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Understanding Content's Role in Today's Buyer Journey

Being well versed on modern consumer behaviors is critical to success.

· Content Marketing

So what's the deal with content marketing - and why won't people shut up about it?

Wow, that totally sounded like the intro to a Jerry Seinfeld monologue. You just re-read it in his voice, didn't you? You totally did.

I digress. But seriously, let's talk content.

You constantly hear things like, content is king, blah blah blah. But why has "content marketing" (also commonly referred to inbound marketing) become such a buzz phrase? And more importantly, what's to say it's not just going to shift to something else three months from now?

Put simply, the act of acquiring new leads has changed and content or inbound marketing effectively bridges the gap created by the shift in consumer behavior.

Consumers in the 90's

In 1993, when consumers wanted to solve a problem, they'd:

  •  talk to friends and colleagues or
  • consult their encyclopedia britannica set 
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If the solution involved purchasing a product or service, the 1993 consumer would find out would drive to the appropriate store or ask their friends for service referrals and make a few phone calls to get more information. They'd listen to product or service details and pricing - then would make an informed decision based on what the commissioned store sales associate or the people behind the brand answering phones told them. What power sales teams had back then! But that's not how it works anymore.

Consumers Today

These are the steps involved in today's buyer journey:

  1. Awareness - the research phase:
    Become aware of a problem you want to solve and start Googling it.  Spends time educating themselves on the problem; looks for trends, products, brands. At this stage, educational content, like blog posts, eBooks, infographics, white papers, resonate well with potential customers. 
  2. Consideration - the comparison stage:
    Once they've narrowed their options, consumers seek out peer reviews (which they trust far more than any sales person) and ask friends about their experiences to gather social proof on which product they should invest in and why. At this stage, more in-depth product and service content pieces - comparison sheets, webinars, and explainer videos, case studies, and customer testimonials - are valuable. 
  3. Decision - the purchase stage:
    At this point, consumers are finally ready to buy... and there's a good chance they haven't directly interacted with a company or salesperson at all.
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With that shift in place, companies that insist upon buying leads and lists are just not getting it. These marketing leaders don't understand that in order to be the company that builds trust with potential clients, they have to learn what makes them tick.

Then, they have to create, publish and promote content that resonates with consumers; the kind of content they will find in Google searches on a journey to solve a problem that's related to your product. Better yet, companies need to produce content their ideal leads are going to want to share with their friends (and fellow potential clients!).

Making the shift to a content or inbound marketing strategy will not only allow your business to build trust with potential clients on the platforms they are using to find information; it will also give you an opportunity to build out resources that are helpful, useful and valuable to your ideal leads. In return, you'll generate more leads, your leads will be more qualified, you'll start to see more organic traffic, and your marketing efforts will grow and scale over time.

Traditional marketing simply isn't as effective as it used to be. Sure, you can still put money into a promotion and get one-time results, but when the money dries up, so will the leads.

Today, success lies in investing in content and inbound marketing - a long-term strategy proven time and time again to pay dividends for years to come.