How to educate your customers and prospects by creating content?
Whether you are working in a mature or immature market, prospects need to travel through what is known as the buyer’s journey.
The role of marketing professionals in today’s world is not restricted to promoting products and services. They also need to guide prospects during the consideration stage, while analyzing and understanding them in an effort to define actions matching their needs.
Gleanster Research has demonstrated that 50% of prospects are qualified, but not yet ready to buy. Therefore, companies need to educate prospects if they are to convert them into new customers.
When I talk about education here, let’s make no bones about it, I am talking about providing guidance and resolving problems.
So this is how you educate your customers and prospects with creating content.
1. Understanding the buyer’s journey
When you realize that there has been a shift in your prospects’ expectations, the first stage is to understand their new way of looking for information.
Nowadays, buyers travel through the buyer’s journey, i.e. a path to purchase where they will pass through different stages as their maturity level increases. Respect for the buyer is key if you wish to generate new business opportunities.
The time when sales reps used to cold-call prospects and get dozens of rejections before actually speaking to someone potentially interested has come and gone.
Today, sales reps no longer get involved at the end of the process, meaning when the prospect is ready and has received enough information to go ahead with the purchase.
Before you get started with creating content, make sure that you are familiar with your prospects’ path to purchase, so that you can create content matching each phase in their journey.
Here are the three main phases of the buyer’s journey.
- Awareness phase
The awareness phase starts when prospects realize that they have a problem that needs solving. Everyone knows that when you have a question, the web is a goldmine of resources that can help you find a solution.
In this respect, the B2B sector is no exception to the rule, and prospects carry out generic online searches based on their understanding of the problem. At this stage in the process, they are trying to grasp and describe the problem with greater accuracy.
- Consideration phase
The consideration phase begins once the problem has been clearly defined.
Prospects have described the problem in clear terms and will now look for solutions. They will weigh up all the possibilities available to solve the problem.
- Decision phase
During the decision phase, prospects know exactly what type of solution they need. They have even produced a shortlist of companies that are capable of solving their problem.
Once you are fully aware of these three phases, you will need to build up a clearer picture of your prospects.
2. Define your personas
You can only create value-added content for your prospects once you know who they are and once you have learned exactly what their problems are. You should be aware that not all your prospects have reached the same level of maturity, meaning that when it comes to creating content for your different prospects, there is no such thing as one size fits all.
To begin with, you should start by creating what are known as personas.
A persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customers. Personas will give you a clearer idea of what makes your prospects tick.
There may be several personas for the same solution.
How do you define them? By collecting as much information as possible about your prospects.
But where do you get that information? You can start by asking the sales teams who are in daily contact with your prospects. They will help you build up different types of profiles that you can then explore in greater detail.
Afterwards, customer interviews are the way to go. This will give your company a professional image among your existing customers while eliciting invaluable information about their practices and the buyer’s journey that they traveled to reach your company.
Therefore, you must try to obtain as much information as possible about their everyday work, their challenges, their objectives, their problems and the way in which they look for and view information.
Once you have collected this information, you can think about the editorial line for educating and guiding your prospects throughout the buyer’s journey.
3. Create value-added content
When you have examined your audience, you will have a clearer insight into the type of content that you can create to educate them and attract them to your website.
Giving your products and services greater appeal, talking about your line of business and answering your prospects’ questions will make them think of your company as an expert in its field. By supporting them throughout the path to purchase and avoiding any direct contact with them too early into the process, you will foster a climate of trust.
The aim is to create relevant content perfectly matching each stage in your prospects’ path to purchase. You need to be present when your prospects start thinking about their problem / challenge and accompany them as their thought process evolves. This is what is known as lead nurturing.
In the 3D printing sector, we know that not all prospects have yet to reach maturity, meaning that they need reassuring and educating.
Appropriate content is required for each phase and will help your prospects advance along the path to purchase.
- Content dedicated to the awareness phase
During the awareness phase, your aim is to generate traffic and transform visitors into prospects.
Content must be non-specific and informative. It should address the problem that your prospects have encountered, but without actually providing a solution. Such content may be blog articles, white papers or general infographics. Taking an in-depth look at a given subject without talking about your company gives evidence of your expertise.
- Content dedicated to the consideration phase
During the consideration phase, your aim is to market your company as a potential solution to your prospect’s problem. This is the moment to showcase your expertise and skills.
Content must provide solutions for solving your prospect’s problem. Content should also start defining your company as a potential solution. You can use white papers and surveys, as well as detailed blog articles.
- Content dedicated to the decision phase
During the decision phase, your aim is to market your company as THE solution for prospects by reassuring them. This is the right time to create customer cases, feedback and detailed studies.
As you have seen, educating your existing and potential customers will make your sales process so much easier. This is clearly the way to go if you wish to generate new business opportunities.
Finally, it is essential to thoroughly examine your target markets and craft content that will prove useful to them and enable them to improve their skills and choose you as the best solution to their problem.