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:
1. Awareness — we have a problem
2. Interest — why they should care
3. Consideration — things are warming up
The consideration stage is where buyers can fall through the cracks if sales and marketing are not aligned.
4. Intent — a promising development
5. Evaluation — apples to apples
6. Purchase — do the happy dance
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 6: Educate, inspire, reassure
Part 5: The power of positioning
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.