Today’s buyers don’t want to hear from you until they say so. That’s why I preach the gospel of permission-based marketing. The content marketing programs I run on behalf of clients aim to ease buyers along the journey to purchase with the right materials at the right time. We’re successful when customers get what they need to inform themselves, decide our client is the solution, and, only then, initiate contact. Information is the oil that keeps the modern buying process running. And, make no mistake: buyers are in charge, not you. If you aren’t providing a great buyer education experience, someone else will.
To help your customers learn about your brand, culture, products and services, follow the three rules of buyer education: Easy, Obvious, and Fast. No matter the channel, these tenets stand.
Buyer Education Rule 1: Make It Easy To Find Information About You
In a world of “Googling” the answer to every problem, your digital properties need to deliver a “now” experience if you want to keep visitors engaged and turn them into leads. It’s not entirely surprising, but if you aren’t found, you’ll never enter the conversation at all. Whether that’s working to get listed higher on search engines through an SEO program or being at the same trade show your prospects, you have to be seen to be considered. As the famous Woody Allen quote goes, “eighty percent of success is showing up.”
Once a visitor finds your site, it comes down to the nuts and bolts of usability. If they can’t find what they need, they’ll leave. Your website navigation should be clear and simple. If a visitor lands on one of your blog posts first, they should be able to see related information clearly in front of them. Content should also link to other relevant content within the site depending on their buyer’s journey.
Your brand story should also be integrated into your content. Every page across your website and social media accounts should tell something about your narrative and connect to another piece in some way. The whole should be cohesive and consistent no matter the visitor’s entry point into the story.
Rule 2: Make It Obvious What You Do For Your Audience And How
Selling is easy. Buying is much more complicated. Your job is to help buyers along their path to purchase and make their lives easier, better, happier, and more productive. Think about the questions your prospects have asked in previous sales efforts. What kinds of barriers hold them up from going forward with a sale? The more complex your offering is and the longer the sales cycle, the more stakeholders will be involved. Every one of them has their own set of concerns, needs, and wants that must be addressed in some way. My friend, business author Sharon Drew Morgen puts it far better than me:
“This is where buyers go when they’re silent. They’re not dragging their heels or seeking lower prices; they need to traverse their entire Buying Journey to get to the point of even becoming a buyer. And the process of navigating through the people and policies within the status quo to garner consensus for a potentially disruptive change is a confusing process. It certainly can’t be driven by knowing about, or considering, an external solution.”
This is where the link between sales and marketing is critical. Use your collective experience, think about your past sales, and deploy content to address questions before they arise. This can be as simple as putting the right bullet about a product feature on a page. It can also be as complex as developing and posting a video giving prospects a clear look at your installation process, step by step, just to show that yes, it can be done without disruption to existing processes.
Putting the right information out there in the right locations and at the right time will help buyers navigate the choppy waters of buying, and prove that you are a great business partner.
Buyer Education Rule 3: Make It Fast From Start To Finish
During the best learning and working experiences, steps just “happen” and everything just feels right. In psychology, this concept is known as “flow.” Delivering a great buyer experience should be like that, too. Done well, a buyer is able to go from searching about a problem to finding your website, discovering you offer the solution, learning it’s easy to use and deploy, seeing that your company has the right culture, and making the decision to contact you – all without hitting any roadblocks or negative experiences. From start to finish.