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April 21, 2023
As a managed service provider, IT solutions provider or agent, you’ve undoubtedly used the phrase “Buyer’s Journey” when discussing the steps your IT buyer takes on their way to making a purchase. And you know that many of those early steps are taken solo, with little involvement from you and your sales team, until your buyer nears the end of their journey.
“Buyer’s Journey” is an interesting metaphor — one that I much prefer to the “marketing funnel” which is ridiculous. On one hand, it makes perfect sense and shows awareness of a few strategic marketing and sales realities:
The buyer oversees much of the sales process.
Sales is a consultative “process” and not a “transaction.”
A purchase may mirror a journey involving multiple stops or stages.
You can develop a brand storytelling or content marketing strategy to match the buyer’s journey.
However, one often-overlooked reality is that the Buyer’s Journey is not the same for every customer — every client has a specific objective that may be different from others. And that can be a problem for SPs, MSPs and other sales organizations that are not telling their own brand stories, relying instead on vendor marketing content and marketing automation tools.
If your firm is like most companies that have a complex sales process, you should consider behaving like a creative, problem-solving travel agent who gets selective buyers to their specific destinations.
Here’s an example: Let’s say that you are a travel agent working with a large, extended family (you can call it an “enterprise buyer”) that wants to book a vacation trip to Paris. Sounds like a simple task; just send them some brochures, help them make reservations and they can take off on the journey of a lifetime.
The grandparents want to take a cruise from New York City to Europe. That’s a 12-day excursion that will get them into Le Havre with a two-hour bus trip to reach Paris. The parents would rather fly and maybe visit London before heading to Paris. And the two grown children are coming from different colleges and want to visit Madrid before catching up with the parents and grandparents in Paris. And the grandparents are footing the bill — and want to approve everything and maybe make a few changes to rein in spending in some places (Spain) and splurge in others (Paris).
Can you see the challenges? Which brochures do you send them? What videos? Maybe a testimonial from a satisfied traveler? Who knows?
The reality is that many complex sales, like enterprise technology sales, can share some similar traits:
There are multiple parties involved (surprise!).
Some “buyers” are really specifiers or recommenders while others hold the final purchase authority.
Marketing material needs to be tailored, customized and personalized as much as possible to the needs of each buyer and their stage in the journey.
Everyone involved has a different (and completely correct) vision for their journey.
What you need isn’t just one Buyer’s Journey Campaign Map (or Blueprint or Travel Guide) but a whole bunch of them. Most marketing content is passive – it is written, recorded, printed, thrown up on the web – to be consumed as it was created. And that’s fine. But you should be able to tailor it a bit for specific audiences. And it shouldn’t look exactly like the collateral your nearest competitor is using.
That’s a challenge for many SPs and MSPs that rely on vendor-created content they can only add their logos to before …
… sharing with customers — or worse. Some SPs and MSPs are simply pointing customers to vendor content elsewhere and hoping they remember and return. This is not a content marketing strategy that leads to brand awareness for your brand story.
Your buyers want to engage with content that is most relevant to them and the topics they need. They’re not interested in something that’s too “sales-heavy,” according to a recent Demand Gen Report.
Depending on what stage they’re in during their Buyer’s Journey – early, middle or final – they might be interested in different types of content. Webinars and e-books make sense for early-stage buyers while case studies and analyst reports are better for middle-stage buyers. And hold off on demos and calculators until final stages.
You might consider combining dynamic and static content to develop buyer’s journeys that you can control to some degree. For example, you can build a “choose your own journey” chatbot as a front-end configurator that points to different static pieces of content depending on the buyer’s selected preferences.
And marketers, it should be obvious, but… you want to create these tools with the full support, involvement and blessing of your sales team. Buyers are coming later and later into the sales cycle as it is. No use hamstringing a solid sales play with incorrect or incomplete – or totally off-base – marketing content.
Marketing and sales need to have their acts together and be on the same page when it comes to the buyer’s journey:
No more finger-pointing.
Stop misassigning marketing qualified leads (MQLs) as sales qualified leads (SQLs).
Build basic – but flexible – content campaigns for Buyer’s Journeys.
Learn from campaigns and build better ones in the future – this is why A/B testing is so important, it provides additional data for your next campaign.
Because the City of Lights is waiting and it’s your job to get everyone there safely, securely and with the best experience humanly (or AI-ly) possible.
More articles from this author:
Arthur Germain is the principal and chief brandteller at Brandtelling. He has recently authored a book called "The Art of Brandtelling: Brand Storytelling for Business Success," available in paperback, Kindle and e-book formats. Visit TheArtofBrandtelling.com for information.
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