Where is that collateral taking your customers? And your company?
We’ve been hearing a lot lately about the “buyer’s journey.” But in B2B marketing, the journey is not entirely about buyers. It’s also about the company reaching them. And about the communications vehicles for the trip.
The concept of buyer’s journey describes the path from awareness of a need, to consideration of options, to the decision to make a purchase. Some companies add steps specific to their industry, but awareness, consideration and decision are the basic three.
Regardless of how the steps are defined, however, the buyer’s journey is a useful way to think about what runs through the customer’s mind on the way to making a purchase.
It’s also a useful way to think about the different kinds of information the buyer needs and how marketers should present it.
At the journey’s outset, a company may employ advertising to attract attention. But once underway, the journey relies on marketing collateral.
- Begin by presenting research, analyst reports or white papers that identify and explain trends and issues.
- Progress to information that places your company’s offerings in the context of those issues—and positions your products as a better answer than the competition.
- Close the deal with specific (even technical) information about the offering to demonstrate that the product is exactly what the customer needs.
Along the way, you may choose a range of different vehicles to carry these messages. Increasingly, the goal is to give busy customers concise messages that are “consumable.” The challenge is to make sure whatever media you are using work with the demands of the journey.
Just as some people might pack a raincoat while others prefer an umbrella for the same purpose—to keep them dry so they can enjoy their vacation—an in-depth printed white paper and a “consumable” podcast can both address the early step to awareness. Both a video interview and a printed case study can describe a customer’s experience to tell the consideration story.
But as you embark, don’t pack too lightly. Be sure to include what your customers need to guide them toward the right buying decision. You may even need to add a few items to help the buyer around rough or thorny patches—the introduction of a new technology or a shift in the economy, for example. Every trip is different. But whatever the medium, the goal stays the same: To get to the end, the buyer needs materials that provide useful information.
That’s because the engine that drives the buyer’s journey is content. Buyers need meaningful and often in-depth information to help them understand and address business or technology needs. They need enough content—carried by the right kind of collateral—to make an informed decision.
So on the buyer’s journey, be sure you pack what your customers need and prefer. And be sure you have the fuel—the content—your company needs to take them to their destination.
by Ernie Wood