To keep your company top of mind, you must communicate with your prospects on a regular basis. But the average business person is bombarded by hundreds of messages per day, making it a challenging task for even the most seasoned marketers.
There’s a secret to ensure that your brand captures a top spot in the frontal cortex of your best prospects: Provide them with a guided content experience that supports their research, evaluation and decision-making processes – and helps you to build a trusted relationship with them – faster.
This process starts with a deep understanding of their needs. Not just a superficial description of your ideal buyer but a detailed behavioral profile of each type of person who makes the purchase decision or contributes to it.
Isn’t this a lot of work? Yes, it is – which is why so few marketers invest the time to do it. But it’s essential to success in today’s hyper-competitive, hyper-messaged business environment. It’s not enough to make an educated guess at the needs of these key prospects – you need to interview them firsthand, looking for patterns and insights that reveal their challenges, motivations and aspirations.
Each person who is involved in the buying process has different needs. The economic buyer, for example, usually seeks a solution that is cost-effective and promises a positive ROI. An operations person, on the other hand, wants a solution that streamlines his or her work processes. You need to understand the deepest needs of each person on the buying committee and be prepared to target content to meet them.
You also need to develop a keen sense for how their information needs change as they move through the buying process. For example, here’s one example of how a typical purchasing decision-maker’s needs may evolve:
- Awareness stage: This is when he discovers he has a problem he needs to solve. He jumps online to research it. At this early stage, he’s seeking information and education to help him understand his challenge and its root causes. He’s looking for blog articles, infographics and videos that provide him with basic “need-to-know” information.
- Consideration stage: At the next stage of the buying process, his questions and information needs become more specific: “Of the types of solutions I’ve discovered, which approach tends to work best?” and “What type of vendor is most closely aligned with my needs?” are two common questions he may ask during this mid-funnel stage. He’s also trying to determine which vendors truly understand his needs. This type of advice can usually be found in eGuides, videos, webinars and long-form, authoritative blog articles.
- Evaluation stage: The decision-maker is nearing the end of his buying process. He has narrowed the field down to two or three potential vendors. His questions are now even more specific. For example: “How do I know your company is the right choice?” “What types of financing options do you offer?” and “Can I get this with the optional package of upgrades?” Downloads of product sheets, case histories and implementation guides are strong indicators that he’s ready to buy.
Another key to staying top-of-mind is to pay attention to the signals your prospects are sending you via their actions. Report downloads, webinar registrations and requests for quotations are all signals of buying intent.
To help move your prospects through the buyer’s journey faster, you should have email campaigns set up to automatically deploy whenever an intent signal is detected. What does that mean? When a prospect downloads a specific eGuide, for example, she will be exposed to at least two to three additional pieces of related content. Strive for a steady cadence of one message every two to three days. If you message her too frequently, you may scare her off. Too infrequently and she may forget about you.
What if she doesn’t interact with your first set of nurturing messages? Consider creating a second set with a different format or call to action to try to capture her attention. Don’t be afraid to switch things up. If she didn’t engage with digital messages, try direct mail or invite her to a special event or webinar. A marketing automation tool is invaluable to set up all of these elements and the business rules you’ll need to automate their deployment.
In conclusion, staying top-of-mind with your prospects isn’t hard. It just requires a strategic approach that’s based upon a deep understanding of each person in your ideal customer’s buying committee. That will enable you to craft a carefully designed cadence of content and messages that are designed to gently move them toward a sale – faster.