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The Great Office Supplies Caper

Office Products Resellers, Buyer Personas and the Buyer's Journey

by Ian M. Elliott | 4/26/17 7:49 AM

If you've followed the first two blogs in this series you'll know it may be possible to earn a 3,800% return on funds invested when operating amongst the elite of email marketers. However, to get up among the elite requires a whole bunch of email marketing parameters to be optimized. We've previously blogged about the first of those - a clean, accurate, opted-in email contact list that utilizes levels of automation to enable accurate segmentation and progression of leads through the sales funnel.

Now, in this second blog of the series, I'm going to explain the concept of, and the need for, developing Buyer Personas and mapping contacts to the different stages of the Buyer's Journey.

The Buyer Persona:

Marketers not actively involved in digital marketing have most probably not carefully considered the personas of their typical buyer's. Briefly stated, and according to Inbound Digital Marketing pioneers, HubSpot, "a buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about existing customers."

At their most basic level, personas allow marketers to personalize and target marketing efforts to different segments of their audience. This means, instead of sending the same email content to each member of a contact database, they can be customized according to the buyer persona with the message tailored specifically to what is known about each different persona.

When combined with "Lifecycle" stage or the "Buyer's Journey" (which we'll explain in a moment) then, in addition to being able to craft content according to the specific persona, it is also possible to craft content according to where the particular member of your audience is at within the buyer's journey. Think, for a moment, about the futility of sending a special offer email to a buyer that;

  1. Has no need for the particular product or service being promoted or;
  2. May have a future need but is not at the decision making stage for purchasing the product or service.

Marketing emails that fail to incorporate these elements of sophistication will perform poorly in terms of open and click rates as well as lead to higher contact degradation rates through opt-out's. Furthermore, in performing poorly, the marketer will fail to establish him or herself amongst the elite and will fail to earn the highest levels of return on their marketing investment.

If you're one of many office products resellers new to inbound marketing and the concept of Buyer Personas, then you may not know where to start to develop yours. Download our proven Buyer Persona Development template and get yours underway!

Free Download How to Create Buyer Personas

The Buyer's Journey:

The buyer's journey is the process buyers go through to become aware of, evaluate, and purchase a product or service. The journey is a three-step process:

  1. Awareness Stage - buyer realizes they have a need for a product or service
  2. Consideration Stage - buyer defines his or her problem and researches options to solve it
  3. Decision Stage - buyer selects his or her solution
    • Purchase - buyer makes a purchase
    • Repurchase - buyer makes a repeat purchase

Having explained the breakdown of the process you should start to see it has the potential to be taken advantage of with content crafted to be relevant to each of the different stages. Of course, to do so, you must know how to determine where a buyer is in the purchasing cycle and how different search queries can be used to help uncover this information.


Check-out this example:

  • "Office printer" - this is a generic term most likely used by customers in the awareness or consideration stage.
  • "Compare laser printers" - the intent to compare indicates the customer is further along in the buying cycle, such as the consideration stage.
  • "Hewlett Packard LaserJet Pro M426FDW" - a very specific product search indicating the buyer is much further into the buying cycle and is evaluating prices right before a purchase decision.

For search queries related to the awareness stage, content along the guidelines of the following examples should be created:

  • White papers - comparing total cost of ownership of different types of office printers
  • Guide to selecting optimal office printer according to printing needs (volume, color, duplex, collating, etc.)
  • e-Book - aftermarket Versus OEM brand cartridges
  • Guide to running costs - replacement ink and toner cartridge options and costs

For search queries related to the consideration stage, content along the guidelines of the following examples is required to build confidence in the buyer's mind that you can be trusted to reliably handle his business:

  • Customer testimonials
  • Specification sheets
  • Your brand story, expertise, etc.

For search queries related to the decision and purchase stages, content along the lines of the following example may be used:

  • Coupon, discount or special offer

For the repurchase stage of the buyers journey, content along the lines of the following examples may be most effectively utilized:

  • Weekly / monthly newsletter
  • Timed offers for known needs based on replenishment cycle - i.e. laser cartridge typically last 3 months

It should be clear, the action to send a company newsletter or special offer to a buyer in the awareness stage, or sending a white paper explaining the total cost of ownership for a printing device to a buyer that has no need for a new printer and may already be purchasing from you, are not intelligent email marketing tactics. Failures of this nature will ensure that, not only will you fail to earn a spot among the elite group of marketers, but you will also fail to earn the highest returns on your digital marketing efforts.

Furthermore, because your performance will be sub-par, you will not be motivated to invest your time and resources into developing one of the most valuable assets you can build in the modern digital age - your email contact database!

If you're new to inbound marketing and the concept of the Buyer's Journey, then you may not fully understand the concept of mapping your content to where a buyer is in the decision making process. Download our proven Content Mapping Template and start to maximize engagement with your email campaigns!

Free Download How To Map Your Content

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Social Media, Web Traffic

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