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From Stranger to Buyer: The 5 Stages of a Customer’s Journey and How Content Can Help You Close the Sale

How do you get someone ready to buy from you just from your content marketing? The first step is to understand it’s not a one step process. There are five key stages in the customer journey from “oh I found you” to “I think you are the bees knees and I’m going to keep on buying from you AND referring you”

I’ve written these in order from the first point of contact to a dedicated lover-of-your-business but the trick is to NOT act on these in order.

The two areas most businesses don’t get right are the Community (email marketing) and the Motivated (Increased engagement). So before you jump into NOTICED (getting more reach), these are the two areas you strategically need to focus on.

The first step in the customer journey is to get noticed. 

So how do you build up that “steady stream of hot leads and sales” marketers (ME) like to promise? We need to open people’s eyes, shift thinking, change minds, and build needs.

As a teacher I’ve worked with lots of different learning styles. When we are under pressure or stressed it’s easy to become super rigid in our beliefs, actions and decisions.  And lots of people are out there STRESSED. It’s hard to listen and see you then

You can’t just come out and suggest something new and expect an instant YES. Or go full noise and lay it all out at once. I HAVE TRIED THIS. It doesn’t go down well. To get someone to move, you’ve got to go gently.

And this is how we also look at the first step in getting someone to a place where they will work with you. We focus on EXPOSURE and ENGAGEMENT.

And at least 30% of our content needs to be this. If you post three times a week – that’s ONCE A WEEK. Yep. Not perfect maths but it’s ISH enough to work.

You can’t trust something, or want something if you don’t even have a frame of reference for it.

To do this we need to go BROAD. We talk about something that your ideal audience is interested in and get them talking about that. (For example, my marketing TikTok has conversations about NZ weather and NZ summer – because I work primarily with NZ businesses – and they interact with me. These posts go further than one on “Five ways to build engagement”

But they are more likely to see that more in-depth stuff if they’ve seen the wider subject area content.

This is why those posts on here that talk about you work SO VERY VERY WELL. They build community by sharing something other than an offer.

You need some stuff that’s not always just about what you do, and who you sell to and WHAT WE NEED TO DO TO BUY FROM YOU. Unless you just want to keep on selling to the same 300 people over and over again….

You don’t need to bare your heart and share everything. Start with writing down stuff you are passionate about outside of work. Work out your boundaries around talking about your family. Choose 3-5 passions or hobbies or interests or routines that you could share comfortably.

And give it a go. If you’re passionate about it, that makes the content more real. You start to develop your own style. And it’s not something anyone can copy or steal. We need people to see us, without feeling sold to by us all the time. Otherwise we’re just a person, standing in a busy train station, trying to shout louder than the person next to us

And no one listens to that guy.

Step two in the customer journey is to get you connected. 

One of my coaching clients GROANED when I said “I got a client yesterday who had been reading my content for three years.” She asked “It’s not going to take THAT long is it?” And the answer is of course not AND absolutely yes.

There used to be an iconic ad in NZ that talked about pastry being “layer upon layer, upon layer” and I always think about that when it comes to content marketing.  I often say it can take six weeks to start getting traction on your content marketing, but persevere  and every year becomes easier. 

In the beginning, you need to send out email after email to get the sign ups or the bites.

Three years in, you get the same response with two.  That’s the power of content marketing. Lots of work initially, makes growth far easier in the long run.

It’s WORTH the investment if you have big goals. To help get them there we need our audience to feel CONNECTED. 

How do we make people want to connect with us, and stay with us? We offer VALUE.

We give insights into HOW. Now this won’t often convert them but it does mean they stick around for you to draw them in closer. 

It builds TRUST. It helps people know what you know, and how you tell it. It helps them see “I get this person and her advice. I like the way they share it. They are GENEROUS. They don’t gate keep. I WONDER what they would share with me one to one?! 

So what type of content could you include?

  1. A simple hack or tip
  2. How to use something you sell
  3. A style tip
  4. A detailed step by step guide
  5. A infographic showing how something works

And all of it is also cleverly designed to remove obstacles to buy 

This is SO important – and it’s to help get sales.

It’s a “free gift with purchase for following me, connecting with me, hanging out with me”

This content is what people connect with you and stay for. 

