The purpose of developing buyer personas and mapping their journeys is about relevancy—delivering the right message, to the right person, at the right time. As a marketer considering the buyer’s journey, I can’t help but notice the similarities to the steps you take when finding a spouse.
According to a survey by The Economist, 75% of global CMOs expect to be fully responsible for the end-to-end customer experience and therefore need to personalize messaging and content in ways that respect prospects’ interests and preferences.
Modern marketers must combine engaging content with company and contact level data points for maximum impact. This means understanding your ideal buyer personas and curating content to meet them where they’re at in the buyer’s journey.
Why you need to ‘court’ your prospects (metaphorically, that is)
As we all know, there are ways to communicate when attracting a new object of our affection. The same rings true when attracting potential buyers.
If we cater our content to potential buyers the same way we would approach a potential life partner, we’ll have a better chance at a “commitment” in the end. I’ll walk you through the journey and you can tell me if this isn’t a great analogy. Here we go.
1. Realizing they need a change – “Flirting”
This is the beginning stage of your potential relationship, so you have to beware of coming on too strong or you just might scare them away – forever. At this point, you probably shouldn’t be asking for commitments during your first communication or blowing up their email and voicemail with desperate pleas about why they should choose your company.
This phase should begin with significant education – think content that informs and entertains – such as webinars, infographics, eBooks, and industry thought leadership that is not pitchy but establishes your reputation as a subject matter expert. If you do decide to share a little hint about your company, be sure not to overdo it by being too promotional – leave a little bit of mystery, that way they’ll be excited next time they hear from you.
2. Committing to Change- “Talking”
Okay, so you’ve grabbed the attention of your potential partner in revenue, and they’ve decided that they want to get to know your company better because, often, doing nothing isn’t a viable option. In order to move forward from this phase, they need to develop enough curiosity about your offering and the challenges you solve.
It’s time to start slowly introducing them to content such as company blogs, videos, solution guides, and eBooks. With this approach and the right amount of style, they’ll start to associate your brand with solving their problems.
3. Exploring Possible Solutions- “Dating”
Now you’ve piqued their curiosity and earned their trust, but they still want to review all their other options (no one wants to feel like they’ve settled). So guess what that means for you? Time to differentiate yourself from other companies in your space. How do you do that tactfully?
I suggest you start presenting more product-specific content on a more regular basis. Start doing some true omnichannel marketing; email sequences, social connections, branded swag through a direct mail campaign … the choice is yours. The goal here is to stay at the forefront of their mind without coming off as ‘clingy’. It’s all about balance; keeping in mind that they may be entertaining the company of other vendors as well.
This is also the perfect time to start sharing stories about how you’ve helped other companies in their space and other people in their role. Just like in any relationship, they’re going to want to hear what their family, friends and colleagues have to say about you.
4. Committing to a solution- “Falling in love”
So, they’ve explored their options and decided they want to learn more about you, exclusively. How exciting! This doesn’t mean your job is done, they could still decide to walk away if they feel like you sold them a ‘dream’ or you start neglecting them. If you aren’t careful, a good-looking competitor just might steal them away.
It’s time to turn on the charm and let them know that you want to hold their hand through this process. Reassure them that they’re making a wise choice by going with you; giving them a sense of security.
I suggest keeping the lines of communication open. Continue to engage them via email, connect with them on social media, suggest webinars they should attend, and invite them to events that you’ll be at. If you haven’t heard from them in a while feel free to reach out and simply touch base – ask if they have any questions. This would also be a great time to offer a case studies or references.
5. Justifying the Decision – “The Proposal”
At this point in the relationship, things are getting pretty serious; the last thing you want to happen is for them to get cold feet and run the other direction. To prevent that from happening, make sure everything is in place for your potential customer to say “yes” when you get down on one knee and present them with the proposal you’ve put so much thought into.
Personalized content makes customers 40% more likely to buy from you, so keep in mind the persona-specific facts you’ve learned along the way such as: how they prefer to communicate, specific features they’ve expressed interest in, and preferred billing options to make purchasing from you easy.
Considering the commitment that is about to be made, don’t be surprised when other decision makers start getting involved. Approach this situation the same way you would when you “meet the parents”.
Address concerns, provide reassurance that you have their best interest at heart, and let them know you’re in this for the long haul. Unlike dating, this is the time for negotiations. ROI, price structure, deal structure. This is in Sales’ hands.
6. Making the Purchase – “The Marriage”
The big day went off without a hitch, no last minute objections, and you are now in a fully committed relationship. Integrations into their company have begun and your solutions or services are being formally introduced into the organization as a whole.
This part of the journey is the most important. Just like with any marriage, in order for it to have longevity you have to continue to work at it. You must remember to keep lines of communication open, be there for your partner when they need help, and follow up often to ensure satisfaction. This can be executed through follow-up emails, surveys, or direct mail with goodies showing that you appreciate their business.
To ensure that your new beau doesn’t get “wandering eyes” be sure to keep sending them engaging content such as; videos, thought leadership, customer profiles, etc. Keeping your customer interested and happy will ensure plenty of happy anniversaries (aka contract renewals).
Happy wife, happy life
It’s important to remember that different types of content appeal to buyers in different stages of their journey. The moral of the story is – don’t be overzealous or come on too strong, or they’ll dump you before they ever get a chance to see what a great catch you and your company are.