As we continue to review the basics of nurturing leads, I want to explain a little about buyer stages. These are the stages that a prospect progresses through as he nears the all-important purchase decision. One analyst firm has a six stage framework:
- Shaking up the status quo
- Getting the prospect to accept the need for change
- Reviewing feasible solutions
- Picking a solution
- Justifying the solution
- Negotiating the purchase
That being said, I don’t want to give the impression that the buying process is strictly rational and linear. On the contrary, prospects may jump forward or backwards in the process for obscure reasons having to do with balancing reason with emotion. Fear and risk weigh heavily on any decision-maker, to the consternation of marketers everywhere. It therefore pays to develop an understanding of what prospects are going through as they approach the buying decision, the better to design your lead nurturing strategy to facilitate an eventual purchase.
I would be remiss if I didn’t relate our discussion of buying roles and stages to the topic of content, which plays a tremendous role in maintaining the ongoing conversation with prospects. Think of content as a stand-in for a sales rep when the process is too early to involve the real sales rep. Let’s see how to sculpt your content appropriately.
Content Aligned to Buyer Roles
Prospects are much more responsive to content targeted to their roles instead of generic messaging. Here are the statistics:
- 82 percent of prospects prefer content targeted to their industry
- 67 percent want content targeted to their organizational function
- 49 percent like content to be specific to their company size
- Only 29 percent seem concerned about geographic targeting
Content Aligned to Buying Stage
This is best explained by way of examples:
- Early stages benefit from educational content. Your intent is to educate prospects and share best practices without putting pressure on leads.
- When prospects start looking for solutions, industry-oriented content works best. Try providing industry overviews, buyer’s guides, analyst reports, etc.
- When the prospect is finally ready to make the purchase, content should be geared towards company-focused and solution-oriented materials.
Other Best Practices
- Don’t be too aggressive. Make your content easily digestible without challenging your prospect’s attention span. Keep it short, sweet and on point.
- There is no ‘I’ in content. Your content should be educational and intrinsically valuable, not self-promoting schlock.
- You can get personal without getting pushy. When Marketing is sending the emails, they can be fancy HTML affairs. When Sales takes over, make emails more personal, text-only messages.