The road to the B2B sale is a long one. How do you keep buyers engaged over the long journey ahead without losing their attention? Hint: You tell them a story.
This buyers journey is a story that begins when your prospects first realize they have a problem. This guide describes the steps in the buyers journey and questions your prospects will have along the way. Your Buyer’s Journey is based on your buyer personas and can find some direction from your SEO Strategy too.
The Buyers Journey Overview
Have you ever gone on a road trip without a map? In business this is called the buyers journey. It’s the storyline or plot where your prospects start with a business problem and begin looking for a solution.
You must understand your prospect’s buyers journey to know what unspoken questions they have. This gives them faith in your ability to help solve their problems. The first step is to understand your role in the process.
Your Buyer Is the Hero
Think of your buyers journey as a hero’s struggle to overcome a great challenge. Whether the problem is big or small, the hero’s journey is a template of the archetypal journey any person goes through to overcome a hurdle and achieve a goal.
Many books have been written on this subject including “The Hero With a Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell.
The Buyer’s Problem is the Villain
Every good hero story has a villain to create tension. Think of the last Netflix episode you watched that ended in a cliffhanger. In business, the villain of the story is whatever is holding your prospect back from solving their problem.
This could be choosing to do nothing and hoping the problem will resolve itself. Or the problem could be someone in the hero’s organization who doesn’t agree with your solution. It could be a competitor, too.
Your Business Is the Mentor
During the initial stages of the archetypal hero’s journey, the protagonist meets a mentor who helps them avoid failure.
There are many well-known mentors. For example, King Arthur’s mentor was Merlin. In the movies, the mentor for Luke Skywalker in Star Wars was Ob-Wan-Kenobi. And Neo of The Matrix had Morpheus as a mentor. In your customer’s buyer’s journey, the mentor is you. And your product is the solution to their problem.
The Setting is Your Buyer’s Situation
In a movie the setting is where the action takes place. For example, the movie Breaking Bad takes place in New Mexico where Walter White lives. The setting for your buyer’s journey could include industry verticals or some other aspect of their problem space.
The Theme of the Story is Based on Your Positioning
In your buyers journey the theme is focused on the buyer’s problem. It’s their journey and they’re the hero. Solving their problem drives their interest, not your product.
However, your brand promise is the main benefit they get. They’re completed journey can summed up in three sentences that are your positioning statement:
- Total fulfillment experience
Management Consultant, Edwards Deming once said, “The really big problems are where people don’t realize they have one in the first place.” And it’s not until a prospect acknowledges they have a problem and makes solving it a priority that they’ll ever buy your product. So early stage leads must be educated on their problem, particularly when innovative, complex or expensive products are involved.
Early-stage Buyer Questions
- Why should I care?
- What happens if we do nothing?
- What are our competitors doing?
- Who needs to be involved?
- Can we fix it internally
At this stage, prospects recognize they have a need and are actively looking for a solution. And there may be many businesses competing for their attention with content. Known as the lead nurturing phase, this is often the longest leg of the B2B buyer’s journey.
Mid-stage Buyer Questions
- What could go wrong?
- What else does it impact?
- What do I need to know?
- What are best practices?
- What are my choices?
Finally your prospects are ready to buy. Hopefully you’ve gotten your foot in the door early enough with content marketing. This lets you become so enmeshed in their buying process that it’s hard for them to shift direction at this late stage. If you haven’t, a competitor could easily steal them away.
Late-Stage Buyer Questions
- What are the risks?
- How do we get everyone to agree?
- What tradeoffs can we agree to?
- What will the future look like?
Start Telling Your Customers’ Story
Align your content with your buyer’s journey and you’ll put your lead generation engine into overdrive. Once you have your Buyer’s Journey planned, the next step is to integrate it into your Website Copywriting.