Build marketing material towards customers’ buying processes

Arrows concept with businessman on Blackboard

© Tweeter Linder 2017 – All rights reserved. Photo by iStock.

In the past businesses built their marketing agenda towards objectives in the sales process. An inside out centric approach to how you structure your content. But as customer’s discovery journey now is digital we need to rethink our content structures. Learn more about what a shift to an outside-in and customer buyer centric journey could look like.

Shifting focus from sales process to buying process centric make a difference

In a sales process centric articulation of each step you articulate what you do as a seller. What the customer get in each step of the process is less clear.  In essence you focus more on what you want to achieve as tangible advances.

Your customers’ needs in the sales process requires attention. Your customer is on a learning journey in a new diverse, complex and fast moving world. Their learning is central to advancing deals. But not all models for driving and developing content match customer’s learning needs in each step.

Consider shifting focus for each step in your digital discovery journey.  A move from sales process to customer buying process as the anchor.

An outside-in centric approach to content mapping

When starting from a customer buying journey in learning intensive business you gain a set of clear advantages.

First you get a structure aligned with a sequence of steps for how your customers learn. An outside in approach designed around how customers learn.

Second you can map all questions surfacing in customer discussions to one step you need to clarify further. Each customer meeting become a source of input for creating new marketing material elements.

Third you build content in an iterative way.  All facts will not be on the table when you kick of the marketing material creation but can learn and add as you proceed.

Common steps in customers’ buying process

The customer buying process varies between industry sectors. As an insider of your industry you are well equipped to lay out the 7-10 central steps you have found when analyzing outing patterns.

Variants on the following steps are common in a customer buying process:

  1. Define strategic objectives
  2. Identify strategic options
  3. Define vendor evaluation criteria
  4. Identify vendors and alternative solutions
  5. Quantify the business potential
  6. Define cost structures (capex and opex)
  7. Evolve and optimize Business models
  8. Refine understanding on market price levels

A customer buying process represent the anchor for internal and external digital discovery journeys

Use the customer buying process as the anchor for all digital discovery journeys. External discovery journeys addressing your customers. And internal discovery journeys serving your sales force.

A digital discovery journey outlines natural steps in customer learning process. There are large commonalities between the steps your customers and your sales force takes. As both are on a learning curve in the same new markets.  We can refer to these as external and internal digital discovery journeys.

With a clear customer buying process in place these journeys will become your marketing backbone.  Each white paper, slide or video get a clear purpose. Content gaps in your journeys make you vulnerable for competitors’ messages in these steps. You will get a clear view on where customers are on their journey when mapping their questions on to predefined steps on the journey.

Questions for you and your team

  1. Do we use a sales process or a buying process as foundation for our content creation – names on the boxes tell most of the story.
  2. How well do we understand our customers buying process – a critical foundation for adjustments m.
  3. What are the 7-10 steps we should focus on – fewer become simplistic and more unmanageable.
  4. How well do our current content map on each step in the process – a good way to tell where you have your act together and where you can improve.
  5. What should an external digital discovery journey look like – base for inbound marketing.
  6. What should our internal discovery journey look like – base for sales training.
  7. How will an outside in driven model change our word-smithing – expect a change from first/third person to making YOU as focal point for online and face to face conversations.

Additional reading suggestions 

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