This is the fourth in a series of blog posts about Lead Nurturing, the essential marketing process for turning leads into sales-ready prospects.
As we’ve discussed previously, the goal of lead nurturing is to build a relationship with potential buyers in a way that gains their trust. We do this by providing content that serves the needs of buyers in every stage of their buying process – in other words, content marketing.
And to do that, we need to understand our buyers as real people. This is a multi-step process.
Understanding our Buyers
Step 1: Define the characteristics of a qualified buyer.
This is something your marketing team should do with your sales team. Take some time to sit down collectively and define ideal potential buyers by their:
- Titles, roles and responsibilities
- Budget and purchase authority
- Influence on the buying decision process
- Needs, wants, motivations, pain points
- Company industry, size, revenue, geographic location(s)
Step 2: Create your “Buyer Personas”
Armed with the data you assembled in Step 1, and augmenting that with your own secondary buyer research as well as with personal interviews with your existing customers (a great source of buyer information), you can build your buyer personas: detailed descriptions of the different buyer types who could be involved in the decision to buy your products and services – not just as data, but as real people. Each persona is a detailed description of the buyer type as a person, with a personality, key drivers, pains to relieve, problems to solve, desires, feelings, inspirations and motivations.
We can classify buyer types with these basic categories:
- End user
- Economic buyer
- Technical buyer
Then, we can assign corresponding roles to the buyer types. For instance, the buyer types involved in the consideration and purchase of an enterprise marketing software platform could have the following roles assigned to them:
Example Buyer Roles:
- End user: Marketing Manager
- Economic buyer: VP Marketing (the person who has the final purchase authority)
- Influencer: Director of Sales, Director of Customer Service, Marketing Director, Marketing Coordinator (these roles neither use nor purchase the product, but are affected by it in some way and participate in its evaluation)
- Technical buyer: Director of I.T.
Each of the roles that map to these buyer types could have its own buyer persona description. You’ll need your persona list to be complete enough to cover the buyer types that are critical to your sales and marketing success. But you’ll also need a list that is simple enough to manage. Having too many buyer personas will unnecessarily complicate the design and implementation of your lead nurturing programs. In general, having four to six personas to nurture is probably appropriate for most lead funnels.
Create your Content Map
Now we can take the buying stages we defined in our lead funnel and map buyer types and content to those stages. The right content will depend on both the buyer type and the stage of the buying process. Continuing with our example, your content map might look like this:
Typically, the End User is involved in all stages of the buying process, while the other buyer types are active only in some of the stages.
Create your Content!
Before you can embark on drip marketing campaigns to nurture your leads, you’ve got to have the content with which to do the nurturing. There is no shortcut for this step. It takes time, resources and good writing and design talent to create content that will serve the needs of your defined buyer types at the various stages of their buying process. It’s well worth the effort though. By providing relevant, informative white papers, articles, ebooks, videos, webinars and blogs that help buyers solve their problems and do their jobs better, your company will become a trusted advisor to these buyers. When it’s time for buyers to compile their short list of vendors who can truly solve their problems and relieve their pains, your company will be on that list. What’s more, by building this nurturing relationship with potential buyers, you’ll learn a lot more about them, enabling you to best tailor your offerings and your sales process to really meet their needs. That’s how you’ll win their business.
Learn more about Marketing’s New Rules for content marketing and creating content here.
In the upcoming blog post in this series, we’ll discuss creating your drip marketing program for nurturing leads with the content you’ve mapped and created. We’ll assume you’re using some kind of marketing automation platform to do your drip marketing. There really is no other practical way to accomplish this. To review our prior discussions on marketing automation, please visit “Automation Magic” and “Marketing Automation” blog posts. Also, The Sales Lion website just published a comparison of three major marketing automation platforms, “Marketo vs Eloqua vs Pardot: A Massive Review“, and previously reviewed two lower cost platforms: “Infusionsoft vs. HubSpot: Which is the Best Marketing Automation Software?”
Next up: scoring interest and demographics to determine sales readiness. We’ll use our marketing automation tool to help us qualify and prioritize leads for follow-up based on how well they fit the demographic profile of our ideal prospect, and how interested they appear to be in our solutions based on their interactions with our website and other content. We’ll show you the basics in the next post in this series.
Here’s to the Marketing Champion in all of us. See you in the next post.
- Sales Lion comparison of three major marketing automation platforms »
- Sales Lion comparison of two lower-prices marketing automation platforms »
- ZUZA Marketer’s Blog: Automation Magic
- ZUZA Marketer’s Blog: Marketing Automation