I have spent some time talking with companies regarding how they view their funnel and path purchase especially in the software/application acquisition world. It seems that everyone views the customer road map as something specific to their business, something elusive, and something that is so different from their competition. After listening, observing and discussing I went old school and broke out my portable whiteboard and put my thoughts together on what it really looks like:

The Real Customer Journey

A - Internal Influence: The buyer is not necessarily your demand generator. Nor are they the ones who are actually going to do the legwork to research and cultivate information about options to satisfy their need. Since these are the people who will ultimately make the decision to buy, what can we do to influence them?

1) Think about the influencer and what they want. Understand more holistically what drives their decision making process and what motivates them to direct their researcher in a certain directions. 2) Invest in high quality content directed at the influencer who is most likely on the executive level. Focus your message about your product more directed to the WHY and HOW, leaving the WHAT your product does to the researcher. 3) Stop selling to them directly and focus your messaging towards your unique offering.

B - Need: This is your researcher starting to engage in their process. This is their entrance into the multi-verse of content. This is typically the email capture and multi-channel content that the researcher is flooded with from you and your competitors. This is typically auto-generated content based on what they are clicking on.

1A: They have engaged and a decision is made to move swiftly into seeking more information from you or they get sidetracked by other interesting content that your competitors are dripping to them on a regular basis as well.

1B: It could be hours, days, weeks or months of engaging with the content that intrigues them...the key is that you have bridge all scenarios and connecting with them mobile, tablet and computer (1C) and even try some traditional routes as well. The progressions start to happen when a sales person makes the leap and pick up the phone and talk with them (1D).

There is an opportunity to turn the researcher into an advocate by picking up the phone. Train your sales people to ask the right question not continually sell them on your features and benefits. Part of the automation process can be a conversation. Use that conversation to populate content needs for the omni-verse.

2 - Omni-verse: Engaging Personalized Content integrating the storyline across platforms and interactions. This is where the information from the sales person conversation comes into play or you could establish a library of content based on scenarios. To create these scenarios you will need to do some work.

1) Understand your researcher or buyer both quantitatively and qualitatively. That is, use your data analytics and your traditional marketing research prowess to create a set of insights about your target. A true insight is not data, but rather an understanding about your target that highlights both behaviors and motivations. 2) Develop scenario based responses in the targets own language. 3) This is the WHY, HOW and WHAT of your product--speaking directly to them. When you are able to do that, they can see themselves using your product, and they recommend trial.

C - The Want: At some point during the engagement with your content, the researcher will be compelled to get to trial and by-pass the influencers along the way. If they follow the lost opportunity zone, your content was not compelling enough--it wasn't insight driven.

The Demo/Trial Zone is all about your product. You will continue offering personalized content to them and your sales person will move them into the purchase zone (W - for WIN). During this process, you have to enable the trial by continually feeding great content based on who they are, not generalities about their business. Focus the content on their business, their marketplace, and their people who will be using your product.

Final Thoughts:

  1. Understand both the influencer and the researcher on your client side.
  2. Develop insights towards both, after all you are trying to attract both of them.
  3. Create a library of content for both the multi-verse to differentiate from your competition, and the omni-verse to keep them interested
  4. Train your sales people to be researchers and how to ask the right questions and what to do with the answers.