According to a report by Forrester, today’s B2B buyers are more self-directed than ever before. 60% prefer not to interact with a sales rep as the primary source of information; 68% prefer to research on their own, online; and 62% say they can now develop selection criteria or finalize a vendor list — based solely on digital content.
From these statistics we can determine the buyer not only needs but wants to get as much information as they can before they are ready to contact a salesperson. It’s important your organization provides content for each phase of the buyer’s journey to help them make a decision. If you don’t provide the information, they’ll go elsewhere to find it.
Let’s first review the phases of the buyer’s journey. The buyer’s journey has been sliced and diced into many variations, but I find it easiest to use the three-phase journey: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.
Awareness: Buyers are unaware of their problems or the solutions. They are only aware they are feeling some type of pain point.
Consideration: Buyers understand their problems but need more information before making a decision.
Decision: Buyers have found a number of solutions but need validation before making a purchase.
During the Awareness phase, buyers are seeking information about their pain point. This is where educational content is paramount. Content pieces such as educational blog posts, how-to articles, videos, infographics, and FAQs serve as reference material for the buyer to identify their pain point. The goal during this phase is to educate, entertain, and inspire.
Once the buyer has an understanding of their problem, they’ll be looking for more information on how to solve it. The goal during the Consideration phase is to focus on solutions. So, start telling them about your products, right? Not so fast. Rather than focusing on the benefits of your product, focus on the solution to the buyer’s problem. Content including white papers, ebooks, webinars, and checklists are great for this stage in the buying cycle as they provide more in-depth information about how to solve the buyer’s problem.
Finally, the buyer is ready for the Decision phase of the journey. This is where it’s appropriate to introduce your product. You’ve built trust and established expertise during the first phases, now it’s time to validate their decision. For this phase in the cycle content like product specs, demos, case studies, and reviews or testimonials are the perfect fit.
You should also apply this methodology to your social media marketing efforts. Follow the 80/20 rule. That is, 80% of the posts should be informational to attract and engage users in the Awareness phase. This is paramount when trying to grow an audience on social. The other 20% should be self-promotion for your brand enthusiasts and prospective customers.
Presenting product information too soon in the buyers’ journey can turn people off and be seen as “salesy.” This is why it’s important to offer content for all stages of the journey. Let the user dictate the relationship. Afterall, with 60% of buyers preferring not to interact with a sales rep as the primary source of information. By creating content aligned with the buyer’s journey you are engaging and facilitating the buying process without being too “salesy.”