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Keeping Prospects Engaged from Curiosity to Close

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Relevant marketing communications are now essential to finding and winning new customers. This white paper describes how astute marketers are using a proven four-step process to develop compelling, …

Relevant marketing communications are now essential to finding and winning new customers. This white paper describes how astute marketers are using a proven four-step process to develop compelling, stage-specific marketing content that will keep prospects engaged from curiosity to close.

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  • 1. KEEPING PROSPECTS ENGAGED FROMCURIOSITY TO CLOSEG. David DoddPoint Balance1135 Holiday DrCrossville, TN 38555931-707-5105www.pointbalance.comJuly 2012
  • 2. Copyright 2012 by G. David Dodd. All rights reserved. 2Why Read This PaperRelevant marketing communications are now essential to finding and winningnew customers. Technologies have created new marketing channels andenabled marketing techniques that didn’t exist only a few years ago. Butunless marketing messages are relevant, new channels and techniques justadd to the marketing clutter that already fills our environment.For marketers in business-to-business companies, the need to use relevantmarketing messages and materials is especially strong. Business buyers nolonger have to rely on sellers for information about products or services. Theycan go online and find most of the information they need, whenever they needit. If they receive marketing messages that aren’t relevant to their immediateissues or concerns, they’ll just ignore them.One powerful way to make marketing more relevant is to use stage-specificmarketing content. By stage-specific, we mean marketing content thataddresses the issues that are important to potential buyers at each stage ofthe buying process.Astute marketers are using a proven four-step process to develop compelling,stage-specific marketing content that will keep prospects engaged fromcuriosity to close.Why “Situational Relevance” MattersMany B2B purchases are the end result of a buying process that containsseveral steps. The process isn’t always neat and orderly, but most businessbuyers move through an identifiable set of buying stages as they makepurchase decisions. Because they are incredibly busy, business buyers havebecome adept at “just-in-time” learning. They will spend time learning thethings they need to know only when they need to know them. If you provide apotential buyer information that is out of sync with his or her decision makingprocess, it’s far less likely to capture the buyer’s full attention.The solution is to use marketing messages and materials that are designed foreach stage of the buying process. This kind of marketing content enhanceswhat we call situational relevance, and it can be a powerful source ofcompetitive advantage. In a survey of B2B buyers by DemandGen Report,93% of the respondents said that the solution provider they chose suppliedample marketing content to navigate through each phase of the buyingprocess. (Where Marketers are Missing the Mark With Buyers, DemandGenReport, 2010)Read this white paper to discover―• What situational relevance is, and why it matters.• How to define the buying process for your products orservices.• How to identify the critical questions that your prospects willhave at each stage of their buying journey.• How to map your existing marketing content to buying stagesand identify where the “gaps” exist in your content portfolio.93% of B2B buyers saytheir chosen suppliersprovide ample contentfor every phase of thebuying process
  • 3. Copyright 2012 by G. David Dodd. All rights reserved. 3Developing a stage-specific content marketing program is not an insignificantundertaking, but it doesn’t have to be an insurmountable task. There are fourbasic steps you’ll need to take.• Define the buying process for your products/services• Identify the major questions that potential buyers will have at eachstage of the buying process• Map your existing content resources to buying process stages• Identify where the gaps are in your content portfolio and create newresources to fill the gapsDefine the Buying ProcessThe first step in developing stage-specific marketing content is to identify thesteps in the process that buyers use when purchasing a product or service likeyours. The diagram below depicts the six steps in the buying processsuggested by sales and marketing research firm SiriusDecisions(www.siriusdecisions.com). These six steps can be placed into three buyingprocess phases—Discovery, Consideration, and Decision. The buying processfor your product or service may contain different buying stages, but it’s likelyto be similar. What’s most important here is to describe the buying processthat reflects the reality of your business and then define each stage of yourprocess.During the Discovery phase, a potential buyer becomes aware of a problem orneed and recognizes that the negative ramifications of the status quo makechange a priority. Once a buyer has committed to addressing a problem orneed, he or she will conduct research to identify possible solutions, and afterevaluating the options, will commit to a type of solution (but not necessarily toa specific solution provider). In the Decision phase, the potential buyer mustjustify the purchase decision financially and select the solution provider.Identify Buying Journey QuestionsOnce you have identified and defined the stages of the buying process for yourproduct or service, the next step in creating stage-specific marketing contentis to identify the important questions that potential buyers will ask at eachstage of the process. The issues that buyers must address change as theymove through the buying process, and the questions they want/need answersFour steps to creatingstage-specific content:• Define the buyingprocess• Identify buying stagequestions• Map existing contentto buying stages• Identify and fill thegaps
