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How Search Phrases Tell You Where People are in Their Buyer’s Journey

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How Search Phrases Tell You Where People are in Their Buyer’s Journey

The search signals that tell you how close someone is to taking action

“Finding and hiring IT staff”

“IT companies”

“IT company reviews”

“Best IT company in South Florida”

A marketing professional worth his or her salt can look at these four search phrases and tell you exactly where a prospect is located in the sales funnel. People follow predictable patterns with search phrases. These are just like homing beacons that tell you whether someone is ready to make a decision.

Putting the cart before the horse

They say the sum of all human knowledge is available on the Internet. That’s really cool, but most of us don’t know what we don’t know. What we really need is perspective – not just knowledge. Before we search for a solution, we have to begin by validating our problem.

If a prospect uses search phrases that are framed around the problem, you can have a high degree of confidence that they are towards the beginning of the buyer’s journey and on the outer rim of the sales funnel.

This is the optimal place for them to come across your inbound marketing content. Think of prospects as having virtual blinders on at this point. Their current focus is not on a solution – it’s all about their pain point or problem.

What perspective can you give a company decision-maker who’s searching for information and education about his or her problem ­– in this case, an inability to find and hire good IT staff? How can you spark a connection that says, “We know and understand your problem”? The more you can help them with this perspective, the deeper their trust in you becomes.

Unfortunately, most companies don’t make that easy. They lead with their solution. They put the sales pitch before the perspective. It’s why so much content on the Internet is just more of the same old blah blah blah look-at-me static.

This prospect isn’t ready to hear that you’re the IT company in South Florida. They’re not ready to read about what other people think about your services, or even read that the solution to their problem is an IT services company. They just want to know more about how to understand their hiring problem.

Do you have content that meets them at this point in their journey?

Problem, meet solution

In contrast, if someone is actively searching for IT companies or reviews about them, you have a high degree of confidence that this prospect is further along in the buyer’s journey, and no longer dancing on the rim of your sales funnel.

It’s possible they got to this point because they came across your problem-focused content. You’ve begun to build a relationship and they now have a certain degree of trust in your opinion – because you didn’t lead with your solution, you validated their problem.

They’re now ready to listen to how you would go about solving that problem. Even if a prospect jumps into your sales funnel by skipping this first step, they’re still going to want to see proof of your objectivity.

Thought leaders and subject matter experts don’t earn that position by marketing their solution. They first create a foundation around the solution. Someone searching for IT companies but not why IT companies matter tells you the content they need.

Do you have content that meets them at this point in their journey?

The flavor of your solution

Someone searching for a solution in their own back yard tells you they’re pretty far along in their buyer’s journey, and likely ready to convert from a prospect to a customer. Now they’re moving back into somewhat of a validation mode.

They’ve been educated and have deep perspective on the problem. Thanks to objective information about the right way to implement a solution, they searched for a solution provider with reviews that match up to what they’ve been educated to look for.

The content these almost-sold prospects want to see includes concrete examples of how you solved a specific problem. These tend to be white papers or case studies. Prospects at this stage are also highly likely to sign up for webinars so they can ask you to explain how you would go about helping them meet specific challenges.

Again, do you have content that meets them at this point in their journey?

Companies who push a signal through the noise understand that people search certain ways and for certain things based on where they are in a buyer’s journey. Hardly do we ever deviate from the basic steps of that journey ­– which sync with the location in your sales funnel. We want stories that help us validate our problems, reward us with perspective, and finally aid us in putting your solution into our worldview.

Discover how we can help you meet prospects at each of these decision-making points in their sales journey

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