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Chapter 9: Consideration and Informed Buyers
“This next stage is where inbound marketing can really shine,” I said.
“How do you mean?” Chuck asked. “This is usually the trickiest part of the journey, where the difference between a good salesman and a great salesman really stands out.”
“Tell me more about that.”
“The consideration phase is all about negotiating the balance between not making frequent enough contact to stay in front of mind for leads, and making contact so frequently you become annoying and lose the sale. If you can help with that, this alone might make the paradigm shift you mention worth it.”
“That’s been our experience, too, and yes — inbound marketing shifts the power dynamic in ways that keep customers interested in what you have to say.”
“I’m not sure I like that. If you give customers too much power, you might lose the sale simply because they get busy, or distracted.”
“That’s all right, though. Inbound marketing sets up ways to re-acquire attention without coming off as overly aggressive. It combines technology and that changed role you set up during Awareness to keep the conversation light, noninvasive, and appreciated.”
“Okay. I’m still interested. Tell me more.”
As buyers get a handle on what might be causing symptoms, they move into the Consideration stage. In the overview, we defined Consideration as the stage where buyers clearly define the problem or opportunity.
At this stage, buyers have analyzed the symptoms they’re experiencing. They have a good idea of exactly what is causing those symptoms, but are only beginning to research what solutions might exist.
They are not yet seeking detailed, specific information about those solutions, but they will listen to that information if they’re still with you once they become ready.
At this stage, do not use any pressure sales tactics or try to hurry the process. Avoid comparison reports between different solutions, since buyers are not yet ready for that information. At the same time, don’t even think about rehashing content buyers have already seen. Keep providing new content.
And keep the content types new, too. If all you offer is blog posts and white papers, buyers can become bored with your content. Change things up with instructional videos, interactive content, and other “advanced” forms of content. This not only keeps interest up, but also gives a sense of graduation or “leveling up” as buyers moves farther along.
Consideration Stage Best Practices
Legendary science fiction author Ray Bradbury once said that ideas are like cats. If you chase them, they’ll run away. You have to act like you don’t want to pet a cat before it comes over and asks to be petted. This is even more true if you leave a little food nearby.
The same concept applies with buyers at the consideration stage. The more you share information out of a desire to educate, or excitement about the industry, the more buyers in this stage will trust what you have to say. By extension, they will trust you and your brand as a source of expertise and quality.
While you’re courting buyers, keep in mind some of the established best practices for courting modern buyers.
- Focus on the specific issues caused by any given problem, along with a compelling description of what life looks like with that problem solved. This helps buyers realize there’s a way out of their current situation, and creates a desire for that way out.
- Use keywords associated with people who have identified a pain point and are looking for solutions. Some of these will be generally applicable, like service, supplier, tool, and answer. Others will be specific to your industry.
- Ask yourself what information you wish you had known when you were at the consideration stage for your last major purchase. Think about what specific questions have turned up in your comments, social media, and sales floor. All of these can inspire new topics for content.
- Avoid going too deep, too soon. By this point, it’s likely you are excited about both the pending sale and how cool your product is. But the clients are still researching, learning, and figuring out what questions to ask. They aren’t ready for answers, and will view volunteered answers as a high-pressure tactic.
- Provide content that gives deeper information on a narrower topic. Webcasts, podcasts, videos, white papers, and live coaching sessions are helpful at this stage. You can also provide several paths or verticals of content, one each for the various problems your product or service solves.
As digital buyers continue their journey toward a final decision and purchase, they need change. Too often, digital marketers aim their content only at Awareness-stage buyers.
This is a serious mistake, since it is essentially abandoning buyers just as they move closer to making an actual purchase.
The Consideration stage is your opportunity to cement your relationship as a thought leader and subject-matter expert. As customers move out of this phase and toward a buying decision, the degree to which they perceive you as a knowledgeable and helpful is the degree to which they will prefer to make that purchase from you.