• Buyer-Centric Marketing is Critical

    First, a quick level-set. “Customer centricity” refers to a company’s orientation toward the needs and behaviours of its buyers and customers. This is opposed to internal drivers (such as the desire to sell a specific product). Unfortunately, most companies are not practitioners of customer centricity.

    As you embark on 2012 planning, let me offer up a powerful model that can help you get started (or go further) down the path toward buyer-centric marketing: The Buyer’s Journey Map. First developed by B2B marketing agency Babcock & Jenkins in 2010, it has been expanded considerably. Here you’ll find an example of the most detailed model to date.

    (NOTE: Before you can fully realize the usefulness of the Buyer’s Journey Map, it’s important to define your organization’s buyers and influencers and develop personas).

    The Buyer’s Journey Map is a framework to help marketers truly understand the content needs of their target audiences at each stage in the buying cycle.

    Stages of Buying

    The example map included here is specific to a Strategic Decision-Maker and explores the entire buying journey. In the most simplistic view, you’ll see three key stages:

    1. Discover: This is the earliest stage in the buying cycle. It starts when either an internal or external trigger challenges the status quo (e.g. “Our organization just had a major data breach—now what?”).

    2. Consider: This is the middle stage of the buying cycle and is typically where your organization is at a “make it or break it” point for being considered by a potential buyer. This is also the stage where multiple solutions will be compared (as you move closer to the solution).

    3. Decide: In this late stage of the buying cycle, the decision will be finalized (if it isn’t been already). However, leading up to the final selection is a series of steps to ensure sound justification of the business case.

    There are several steps to be considered following the “decide” stage  that will be explored in later posts. These include implementation, advocacy, up-sell and cross-sell (which often look similar to the model outlined above).

    Progressing Through Stages and Content Needs

    Once you’re comfortable with the orientation of the Buyer’s Journey stages, you can explore some additional insight available on the Buyer’s Journey Map, including:

    1. Answers needed to progress to the next stage: This guide on the right-hand side of the Map is a great tool for helping define the types of information your buyer will need at each stage. Use this insight to create your roadmap for content—and ultimately your communication plan.

    2. Content: This guide on the bottom left-hand side of the Map is specific to a B2B technology “Strategic Decision-Maker.” However, it helps you understand the types of content that are most appropriate throughout key stages of the buying journey.

    3. Purpose: Last (but definitely not least) this guide on the upper left-hand side of the Map provide cues to guide your marketing game-plan (although this piece will vary greatly from buyer to buyer, solution to solution). Nonetheless, this is an important piece to factor in to your planning.

    Benefits of this Approach

    The impact of using a model (the one outlined here, or your own) is significant! A few immediate benefits I’ve experienced are:

    • Alignment between product marketing, demand/campaign teams, sales and other key stakeholders.
    • A formalized framework to ensure continuity and consistency across all integrated communications and touch points.
    • A strategic view into your organization’s key buyers and influencers and the stages of their buying journey.
    • A deeper understanding of how to merge the power of marketing automation with a cohesive content strategy and map to optimize the success of marketing communications.

    I’d love to hear your perspective on other benefits you’ve seen or challenges you’ve experienced when utilizing a Buyer’s Journey Map.

    Please also feel free to share other models that have been successful for your organization.

    Lauren Goldstein is author of LaurenOnDemand blog providing expert B2B demand generation insights.  She is also VP of Strategic Planning for Babcock & Jenkins and shares her expertise at industry events such as the MarketingProfs B2B Conference and the Marketing Sherpa B2B Conference.

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