When do buyers want your content? Get it wrong and all the words you agonised over in your White Papers could be wasted. We update the Math Marketing buyer's journey and match the specific content that buyers of technology products - software for example - want at each stage of the journey.
In the technology sector, buyers' needs are quite specific so it's not hard to match content to stage, if you just think about the buyer's journey from his perspective, not yours. Take the journey, turn it on its head, make the stages specific to hi-tech and remember the buyer once he's a customer - and it looks more like below. We think it has 7 stages (including after purchase); Hubspot
thinks it has just 3. Your choice, but stick to the right sequence.
Unaware of the problem
This is the very start: the buyer doesn't even know he has a problem yet.
Show him he's not alone and how this problem relates to his company, in content formats he can find easily, i.e. Blog Posts or Social Media posts. Let him find you.
Don't try to hunt him down with a solution to a problem he hasn't yet acknowledged. If you do, he might just unsubscribe - and that's forever.
Understanding the problem
This is when the buyer knows there's a problem, but maybe it relates to him and maybe it doesn't. This is when he wants the facts not spin.
Give him authoritative White Papers or eBooks or videos that show you know the subject, and problem-solving guides that match his specific needs, but keep the branding low key and keep selling out of them entirely. You need to be an objective, helpful resource, not a seller at this stage. (Read How to write papers your audience will love.)
By now the buyer knows he has a problem and, if you've done your job well, he's looking for a solution.
This is when you can use branded content like Product Brochures that highlight your benefits, FAQ that show you know the answers and Case Studies that show him how you've solved problems just like his, many times before. Let him 'meet' your satisfied customers. Make him feel comfortable about who you are, what you do and how you've done it for others.
Now he knows you can solve his problem but, if he's been diligent, he's been looking around to see if anyone else can, too. This is when you show him Feature Comparisons that focus on your advantages compared to competitors, Tech Guides that show how easy your product is to use compared to others, and ROI Calculators that prove your value is higher.
This isn't the time to be shy or to hide your benefits. Many technology vendors don't feel comfortable being so direct, but these tools are probably the most powerful in your toolkit, precisely because they are direct. Be bold but be truthful - especially if the competitors you cite are big global players. That said, don't take risks or tell fibs, but do make sure your target buyer sees you as the most credible, complete or suitable solution, not just one of many. These pieces need to be clearly branded too, or you risk doing your competitor's work for them.
Deciding the vendor
By now you're on the shortlist, so be very precise and clear.
Give him the prospect a concise, easy-to-read proposal that shows how you’ll address his specific problems. Don't just cut and paste from brochureware; make it super-focused on the problems you know he has and how you'll solve them. Give him a Pilot (or Proof of Concept) Process that makes signing a contract the logical next step; it's vital that he knows beforehand that, once the specific criteria are met, the order is the next step, otherwise it won't be a pilot but a fishing trip. Then give him a Contract that’s legally binding, yet easy to understand.
Once the ink is dry, make sure you give him Implementation Guides that show him how easy deployment will be and Training Guides that upskill his people. These will reinforce the wisdom of his decision. Don't wait for him to ask for them, or you may give him second thoughts.
Referring your solution
Once he’s become a customer, don't forget him or take him for granted. Quite the reverse: make him feel ultra-special and super-valued.
This is the time he can help you grow your business with the most valuable of gifts: recommendation telling others in his industry how great you are. To make it easy and comfortable, show him how to get More Value, how to use Extra Functions, ask him for Feedback, invite him to Customer Only Events and make it easy, routine and natural to refer you.
In short, if you give buyers what they want, when they need it, they'll help to qualify themselves in. Thorough qualification will reduce the time you spend with tyre-kickers and pipeline squatters masquerading as genuine buyers, or those who are too lazy to tell you they're not serious. Offer what genuine buyers need and the fakes will eventually qualify themselves out, so you can focus on the genuine ones.
(Read more about how we think and how we 'do' marketing for high tech companies. It's nothing like marketing hoovers and toothbrushes.)
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