How to Use The Buyer’s Journey to Create Compelling Content
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What is the buyer’s journey? It’s a way to visualize the decision-making process a customer goes through to make a purchase. In this week’s episode, get a clear picture of how to map out and plan marketing campaigns, sales funnels, and content for your customers. Discover the three phases and the different kinds of content you can create along the way.
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Kyle Gray: (00:37)
Hello, and welcome to the story Engine Podcast. Today friends, we are going to talk about one of my favorite topics out there, the theme of the Story Engine book, which created it all, creating content. And today, we’re going to talk about a specific kind of content creation, creating content for the different stages of the buyer’s journey. Now, what is the buyer’s journey? This is a term that marketers use as a way to visualize the decision-making process a customer goes through to make a purchase. The buyer’s journey is a powerful way to map out and plan marketing campaigns, sales funnels, and you guessed it, content. Now, this journey has three phases that we’re going to explore today and look at different kinds of content that we can create for each of the stages.
Kyle Gray: (01:24)
The first one is known. Your customer needs to be aware that you exist and what problem you solve.
Kyle Gray: (01:31)
This is when they need to know why you are different than everybody else out there that solves this same problem.
Kyle Gray: (01:39)
And finally, they need to trust you. They need to know that you are a good fit for the problem that they have and that you can deliver the result that they want.
Kyle Gray: (01:49)
Now you must carry a person through each phase of this buyer’s journey before they buy from you. And the content you create should bring people through each stage of this journey and help them overcome the obstacles that keep them from buying. But here’s the trick. It’s not possible to create just one piece of content that solves all of these different problems and challenges that come from the buyer’s journey. Plus the buyer’s journey varies from business to business depending on what product or service you offer. The buyer’s journey can take days, weeks, or even months to go through, and you need content that will specifically address the unique needs of your audience at every stage of this journey. This is incredibly important for content creators to understand. Content that gets a lot of social shares is compelling for building awareness for making people into the known phase of the buyer’s journey. Still, you also need fat content that collects a lot of backlinks and interests to help get you through the same stage of the journey. By understanding what part of the buyer’s journey, tailoring the content that you created, can guide your reader through the process seamlessly without them even realizing it. And you can better support your other marketing and sales efforts like email automation, your social media, and your paid traffic. So let’s break down the different types of content that you can create for each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Kyle Gray: (03:12)
Now, I’ve got something extra special for you today. If you go to the show notes, I have an in-depth infographic that lists out all of these pieces of content that you can take and share and print or whatever you want. But it makes visualizing all of these different things on this list much more accessible. So check out the infographic on the show notes, and I think you’ll enjoy it. It’s a beautiful piece of work.
Kyle Gray: (03:36)
So first, let’s explore the content for the known phase, the phase that people need to know who you are and what problem do you solve. At this stage, people aren’t even sure if the problem you solve is the most important one for them to work on right now. They may not also be aware that they have the problem that you solve. They probably have a lot of different options or issues to resolve. They might even have as many as 99 problems to solve. And how do you make sure that the problem that they solve is the one that you want? This phase makes up maybe 80% of your audience, people who are just looking for information and are likely to buy a long time in the future, but you’re building a relationship with them with this know content. Content for the known phase should be short. It’s easy to consume. It introduces you to the audience and creates an excellent first impression.
Kyle Gray: (04:29)
Now, there’s a tremendous amount of noise out there, and people are short on time. So sometimes even asking somebody to watch a five-minute video, maybe too much of a commitment at this point in the buyer’s journey. You want to avoid being too pushy with any product or service offers; they’re just not ready to buy yet. The content that you create at this phase needs to be optimized for sharing. It should have lots of Quotables, engaging images, and eye-catching headlines. So let’s look at five pieces of content that you can put together for the known phase. So let’s start out with number one, a quick tip video. Aim to solve a single problem quickly and add just a small amount of value to people’s lives. This catches their attention and it starts to build up that trust right away. Keep in mind that many people these days have the attention span of a squirrel with a bladder problem. Time invested in you and watching your content. They could be doing other valuable things like watching cat videos, so keeping it short means they’re more likely to give you a chance to hear you out. If you focus on even adding a small amount of value, solving a small problem well in those first 60 seconds, your audience is going to open up to dig deeper.
