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Guide Prospects Through the Buying Process

Imagine a potential buyer, Norman. Norman wakes up on Monday morning thinking, "If the California engineering team could post their drawings and RFP responses in a central place where the Washington proposal team could grab them and wrap them into the final RFP submission, we could save hundreds of hours on each response cycle. I am going to call Acme Solutions today and get them to implement SharePoint for us."

While we can continue to hope for Norman's call, let's take a look at what the real buying process looks like and what that means to your content marketing strategy.

Buyers have different objectives as they progress through the stages of making a purchase decision. When you offer valuable content every step of the way, you help lead buyers to your door for the final solution. In this blog, we'll look at each stage in the process and what kind of information buyers need at each one. Let's use our example above and see how Norman might evaluate a solution to his problem.

Acknowledge the Problem: Prospects recognize that they have a problem that needs fixing. Norman knows that he could save money if his team could collaborate better. He'll want to know if other companies are having the same kind of problem and how they are addressing it. Content that would help Norman includes:

  • blog posts that address proposal management and
  • a whitepaper about productivity gains from collaboration.

Understand the Possibilities: Prospects research how they can solve the problem. Norman will investigate what tools other companies in his industry are using. Give Norman:

  • an e-book about RFP response cost-cutting through proposal management, and
  • blog posts about the benefits of collaboration for engineering companies.

Compare Solutions: Prospects compare the solutions and vendors that they have uncovered. Norman will start to evaluate different solutions looking for the best fit. He might like to see:

  • a screencast demonstrating an improved RFP process,
  • case studies that describe a proposal management implementation and the savings, or
  • a solution brochure.

Make a Selection: Prospects choose which solution and vendor. Norman wants to ensure that he is making the best choice for his company and his team. He will want to validate his decision using:

  • testimonials from existing clients and
  • support brochures.

Link Each Step To Build a Relationship
As you build your content, consider which step of the buying cycle you are supporting. At the end of each document, blog post or screencast, invite your prospect to move forward with you by offering them just the information they want for the next step.

With a full set of content to support your buyers as they progress toward a decision, you build a relationship of trust. By the time your prospect makes a selection, he or she will have come to trust you as a source of valuable information. That's a great place to start.

Have you found a clever way to build content that connects? Tell me about it so that we can share the knowledge.

This is the fourth installment in our series on content marketing. Check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Posted by Barb Levisay on March 09, 2011 at 11:57 AM