When you create content for your business you are inviting people to go on a journey with you, to get to know, like and trust you. The aim of this process is to guide your audience to arrive at a point where – if it’s right for them – they decide to become your customer.
This journey of getting to know you and making a decision to purchase may last only a few days or weeks for some. For others it may take months or years, before they decide to invest in your products or services.
There will also be members of your audience who don’t choose to invest in you financially – ever – and that’s fine and to be expected. They may benefit your business in other ways, such as by referring you to friends or acquaintances that are a better fit for you.
This is content marketing
When people have an issue they want to address, something they want to achieve or a problem they want to solve they go online for answers. They look for different people and businesses who may be able to help them. They explore, research, learn, discover, build their awareness, grow and ultimately choose and decide what is the best solution for them.
As part of this process they may encounter you via your content, blogs, social media, videos etc.
If – through your content and your presence – you create the conditions that they form a connection with you, you have the opportunity to build a relationship with them through your content.
You may seek solve their problems in small ways and meet their needs when they are receptive to the answers and solutions you offer them.
If their connection with you solidifies and remains consistent, you can gently guide and support in their awareness of how you can help them by offering valuable insights and information through what you publish online.
The ultimate solution you offer is your paid products and services. You offer these in various ways at various times as part of your content communication. Depending on their readiness or willingness to invest in your products or services they may move from audience member to customer or client.
This process of interaction between you and your potential client, based on the content you create, is called content marketing.
Your customer content journey
In this infographic (below) I have summarised Your Customer Content Journey as a small and solo-business owner as going through seven stages: notice, connect, familiarity, like, know, trust and convert.
Your customer will go through these seven stages as part of building a relationship with you online. Their progress may not be linear, they may go back and forth. They may forget about you and rediscover you. They may move quickly through these stages or slowly.
However they first encounter you, via a friend, or an interaction in a group, or something you have promoted directly or indirectly, to solidify your connection with them they will go through a progression such as this:
- Notice: People will start to notice your content when you post consistently with a consistent brand appearance.
- Connect: Staying consistent gives people the chance to develop a growing connection with you.
- Familiarity: Connection will turn to comfortable familiarity – people may start to lookout for your content.
- Like: If it’s aligned with their needs and values people will start to like you based on the content they see you posting.
- Know: If they like you people will pay close attention to your content and start to get to know you better.
- Trust: Being useful and relevant, demonstrating credibility and expertise people will grow to trust you.
- Convert: Once people trust you they are ready to make a purchase from you – if they value and need what you sell.
Like, know trust stages
This process may not be new to you. You may already be very familiar with what gets referred to as the know, like, trust process. But in my customer journey stages I summarise things a bit differently.
I place a greater emphasis on the foundation building stages of building relationships online. This is partly because I am a foundation builder by nature, but also realistically most people take a long time to move from initially noticing someone online to starting to like and trust them.
Have you ever noticed yourself seeing sponsored ads from someone that you ignore? But when you keep getting the same ads repeatedly over a period of time, does your openness to go and find out more about that person develop? I know mine does. This is why people target and re-target with sponsored ads. We need repeated nudges to get to know someone before we actually do it.
You don’t need to pay for ads in order to solidify a relationship over time by consistently publishing valuable content that your audience connects with. But you may find the process takes longer when operating organically. Or you may find it more successful precisely because it is organic and not advert or sponsored post driven.
We may live in a fast paced world but people are still people, and a lot of us take our time before we let someone new in!
This is extremely important to remember in your own content marketing, to not get disheartened when people appear to ignore you. They may be ignoring you, but you may also be sowing the seed to build a relationship further down the line.
Cultivate patience and persistence
Many small business owners give up when they don’t get quick responses and quick connections, but remember your own behaviour and responses. Do you jump on board with every new person you encounter through their content, their ad or their video. Probably not.
Cultivate patience and persistence. They are essential in the early stages of building your online network and visibility through content.
Like, Know, Trust
In referring to the process of getting to know you through interacting with your content, I refer to the steps as 1) like, 2) know, 3) trust in that order. Most people put it in the order 1) know, 2) like 3) trust. I flip this because I do not believe that people go to the bother of getting to know people online who they have not formed some sense of liking first.
Before you put a lot of thought and effort into how you will give people the opportunity to get to know you and what you do, give them a chance to get to like you first.
Show up without an agenda, just to say hi, just to say what you’re up to. Engage with other people and their business and their content. Say nice things. Be positive. Be supportive. Be interested. It’s easy to forget that bringing people into a customer content journey with you, may get off to a strong start by engaging with them and their content first.
This is a topic I will return to again and again, but I hope this overview gives you more confidence on how to navigate content marketing and the potential it has for small and solo-businesses to work in a way that plays to your relationship building strengths and networking activities.
Go create amazing customer content journeys that bring people to your door, ready to work with you!