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Applying the Buyer's Journey - Online Marketing Plan for Manufacturers

Hey Sales and Marketing Professionals! What does your ideal buyer's buying process look like?

Well, if you think that it starts when they land on your website and submit an RFQ, you have to watch this video. Today, we're talking about the buyer's journey in Part 4 of your Online Marketing Plan for Manufacturers.

Here's a list of the other steps in this series on Building and Online Marketing Plan for Manufacturers:

Again, this is Part 4 in your Online Marketing Plan for Manufacturers (Parts 1, 2, 3). So, today we're going to break down the Buyer's Journey. From the moment that your best buyer decides they they have some symptoms or things that obviously are alluding to a problem, that they're going to research, and find some options or consider ways that they can solve this problem, all the way down to when they make a buying decision. They pit you against your competitors, and ultimately decide to with you or your competitor, in the decision stage.

So, the buyer's journey is broken down into Awareness, Consideration, and Decision. We're going to walk through each stage next.

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The Awareness Stage

So, let's start where your customers start, the Awareness Stage. In the awareness stage, it's all about identifying symptoms and really trying to pinpoint what your real problem is, or your opportunity is, and starting to dig in and do some research around, if I'm seeing this symptom, it must be this type of problem. No, maybe if I'm seeing this other symptom it's this type of problem. So, really trying to put your finger on what is my true problem. Giving it a definition and then getting ready to move on to find options for solving it.

So as far as your online marketing goes..you need to have content on your website, your blog, social media, that speaks to these symptoms, so that when your ideal buyer hops on Google, which you know they will, and they start searching around these symptom, they find your website.

Remember, it's about being at the right place, at the right time, with the right message. That's what we can do in the Awareness stage if we really understand the symptoms that are expressed by our ideal buyer.

Now, this stage, it can take 15 minutes for some prospects, and it can take months for others. It all depends on the size of the problem that they're researching, and probably the type of buyer that they are.

Awareness Stage Example for Manufacturers

So, let's take a look at an example buyer that's in their awareness stage. Let's say that you are an engineer, and you've been tasked with designing a component for your company. This component is enclosed in a metal box, and your Q&A tests keep coming back and saying that it's corroding after a very short amount of time when it's exposed to moisture.

You obviously have some symptoms, right? The corrosion is a symptom of a problem that you need to solve with your design.

Since the enclosure for this component is made out of carbon steel, you hop on Google and you start researching. 'How fast should carbon steel corrode?' Because, this component is not going to be exposed to the elements very often, but it may get some moisture exposure every once in a while.

In your research, you find that carbon steel is a very cost effective metal to use for the enclosure for this component, but it's not very corrosion resistant. So, you've found your problem. You have a non corrosion resistant material around the outside of your component and it's not withstanding the moisture that it's being exposed to.

So, we've got an idea of what our problem is. Now we need to try and determine how we're going to solve it.

That quickly, the awareness stage is complete, right? They've determined what their problem is and they engaged with somebody's content online. There's a big hint for you about being in the right place, at the right time, with the right message.

That resource, if you are a metal manufacturer, could have been your blog, or should have been your blog. So, as an online marketer, it's your responsibility to be there when they're researching around their problems.

So, if I was doing research or an engineer was doing research on carbon steel corrosion, you obviously would want to have some content on your website or resources available on your blog around carbon steel corrosion, and maybe options for solving the corrosion issue with carbon steel, which leads us to our next stage of the buyer's journey, the consideration stage.

The Consideration Stage

In the consideration stage, your prospect is starting to look for options to solve their problem. Ultimately, they're going to come down to the THE option that they want to pursue in the consideration stage to solve their problem.

As an online marketer, you need to pick up where the awareness stage lets off, and maybe recommend content to this ideal buyer, when they're on your website researching a symptom for some of their options for solving the problem. Obviously including ones that you provide.

