Using the See-Think-Do-Care framework to optimise the Buyer’s Journey

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Time to update your marketing framework?

An inbound marketing strategy is only as good as the model of reality it’s based on. And every now and then, our marketing models need to be updated – or even replaced – to keep up with the changing reality. Of course, not just the models, but the way we think.

It seems some marketers still use the good old AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action) model of the buying process. AIDA was developed by a door-to-door cash register salesman, John Wanamaker, long before the digital age. One of its problems is that it doesn’t encourage us to take a customer perspective or consider how the customers mindsets change when they move through the buyer’s journey. Old-school sales centric marketing, where the entire audience is spammed with the same “buy now!” content whether they are interested in buying or not, simply doesn’t work today.

Why not?

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How storytelling works

Rankbrain, UX-signaler

When we’re consuming a good story, it seems perfectly real to us. This strange phenomenon is usually referred to as suspension of disbelief. We suspend our critical thinking (“this is only a story” or “this is not realistic”) and believe in the story because it’s so much more satisfying than to write it off as fiction. The characters and events seem so real and bring back emotions we’ve had ourselves when experiencing something similar.

This is why stories have greater impact than a regular marketing pitch, mere facts or abstract information. A story’s emotional potency makes people more likely to remember it, be convinced and take action.

So how does this actually happen?

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Storytelling: what makes a story powerful?

Storytelling. The word has an aura of excitement and magic that probably explains some of the hype. Storytelling used to make me think of the Odyssey or old men with beards telling tales by camp fires under the stars. These days, I see marketing consultants on stages (with beards) claiming to be Storytellers. 

Is storytelling just a new name for marketing? Will saying the magic word  turn marketers – or anybody – into Storytellers? Does content equal stories? No, no, and no.

Since storytelling is the art of telling a story, the question is: what makes something a good story (and not just ‘content’)? Let’s start with the basics.  Continue reading “Storytelling: what makes a story powerful?”

Turning customer pain points into content ideas

Rewriting pain points as headers

If you’ve done the work outlined in my previous blog posts, you know which key customer roles to influence for the most important buying scenarios. You also know what they care about in each step from awareness to decision, which is to say, their pain points. If you’ve done this right, it should be pretty easy to come up with relevant content ideas just by looking at the pain points and areas of concern that you’ve discovered.

Let’s say that one of the common pain points your workshops revealed is “Fear of not complying to the new data law when it comes in effect.”

To address it, a content piece might have the headline “What you need to know about the new data law to ensure compliance.” Another pain point might be “We are losing online customers and it’s too costly to acquire new ones.” Your answer could be: “5 ways to retain your customers online.” Setting tentative headers like this using challenges and goals that can be changed later is a very effective way both to formulate and document your content ideas. Continue reading “Turning customer pain points into content ideas”

Map the Buyer’s Journey

Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. How do your customers (or buyer personas, described in my previous post) buy the kind of products you sell? When mapping out the buyer’s journey, keep the format as simple as possible. The common 3-phase buying journey (visualised in figure 4 below) is simple enough to save time and keep your focus on the essentials.

Now, let’s take a look at how to map the customer’s needs, wants, problems and pain points into each of the three buying phases.

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Creating Buyer Personas

In most B2B, it is vital to focus on addressing the professional needs of the audience and show that you add value related to your field of expertise. You will probably be able to do this by analysing your buyer focuses (see my previous blog post). But you can get a better understanding of your audience by taking it a step further and create buyer personas. A buyer persona is a fictive person that represents your ideal customer.

Personas make sense because after all, a reader is a single individual human being, not a target group, a role or a focus. 63% of marketers create content by buyer persona (Curata). A useful approach is to create a persona for each buyer focus. Basically, the personas will have the same needs, problems and goals as the corresponding buying focus, but the persona allows you to dig deeper and wider.

For example, our vivid imagination could give birth to a woman we name Joyce Davenport. Joyce is CEO of a mid-sized online fashion retail company.  (Does this name ring a bell? Well, then it tells me something about your age…) Continue reading “Creating Buyer Personas”

Explore your B2B audience

Define Your Target Group

We don’t communicate with companies (at least not yet), we communicate with people. When we know our ideal target companies and the products they need from us, we can zoom in on the human beings we are making content for. But since we cannot make unique content for each single individual, we need to categorise them. Obviously, a CFO is not interested in the same things as a CTO. You need to adapt the content we offer them – but how do we pull this off in a practical sense? Continue reading “Explore your B2B audience”

Formulate your wanted leadership position

What is your company’s field of expertise?

B2B providers add value to their customers through their competence more than products or solutions per se. You need to be clear on what your company’s specific competence or expertise is and make sure your content reflects it. By bringing valuable insights and know-how, your content creates the image of your company as a leader in your field. Continue reading “Formulate your wanted leadership position”

Start with the destination of the buying journey

Business goals first

When you’re planning your B2B content, it can be tempting to jump right in and start jamming for content ideas. Stop right there! You will end up wasting precious time and money. Your content needs to engage the right readers and lead them towards the decisions you want them to make. The final purpose of B2B content is usually to contribute to your business. To make sure it does, you need to know what your business goals and key business opportunities are. Every B2B company is different and while some may only sell a single product, most have a product portfolio with a range of products for different customer segments. If your company sells different products, start off with the big picture: which products do you want to sell to which companies? This simple overview will enable you and your colleagues to decide which opportunities have the biggest potential value for your company and our customers – and focus your efforts on them. Your key business goals should be the destinations of the buying journeys. Putting them at the end of the funnel allows you to map out the steps that will lead the buyer there, and to figure out who are involved in the process. This method enables you to make sure each piece of content contributes to the most valuable business opportunities for you and your clients. When all content serves a defined business purpose, things start to happen.

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The key to need-to-know content

Relevant content is not enough

An insane volume of content is produced every year, and as marketing is becoming data-driven, a growing part of it is adapted to the target readers. They are flooded with ‘relevant content’ competing for their attention, time and energy. According to Content Marketing Institute, leads generation is the top goal to 85% of B2B marketers and creating engaging content is a top priority to 72%. Faced with ‘relevant’ content overflow, it is more important than ever that content engages potential customers throughout their buying journeys and converts them into sales leads. So we have a challenge. But there is a way to do it: to provide the specific knowledge your target readers need to be able to achieve their professional goals. And at the same time push their emotional buttons. This means you need to explore their challenges.

How is this possible? I mean, look at the symbolic glass in the picture. 

Well, there is a way: by providing specific knowledge that your potential buyers need to be able to achieve their professional goals. And, I should add: pushing their emotional buttons.

But doesn’t this require up-to-date insights into our customers’s challenges?  You got it. It’s the key. We need to move from nice-to-know to need-to-know. Continue reading “The key to need-to-know content”