The “Buyer’s Journey” is the active research process a buyer goes through leading up to a purchase. Studies show up to 70% of a prospect’s buying decision is complete before their first contact with you. Are you marketing accordingly?

Understanding your buyer’s behavior, information needs, and problems is imperative, and should be the central focus of any action your sales or marketing team takes. But before you begin to understand your clients’ behaviors and problems, you must first understand to whom you are selling.

Create Your Buyer Personas

Buyer Personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers. They are based on real data about customer demographics, their habits, needs, etc. Buyer Personas are created through research, surveys, and interviews and are essential to understanding whom your ideal customer is, what he/she values, and how your solution fits his/her needs.

To get started, you’ll need a list of questions to ask to create your buyer personas. Good news- you can download a Buyer Persona Worksheet at the end of this article! And better news for the Payroll Providers out there, MPAY’s marketing team has already put together three of your buyer persona profiles!

Now that we’ve established our Buyer Personas, we’ll map out the buyer’s journey. We’ll break the journey down in three stages (Awareness, Consideration, Decision), as many marketing consultants would. We can then use this information to understand the behaviors of our customers and their needs and how they change over time through each stage. The end goal is to map your content (brochures, ebooks, whitepapers, etc.) to each of these stages, so you are connecting your leads with the right content at the right time.

Understand Buyer’s Journey

Awareness Stage

In the Awareness Stage, the prospect is experiencing and expressing symptoms of a problem (or opportunity). In this stage, prospects are researching to more clearly understand and name their problem. They are searching for context around their problem; it is a self-paced educational process.

Let’s look at a real-life example: You have a runny nose, can’t stop sneezing, and feel achy and fatigued. You immediately go online to search these symptoms and learn more. As a buyer, you are in the awareness stage.

For Payroll Providers, potential buyers may be having trouble processing payroll on time, or they simply don’t have the resources on staff to handle payroll. If you offer timekeeping solutions, your buyer may be noticing time theft or having trouble controlling overtime costs.

Since buyers are looking for more information in this stage, you’ll want to provide analyst reports, eBooks, white papers, and other educational content.

Consideration Stage

In the Consideration Stage, the prospect has clearly defined and given a name to his/her problem or opportunity. Buyers in this stage are now committed to researching and understanding all of the available methods to solving their problem(s).

From my previous example: After researching online, you realize that you have a cold. Now, you figure out your options for treating your illness. You are now in the consideration stage.

For Payroll Providers, your buyer has read a whitepaper online and has realized the problem he/she is experiencing is common for employers that do not outsource payroll to a professional service provider. The buyer has determined that outsourcing payroll would save time, resources, and keep the organization compliant with laws and regulations. The buyer has also learned that new technology will allow the company’s mobile crews to punch in and out from a smart phone, and the timekeeping data will connect with payroll. The buyer has concluded that an integrated payroll and timekeeping solution is what he/she is looking for.

At this stage, buyers begin searching “solutions”, “providers”, “tools” and other keywords online to compile a list of options and compare. Videos, podcasts, webinars, and other live interactions are appropriate content types to best connect with buyers in this stage.

Decision Stage

In the Decision Stage, the prospective buyer has defined the solution strategy or approach for making his/her decision. Buyers in this stage are compiling a long list of vendors, products, services, etc. to make (or recommend) a final decision. (Note- I say “recommend” because the buyer may be an influencer, not the decision maker).

For the “common cold” example, you’ve decided your strategy is to self-medicate with an over-the-counter drug. You head to your local pharmacy store to make your final decision on a product. This is the last stage before you make your decision and complete the purchase (or your buyer’s journey).

And lastly, for Payroll Providers, your buyer is comparing you and other local providers, along with the payroll giants, and gathering data to help him/her make a final decision.

Case studies, product comparisons, live demonstrations, with calls-to-action like “Contact us” are appropriate in this stage.

Map Content Accordingly

It is best practice to take inventory of the content your organization has available and map it to the appropriate buyer’s journey stage. This will help your sales and marketing teams connect leads with the right content at the right time, as I mentioned before.

Download a copy of our Buyer Persona Worksheet to get started creating Buyer Personas for your organization. If you’re in the payroll industry, like members of the MPAY Network, be sure to download the Payroll Buyer Personas PDF. If you’re a member of the MPAY Network, contact MPAY’s Marketing Team for further assistance creating your personas or mapping your buyer’s journey.

Amy Robertson

From her office in Roanoke, VA, Amy manages “all things marketing” for MPAY. Her most recent bragging rights include becoming a Net Promoter Certified Associate.