Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Buying Process; Auditing your Content Assets

Shifting your thinking from a selling process to a buying process means understanding how buyers buy and what stages each type of buyer goes through. When you have mapped out your buyer roles and the stages in their buying process, the next step is to determine what content is needed or available at each step in order to facilitate their buying process.

A very useful exercise to undertake is an audit of your existing marketing content in order to understand what content you currently have available and what new content may be required. This audit leads to a content matrix that forms a very useful basis for defining both your nurture marketing approaches and your content development strategy.

Creating the matrix is relatively straightforward. On one axis, list the key buyer roles you encounter; perhaps these are the standard technical buyers, user buyers, and economic buyers that are common definitions across many industries, or perhaps you have a more specific set of buyers you engage with.

On the second axis, list the stages of the buying process for your customers. Generally, this goes through three stages:

- Education and Awareness, where buyers learn about what is possible or required in a given industry
- Vendor Discovery, where buyers determine what vendors are available to solve a particular business pain
- Solution Validation, where buyers short list and ultimately select a particular vendor to assist them with a specific challenge

However, the phases of a buying process for your business will be quite specific.

With this matrix complete, you can now remove any cells that are not relevant, perhaps if user buyers are only brought in late in your buying process. Each cell in your content matrix now represents a combination of a buyer and the phase in the buying process that they are going through at a certain point in time. Each of your marketing assets should map to one of these cells (or perhaps a small number of cells in the case of certain broadly applicable assets).

By filling in the content matrix with your available marketing assets, and perhaps color-coding with red, yellow, and green based on quality, you get an overall view of where in the buyers’ buying process your content assets exist, and where they are strong. Some obvious gaps may become immediately apparent.

This content matrix can then be compared against the marketing challenge you face. As you plan your lead nurturing strategies, understanding where in the marketing funnel you need to focus on and where in the buying process your content exists is key.
Many of the topics on this blog are discussed in more detail in my book Digital Body Language
In my day job, I am with Eloqua, the marketing automation software used by the worlds best marketers
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Ed Barrett said...

Awesome post. I found this out myself years ago when we would conduct webinars, whitepapers that were very informative, but would not generate active leads within the sales funnel. We changed our approach to content to feature/ discuss items that were painful and urgent for our buyers/ prospects that directly preceded buying decisions. This one change had immediate positive effects at generating qualified buyers who were ready to buy. This tactic is significantly underutilized as we all become publishers of content/ knowledge.

Steven Woods said...

Thanks Ed - yes, I agree strongly with the "marketers need to think of themselves as publishers" idea. It's a new way of contemplating the world, but it's the right one.