Mapping the buyer journey

Mapping the buyer journey


Plotting your customer’s path to purchase

In a previous article, long-shot, convertible and available customers, we covered the three types of customers in the marketplace. For the third installment of our exploration into how innovative B2B 3D printer brands are putting sales and marketing alignment to use, we’ll dive into the process of mapping out your buyer journey. Most technology companies have an understanding of their customers’ path to purchase, but few have actually documented it.

You can’t reach your destination until you know where you stand. Building a successful 3D printer brand starts with a thorough and objective brand assessment. An integral part of the brand assessment process is mapping out the buyer journey.

When your sales and marketing teams can work together to plot out each step a customer takes before purchasing, you’ll be better equipped to meet those customers where they are, develop communication tools to address their current needs and move them to the next stage along the sales continuum.

Map out a buyer journey for each customer profile

Most 3D printer companies have a number of different customer profiles. A family-owned jeweler buying its first printer will look different than a large manufacturer buying its twelfth. Likewise, the two customers will follow very different paths to reach their buying decisions.   

Before you map out your buyer journey, make sure you have accurate customer profiles documented. Revisit what you know about their demographics, emotional triggers and how they assess value. What keeps them up at night? How will your product make their lives better?

Map out the buyer journey for each customer profile. Note where they might be similar or different. If you end up with only one buyer journey, your company is either highly specialized (that’s good), or you’re thinking about your buyers too generally (that’s bad).

Don’t fear the unknown

The process of mapping your buyer journey is likely to uncover some questions along with the answers. That’s normal. This process will likely identify knowledge gaps that you can work on filling. For example, you might know how customers find you initially but have little understanding of how they assess you against your competition.

A known unknown is much better than an unknown unknown. Indicate what you know you don’t know on your maps. You can work around and work to answer those questions. You might be able to interview resellers, partners or past customers and backfill information.

3D printer buyers tend to follow this path:

Buyer journey map, Toolbox Creative, Innovative tech marketing

1. Awareness — we have a problem

For a potential customer to exist in this space, they must first know they have a problem and be aware that you might have a solution. If they don’t know they have a problem, they’re not a serious prospect. If they don’t know you exist, they will either not buy at all or buy from your competition.

2. Interest — why they should care

It’s not enough that potential customers know you exist; they need a reason to care about your brand. At this stage, customers start to build a short list of potential sellers and qualify themselves in or out — sometimes before you even know they exist.

3. Consideration — things are warming up

At this stage, you’ve had some meaningful interaction with the buyer. They have stated their problem and they’re actively considering a number of solutions. This is where a warm lead turns hot and passes from marketing to sales. This is also where many potential buyers fall through the cracks.

The consideration stage is where buyers can fall through the cracks if sales and marketing are not aligned. 

buyer journey with marketing and sales silos

4. Intent — a promising development

At the intent stage, the customer is ready to buy. Now they’re looking for a reason to choose you rather than your competition. Giving them a reason to make an emotional connection with your brand at this stage can help close the deal. 

5. Evaluation — apples to apples

Here, the customer actively weighs you against a small number of other options. They could be comparing apples to apples, like tech specs and price. They are also likely to be assessing less tangible things like brand ethos. In-person interaction, testimonials and case studies can help close the sale.

6. Purchase — do the happy dance

The dotted line is signed upon. The customer is yours. Time to do the happy dance. The buyer journey has come to a successful conclusion, but the journey to building brand love has just begun. Deliver as promised and you have an opportunity to build brand love — turning a happy customer into a powerful advocate for your brand.

This is your opportunity to turn new customers into powerful brand advocates

Don’t put it on the shelf

Don’t think of your customer journey maps as a something you file away on the shelf and never revisit. It’s a living document that will change over time. As you approach and close new sales, look to fill in some of the blanks you’ve identified. Analyze potential customers that have dropped off at various stages to see what can be learned.

Next up: the benefit of sales and marketing alignment

We’ll dig into the ROI from meaningful sales and marketing alignment. When your sales and marketing teams operate as interlocking pieces rather than separate divisions, the customer journey is smooth, seamless and more often leads to a sale.

Other articles in this series:

Part 7: Taking market share from the big guys

Part 6: Educate, inspire, reassure

Part 5: The power of positioning

Part 4: The benefit of sales and marketing alignment

Part 2: Long-shot, convertible and available customers

Part 1: Influencers and validators and deciders, oh my

About Toolbox Creative:

Toolbox Creative is a B2B Brand Engineering firm, helping the 3D Printing,  Ag Tech and Clean Tech industries change the world. We distill complex technologies into powerful identity systems, websites and marketing tactics that align sales and marketing efforts, create lasting impact and build brand love.