Kyle Gray: (05:41)
Okay, onto content number two. Lists posts. Now list content just like this one. This is list content, and is one of the most popular types of content today. They’re straightforward to create, easy to consume and give you lots of opportunities to collaborate. They’re also easy to modify. If you make a list of 100 uses for coconut oil or whatever, you can figure out a few more and turn it to 110 uses for coconut oil. They’re usually composed of tips. Tools are people, and it’s essential to give enough information and context for each item on the list for your reader to decide if it’s relevant to them and if they want to learn more.
Kyle Gray: (06:19)
A significant disadvantage of this kind of content is something I’ve already hinted out a little bit, but it’s very competitive, it’s kind of like an arms race. If you make the ten best ways posts, then somebody else can come out with the 11 best ways and adding a few more items to their list. So you want to make this unique and tailored to your audience. Instead of making another ten ways to become a millionaire post, you can add a twist to make it specific to your viewers, like ten ways to become a millionaire as a programmer or a health coach or whatever.
Kyle Gray: (06:52)
Secondly, you can eliminate a lot of competition by going much more rooted in your list than anyone is willing to go. Everybody can make a top seven list, but few people are eager to make a list of 50 or even 500. But like Man Versus Weight did with their post, 113 Killer Pushup Variations and in fact, I’m going to leave excellent examples in the show notes for this or I’m going to link to a bunch of different examples of all these different kinds of content. Another good one is from my friend Taylor Pearson, which is top 10 Cryptocurrency Resources. Again, very specific and highly curated high-quality list posts, but people love it, and they dig into that content.
Kyle Gray: (07:32)
Okay, onto content for know phase number three, inspirational. So this is the stuff that I see on Facebook and Instagram all the time. It’s inspirational and uplifting, and it tends to get shared a lot on social media. It is powerful for communicating your values to your audience. Useful inspirational addresses a pain point that your audience is experiencing and provides encouragement and inspiration that a better world is out there, and your reader can experience that world. I think most of the videos by Jay are an excellent example of this is the Holstee manifesto. Again, I’ll link to that in the show notes.
Kyle Gray: (08:10)
Now, the next piece of content is one of the most common pieces of content out there, especially for podcasts, but interviews. Even if you are a seasoned veteran in your industry, there’s always more to learn and topics that you may be less experienced in. So an interview can bring fresh ideas and perspective to your content that are important to you, but you may not be an expert in. This is also one of the easiest ways to collaborate and build rapport with other influencers in your industry, and it helps expose you to their audiences. You can record an interview on a podcast. You can interview somebody on something like a Zoom call and then transcribe it and turn it into a great article. There are lots of ways to repurpose and reuse great interviews. How it’s a mighty kind of content to create. For examples of great conversations, look no further than this podcast. Ha ha, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Yeah, all right. Onto the next one.
Kyle Gray: (09:05)
Content number five for the known phase is roundup posts. They work kind of like a combination between an interview and a list post, but it’s made up of a lot of micro interviews curated around a specific topic. If you’ve got a good network or outreach strategy, roundup posts can be straightforward to create. You can get a lot of different people to contribute and collaborate and to help you put it together. You can crowdsource the content promotion as well. Most of the people that you mentioned in the roundup posts are going to want to share it, but roundup posts can be dry if you just take a couple of simple quotes and throw them together, so don’t just take a bunch of naked quotes and then put them together in a post like a list post. You can add value and context to the quotes by weaving in a narrative and curating them in a specific way so that there’s a little more depth to them. As the curator of the content, it’s your job to help people find meaning and value in these.
