Revisiting the customer buying cycle

“The Customer Buying Cycle”, the “Buyer’s Journey”, and similar models of how the technology purchasing process works have inspired countless blog posts, ebooks, and analyst research reports in recent years. Among the most insightful writers on tech marketing has been Hank Barnes at Gartner.

Technology customer buying cycle graphics

I’ve long subscribed to the idea that there’s graphic solution to explaining almost anything. So I’ve been especially drawn to Barnes’s efforts to develop graphics depicting the technology buying process. I wrote about Hank’s graphic of the buying process as streams of activities shortly after its 2013 publication. We even put together an animated version of the story.

Technology customer buying cycle videos

I read that post at about the same time that a head sales guy with our long-time client CompuCom (IT services and outsourcing) told us how he could usually anticipate the questions he would be asked by CIOs, CMOs, COOs, and other C-level buying influences when he met with them in a group. And how not everyone was interested in learning the answer to the other C-person’s question 😉

We’ve been applying these ideas to videos for the buyer’s journey for the past year or so (Examples can be seen here.) We’ve always thought a short video should lose no time in getting to the point — and this led us to the idea of packaging persona-based videos. Our clients would have more targeted video content to use. And we can produce these videos cost-effectively by re-using knowledge we’ve worked hard to assimilate and repurposing some of the visual assets we develop.

Customer buying cycle vs. “Customer Lifecycle”

Now Barnes and his Gartner colleagues have updated that buying cycle graphic in Beyond the Buying Cycle. Since he gave our earlier animation a shout-out in that post, we thought we should update the animation, linked above. The tech buying process is still depicted as streams of activities that may lead to a purchase decision. But the new version puts more emphasis on research and communication activities occurring throughout the buying buying process and continuing into the ownership processes.

Videos for the customer lifecycle

The bottom-line message of this model is that marketing needs to shift focus from buying decisions to lifecycle decisions. Many marketers think of videos as top-of-the-funnel product overviews akin to commercials. I think of it as efficient way to make hard-to-explain ideas clear to busy people. There are many underutilized applications for marketing videos throughout the customer lifecycle. Here are few things we’re recommending to our clients.

  • Add animated diagrams to white papers and other content. Once you develop an animation that clearly explains a key concept of your solution, it can have many uses.
  • Find or create animations that respond to frequently asked questions.
  • Make existing talking head videos more effective by adding explantory graphics.
  • Add interactive chapter headings to long-form videos like webinars and technical discussions. This is proven to increase engagement by at least 40% and can be done practically for free.
  • Create longer explainer videos with branching. Viewers choose a path based on what they care about. Such a video could easily contain all the content you think is essential, and still take the viewer less than two minutes to watch. Until recently, deploying interactive videos along these lines required a lot of technical shenanigans — but now there is a growing number of straightforward and effective options.
  • Repurpose existing videos for account-based selling.

All these opportunities require imagination and editorial skill. But they don’t necessarily require expensive or extensive video production.


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