Let’s review the Buyer’s Journey:
In looking at this process, you can see that some customers would be at each of these four stages leading up to a purchase. Let’s quickly review the type of content you should deliver to these customers at each stage:
Unaware: These are customers that don’t know who you are or what you do. The content you create for these customers should be focused heavily on the customer, and light on the brand. When you create content that talks about the customer, it gets their attention, and you will need their attention to move the customer closer to a sale. When you hear companies talk about wanting to ‘build awareness’ via social media and content marketing, these are the customers they are wanting to reach.
Slightly Aware: These are customers who are beginning to understand who your brand is, and what it does. Content aimed at these customers should help them understand how your brand’s products and services fit into their lives. So at this stage, you want to shift your content a bit to begin to discuss your product and services, but in the context of ‘Here’s how our stuff can help you”. In that way you are communicating that you know and understand who the customer is, and also that you know how your products and services can help them.
Interested: Customers at this stage are now considering making a purchase. So your content should shift more toward the product itself. NOW is when you can FINALLY start to sell your brand’s products and services. Customers at this stage are doing research in your products and services and those of your competitors, before making a purchase decision.
Ready to Buy! Customers at this stage are…ready to buy! Your content should do one thing, help them complete the sale.
Most company blogs create content that’s focused on either customers who are Unaware (building awareness) or customers who are Slightly Aware (helping customers understand how your products and services fit into their lives). So let’s look at two company blogs that cater its content to each of these groups. This will help you understand what such content would look like if you are trying to reach the same group for the same reason.
Case Study of a Company Blog that Focuses on Unaware Customers: Patagonia’s The Cleanest Line Blog
If you want to create content that raises awareness, you focus almost exclusively on what’s important to the audience you are trying to connect with, current and potential customers. You talk about the ideas, themes and beliefs that are important to your potential customers, because that’s how you get them to pay attention to your content.
Patagonia does a wonderful job of creating customer-centric content on its blog, The Cleanest Line. Its content is focused on ideas, themes and causes that are important to its customers, but which are also important to the brand and its founders:
- Protecting the environment
- Being active outdoors and enjoying nature
Almost all of the content on The Cleanest Line is focused on one or more of these areas. By positioning its content in this way, Patagonia is communicating the values and beliefs that are important to the brand. As a result, it attracts the awareness of people that share those same values and beliefs.
The content being created at The Cleanest Line is almost completely focused on topics other than the clothing that Patagonia sells. This is how you create content that builds awareness; By NOT directly selling to the customer.
As a sidenote, The Cleanest Line has changed a bit over the years, from a standalone site and blog, to now being completely integrated into Patagonia’s main website. Also, the posts are now called ‘Stories’, which I like and I think that encourages people to read the content by identifying it as being ‘stories’.
So check out The Cleanest Line, and note how the content is focused on what’s important to the customer, and almost none of it directly promotes its clothing or sells to those same customers. This is how you position your content if you want to build awareness.
Case Study of a Company Blog That Focuses on Slightly Aware Customers: Caterpillar’s On the Level Blog
Now let’s talk about how content changes when you create it for slightly aware customers. To reach customers at this stage, you still want to talk about what’s important to these customers, but you also want to talk about how your company’s products and services fit into the lives in your customer’s lives. Additionally, since this audience does have some awareness of your company, it will include some current customers. This is why your content transitions from being completely about the customer in the Unaware stage, to being about the connection between the customer and the company in the Slightly Aware stage.
With that in mind, let’s look at Caterpillar’s On the Level Blog. As soon as you see the topics of the posts on the blog, you can immediately see that the content is focused on connecting with project managers on construction sites. The content focuses on issues and problems that will be encountered on the construction site, and also focuses on how Caterpillar products and services will help managers succeed with their projects. Also note how the content here is different than the content you see on Patagonia’s The Cleanest Line blog. Patagonia almost never blogs about its products, Caterpillar does often. Also, note how the focus of the content is more narrowly defined on the Caterpillar blog. This makes sense, as Caterpillar is speaking to a smaller audience. This is a byproduct of trying to reach an audience that is further along the Buyer’s Journey.
Here’s some of the posts up on the On the Level Construction Blog:
As you can see, this is type of content is geared toward managers working on a construction site. Many of them are probably already using Caterpillar machinery, or are considering doing so,. The content is designed to be helpful and provide guidance for these construction site managers, but it also wants to help them understand how using Caterpillar machinery can make their projects go smoother.
So that gives you a good idea of the difference between the type of content you should create to reach Unaware customers (The Cleanest Line blog) and Slightly Aware customers (On the Level Construction blog).