Align messaging with where customers are in the buying cycle

To make the most of your marketing efforts, your messaging should be compelling and resonate with the type of customer you are targeting – whether a consumer (B2C) or another business (B2B) – and take into account where your target customer is in the buying cycle. By understanding where your customer is in the buying cycle, you’ll be able to provide the right type of information and messaging to influence their purchasing decision.  When it comes time to meeting with them in person or developing sales tools, you’ll know which approach is best, saving time and resources.

The customer buying cycle typically has five different stages; see below for a high level overview of each stage along with the type of messaging that may be included depending upon the product or service being offered.

Stages of the customer buying cycle Messaging may…
Stage 1
B2C: Prospect or Suspect
Looking to build awareness with those who are new to your company, product and/or service.

B2B: Identify the Problem
The business knows they have a problem that must be addressed or is seeking a solution for meeting a goal.

  • Inspire trust
  • Use third party sources to support claims
  • Address buyer triggers (i.e. replacing something that is broken or stolen) to help raise awareness for product/service capabilities
  • Establish need for product/service
  • Focus on compelling features and benefits not offered by current competitors
  • Include website URL for more information
Stage 2
B2CAcquisition
Prospect seeks information about you and competing products/services.

B2B:  Researching Solutions and Providers
Prospect validates or create criteria for solving the business problem.

  • Inspire familiarity – i.e. you know us from…
  • Show comparison information
  • Features and benefits described in more detail
  • Provide tips for what to seek out from vendor products
  • Address buyer triggers (e.g. replacing something that is broken or stolen) by showing superior product/service capabilities to substitutes and competing offers
  • Develop more targeted messaging, leveraging customer persona and journey mapping information to show solutions attained
  • Offer supporting information to help persuade purchasing decision such as brochures, whitepapers, scientific reports/findings, or freemiums that encourage further investigation/trial
  • Raise awareness for complementary products/services as an up-sell or cross-sell message (if appropriate)
  • Include social media sharing/access
  • Capture contact information on interest level
  • Include website URL for more information
Stage 3
B2C:  Conversion or Preference
Customer is familiar with your product/service and is narrowing their purchasing decision.  At this point, you want them to become a paying customer.

B2B:  Evaluating Options
Prospect is familiar with the offerings of several providers. Requests for proposals are made and provided.  Sales pitches are made. Decision-makers and influencers determine the best solution.

  • Feature the most compelling feature and benefits with spec sheets, increased focus on branding to inspire trust, detailed comparison charts, 3rd party reviews, and customer testimonials
  • Use customer persona and journey mapping to develop more targeted messaging
  • Include more direct sales outreach (via online chat sessions or 800 number calls) to answer questions and/or include in-person meetings if B2B
  • Social media comments/references
  • Address request for proposals (RFPs)
  • Capture contact information on interest level
  • Include website URL for more detailed/compelling information
Stage 4
B2C:  Purchasing
Prospect has decided to purchase your product, making them a customer.

B2B:  Procure Solution
Negotiate terms of sale and delivery. Production or managed service tests are completed.

  • Offer purchasing or financing incentives the competition can’t match
  • Include the use of a freemium product or a discount trial period to persuade prospects to buy a subscription or added features later
  • Join/purchase with a friend and win a prize or discount on future offerings
Stage 5
B2C:  Loyalty
Keep the customer happy and satisfied, and wanting to make repeat purchases.

B2B:  Implementation and Continued Operation
Solution implementation ensures a happy repeat customer.

  • Offer discounts for upgrades or complementary products and services
  • Offer loyalty program/rewards for referrals or new purchases
  • Social media or nurture campaigns convey strong customer service support, information and tips for making the most of current offerings and upgrade/complementary offerings
  • Seek product/service recommendations through customer satisfaction or information-seeking surveys

When developing your messaging…

Consider whether B2B or B2C marketing tactics are appropriate and take into account any limitations with the medium (online, print, video, podcast, etc.) being used to deliver your message to market.  Revisit your customer profile to ensure you’re emphasizing key benefits and reaching customer via the right customer touch points.  The trick is to understand how different buyers or customer personas interact with your business – from awareness to a purchase and/or recommending it to others – which is also referred to as the customer’s journey map.  If you develop such a map, do so for each customer or buyer persona; this will help you develop more targeted messaging for each stage of the buying cycle.

Discover more…

  1. Barnes, Liam.  “B2B vs B2C Marketing:  5 Differences Every Marketer Needs to Know.”  Last modified February 26, 2020. https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2019/05/20/b2b-vs-b2c.
  2. Campbell, Patrick.  “Optimizing Your Buying Cycle Stages and Converting Users.”  ProfitWell (blog).  Last modified May, 14, 2020.  https://www.profitwell.com/blog/buying-cycle-stages.
  3. Feather, Kate. “How to Improve Your Buyer’s Journey.” Selling Power Blog. Last modified July 6, 2015. http://blog.sellingpower.com/gg/2015/07/how-to-improve-your-buyers-journey.html.
  4. Green, Dave. “B2B Marketing: Calls-to-Action And The Business Buying Cycle.” MarketingSherpa Blog. Last modified March 17, 2011. http://sherpablog.marketingsherpa.com/b2b-marketing/calls-to-action-and-the-business-buying-cycle/
  5. Gusta, Kim.  “Content Strategy Essentials for Product Launch Success.” Pragmatic Marketing.  Accessed May 24, 2020. http://www.pragmaticmarketing.com/publications/topics/12/content-strategy-essentials-for-product-launch-success.
  6. Hoski, Kathleen and Phil Goddard. “5 Essential Components of Effective Customer Journey Maps.”  TandemsevenAccessed May 24, 2020. http://www.tandemseven.com/journey-mapping/5-essentials-for-customer-journey-maps/.
  7. “How to Optimize Your Site for Every Stage of the Buying Cycle.” NeilPatel (blog).  Accessed July 30, 2019. https://neilpatel.com/blog/optimize-buying-cycle/.
  8. Ninivaggi, Jim. “Selling to B2B Decisionmakers?  Take Two Aspirins and Call Us in the Morning.”  SiriusDecisions Inc. (blog). Last modified June 9, 2011. http://www.siriusdecisions.com/blog/selling-to-b2b-decisionmakers-take-two-aspirins-and-call-us-in-the-morning/.
  9. Redbord, Michael. “How to Leverage the 5 Stages of the Customer Buying Cycle for More Sales.” HupSpot, Inc. (blog). Last modified July 6, 2011 (11:30 AM).  http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/19022/How-to-Leverage-the-5-Stages-of-the-Customer-Buying-Cycle-for-More-Sales.aspx
  10. Skok, David. “Do You Know Your Customer?  Buying Cycle & Triggers.”  Matrix Management Corporation. Accessed May 24, 2020. https://www.forentrepreneurs.com/buying-cycle-and-triggers/.