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Content Marketing & The Buyer's Journey

What if you could target each of your partners’ customers — not just based on their general profile, but according to their specific location within your sales funnel? Providing your channel partners with targeted content based on various points of the buyer’s journey helps them move customers along the funnel at a faster pace, improving conversion rates and revenue along the way. Every company has a different sales cycle, but generally speaking, a buyer’s journey is comprised of three basic stages: Awareness, Evaluation, and Purchase/Conversion. Therefore, you must utilize content marketing at each phase of the buyer’s journey, no matter what your channel partner’s specific sales cycle looks like.

Developing Content for the Awareness Stage of the Buyer’s Journey

At the awareness stage, the customer is just realizing they have a particular need and that a product exists to meet that need. The Awareness stage is marked by the customer’s recognition that they have a need or a problem that a certain type of product can address. This is often called a “pain point.” Customers usually buy to relieve a perceived pain. The pain could be as significant as needing a massive software system to manage a business, or as simple as “needing” the latest fashions to impress their peers.

No matter the “need,” the strategy is the same: highlight how the product will fulfill that need. Instead of focusing on the features of the product, use content to explain how the product or service meets that need. For instance, write about “X Ways ERP Makes Your Work Processes Easier” instead of “X Features of ERP Software.”

Excellent types of marketing content for customers at the Awareness stage of the sales cycle include:

  • Whitepapers
  • eBooks
  • Tip sheets
  • Checklists
  • How-to guides & videos
  • Webinars

This isn’t time for the hard sell though. Right now, you’re generating interest, asking questions and gently moving them along the steps of the buyer’s journey.

Developing Content for the Evaluation Stage of the Buyer’s Journey

Depending on how crowded the marketplace is, there could be many different products available to meet the shopper’s needs. Your job is to prove your channel partner’s option is the best. Tout their selling points: cheapest, highest quality, easiest to use, best color selection, etc.

The Evaluation Stage of the buyer’s journey is the point at which the shopper realizes their need and understands that a product is out there to meet the need. However, they haven’t decided which product to choose. It’s your job to promote your channel partner’s product, showcase how it’s the best option and to remove friction out of the selection process. Friction is anything that slows or halts the process toward conversion, such as high prices, questionable quality or worries over how well the company will support the product after purchase. You can focus on:

  • Why the product is the best option
  • Why your channel partner offers the best customer service
  • How your channel partner delivers the best price or value

Whatever your channel partner’s key selling points are, that’s what you focus on in the content developed for this stage of the buyer’s journey. This is essentially a point of extended engagement. Good types of content for the Evaluation Stage include:

  • Case studies
  • Webinars
  • FAQs
  • Datasheets
  • Demo videos
  • Sample products

Developing Content for the Purchase Stage of the Buyer’s Journey

It’s time to close the deal. Make the negotiation and buying stage as fast, friction-free, and simple as possible. An easier process means fewer buyers drop out before the finish line.

Now comes the CTA — the Call to Action. Before now, you’ve been gently guiding them along the buyer’s journey. Now, you’re point-blank asking them to make a move.

Depending on the types of products you’re helping a channel partner sell, this is the stage where you begin making deals and negotiating contracts. The best types of content for this stage of the sales cycle are:

  • Free trials
  • Live product demos
  • Free consultations
  • Free estimates
  • Coupons, discounts, special deals

 

Make sure you help your channel partners every step of the way, with the right content, resources, and tools. Utilize insights to create content that will improve the way you manage leads, take advantage of marketing automation and syndicate customized collateral to build long-lasting effective relationships.

Originally posted on Channel Chatter

Submitted by Kiersten Hoffman, Director of Content Marketing at Zift Solutions.

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