The First Stage of the Buyer’s Journey: AWARENESS
As we begin to explore the Buyer’s Journey—the active research process a buyer goes through leading up to a purchase—the first stage of the three in the most widely accepted model is AWARENESS.
During this initial stage, a person is seeking out any relevant information in order to learn about a topic or solution. So at this point, for those who want to market their businesses effectively, it’s very much about casting a wide net. Yet it is also important to employ a strategy as to how you’ll shape and situate your unique promotional content. It must be readily accessible to those who are skimming many sources to get a feel for what’s best to look into further moving forward as they narrow their focus from a wealth of possibilities to a select few. While exposure is key, keep in mind that the experience you’re providing is most powerful. Of equal importance, it must not only provide general information but also a call to action for those moving into the next stage, CONSIDERATION, where initiating direct contact to find out more specific information is most likely to happen.
Of the three stages in the Buyer’s Journey (Awareness >>> Consideration >>> Decision), the awareness stage is where the most time is generally spent. As such, to those who don’t see the value in promoting your business simply to achieve top-of-mind awareness within your target market and even with those a few degrees of separation from that: I highly advise you to reconsider. While it doesn’t make sense to spread yourself thin trying to appeal to anyone and everyone, it does make sense in most scenarios to target a wider audience than what you’d consider to be your ideal client. The “why” lies in the age-old proverb—the student becomes the teacher. After someone has left their own personal awareness stage, he or she will retain that information to share with others who express that they’ve found themselves in the same position.
In the awareness stage, buyers will be doing several things—first, identifying a need; second, conducting research; and then third, prioritizing criteria. For those identifying a need, you’ll want to deliver informative content that helps buyers begin to understand what you do and more importantly, exactly how you can help them.
Once a person realizes they do in fact have a certain need or “pain point,” it’s time to move on to research. Now he or she is seeking content in the form of educational materials, which will include fact-based information but also testimonials, recent news and customer reviews, and so on. This is information that should be readily available on your website, linked to your social media and promoted there for further traction, and backlinks should also be provided to reputable sources that corroborate your expertise.
Finally, after a wealth of information has been gathered for analysis and cross-referenced, the person will prioritize the goal or challenge to see if it’s ultimately worthwhile to pursue any further. To be perceived as a priority, it’s critical to highlight benefits and provide compelling content that, as I emphasized at the very beginning, incorporates a call to action to facilitate the transition to the next stage of the Buyer’s Journey. While you fully understand the value of your offerings, never assume that everyone else will instantly recognize it too. Instead, take the opportunity to educate them so that they can see the value through their own unique lens.
To engage and best satisfy the requirements of those in the awareness stage in terms of the content you’re creating and sharing, I encourage you to consider the following questions:
What are the goals or challenges of the buyer? (Also, how have your past clients described their goals or challenges?)
How are buyers most likely to educate themselves on these goals or challenges?
Are there common misconceptions about addressing the goals or challenges?
How do buyers decide whether the goal or challenge should be prioritized?
What are the consequences if the buyer doesn’t choose to act?
All told, seizing opportunities to consistently promote brand awareness will be the determining factor as to whether your business makes the cut once a prospect is ready to move on to the next stage of the Buyer’s Journey. The famous words of Herbert Spencer say it best: “The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.”
To learn more about how Strictly Business can help you, contact me directly at (402) 466-3330 or visitwww.strictly-business.com/connect.
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