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Get Relevant: Match Content to Buying Cycle (Part 1)

If creating valuable content for your prospects and customers isn't challenging enough, now we're going to throw in relevance to the buying process. Does it really matter? Yes. Does that mean we need to create even more content? No.

The point of content is to help the buyer decide
Producing content for content's sake means you are never done. Without a clear definition of how your content helps the prospect make a buying decision you're probably working too hard.

You can simplify by deciding what you will use to educate the buyer at each stage of the buying cycle and then build that content. Keep that content fresh with updates, rewrites and additions -- and stop continually re-creating the wheel.

Buying cycle stages
First, let's define the stages that a prospect goes through in the buying process:

  • Recognize they have a problem
  • Understand the objectives and possibilities
  • Compare solutions
  • Make selection

During each stage, the buyer is looking for increasingly detailed information to help them zero in on the right solution to their problem. While the prospect is likely going to use Internet searches in each step, the key words they use and the supporting content they want will be different.

Use buyer personas to make it real

You are building content for people, not for the buying cycle, so put the buying stages in terms of your buyer. You should have a good idea of your target or typical buyer, so stand in their shoes through the process.

Let's use a simplified example of a sales manager looking for a CRM solution. Everyone on the sales team is using spreadsheets to track opportunities. It takes the sales manager hours to build the pipeline report. She recognizes she has a problem and searches for sales force automation.  

Problem recognition - At this point, our sales manager wants to find out if other companies like hers are having this same issues and what they are doing about it.

Understand possibilities - Through her searches, our sales manager finds CRM applications and wants to know that other companies like hers are using. She is looking for information that will filter the options available to her.

Compare solutions – By this stage, she has figured out what she wants, and now needs to identify and clarify the pros and cons of each choice.

Make selection – At the last stage our sales manager is probably asking herself the question, "Will I keep my job if I recommend this solution and it doesn't work?"

The goal of your content is to help your buyer make the right choice every step of the way. Next week we'll talk about the types of content that best serve each stage.

Have you matched your content strategy to buying cycles? Comment below or send me an e-mail and let's share the knowledge.

Posted by Barb Levisay on October 13, 2011