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Life Health > Running Your Business > Marketing and Lead Generation

The 5 Stages Of the Retirement Saver's Journey

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What You Need to Know

  • The ideal client decides to save, calls you and invests assets.
  • Real investors may call, get nervous, conduct research, call again, then call again, then ponder.
  • The first step is to show the consumer that your firm can help.

Imagine if every one of your clients took a clear, linear path to making an investment decision. Marketing and sales would be a breeze. You’d know when to send an email, serve an ad, or recommend an article or video from your website.

Instead, the investor’s journey is a maze. They twist, turn, backtrack, and conduct research in their own way and at their own pace. To help clients navigate this maze, marketers must first study it themselves.

To solve the puzzle, and understand how to engage your customers appropriately in 2022, consider mapping the investor’s journey according to these five stages. The better you understand this journey, the more focused your efforts will be.

1. Awareness

For any organization, whether B-to-B or B-to-C, the goal of the awareness stage is simply to find new clients. They’re not in your corporate office. They haven’t visited your website. They haven’t picked up your brochure. They might not be able to articulate their own needs yet. They just need to know you exist.

Think critically about the marketing strategy you use to attract these potential customers. Some channels will be more effective than others. However you plan to market your expertise, the goal should be to highlight your ability to meet an investor’s needs.

For B-to-B and B-to-C organizations, the methods for finding new customers frequently diverge. The common thread: your customer has a problem and must be made aware that your business has the solution. Marketing matters most during this initial stage. It will determine whether you find the people who have needs — known or unknown — that your business can fulfill.

2. Research

Content is even more critical during the research stage, which will look similar for B-to-B and B-to-C organizations. People are looking for information, recommendations, expert opinions, referrals ― anything that will move them closer to a decision about your investment products.

B-to-C businesses can raise awareness of their brand through a clever advertisement, enough to move onto the next stage quickly. In a B-to-B model, raising awareness often takes the form of relationship building. This is a process that can last days, weeks, even months.

The internet is a powerful tool at this stage of the buyer’s journey. Your search engine optimization tools will do their heaviest lifting as potential customers do their research. A holistic content strategy touching on all aspects of your organization’s digital presence can make one brand stand out from the rest in a crowded market. Competition for customers in this stage is fierce.

Don’t discount the importance of offline social networks — the people we meet at business conferences, trade shows, or anywhere you talk shop with people outside your organization.

These connections are important for both B-to-B and B-to-C marketing, though the channels may be different. In the B-to-C world, it may be asking a friend or a social network for recommendations, or reading reviews and testimonials.

For B-to-B customers, it’s business conferences, trade shows, networking events, and asking others in similar roles as you. It’s all part of an investor’s research process.

3. Evaluation

For the investor , the mantra of this stage is “these are my options and I’m going to choose among them.”

At this stage the investor understands what they need, has narrowed down who they believe can best fill those needs, and now is going to hold up your solution in comparison to others and weigh it against the need at hand.

In B-to-C settings, the individual can weigh the options for themselves. Often in a B-to-B setting, other stakeholders will also need to weigh in on the options before a decision can be made.

When shopping online, either in a B-to-B or B-to-C setting, the evaluation stage might be entirely impersonal. It might look as simple as comparing the details of two different investment products on a computer screen.

By contrast, clients meeting in your office might need extensive personal assistance to make an evaluation. Much depends on your business and the buyer.

4. Activation

By now, the buyer has evaluated their choices and is ready to make an investment decision.

This stage of the journey is an interaction with your sales team or sales platform. In a B-to-C setting, that might look like a cashier at the checkout register or an online shopping cart experience, and is more likely a fast and easy process.

In the B-to-B world, it’s likely a more complex and lengthy process. It may involve multiple departments. It could involve a lengthy contract that needs to be reviewed by legal and signed by leadership. The complexity and length are entirely dependent on your investor and business.

Activation is often regarded as an endpoint, but the buyer’s journey doesn’t end here.

5. Maintenance

By this point, whether the buyer has engaged with your organization online or offline, they’ve provided plenty of actionable data about their purchasing interests and habits. Your organization can use that data to further a mutually beneficial relationship.

For example, if the buyer purchased a subscription to your investing newsletter, periodic emails can remind the buyer of your other newsletters ― and put your awesome reputation for customer service at the front of their mind.

You can also use this stage to solicit testimonials from your buyer outright, or make them aware of additional products or services that align with their needs.

While the mechanics of making a purchase have become more automated, the stages of the buyer’s journey have essentially remained the same.

With automation comes a tremendous advantage: the ability to automate the right message to the right person at the right time for their stage of the buyer’s journey. This also leaves your sales team with more time to build stronger relationships.

The digital tools available to organizations today are powerful data-gathering instruments. This data can tell you where on this journey a buyer is, which in turn informs your organization’s sales, marketing and customer service strategies.

Knowing your client is only part of the equation. Understanding where they are in their journey when they engage with your organization is essential.


Fountain pen (Image: iStock)Christa Savickas is marketing automation manager at ddm marketing + communications.

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(Image: Andrii Vodolazhskyi/Shutterstock)