Mapping Marketing Content to Prospect Buying Cycles

The first law of communication implies that a connection will not be made with an audience unless the speaker knows who s/he is trying to reach. The same is especially true in B2B sales.

Aligning the correct message with your target audience is most effectively done by building out buyer persona profiles and mapping marketing content and customer success stories to those personas’ buy cycles. This increases the relevancy of the message you send at critical moments, increasing your influence on the buyer and building a stronger relationship with them.

Most B2B marketers today skip the important step of building out buyer persona profiles (due to lack of time, money, or experience doing it) and as a result, end up creating content that tries to blanket multiple different audiences across varying stages in their buying cycles. In fact, the IDC reports that up to 80% of marketing content created never sees the light of day after it’s handed off to the sales team. Talk about a black hole of wasted effort.

When content is not relevant to the buyer, it fails to influence them and has an impact on marketing effectiveness and the business overall. According to the IDG Connect’s IT Buyer Survey, irrelevant content can harm marketers efforts by:

  • Driving up content creation costs
  • Increasing the decision-making process for buyers by 2+ weeks
  • Lowering the chance of making the selection shortlist by 30%
  • Reducing the chance of getting the sale by almost 50%

3 Steps to Make Your Customer Marketing Content More Relevant

Step 1: Access (or Build) Buyer Personas

Fortunately, making content more relevant is not overly difficult. The key benefit with building buyer personas is have a robust and detailed profile of your targets so marketing and sales teams BOTH know exactly the type of person they are talking to. The process of building buyer personas involves identifying what information each of your buyer personas needs throughout the buying cycle, and usually follows these steps:

  1. Identify and define your buyer personas.
  2. Determine what questions and specific concerns your personas have at each stage of their buying cycle (early, mid, late) and answer the questions.
  3. Map the content you will use for each persona at various stages of the buying cycle.
  4. Do a content audit and determine if you have the content you need to answer questions and support various concerns your buyers with have.

Create any missing content to fill gaps.

Step 2: Understand HOW that Persona Buys

When building buyer personas for your organization, focus on a specific buyer role (such as the persona who will use your solution day-to-day, or the persona that calculates the cost/benefit balance) and better understand how a person in the role buys by asking the following questions:

  • What are their key pain points?
  • How are they dealing with those problems today?
  • What motivates them to make a business decision?
  • What sources do they use to get their information for purchase decisions?
  • What types of information de they find valuable when making their decision? High-level details or a deep-dive into a topic?
  • What organizations do they belong to and what events do they attend (i.e. who do they trust as credible sources of information)?
  • At what point in their buy cycle do they engage vendor sales teams?
  • Who do they turn to for purchase validation (peers, analysts, media sources, etc.)?

Step 3: Map Content to Customer’s Buying Cycles, NOT Your Sales Cycle

The next key principal to closing more sales and increasing revenue is the process of mapping content to the way your customers buy – to their buying cycle, not your sales cycle. To get a list of ideas of what customer marketing content aligns with each stage, check out this Buyers Journey Infographic.

Buyers Journey

  • Early Stage
    • Buyer may be untroubled and unaware that they have an existing problem that can be solved with your product or service.
    • Given that B2B buyers tend to spend the most amount of time in this phase, it should be an are of strong focus.
    • The goal of marketing content in this phase:
      • Help buyers diagnose and prioritize issues
      • Quantify the cost of maintaining the status quo
      • Educate them on what solutions exist
      • Make them aware that your solution could help
    • Resonating content includes:
      • Educational white papers
      • Best practices and industry examples
      • Newsletters
      • Webinars
  • Middle Stage
    • Buyers are actively seeking more information and evaluating their options. Buyers in this stage are comparing you to your competition and will need content that builds a solid business case to justify the cost of your solution to executives.
    • Resonating content includes:
      • Case studies
      • Data sheets
      • Pricing
      • Competitive feature comparisons
      • Demos
      • Customer testimonials
      • Video clips
  •  Late Stage
    • Buys are creating specific requirements and searching for the product that meets them. This stage is all about buyers needing content that builds a solid business case to justify choosing your solution and assure executives the selected solution is the best possible value.
    • Make the buyer realize that they can trust you with their hard-earned cash to solve their problem.
    • Resonating content includes:
      • Case studies
      • Customer references
      • Support details

This content mapping process will help you know what to send out next, understand what your buyers want at each stage of their buying cycle, and present them with content that is relevant, helpful, and valuable to them.

Nichole Auston
Customer Marketing Director at RO Innovation
Nichole Auston is the Customer Marketing Director at RO Innovation. With a background in digital marketing and nearly a decade of experience managing marketing programs for a variety of SaaS companies, she’s passionate about sharing insights, best practices and stories about sales enablement and customer reference management, and the people and technology that power it.