Picture this. You’re finishing up dessert at a swanky, new restaurant with a seemingly wonderful guy. You start out a little unsure – it’s your very first date – but as the night draws on, you warm up to him. He has all the right qualities. He’s smart. He’s engaging. He’s the kind of guy your mom would call a “keeper”. Then, just as the waiter comes by with the check, he smiles and pulls a small, velvet box from the pocket of his blazer. He locks eyes with yours, gets down on one knee, and asks you to be his forever.

Would you accept?

I’m guessing, probably not. For most of us, popping the question on the first date is a brilliant way to kill a budding romance. Yet, many marketers take a similar approach when it comes to lead generation. Before our prospects can ask for dessert, we try to force them to commit with hard-push calls-to-action.

Get a free consultation.   Talk to a sales rep.    Buy NOW.

These are surefire ways to send a new lead running in the opposite direction, especially if your product is the victim of a long sales cycle. Even if the two of you seem like a good match, the beginning of a relationship is no time to force firm commitments. It’s the time to woo.

How to Woo with Lead Nurturing

In the oft-sung lyrics of one of RDW’s best-loved R&B artists, “Can you woo woo woo?”Lead nurturing, as in love, is about building trust and growing relationships – both of which can take some time. After all, a single prospect may have dozens of admirers and spend anywhere from a few hours to a few months mulling over the right choice. In fact, Gleanster Research reports that 50% of qualified leads are not yet ready to buy which is your brand needs to be close at hand when they are.

Understanding The Buyer’s Journey

The buyer’s journey is the process that customers go through when making the decision to buy a product or service. There are typically at least three stages a buyer must enter before taking the plunge. When you know each of them well, you can leverage content marketing to court your buyers along the path to purchase.

Step 1: Awareness

When buyers are in the stage of awareness, they’ve identified a challenge they need to address and may be looking to your brand to help solve it. This is the getting-to-know-you phase. You want to make a good impression. Just avoid coming off too strong. Use content like high-level blog posts or informational guides to speak to your buyers’ unique challenges and introduce them to your brand.

Step 2: Consideration

When buyers move on to the consideration stage, they are likely evaluating an approach. This is the time to establish credibility. Charm them with your intellect by drilling down on a solution with in-depth white paper or a case-making webinar complete with proof points and statistics.

Step 3: Decision-Making

Once you’ve successfully captured your buyers’ attention (awareness) and engaged them in an approach (consideration), it’s time to put your cards on the table with passionate petitions and decisive calls-to-action. In content marketing terms, this can mean coupons, live demos, case studies, or even direct product comparisons. At this stage, the buyer is ready to commit. It’s no time to be coy.

Now that you know which content serves each stage, don’t forget to promote it. Whether you decide to send an email campaign, retarget an ad, share your content on social or contextualize your website, you should prepare to meet your buyer wherever they are on their journey. Whichever channel you choose, remember that delivering the right content at just the right time may be your fastest path to “I do”.