You can close more sales by understanding how each potential buyer makes a purchase decision. There are three stages that every technology buyer goes through before making a purchase:
1. Awareness Stage
2. Consideration Stage
3. Decision Stage
Understanding the journey that your buyer goes through will help you create content in the right context.
Hubspot’s equation for inbound marketing looks like this:
Inbound Marketing = Right Content + Right Context
– Content is comprised of blogs, photos, videos, e-books, guides, whitepapers, podcasts, infographics, images, etc.
– Context is based on the specific person(s) the content is created for and what stage of the buyers’ journey they are at.
The combined effect of both relevant content and content tailored to where prospects are in the buyers’ journey is powerful for converting online visitors to delighted customers.
Now that we understand why it’s important to create the right content in the right context, let’s take a closer at the process your prospect goes through to become a delighted customer. These stages apply to most every buyer persona; but to keep it simple, we will use the audio visual buyer persona type.
1. AWARENESS STAGE – WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
The first stage a prospect goes through is the awareness stage. In this stage, the prospect is experiencing a specific problem or is realizing an opportunity. They’re conducting research to better understand the problem or opportunity. At this point, they may have yet to define their problem. They want to establish a thorough understanding first and foremost. Often times, they don’t even know you exist or visa versa. Effective forms of awareness stage content consist of checklists, guides, ebooks, informative blog posts, whitepapers and other educational content.
Scenario: The Technology Director (TD) at a small college is in charge of multiple classrooms. Professors often find themselves teaching in different classrooms across campus. The audio visual equipment varies from room to room. The TD receives several complaints each day from professors that have to learn how to operate different systems for each class. As a result, the students lose valuable lecture time because professors constantly stumble around with operating their systems.
The TD realizes the need for a standardized classroom automation system for each space on campus that affords easy, intuitive control by the professors. He goes online and searches “classroom automation system” on Google. His search results yield several links to websites which include manufacturers’ whitepapers and integrators’ blog posts that address his specific issue in more detail.
We’ll follow up on this again in a bit.
2. CONSIDERATION STAGE – WHAT ARE SOME POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS?
The second stage is the consideration stage. At this point, the prospect has a clear understanding of what the problem or opportunity is and they are in the process of searching for a concrete solution or answer. Most likely they are utilizing all their available resources (primarily based on online research) to determine how to best proceed. Useful content during this stage consists of videos, podcasts, webinars, case studies and product spec sheets.
Scenario: The TD has researched and consumed online video content and case studies from both a classroom control systems manufacturer and a reputable integrator. The information provided by both these firms consisted of the right content provided in the right context.
Keep in mind, prospects will also use other channels to vet product and service solutions they’re considering. It’s common to see these type of inquiries show up in LinkedIn, online forums, peer networks, and via comments to articles published by industry experts.
Again, the objective is to make sure the right message (your message) is being distributed to the right people (your buyer persona) at the right time (based on their stage of the buying cycle). This is what makes for a very effective inbound marketing strategy.
3. DECISION STAGE – WHOSE PRODUCT OR SERVICE SHOULD I CHOOSE?
The third and final stage is the decision stage. At this point, your prospect has made a decision on their intended solution. They are likely comparing providers of like products and services and are closer to making a final decision. If the context of the content you provided for them during the consideration stage was extremely valuable then there is a higher probability that you are being considered during this stage.
However, if they have just become aware of your solution during this stage, there are some content offerings you can provide to rope them in. Consider offering a demo, free trial or consultation; as well as vendor comparisons, benchmark scores, and reviews or case studies. You should be aware of any level of engagement at this stage and consider making personal contact with your prospect via a phone call and/or email.
Scenario: The TD is very interested in a specific product based on the spec sheets he initially downloaded from the manufacturers website. He knows the product is only sold by pro AV integrators. He requests a free demo via the integrator’s website. The integrator follows up with the TD using the contact information that was received online.
The integrator and manufacturer work together to schedule and perform a successful demo at a local facility. The customer submits a purchase order to standardize all classrooms campus-wide.
This is a prime example of a new business opportunity created by simply understanding the prospective buyer (in this case, the Technical Director) and delivering content specific to their stage of the buying cycle.
Keep in mind, that you may encounter other individuals that influence the buying decision at different stages. Ideally, you want to have content readily available that also addresses any challenge to potential funding or approval of projects.
Successful content strategies are those that consider both the buyer persona and the buyer’s journey. Now you understand the stages your buyer goes through. But before you create your next piece of content, there are seven things you need to know.
Click below to download the Free Guide entitled 7 Things You Need To Know About Tech Buyers Before Creating Your Next Piece Of Content.