The Buyer Journey Is No Longer Linear
Here is a hard truth. The buyer journey is no longer linear.
For a long time, marketing teams oriented around optimizing a linear buyer journey. The idea that buyers sought information in a relatively uniform way- and one that could be tracked and attributed.
It's been hard to let go of a linear buyer journey:
social post → click to website → 2.5 minutes spent on website → book a call → sale closed
I mean, who wouldn't want that. That journey is something we can SEE. Something we can control. Something we can track.
But the reality is that consumers are much more independent and savvy when evaluating and selecting solutions. This means, as marketers, we don't have the same visibility and insight into the buyer journey as we did 5 or 8 years ago.
So, instead of trying to hold onto this old model, and put all your eggs in the basket of tracking this sales journey, it's time to take another approach: demand generation.
What is demand generation?
Demand generation is a new(ish) marketing tactic that shifts content creation away from lead generation (i.e. capturing contact information to immediately reach out to a lead) to instead creating content that educates, agitates demand and delivers value.
Let's unpack that.
In the old days, companies would publish email-gated content in hopes of collecting a list of emails to contact with a sales opportunity. Now look, there is nothing wrong with building an email list. In fact, it's still one of the most successful forms of marketing. But when someone requests a single piece of content, they are not broadcasting an intent to actually purchase your product. So in the past, if you've considered someone who downloaded a piece of content as a lead, you're jumping the gun.
Often, lead generation tactics led teams to create content that was specifically about their product. "Datasheets." or "3 Ways COMPANY Is Changing the Landscape of INDUSTRY." But for people who aren't yet interested in buying, the product-focused content may not resonate.
I download or request articles all the time. But I am definitely not intending to purchase any products. I'm looking for value. I'm looking for resources to help solve common problems I experience on the daily.
So by shifting your content creation approach to demand generation, you can focus less on describing your product and features, and instead on delivering constant value. This means sharing tips, best practices, case studies, examples, guides- anything that may help your audience. Without a contingency that they evaluate your product.
Build content that educates your audience and delivers value:
- What's the problem you solve? This is an often overlooked -but essential component- in any content. If you're not solving a problem, your content will heavily lack value. No one reads an article or blog post "just because." They're seeking resources to help them solve a problem. Make yourself an indispensable thought leader by always naming a problem you're solving.
- As an expert in this space, what are some helpful points you can share about how to solve that problem? Remember- this shouldn't just be a feature list of your product.
- Once this problem is solved, how does it make people's lives better? This is an often overlooked part of your content. It's important to paint the picture of what life will look like if we take the time to solve the problem. Humans are... REALLY good at ignoring problems. So without naming the stakes involved (and that could look like negative stakes if you don't solve the problem; or positive stakes if you do), people may not take action.
If you create value-focused content, you might have a smaller lead list. Or maybe you won't see as many hits on your website. But you can be sure that when those prospects are ready to solve the problem for good, you will be top of mind. And that will make for a much more qualified lead.
As someone who relishes the opportunity to control things, this is not my personal ideal situation. But I tell you what- relinquishing that control over a prescribed, old-world buyer journey, I've been able to focus instead on delivering content that can help consumers solve problems. And this opens up new, creative ways of delivering value. So I'm here for it.
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A Fresh Perspective
Kristin Spiotto and Annie Mosbacher are dedicated to helping promising, but stuck, tech companies implement marketing and retention strategies that lead to long-term success.
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