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B2B Buyer Decision Map: Understanding Decision Stages

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Understanding the B2B buyer decision map and the decision stages B2B customers go through as they decide to buy from you and developing the content they are looking for at each stage is an essential B2B Marketing best practice.  Creating and sharing the information your customers want at each stage of their decision process will dramatically improve the findability, relevance, and ultimately the value of your content and increase qualified traffic, visitor engagement, and conversions.

Marketing Sherpa’s #1 lead generation best practice is: “IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THEM (NOT YOU)“.  Understanding “What your customer wants to know” is how we apply that discipline.  But in order to understand what your customer wants to know, first you need to know more about your customer.

That idea leads us to Marketing Sherpa’s #2 lead generation best practice: “SEGMENT BY PROSPECT TYPE“.  We recommend starting with the natural segments in your audience.  For example, a C-level segment vs technical users.  While it is always helpful to have a formal segmentation analysis, our experience is that these segments can be roughly mapped out with learning from sales and other customer-facing teams. You can refine your segments over time with more robust analytics and data but a quick segmentation is a great place to start knowing more about your customer and what they want to know.

Let’s look at Marketing Sherpa’s #3 lead generation best practice: “CREATE CONTENT FOR EACH STAGE OF THE SALES CYCLE“.  This is all about using a B2B buyer decision map t0 optimize the content assets you already have and identify content gaps you should fill.  At Brainrider we take this best practice one step further by mapping content against each stage of the decision process.

Here is a quick guide on how to develop a B2B buyer decision map.  First, model your pipeline by understanding the different stages a customer goes through when deciding to do business with you.  They key is to keep it simple while identifying meaningful differences in “what you customer wants to know”.  Here is the B2B buyer decision map we use as a strawman for our clients.

B2B Buyer Deicison Map: Key Decision Stages by Information Need

  1. What is my problem?: education and thought  leadership to understand and help define their problem
  2. How to fix my problem?: solution & product suitability analysis to help evaluate their alternatives
  3. Are you right for me?: credentials and how to buy content that supports their decision to choose you

And at each stage of the decision process you need to target your content to address differences in what your customer wants to know

1. What’s my problem: education and thought leadership

  • They are casting a wide net and may or may not have an idea what the solution will be
  • The information seeking has a broad focus using more generic and high-level search terms and keywords
  • They may be seeing assistance with definition, scope, and internal buy-in.

2. How to fix my problem: solutions & product suitability

  • They are searching for available options that will meet their requirements
  • Keywords and search terms will be more specific and will start to reflect solution alternatives or categories
  • Their goal is developing a short-list of viable alternatives

3. Are you right for me: credentials and decision support

  • They have a solid understanding of how each alternative measures up and the decision maker is trying to get comfortable with committing to one of the decision alternatives
  • Keywords and search terms will be much more specific and will be focused on specific solutions
  • They are managing questions and building a case with various stakeholders

We then use the B2B buyer decision map to identify specific differences in what each segment wants to know.  The B2B buyer decision map listed below is the tool we use to map decision stages and content opportunities against existing, repurposed, and curated content.

B2B Buyer decision map. If your customer is asking:, What’s my problem, How do I fix my problem, Are you right for me, They want:, Education & Thought Leadership, Solutions & Product Suitability, Credentials & Decision Support, What to share with them:, Trends, Benchmarks, Analyst coverage, 101 Education, How to guides, How other people are solving this, What is the solution & how does it work, Solution comparisons, Pitfall analysis, Readiness & suitability assessments, How do I choose a vendor, Pricing, Bench strength , demonstration, Case studies, ROI/TCO , How to buy, Working with us

As always, we would love your input on how this B2B buyer decision map compares to how you are marketing to your customers.  Let us know if you have any questions or would like to see real life examples of this tool in action.

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4 Responses to B2B Buyer Decision Map: Understanding Decision Stages

  1. Pingback: Unlocking the full potential of B2B email marketing | Email marketing consultant | Emailmonday -

  2. Pingback: What do the Best B2B Infographics have in common? | Brainrider

  3. Pingback: How to overcome the “it’s all about me” syndrome | Lydia's Marketing Blog

  4. TCP Learning says:

    And just think of how you could deliver that 101 education; positioning yourself as a trusted advisro

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