Building an impactful Customer Journey is somewhat of a journey in and of itself. Mapping your solutions and services to the way your customers will use them, and then making sure you have the content required to help them navigate their decision-making process is no small feat. And with new features and functions emerging regularly, it’s hard to create the baseline content required for a complete customer journey let alone keep it updated ‒ keeping in mind that consumers want to engage with more than 11 pieces of content (on average) from your company before making a purchase decision.
But, if you can identify your audience, understand their challenges, and develop authentic relationships, your product roadmap, and your marketing and sales strategies just might align in perfect harmony.
1. Know your audience
It’s easy to think everyone in the world might benefit from your product or service offering. I can assure you, they would not. It has likely been a long and heartfelt journey to create the product or service you envisioned, refined, and iterated on until it is finally market ready. You know every feature, function, bell, and whistle, and you’re intimately familiar with why and how each one works. And you cannot wait to talk about it!
Your solution probably evolved and matured significantly throughout its development and is something much cooler than it was when you first dreamed it up. And the offering you are now taking to market is a masterful piece of technical wizardry that you cannot wait to share with the world.
Unfortunately, unless you know who you’re going to sell it to, and how to speak their language, the chances of gaining much traction in market are slim. Just look a Segway, Google Glass, and Amazon Fire Phone as examples of super cool and innovative products that failed to identify a target market and speak to them directly. Just because everyone could use your solution doesn’t mean they will. Figure out who you’re targeting, and then build a Customer Journey specifically for them.
2. Understand their challenges
This may be difficult to hear, but nobody cares how cool your widget is until you’ve demonstrated that you understand your audience, what their needs are, and how your widget can help them solve a problem.
While the Segway, for example, literally could solve a challenge for any person who walks (which, as it turns out, is a massive percentage of the global population), the company failed to identify a niche market of people who walk but would rather not. Most people already had alternative modes of transportation available to them, and those who could afford the expensive device didn’t have the same “pedestrian” needs as people who might actually benefit from the device.
So, without doing the hard work of identifying a niche market of potential customers who had a need and the budget, the device could not be positioned as a solution to a particular challenge. It was simply marketed as a really cool device. And it may very well have been. Very few of us will ever know because it is no longer in production.
3. Position your products and services as solutions to their pains
Your target audience probably doesn’t know they need your product or service because they haven’t even imagined something so cool exists yet. But they do know they have problems and challenges in their daily lives that consume WAY too much time, energy, and effort. And everyone would like to minimize their burdens.
Neuroscience tells us that buying decisions are emotional, not practical. This is why it’s imperative that you don’t dive deeply into your product’s features and functionality when trying to capture your audience’s attention, but rather focus on how your product can solve a pain for your target customers. There is a time and place in your Buyer’s Journey when they will want to compare your features and functionality against your competitors. There will be a time they want to understand costs and benefits. They’ll need datasheets to help them understand performance and capacity and capabilities. But not initially. At first glance, they just want to know that your offering will make their lives easier.
4. Show how your offerings can grow with your customers’ needs
We used to call this the “next logical purchase” in the biz. But now it’s just a continuous journey of scalability ‒ customers dialing services up and down based on business demands and anticipations. Your solutions have to be sized to fit your customers’ businesses as they grow (or shrink) in alignment with market dynamics and global economies. How can a customer get started with you and then add more services or eliminate services they don’t use and replace them with other services, without getting locked into rigid and costly service plans? Consumers have so many options to choose from today that they’re looking for solution providers that are flexible and accommodating to their unique business demands.
Demonstrating that your solution offerings can grow and flex with your customers helps to assure them that you’re not just trying to sell a product, but you’re deeply invested in their business ‒ building a long-term relationship to work alongside them as a partner and not just a vendor. Even if you haven’t created the next version of your solution yet, demonstrating to customers that your relationship is mutually beneficial such that you will better learn their needs so you can create solutions that will help them evolve over time is the kind of business customers are hoping to work with today. If your offering’s next gen has yet to be defined pending customer input, let them know. Invite them to contribute. Build it together. That’s the ultimate win-win in product roadmap design.
5. Engage in an ongoing conversation with your customer
The tricky part of designing a Customer Journey is that you don’t know where your target customers are in their evaluation process. Have they just identified a pain that requires a solution? Have they been looking for solutions for months and have now stumbled upon yours? Are they deep into the details trying to evaluate pros and cons of your solution vs. the one their boss has recommended? Do they need help convincing their manager to allocate budget for this solution? Do they need to convince IT that your solution is better than everything else on the market? Or better yet, better than the technology that has already been deployed? You simply don’t know. Because 70‒90% of a consumer’s purchase decisions are now made before they ever engage with your company.
As you can see, your marketing messages must target your buyers at every point in the Buyer’s Journey. Because you don’t know them, but they know you ‒ and if they want to know more, they better be able to find out more. Quickly. And easily. Because it could be midnight when they sit down to research your solution. They want to evaluate in the peaceful quiet of their own convenience ‒ not on a call between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM in your time zone. Meeting your customers where ‒ and when, and how ‒ they want to engage is the key to winning in an always-on, 24x7x365 buying cycle. Communicating with them across multiple channels and delivery methods is also important because everyone consumes content differently.
Today, the marketing and sales cycle doesn’t end with a purchase. The transaction is just one more step in an ongoing journey. Building an ongoing conversation with your customers from the moment you capture their attention at an event or through social media, throughout their evaluation and decision-making stages, and then through purchase and deployment is just the beginning of your relationship. Continuing to follow up with them, sending them industry trends and helpful tips and tricks, sharing best practices, inviting them to power user conferences, and supporting them throughout their business lifecycle will help you foster long-term relationships and accounts that will increase incrementally over time. Because as every business knows, it is anywhere from 5‒25x more expensive to gain a new customer than it is to retain an existing one.
It can be overwhelming to create enough timely and relevant content to reach customers at every stage of their journey with the right message at the right time. That’s why we’ve created an interactive Customer Journey that your customers can navigate on their own to learn how your products, services, and solutions might work best for them ‒ no matter where they are in their own buying experience.
Meanwhile, if you’d like to consider the types of content required to move your customers through their buying journey, check out this infographic.
To speak with a consultant or get started on your content creation journey, contact us today!