Consideration Stage Example for Manufacturers

If we pick up with our example from before, our engineer may hop on Google and search for 'carbon steel corrosion inhibitor', or 'finishes that prevent corrosion', or 'corrosion resistant metals', or 'best metals for corrosion resistance'. So, they're going to hop online and they're going to continue they're research process until they find some options that are going to help them solve this problem. Ideally, narrowing it down, using the constraints I mentioned earlier, to pick one option.

As the engineer, you make the decision near the end that, hey, we have a budget we need to stick to. We know that paint will work, so let's have our enclosure painted, as opposed to switching to something like galvanized or stainless steel that will really destroy our budget.

So, we're going to have this enclosure painted, to help it resiste corrosion, because we know it's not going to be exposed to moisture very often or for very long periods of time. This should just do the trick.

Now, you're at the end of the consideration stage.

The Decision Stage

Now, you need to make a decision on who you're going to work with. You think back to all this research you've done, and there have been a couple of websites that you've seen repeatedly that have provided most of the answers. You even received some follow up emails from one of the websites after you downloaded a guide to finishing metals.

So, you go back and check out these 2 websites out and see if they fit some of my constraints, like geography, I want to save on freight, if I'm going to have to ship these things back and forth to be painted. I also want to make sure that they've got some testimonials, or at least some other people that say, yep, these guys know what they're doing, and it turns out both of these websites are great options. They're geographically close enough, they have testimonials that say the lead times are short, the quality has been good.

So, you're going to reach out to both of them and submit an RFQ. In this decision stage, the best buyers are kind of pitting the vendors, or the supplies, or the solution providers, against each other to determine which is going to be the best value, and the best fit for their company.

Finally, whichever one's the best value, your buyer goes with, and they pull the trigger and make a buying decision.

They've reached the end of their decision stage.

They've made a purchase. All along the way, an online marketer should be there providing them content and nurturing them through the buying process. Ideally, helping them move from awareness to consideration to decision, and being in front of them with your brand over and over and over again. Being genuinely helpful.

Help, Don't Sell!

That's another key, is that this online marketing is meant to be helpful, not salesy, because today's buyer doesn't respond well to that. They need help solving their problem, and if you can do that through content, you'll be there. You'll be there when it comes down to the decision stage and they're trying to make a buying decision.

You should have noticed that as an online marketer, through the buyer's journey, you had an opportunity to be at the right place, at the right time, with the right message, at EACH stage, which is just huge for online marketing and it's helpful, which is you know, a win-win for you and the prospect.

You should have also learned that obviously the buyer's journey starts way before they submit an RFQ on your website, so you need to be marketing to those early stages of the buyer's journey.

Most people's website's are really setup for that decision stage, when they're pitting you against your competitors. But, those earlier stages, those are an ideal fit for your blog, where you can produce a wealth of educational content and become a great resource and thought leader for your best buyer.

Combining Your Buyer Persona and Buyer Journey

Now that you have a better understanding of the buyer's journey, you need to take the buyer persona that we did in the previous video and we need to map out the buyer's journey for that persona. We're going to look at the awareness stage, the consideration stage, and the decision stage, and we're going to determine what questions is our ideal buyer expressing in each stage?

Then, we need to have content that answers those questions. By doing so, we can be there at the right place, at the right time, with the right message.

If you're a larger manufacturer with many, many capabilities, you might have many, many buyer personas, or buyer personas with different journey types, and you'll want to map that out for each of your capabilities.

Look at the capability. What problem does it solve? Work backwards from there. What are some of the symptoms that are going to be expressed that lead them to need that capability? Map that out, and come up with some rough draft titles for content that would be helpful to your buyer persona.

What's Next in the Online Marketing Plan for Manufacturers?

In Part 5 in the Online Marketing Plan for Manufacturers, we're finally going to get into the Inbound Marketing Methodology. Starting with Attract.

We're going to look at how do we get eyeballs to our website and on our web content, so that we can slowly move them through our funnel, and hopefully convert them into leads, and close them into sales.

Attract Visitors to Your Website - Part 5 - Online Marketing Plan for Manufacturers