Kyle Gray: (10:05)
Okay, and we are on to the next phase of the buyer’s journey: Why are you different than your competition? You want to present yourself as somebody who can solve this problem as a brand that resonates with your ideal customer. This phase will make up around 17% of your audience, and people who are consuming this kind of content are comparing different products or services. They’re starting to get warmed up to buying. This is the phase where your authenticity is crucial. Your audience is going to compare you to your competition, looking for a reason to choose you above them. And you want to appear as more than just somebody who can solve the problem. But somebody who’s likable and unique. It’s usually a human connection that’s going to drive a buying decision. You also want your audience to feel empowered to solve this problem, so you want to give them opportunities to take action and get some early wins, so they feel encouraged to go deeper with you.
Kyle Gray: (11:00)
Let’s dive into the different types of content. Content number one for the like phase is high-value ultimate guides. An ultimate guide is something that broadly, but thoroughly, covers a topic. They’re usually very well-researched and can serve as a foundational piece of content for a subject that you discuss on your blog or your podcast. They should include many links so people can dig into different areas of interest within the topic. They should link to your pieces of content, if possible. Content like this can be popular because people don’t want to search for and piece together a bunch of disjointed information on a topic. Often, they don’t even know what they need, so they could not search for it anyway. These posts usually tend to do very well in search engines, which is suitable for traffic for you and gives you an excellent bargaining chip to offer a link to other influencers, if you’re into that SEO kind of stuff.
Kyle Gray: (11:55)
The next piece of light content is an in-depth system that solves a pain point. These are similar to ultimate guides, but they go into specific steps into how to solve a particular problem. We only have so much critical thinking that we can do in a day, and we’re confronted with more issues than we can solve on our own. Having a step-by-step system that takes all of the guesswork out of how to solve a specific problem and provides a particular solution is very powerful and very useful. An excellent example of this one is The Complete Guide to Kindle SEO by my friend Tom Morkes. I have used this guide many times to work on my book launches.
Kyle Gray: (12:38)
The next piece of content is a personal story. There are more ways to build a connection with your audience than just discussing a business process or system or a solution, and you can be transparent in many different ways, not only sharing what’s going on inside your business. People want to know what’s going on inside your head, inside your heart. When you’re not working, how are you a human? An excellent personal story describes maybe how you overcame a challenge or a problem that your audience also faces. Instead of being purely informative or educational, it’s good to be emotive and relatable sometimes.
Kyle Gray: (13:13)
Being vulnerable and sharing your personal story or experiences with the problems your business solves can help your audience know the person behind the brand. They want to learn from and buy from somebody who’s been in their shoes, knows how they feel, and seems like they care about more than just profit. You can also discuss individual values that you hold in your business or life, or how they’ve impacted your work. Heck, every once in a while, you can go off tangent and go on these funny, weird rants, like arguing why you think stuffed-crust pizza is the only kind of pizza that people should eat and everything else is just garbage, and go on for a long time about that. People will love it.
Kyle Gray: (13:53)
All right, the next piece of content is transparency reports. There are many different ways that you can approach transparency, and some will be better than others, depending on how your business is structured. There are, like I said, many different ways to be transparent in your industry. You can do a monthly report. This is something I did for a business I used to work for, WP Curve. Each month, we would report on things like the monthly revenue for our company, our team, new hires, our product, development, our website traffic, fresh content, and how people responded to it.
Kyle Gray: (14:32)
There are companies out there like Baremetrics and Buffer that have real-time dashboards that display their company’s revenue. Baremetrics has been one of the leaders in the open startup movement. It currently has a page on its site with real-time stats of total customers that they have and monthly revenue. Some even display more detailed stats such as the churn rate for their audience. Buffer has an impressive public report that they share all of their employees and all of the salaries that they’re making. This is super powerful for internal use. All of their employees trust each other, and they know what everybody else is making. But it’s also compelling externally.
Kyle Gray: (15:17)
Another powerful example of this as one of the leaders in transparency culture is Automattic. This company developed WordPress. They have a transparency report where they share all kinds of new information, such as the number of requests that they receive from government agencies. These requests are often for information on users or to remove content that their users have published. Interesting stuff.