Step three in your customer journey is to nurture them 

I spent far to many years ignoring this all important part of my content marketing. In fact it was only over covid, when I was stretched beyond capacity, struggling and worried about how I was going to get through, that I really started to nail this.

Now you do need part one and part two to make this work – because if you post too much of this sort of content, you can get yourself into trouble…. As people empathise and connect with you, but they can’t FIND YOU, or don’t know you KNOW STUFF too.

What stage is STAGE THREE? It is the NURTURED stage

And in our content, it’s about sharing a little something, something that’s motivating, sharing a little of your personal story, your struggles and your wins (only share a win if we get at least a whiff of the struggle too ok?)

This looks like:

  1. Sharing something you are battling with that you’ve turned a corner in
  2. Sharing something that keeps you motivated
  3. Sharing something that makes you laugh
  4. Opening up about something that gets those emotions running deep
  5. Helping us see you as a person – cos you are.

As small business owners THIS is our most powerful weapon against competing with the big guns. 

And it helps people decide “YOU ARE MY PERSON and I need you”

In terms of how much is too much? Well that’s your call. I have a list of areas I share about. 

And things that are off limits (my teens put themselves on that list!)

You get to choose – but that sharing a little of you is key – both on your feed and (if on Insta/Facebook – in your stories too)

Stage four of the customer journey and it’s time to make them yours.

While I have to remind many small businesses to create more content of the NOTICED, CONNECTED and NURTURED stages, and less of the YOURS content (promotional content) I was the OPPOSITE.

And maybe you are too.

Around 10% of our content should be promotional content. It’s not for the newbies. It’s not for the people still amazed you give so much value. It’s for the people who’ve been nurtured by you showing yourself and your values, who know they already LIKE, KNOW and TRUST you are now ready to BUY.

The cool thing is once you know the core offers, and the core products you sell – this stuff can be planned in. 


I mean it – PLAN IT IN.

Choose a day a week. 

Create a schedule

And get it posted.


Just remember to keep it to that 10% ish (you can do more than 10% in your stories on Insta and Facebook too if those are core platforms – just no more than 10% in your FEED. 

Stage five is building on the rest as you build community. 

Most businesses leave money on the table by neglecting their community. This is the fifth and final stage of the customer journey but it’s often the one you need to work on first. 

So many business owners are all about getting the new client, without looking after the clients they already have. Or even just the “interested parties” they already have. I was like this once too – even after we made the call to dive deep into marketing automation for our clients. I never want to be like this again. Because there is so many business benefits in building your community.

Community is the fifth  stage of the customer journey, but when I work with a small business owner it’s often the FIRST one we fix. Sometimes it’s resulted in over a 30% increase in turnover for that business – because people buy from people they trust, and if you’ve already sold to someone, they are far more likely to both buy from you again AND recommend you.

To market to our community we need a few things

  1. A commitment to stay in touch with email that we honour (regular emails send a message that we’re invested in them – as long as they add value rather than SELL SELL SELL.)
  2. A decision to invest energy and time into this group of people FIRST.
  3. A method (such as a lead generation) to add people to your community, into email where you’ve got an agreement to contact them
  4. A clear plan of how you will add value to this group, rather than seeing them as cash cows. 
  5. A way to segment people into lists to better target them (mine are simple: Past clients, Facebook group members and then “General Population”)

Email is the easiest way to build community. 

It’s also an area that can badly treat our community. 

Our call to actions should, in the main, be conversational and gentle (ramping up only for a launch or special event) . We want people to open the emails. – although just having your email in the inbox can be enough to remind people to get in contact.

We can also use other tools, such as private podcasts , Facebook groups (or Linkedin ones), exclusive webinars and events. 

But the simplest, cheapest and most powerful of all? Email.You just need to actually USE IT.

The power of your customer journey

So many small business owners and marketers focus too much on one or two stages of the customer journey, and find their marketing is stifled. We want to create a sticky content web that draws people in, keeps them drawing closer, become our clients and then stick around. 

This is the goal. 

Have a look at your own marketing and see what stages you are missing? 

And, if you need help working out how to fix that? We’re here to help you.

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