Customer journeys, competitive advantages and the logic behind good content marketing


The internet has changed the way prospective customers access information. In this article, our new features writer Chris Bilko looks at both the rise of content marketing and how businesses can best react to changing customer behaviour.

image001When was the last time you stopped to think about where your last customer came from? We’re talking really stopped to think about the holistic customer journey here – a casual glance over a pie chart whilst eating lunch and answering emails doesn’t count.

Have you given the concept proper consideration this year? Within the last five years? Ever?

If our question rouses pangs of guilt, take solace in the fact that customer journeys – that is, the path a customer follows before becoming a new customer – haven’t always required so much attention. Back when the budgets were big and the marketing was easy, it was enough to assume that customers were both in your market and open to your message.

Today, though, the same assumptions could well be a threat to your business’s future.

Customer journeys in the age of information

As you might have guessed, it’s thanks to the internet that customer journeys now require special attention.

The internet has given prospects instant access to information that historically may have been difficult to come by. Instead of having to traipse through journals and look out for sales messages, the answers to your prospects’ most pertinent questions are now a mere Google search away.

And that means that you, as a marketer, need to know exactly what those questions are.

The theory behind content marketing

Know your prospects’ questions, thoughts, fears and desires and all of a sudden you have an advantage over your competitors. Know what it is they’re typing into search engines and you can tailor your messages to answer their queries – and therefore attracting hundreds of new leads to your digital shop-front.

The question is, of course, what exactly is it your customers are looking for?

Think solutions to problems, not products and services

It’s rather ironic, but being a product expert can actually be a hindrance when it comes to understanding customer needs. As an expert, you lose the ability to empathise with your prospects. It becomes tempting to think prospects are searching for your products. Take it from us: in the initial stages of the customer journey, they most certainly are not.

What prospects are really searching for – always – are solutions to their problems. As greater marketers than us have before now noted; people don’t buy quarter-inch drill bits. They buy quarter inch holes.
 
Content marketing: how you can gain a competitive advantage

And that’s why good content marketing is critical in the always-on world of digital marketing.

Because the problem/solution mentality means you’re no longer competing solely with direct competitors. Instead, you’re competing with any business that can solve your prospects’ problems.

Those looking to lose weight may well buy a gym membership. But they could just as easily consult a nutritionist, or get a shiny new road bike for their daily commute.

The internet allows your prospects to choose any one solution from a myriad of alternatives. Good content marketing ensures it’s your solution they choose.

Is this really any different to the pre-digital era?

Admittedly, a lot of the above would be equally relevant in the absence of the internet.

Customers would still be seeking solutions and nutritionists would still be competing with bike retailers. But the presence of the internet really does change things.

The internet allows customers to call upon marketing messages at the click of a button.

Adjust your content and they’ll call upon yours.