Kyle Gray: (15:45)
All right, the next piece of content is what I call the line in the sand. One truth that you want to accept in this process is not everybody is going to like you. If you’re going to create a robust and positive connection with some people, you inevitably create the opposite connection as well, so create something that makes a controversial statement and take a stand in your industry. You could do this by killing a sacred cow, some idea or philosophy that’s popular in your industry, but that you disagree with.
Kyle Gray: (16:15)
One of my mentors, and founder of WP Curve, Dan Norris, did this in his book The 7 Day Startup. A lot of people were all about the lean startup methodology, giving away your product for free to start and making sure that it checks all of these validation boxes over a long period. He was like, “No way. That’s crap. It didn’t work for me. Just get out there and try to sell something as quickly as possible,” which became the book The 7 Day Startup.
Kyle Gray: (16:42)
All right, the next piece of content is industry study. People love useful data and research that helps them make difficult decisions and get a baseline for how they measure up in their industry. People are always asking themselves questions like, “Would I be better off focusing on email marketing or social media?” but rarely have the data to help them make that choice. An industry study can collect a lot of data on the industry you’re working in and provides insights based on that data. You can manage your data through creating a survey, or search for databases with the relevant information you need. These are very powerful when you have an extensive network or email list that would be willing to share this data with you. If your study is compelling, many people are going to link to it and reference it to support their own ideas. One disadvantage with this content is it can create a great deal of time to collect the data, and not everybody is going to respond to it, especially if you have a long survey. Try to make it as easy as possible for people to share their information, and don’t be afraid to share a couple of reminders if you’ve got a new survey to send.
Kyle Gray: (17:48)
All right, the next piece of content is templates. This is one of my favorites. I include a lot of these in my books. Templates provide a structure and framework that people can quickly adapt to their work. They’re designed to save your readers time and remove a lot of the critical thinking required to solve a particular problem. Templates save your visitor from having to reinvent the wheel every time they want to solve a problem.
Kyle Gray: (18:12)
Templates work nicely with data. Things like a spreadsheet with prefilled formulas that somebody can plug into is a handy tool. Most people are intimidated by numbers and spreadsheets. You can give them something easy to work with that will build their confidence and trust with you. You can also create a template for scripts for emails or how to fill in a great landing page or work with many other tools. Make it easy for your audience to plug in their information by adding prompts or parentheses in brackets.
Kyle Gray: (18:44)
The next piece of content, which is very similar to templates, is swipe files. Instead of providing a framework for people to plug their information into, they give some information on what other people are doing well. This makes it easy to borrow and adapt the best practices of others. This is usually a collection of materials that people can use as a source of inspiration, reference, or guidance. It helps to create motivation to borrow ideas from already successful work. One perfect example of this is from the company AdEspresso. They have an ad library of successful Facebook ads that they’ve been using, and you can go and check this out if you need some inspiration on what your next Facebook ad could look like.
Kyle Gray: (19:26)
The next and final piece of content in the related category are checklists. These are a favorite tool of pilots and doctors to ensure they don’t miss any critical details in their work. Although these people are professional and very experienced, they still need these checklists to keep themselves consistent. If doctors and pilots are using it, then so should you. A list can make for a great lead magnet because it can guide people through a process and make sure they’re not missing any steps along the way. It breaks down a complicated task into manageable steps, and they’re most useful when outlining a process that does have a lot of different levels. This is used for something done once, like setting up a great WordPress site, or something that is done repeatedly, like promoting a post on social media or preparing for tax season.
Kyle Gray: (20:14)
Okay, on to our third and final section, trust. Can you deliver what your audience wants?
Kyle Gray: (20:22)
If you have gotten your audience to this point and they are wondering if they can trust you, well-done, you’re in the homestretch. They know who you are, they like you, and they are actively considering you or what you offer as the big solution to their problem. You’ve proven yourself to be confident and likable with your audience, and now you’ve got to convince them that you are not only a good fit, but the best fit for them. They not only need to trust you as somebody who’s an authority, as somebody that can help them, but they also need to be able to imagine themselves.
