First published at http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/

Author: GEORGE STENITZER

To understand your buyer’s journey is the holy grail for your business. Therefore this fine read!

Sharpen Your Content Marketing: 4 Ways to Model the Buyer’s Journey

The arc of your buyer’s journey is like the arc of a story. Each buyer, each story is unique. There is no one-size-fits-all model of the journey.But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use buyer journey models to optimize your content marketing. The right model for your buyer’s journey adds tremendous clarity and insight to your content marketing strategy.You can visualize your audience, where they are in the process, what information they might need at that time, and which information advances them to the next level. That means you can deliver relevant content to your prospects when they want it, the way they want it – and isn’t that what every content marketer strives to do?

If you are looking for a buyer’s journey to emulate, here are four models to consider.

1. Easy-to-convince model

George Stenitzer
George Stenitzer Inventive B2B content marketing consultant. Messaging expert & co-inventor of 1-Page Message Maps. Blogger, kayaker & guitarist

Simpler models reflect purchases that require less consideration, such as:Impulse buys driven by reflex or habitPurchases by brand loyalistsBuys from one decision-makerFor example, Andrew Davis’ model of the buyer’s journey adapted from McKinsey reflects a cyclical, nonlinear buyer’s journey.A moment of inspiration leads to a trigger. That trigger may lead to an immediate purchase. If the customer experience is positive, then a loyalty loop may be created – which manifests as a subscription or as repeat purchases.For easy-to-convince buyers, content marketers succeed by generating moments of inspiration, then reminding buyers of those moments to trigger purchases. For example, Red Bull creates inspiring content on extreme sports so when users see extreme sports, they thirst for Red Bull.In more complex purchases, triggers lead buyers to add a brand to a small set of sellers they’d be willing to buy from – their considered set. Buyers actively evaluate these sellers and choose one to buy from. Note that 57% of corporate executives reach a decision before they contact sales, according to a survey by the Corporate Executive Board.What I like about Andrew’s model is that the buyer’s experience from the first purchase clearly informs all future purchases. Many buying journeys are like this: cyclical and repeatable.

2. Before-and-after model

MXM uses a straightforward linear model for its customer journey, which reflects six stages.

This buyer’s journey model adds a layer to represent the buyer’s information needs at each step, including company and product brands, relevant content, influencers, pricing, product, store locators, and so forth.Carefully considered purchases call for even more rigorous models of the buyer’s journey. When consumers buy a new house, car, or investment plan, most of them put in lots of research, time, and effort. After all, they’re making some of the biggest financial commitments they’ll ever make. They research everything online. They ask their families and friends for opinions at each step.Yet business buyers may be risking even more – their reputations, jobs, or careers. That’s why the stakes are so high in carefully considered, big-ticket B2B purchases.This model also adds peripheral vision. It extends beyond the purchase – adding the buyer’s experience and loyalty to the customer journey. That’s important because, when customers have a good user experience, they are far likelier to make repeat purchases. By the same token, bad user experiences may derail future purchases.H

3. Circular model

The model from Anthony Christie at Level 3 shows six stages in a B2B customer’s journey. Its cyclical process fits carefully considered, big-ticket sales of products and services purchased repeatedly, for example, telecom services that connect companies to cloud-computing resources.This model emphasizes what employees need to do at each step in the buyer and user journey. I particularly like that the model:Speaks in the simple language of the customer, not in marketing jargon Makes customer expectations clear to employees in sales, marketing, customer service, operations, and accounting – all of whom play key roles in the customer’s journey.In big-ticket B2B sales, marketers need to supply crucial content to nudge the buying committee forward. To address the differing needs of various committee members, you may need to build separate buyer’s journey models for each key member.Remember that each member has different priorities, worries, and pressures affecting their decision. For example, the users of the product want maximum performance, IT wants good technical support, and the purchasing team wants the lowest price. It takes different content to satisfy each of these information needs.That’s why it’s critical to understand the personas of each member on the committee – and be clear about who holds decision power and which content is relevant to each.

Read all at  4 Ways to Model the Buyer’s Journey

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