching a product or service – you don’t really care about the supplier just yet. For example, not recovering after running? You’re going to decide what type of supplement before you decide which brand of supplement you’re going to buy.
At this point, your buyer is ready to make a purchase. Here you need to send your audience(s) offers, promotions and bonuses that create a sense of urgency as well as providing reassurance that they’re making the right decision by choosing you.
Focus your small business marketing on:
- why you’re an amazing business
- how you support customers before, during, and after purchase
- how current customers have had great experiences working with you (social proof and testimonials)
- offers that encourage buyers to make a decision now.
Now you understand the journey, let’s look at some of the most common marketing mistakes I see;
- Focusing on the decision stage only – many small businesses make the mistake of only targeting customers in the decision stage, but this is setting you up to lose lots of potential customers. By that point, many customers have already found a few top brands that they might purchase from, so your efforts will likely be too little, too late. Or worse, you’ll end up competing on price because buyer’s have no existing relationship with you or basis for comparison.
- Content that is too sales or brand driven.
- Content doesn’t address pain points.
Hope this helps you develop better content marketing. If you need one on one help with this, please get in contact.