Kyle Gray: (20:56)
What I mean by that is your audience may have some hangups in their mind. They may fully see you as a persuasive, compelling authority and person and a total expert, but they may think, “Well, if I invest in this, I’m just going to self-sabotage again. I’m not going to be able to get the real thing.” You not only need to be able to establish trust with you but trust in themselves, that if they invest with you, they are going to get their value back several times over.
Kyle Gray: (21:25)
Also, just one thing to keep in mind, trust doesn’t stop after the sale. You need to consistently maintain and build confidence to develop with your audience, even after they’ve become your customer. Creating content that’s going to help and support them beyond purchasing with you is essential in this stage. One of the cool things about creating content to maintain trust and to continue to support your current clients is that, in many ways, repurpose it into some of the other content we mentioned before. A lot of the time, I will make templates and checklists
Kyle Gray: (22:00)
… Swipe files for my agency clients to help serve them more, and then those same templates can be repurposed into a great download for a podcast episode or a blog post and be used to grow my list and build trust. And so, I want you to keep that in mind for yourself in your own business as well. So let’s get into the content.
Kyle Gray: (22:21)
The first kind of content, and this is very, very powerful, is customer success stories as a how-to post. Now a lot of people make the mistake of telling a customer success story where the expert is the hero. “This person was having a bad day, and I came in, and I changed this, and now their day was awesome.” You want to make them the hero in the story, you want to make them the center focal point, and you’re more of a guide pointing them in the right direction, but you let them tell their story or feature them as their story. The great thing about having a customer success story is it empowers you to overcome the common objections that your audience is facing without being pushy or sales, which means your listener, your audience, their defenses are lowered. They’re not trying to look for and poke for errors or holes in the sales process like they would be on a sales call or reading a sales page.
Kyle Gray: (23:19)
So you want to think about the significant objections that your audience is facing. One big one is the price. So if you’ve got price talk about how a customer tripled their revenue by making these changes and then obviously when somebody is thinking, “Well, I don’t know if I can afford this.” “Well, you’re going to make three times that amount back if you follow this process and work with me just like this person did.” There’s also a ton of other kinds of objectives. If you’re a health coach maybe the people that you work with feel overweight and they don’t feel like they’re ever able to lose that weight and you can give them a story of somebody just like them who did overcome that objection or that big challenge.
Kyle Gray: (24:01)
The next one is an ROI calculator, a Return On Investment calculator. How can you give your audience a formula to calculate what they’re going to earn, what they’re going to invest, what they’re going to gain from working with you? A fascinating example of this comes from David Bayer. I’ve seen him speak on the stage where he talks about people getting in a mindset out of a suffering mindset into a more abundance and clarity based mindset. When you’re suffering, you’re not creative, you’re not solving problems appropriately, and you do not see opportunities, so you’re losing out on money. And he asked people, “How much time do you spend a day in suffering?” Some people said one hour or some people said four or five hours, eight hours.
Kyle Gray: (24:50)
Then he asked the audience to estimate what their hourly rate is, how much is one hour of their time worth. Then you multiply how many hours a day or a week or a month you spend in suffering. Then multiply that time by your hourly rate and people found out they’re losing thousands, tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of dollars a month or a year by living in suffering and all of a sudden he makes a fantastic case for his program.
Kyle Gray: (25:20)
Another speaker who’s used this well is Pete Vargas. He often shows people when they are trying to get on more stages, is interested in speaking more he says, “Okay, calculate how much you get paid, what offer you have, and how many people end up converting on that offer and paying you. And when I say how much you get paid in that first part, how much you get paid to speak.” He shows that a lot of people are focused on getting paid to speak, getting some money upfront to do a speaking event. But what he demonstrates is if you can have a great offer from the stage and sell a lot of it, boost your conversion rates, increase your audience size, then you can make a lot more on the backend and all of a sudden that honorarium doesn’t seem like such a big thing. But he shows people the tremendous opportunity that speaking can provide by attracting people to your business and many, many times, jaws drop on this. So there are lots of different ways that you can create these ROI calculators online, offline in presentations for many different businesses.
