Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing: The First Stage of the Buyer’s Journey
"I work in marketing research and spend my days dealing with data- a lot of it. I work with a variety of tools each day but can’t seem to get the data to work for me.”
“There’s just too much information here. How do I sift through it all?”
The questions above are what people ask when they are at the “Awareness Stage” of the buyer’s journey when looking for a new product or service. In a previous post, we discussed the various stages of the buyer’s journey and what the buyer is actually looking for or is trying to figure out at each stage.
We also discussed the difference between the inbound vs. outbound approach to marketing and how you can gain or lose the trust of your buyer. Now we’ll take a deeper dive into the awareness stage to understand what the buyer is looking for. Ready? Here we go.
The Awareness Stage
During the first part of the buyer’s journey, the “Awareness Stage”, the buyer is experiencing an issue that indicates that there is a problem and they may or may not know what their issue is.
Going back to the example of the overwhelmed marketer mentioned above, there may be a reason why this person has too much data to collect. Perhaps she’s using too many tools. Or perhaps she doesn’t have the right tools to analyze what she has.
Maybe she doesn’t have the knowledge that she needs to get a full picture of this data and what it means. The buyer’s problem may be temporary or permanent. A potential buyer, in this case, the overwhelmed marketer, may be doing research to see if there really is an issue and what that issue is called.
Is she really just an overwhelmed marketer? Is she not collecting her data correctly? Is she not using the correct tools to collect her data?
Outbound Marketing at the Awareness Stage
If an outbound marketer heard that another marketer was struggling with data, he might send some articles on that topic or perhaps might already offer a solution.
The outbound marketer shows interest in her predicament and definitely wants to educate her about options, which is great. However it’s possible this isn’t the right time and she hasn’t decided if she needs such a solution yet. After all, she’s still trying to figure out what the problem is.
An outbound marketer is not exactly making an assumption about the “overwhelmed marketer’s” situation, but he’s fairly certain he knows what suggestions to make and what this person might possibly be looking for. He walks into this stage of the buyer’s journey from another angle.
Identifying the Problem: Inbound Marketing at the Awareness Stage
An inbound marketer sends information out into the ether to draw the buyer in as part of the awareness stage. The inbound marketer is aware that the buyer may not really be asking for any help yet.
He and his company may be posting a variety of blog posts or other pieces of content (see diagram above) about the different types of problems that marketers have when collecting and analysing data.
He realizes that the buyer would probably be doing some research online or that they might ask a trusted friend or colleague for advice. As our friends at HubSpot might say, he’s talking about issues in his industry and not just a specific company or solution.
This advice is at my fingertips exactly when I need it and provides me with tips that have been carefully researched and can be trusted. Trust is gained not because the inbound marketer was in the “right place at the right time”, although that does help. Trust is gained because I have the information I need and it was easy to find.
In the next post in this series, we’ll take a look at the “Consideration Stage” of the buyer’s journey and how marketers gain the customer’s trust there.
Have any questions about inbound marketing or the buyer’s journey so far?