Have you mapped out the specific stages your prospects go through to become a customer?

An understanding of your “Buying Stages” can help create a more strategic Content Strategy and Editorial Calendar, and a stronger plan for Offers and Calls to Action.

Buying Stages Dictated by the “3 C’s”

Your particular Buying Stages are dictated by the “3 C’s”:

  1. COST:  the more expensive your product or service . . .
  2. COMPLEXITY:  the more complex your product or service . . .
  3. CHANGE: the more your product or service changes the way your audience does things

If you have one or more of the 3 C’s above, typically: the longer your sales cycle, the more complex your Buying Stages, and the greater your Buyer Personas’ need for CONTENT.

Buyer Stages Model

Once one of your Buyer Personas either recognizes they have a particular problem/pain, or they become aware of a possible solution or better way of doing something, the next Buyer Stages may include:

  • Solution Research: prospect may be searching for a solution and needs to identify and understand the possibilities.  Frequently, at this stage, the prospect identifies potential Categories of solutions.  (For example, I might want a large flat-screen TV. My initial research may help me discover there are plasma, LCD, and 3D Categories.)
  • Category Evaluation:  prospect needs to compare the different Categories of possible solutions, to try to select the Category that best meets his/her needs.
  • Vendor Research:  Once a prospect decides on a Category, now they want to know which companies or brands offer that Category of solution.
  • Company/Brand Evaluation:  The prospect identifies companies or brands in the chosen Category of solution, and now needs to compare companies/brands.  (In a B2B situation, there may be an RFP or sales presentation at this stage.)

The key is to map out your own particular Buying Stages.

Buying Stages by Persona Reveal a More Effective Content Strategy

Once you’ve mapped out your Buying Stages, now you’re ready to review your entire content strategy!  For each of your Buyer Personas, go through each of the Buying Stages to review:

  • Topic and Message: What is that Persona looking for?  What is his/her goal?  What are the Persona’s concerns?  What is most important to him/her?
  • Message Promotion:  Where will he/she look?
  • Optimization:  What keywords will he/she use?
  • Formats:  What format of content does the Persona prefer? (Do they download podcasts, watch videos, attend webinars, prefer white papers?)
  • Call to Action:  What Offers can you make at each Buying Stage that would interest them?
  • “Merchandising”:  How can you make this Content more interesting and compelling? (checklist, worksheet, video, podcast, online tool, etc.)

Armed with this analysis, review your website content — as well as the content you’ve created over the past 12 months.  What are you missing?  Which Personas haven’t been adequately addressed?  Which Buying Stages need Content?

 Content Marketing is truly Content-to-Sales Marketing

What’s the most effective way to boost sales?  Focus on developing Content and Offers by Persona by Buying Stage.  

You’ll re-focus your marketing on delivering the answers your prospects are searching for, where they’re searching for them, and in the format they want.  And you’ll lead your prospects, step by step, through the Buying Stages — keeping them interested in your product or service.

Bonus:  You’ll likely drive new incoming links to your valuable content, improve your organic position, drive new traffic, and ultimately improve conversion.

Content Marketing is Marketing’s new Black — just about everyone (affected by the “3 C’s”) should have it in their marketing arsenal.

What are you doing with Content Marketing?

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