Kyle Gray: (26:25)
All right onto the next piece of content, which is a DIY guide to do what you do. Some people might be afraid of this. If I give them a DIY guide, they’ll go and do it themselves. One company I saw do this effectively in the past was the Empire Flippers. They were brilliant at creating websites that created passive income. Whether they were eCommerce stores or people clicking on ads, they made a very detailed post on how people can do the same thing. How they can find the domain, build the website, and start to build up the traffic and all of these things.
Kyle Gray: (26:58)
But the exciting thing that started to happen is people were taking this DIY guide. They started doing a lot of this work on their own. Then they realized how challenging and how much work there was involved in it, which made them more willing to work with the Empire Flippers and purchase their products, and that’s the goal of a great DIY guide. You, of course, want to be generous and make sure that anybody who does want to do this on their own and put in the work can do it. Still, you want to show how much work does go into it and how valuable your expertise is in the process, so these can be very, very powerful.
Kyle Gray: (27:35)
The next and final piece of content is a cornerstone piece of content that I encourage everybody to have a deep dive presentation, an excellent presentation that runs for 30 or 40 minutes and keeps the audience engaged for that amount of time. Whether it’s on a webinar, whether you’re speaking from the stage or doing a Facebook Live you can garner a lot of human connection in that amount of time. This also often combines many different elements and aspects of content. You want to share a little bit of your process like we were talking about in the likes section. You want to share personal stories. You want to combine your expertise, your account, and a great call to action into one clear and concise presentation that goes and solves a real active problem for the audience.
Kyle Gray: (28:24)
You also want to include quick tips, as I mentioned from the notes section, so they get when. You want to have customer success stories embedded in there so that you show, “Hey, I’m a trustworthy person. I’m getting results for people.” And you’re overcoming those objections and reducing the risk that people feel investing in you. So if you can bring all of these elements together into one compelling presentation, then that’s going to be your very best, your signature piece of content that you’re going to want to give as many opportunities as possible.
Kyle Gray: (28:59)
So, in conclusion, hopefully, now you’ve gotten a lot of good ideas on how to build out content that carries your audience through the buyer’s journey. Remember that the buyer’s journey is simple enough, to sum up in three words, know, like, and trust, but the real world is never so clear and straightforward. Customers can jump back and forth between the phases as their situation changes and no two customer journeys are really alike. Plus, coming up with great ideas for all these individual pieces of content can be challenging, and there’s nothing worse than staring at a blank screen.
Kyle Gray: (29:32)
One exciting thing that I’ve got coming up in the next couple of weeks into 2020 is the Storytelling Mastery series. We are putting together a great content strategy that puts together all of these pieces of content and allows you to move people through the buyer’s journey in one of the parts of the training that we do. We are also helping you put together a great proprietary process and a great personal story that creates a connection, which is all of the essential elements of a fantastic presentation. We’ll be launching this program in March, but we’re going to have a lot of exciting stuff leading up to it. So if you want to hop on the waitlist and get updates for it, you can go to thestoryengine.co/2020, and if you’re on my email list already, we’ll be sending out updates and keeping you posted on all the exciting things that are happening.
Kyle Gray: (30:20)
Either way, thank you so much for spending this time with me talking content with me, and I hope that there are lots of good ideas that have come forward as a result of this. Please reach out to me in the comment section of the show notes of this episode or through my email and let me know what you’ve thought of, let me know what kind of content you’re going to create. Share some with me; I’d love to hear about it. So once again, thanks for listening and have a great day.
Thanks for listening to the Story Engine Podcast. Be sure to check out the show notes and resources mentioned in this episode and every other episode at thestoryengine.co.
If you’re looking to learn more about how to use storytelling to grow your business, then check out my new book, Selling With Story: How to Use Storytelling to Become an Authority, Boost Sales, and Win the Hearts and Minds of Your Audience. This book will equip you with actionable strategies and templates to help you share your unique value and build trust in presentations, sales, and conversations, both online and offline. Learn more at sellingwithstory.co.
Thanks for listening, and I’ll see you next time.