Welcome!

Blog Feed Post

How Did Buyers Get Here?

452256947

I interview a lot of people during buyer persona projects. This includes representatives from product development, customer service, sales teams, marketing professionals of various flavors, and, of course, customers and prospects. The thing that continues to astound me during internal interviews is the lack of knowledge about how buyers get here. In other words, how buyers become customers.

Each of these roles knows their piece of the puzzle, but more often than not, I don’t see a big picture view based on connecting the pieces from start to finish, including the bumps along the way.

For example:

  • Product development conducts customer focus groups and surveys to find out what new features are desirable and how existing features are performing. But they need to dig deeper into the “why” about the products. Why do customers want new features? What outcomes are they trying to achieve? Why can’t they do it now? How are they doing it now?
  • Marketers are focused on lead generation, brand awareness and driving traffic to the website and specific content offers. Often they are focused on just what it takes to generate a “lead” or reach the traffic volume number needed to show improvement. But what happens next? How does what they do in the early stages facilitate what happens in the later stages? (Not that marketing shouldn’t be involved across the entire process, but that’s another post) Knowing that “this” white paper drove the most form completions is not enough.
  • Salespeople are focused on prospects who have been qualified in some way. They are focused on next steps and getting the sale, not necessarily on what guided or helped to progress the prospects to that stage.

This is not necessarily anyone’s fault. It’s the way it’s always been done. But it needs to change if companies want to keep pace with their target markets and customers. We need to share our knowledge with the others involved across the relationship. We need to collaborate openly.

Buyer personas should serve to pull all the pieces together. A comprehensive buyer persona should provide context across the entirety of the process from status quo to buyer to customer. If your company is engaged with a number of buyer personas, there should be an overlay to help all parties understand the relationships between them and how they work with each other during the buying process.

This foundation is what’s needed to build a content strategy that turns prospects into buyers and retains customers because we've gained an understanding of "how buyers get here."

Before any offense is taken, I'm not picking on anyone. Nor am I saying it’s true for all companies, just that I see these circumstances enough that it’s concerning.

I'm frustrated at the lack of true knowledge about customers coupled with the inability to articulate details about the buying process and how it's not being aligned with critical business goals. I'm frustrated at the opportunities for orchestration that companies are missing out on because they aren't enabling collaboration between all parties to create a consistent customer experience in execution and across channels.

I'll bet that product managers, marketers and salespeople know much more than what I summarized above only they haven't really thought about it in terms of how it all looks from the customer's perspective across the entirety of the experience. They have been trained to think about the buying process in terms of the product and in terms of how they're judged on performance, which often isn't aligned with what customers care about.

We need to find out what prospects struggle with so we can match them to the right solution!

This is what I was told in a recent conversation. I thought, fantastic! Now we're getting somewhere.

So I said, "Tell me about what your customers struggle with."

And I got - "It's hard to say as each one is different."

So I said - "Just tell me a few you've heard."

And I got - "Well, they know they need to alter direction to match customer demands but they don’t know how to go about it"

So I asked, "Can you give me an example of what [this problem] looks like for your prospects in a way that you can address?"

The response: "They can’t effectively sell the change to their executives."

Now, we're getting somewhere! And the interview continues and we finally start getting into the depth we need to find out how to develop content that addresses issues that helps buyers take action. It takes more digging than you think to get to the good stuff.

It's one thing to get buyers to view your content or recognize your brand, but it's quite another to motivate them to take next steps with your help. Without increasing the relevance of the information and insights you provide via content, your marketing programs won't ever move the needle where it counts.

Marketing technology is a wonderful thing to have. It can allow us to discover patterns of engagement and behavior that can help us to identify the parts of the story we’re telling that they care about. The data can also tell us what's not working – sooner, rather than later.

To discover “how buyers get here” we need to start looking at the whole experience or story about how that happens. That's the only way to create continuous content marketing programs that support the buyer every step of the way and result in more of them choosing your company to help them achieve objectives.

Why do we not spend more time looking at the bigger picture across the continuum of the buying process?

A focus on one successful piece of content here and learning from one not so good campaign outcome over there isn't going to tell you what you need to know. We need to look at cause and effect, patterns of progression and understand the significance of each step taken – whether backwards or forward.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee, CEO & B2B Marketing Strategist of her firm Marketing Interactions, helps companies with complex sales increase and quantify marketing effectiveness by developing and executing interactive eMarketing strategies driven by compelling content.

Her book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, was published by McGraw-Hill.

Her articles and blog posts have been used for university ezines, published in CRM Today, Selling Power, Rain Today and Enterprise CRM News. Marketing Profs has incorporated her blog posts into a number of their "Get to The Point" newsletters.

Latest Stories
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
DevOps is under attack because developers don’t want to mess with infrastructure. They will happily own their code into production, but want to use platforms instead of raw automation. That’s changing the landscape that we understand as DevOps with both architecture concepts (CloudNative) and process redefinition (SRE). Rob Hirschfeld’s recent work in Kubernetes operations has led to the conclusion that containers and related platforms have changed the way we should be thinking about DevOps and...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develop...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
Companies are harnessing data in ways we once associated with science fiction. Analysts have access to a plethora of visualization and reporting tools, but considering the vast amount of data businesses collect and limitations of CPUs, end users are forced to design their structures and systems with limitations. Until now. As the cloud toolkit to analyze data has evolved, GPUs have stepped in to massively parallel SQL, visualization and machine learning.
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...