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Choose Your Own Adventure: The Buying Cycle and Content Marketing

buying cycle illustration

Remember those old Choose Your Own Adventure fiction books? As a reader, they put you in control, making decisions, controlling the narrative. You got to decide how they caught the killer, solved the mystery, or escaped certain death!

Customers today find that interacting with most brands pre- and post-purchase is a lot like reading one of those novels. They’re the ones controlling the way they travel through the buying cycle. But many aren’t landing on a satisfying conclusion no matter what they choose — they never even find out how the book ends! (The opposite of spoiler alert.) Plenty are getting lost in a confusing, frustrating, and unsatisfying maze of brand touch points. So they don’t get to the end at all.

To keep your messaging consistent, your style needs a secret menu of sorts. Here’s what we mean. 

The Buying Cycle of Content Marketing

One of the reasons customers are having subpar experiences is that the brands they’re considering are adhering to an old-school idea that the buying cycle is something everyone goes through in the same way. But that linear funnel has transformed into a chaotic map navigated by the customers themselves.

Don’t be that brand whose outdated marketing philosophies are frustrating your customers. Give them easily navigable and understandable brand touch points with a consistent message and narrative, and they will gladly progress through your marketing adventure to a satisfying end (including a purchase)!

Know Your Characters

Take the time to develop robust buyer personas for each segment of your audience, including pain points, buying cycle, and social media habits. This information, along with your overall brand strategy, will reveal the types of content your personas want as well as where and when they’re most likely to look for it.

Keep the Plot Easy to Navigate

Your audience must find the exploration of your content consistent, intuitive, and seamless. They’re never going to use your marketing channels exactly as you anticipated. Rather than try to force them into a linear narrative, offer them engaging content that’s relevant to each stopping point in their digital journey.

Know What to Leave Out

A good storyteller knows you can’t go into too many details or else your audience might miss the point of your tale. As tempting as it may be to create content for every possible persona and touch point, your strategy will be most effective if you stick to the main plot twists in your message. Provide useful content for each persona at selected points across the buying cycle and let the rest go — at least until you analyze the data.

Use Metrics to Improve Your Ending

A well-written Choose Your Own Adventure story becomes a repeat read many times because you can go back to make different choices and explore new pathways. You can develop that level of engagement with your audience by measuring your content’s reach and effectiveness for each persona, channel, and touch point. Create more of the content that’s working for certain channels, refocus or drop what’s not, and keep an eye out for changes in your customer personas and pain points so you can adjust your content strategy as needed.

Contact me for help in finding the right ending while telling your brand story.