  • 4. Copyright 2012 by G. David Dodd. All rights reserved. 4Typical Buying Journey QuestionsDiscovery Phase• Why should I change, and why should I change now?• What will happen if I don’t change?• What events/circumstances would force me to solve this problem/challenge?• How is the problem/challenge adversely affecting my company/industry?Consideration Phase• How are my peers/competitors dealing with this problem/challenge?• What are the available options/alternatives?• Are there best practices I can use as a guide?• What are the peripheral effects of the possible solutions?• What criteria should I use when evaluating possible solutions?• Who has the expertise to help me solve the problem/challenge?• Which potential suppliers can I trust to help me solve the problem/challenge?Decision Phase• What if my end users won’t use the proposed solution?• What could cause my chosen solution to fail, and what will happen if it does?• How will I need to change my business processes in order to maximize thebenefits of the proposed solution?• What will my total cost of ownership be?• What return on investment will the solution generate, and how long will it taketo achieve?• Can the company/solution I’m considering meet my needs as they evolve?• How have people/companies like me/mine succeeded with the solution I’mconsidering?for also change. Marketing content that was highly relevant to a potentialbuyer when he or she was first learning about a problem will be far lessrelevant when that buyer is evaluating a specific solution. The table belowshows some of the critical questions that potential buyers are likely to haveduring each phase of their buying journey.Map Existing Content to Buying Process StagesBefore you begin creating new marketing content, you need to evaluate thecontent you already have. If you’re like most companies we work with, youalready have content assets that can be adapted to work in a stage-specificcontent strategy.To understand where you currently stand—and to identify where the “gaps”exist in your content portfolio—you need to perform a content audit. Onemajor component of a complete content audit is the development of buyingstage maps that link each of your existing content assets to one or more of thebuying process stages you’ve defined.We use a simple spreadsheet to create buying stage maps, and a highlysimplified example is shown on the next page.You should create a separate buying stage map for each buyer persona thatyou identified during the development of your marketing strategy. (Note: AMarketing content that’shighly relevant to apotential buyer who isfirst learning about aproblem will be far lessrelevant when that buyeris evaluating a specificsolution
  • 5. Copyright 2012 by G. David Dodd. All rights reserved. 5discussion of buyer personas is beyond the scope of this white paper. If you’dlike to learn more about why buyer personas are important and how to createthem, please take a look at our white paper titled Two Powerful Ways to MakeYour Marketing More Relevant. To get a copy of this white paper, please sendan e-mail to ddodd@pointbalance.com).The first column of a buying stage map contains the title or a brief descriptionof the content asset, and the second column is used to identify the asset type(white paper, case study, etc.). An additional column is used for each stage ofthe buying process. In the example shown above, we have used the threemajor buying process phases—Discovery, Consideration, and Decision. Yourbuying stage map may contain more buying process stages.Each content asset is entered on a separate row in the map. When you’remapping content assets to buying stages, the basic test is whether theresource contains content that answers the major questions the buyer personais likely to have at that stage of the buying process. A content asset may belinked to more than one buying process stage, but if you link an asset to morethan two stages, you should think about whether that asset is too broad to bereally effective.Fill the GapsWhen you complete the mapping process described above, you’ll have a clearpicture of where the gaps in your marketing content are for each of your buyerpersonas. This process will also tell you what kinds of content you need to fillthose gaps.At this point, your job is to create new content assets to fill the identified gaps.While there is no universal rule for prioritizing these content developmentprojects, we usually recommend that marketers identify their most importantbuyer personas and use that ranking to guide content development work.When mapping contentassets to buying stages,the test is whether theasset answers thequestions that potentialbuyers are likely to haveat that stage of thebuying process
  • 6. Copyright 2012 by G. David Dodd. All rights reserved. 6For More InformationIf you’d like to learn more about how to design and implement a stage-specificcontent marketing program, contact G. David Dodd at 931-707-5105 or via e-mail at ddodd@pointbalance.com.To read more of our current thinking, take a look at our other white papers.• Two Powerful Ways to Make Your Marketing More Relevant• Cracking the Growth Code: Winning Profitable Growth fromNew Markets• Lead Nurturing Plugs the Leaks in Your Sales Pipeline• Is a Marketing Asset Management Solution Right for YourCompany?About Point BalancePoint Balance helps B2B companies design and implement buyer-focused andtechnology-enabled marketing programs that will connect with prospects andconvert those prospects into customers. Our marketing services include:• Marketing strategy development• Buyer persona development• Content audits• Content marketing programs• Marketing content development• Lead nurturing programs• Lead scoring system development• Marketing technology selection and implementation• Marketing supply chain optimizationPoint Balance1135 Holiday DrCrossville, TN 38555931-707-5105