The Buyer’s Journey

Interview with Iliyana Stavreva.
By Iva Grigorova

Why do you think communication has changed in recent years?
Technology and digital have overhauled entire industries in the last couple of decades and communication is certainly one of them. Whereas before you used to rely on an intermediary – most often the media – to relay your message to your potential buyers or any other stakeholders, now you can do this directly by using your own website or social media profiles and reach your target audiences on your own. This creates a world of over-communication and over-information and makes it extremely difficult to truly get in front of your desired audience. In addition, with the rise of fake news, it’s become more difficult to trust sources and information.

Why have consumers shifted the way they consume content?
Consumers nowadays expect to get content when and where they need it. They don’t wait for the media or for a sales person to educate them on products, services or companies. In fact, most consumers hate that because it’s interruptive and it may not come at a time when they actually want to hear about these products, services or companies. As consumers, when we have a problem or a need, we go to Google to start researching it. We read blog posts, reviews, online recommendations from friends or other people who’ve had the same problem/need – we evaluate on our own whether we need it and most of the time we make a decision without any professional help. We call this the buyer’s journey which is the process someone goes through to decide which product, service or company to pick.

Why is content more important today?
As a company, if you are not creating content, you’ll miss your chance of being found in that decision-making journey. If you are not active on your own online channels, consumers will consider that as ignorant. They expect to be able to engage with you. This year, content has gone to a whole new level where it must be instantaneous – through bots and chats – in addition to all other content types such as blog posts, ebooks, guides etc.

Do you believe content enables people to travel/join a voyage of stories?
Certainly, especially given the fact that all people go through a decision-making journey regardless whether that’s to choose something to buy or simply something to consume. If I need a reliable source on a topic that’s new to me, I’ll do the exact same research online through google, reading blog posts and recommendations or asking my peers.

Do you think digital content/media will be preferred instead of traditional media and print content?
I think in many countries around the world that’s already a fact. Decline in print has been increasing more and more which is why most of the big traditional media outlets have invested a lot in their digital versions and are trying to figure out how to monetize given that most of the print media would rely on advertising. At the end of the day, it’s all about the choice that consumers make.

Do you think automation of content and marketing has happened naturally? What is the main benefit of inbound marketing?
Automation of content in marketing arose from the need to become more responsive to consumer needs and really be part of their decision-making journey. Automation makes everything a lot more efficient from a marketer’s standpoint but from a consumer’s point of view it really is about serving them content when they need it and most of the time, consumers need the content now.
The biggest benefit of inbound marketing is the ability to truly define your target audience – or buyer persona as we call it – and their decision-making journey, then create content that specifically solves their needs and use automation to supply the content at the right time when it’s needed.

How did you come up with the idea of Inbound PR?
Inbound PR was born out of the realisation that PR people are really good at content – something that as we’ve discussed we can’t ignore – but they are really bad at measurement – and brands are becoming more demanding and wanting to know what they are getting out of their investment. I spent three years working in PR before joining HubSpot four years ago where I had to master inbound marketing. I simply saw a link between the two industries because both PR and inbound can’t function without content, however, what inbound marketing does really well is to start with the numbers and think with outcomes in mind. I combined the strengths of these industries and that’s how the Inbound PR methodology was born.

Why and how is Inbound PR valuable and important for modern communicators?
Inbound PR brings a fresh perspective to communicators who seek to be up-to-date with how their audience wants to receive information. In addition, Inbound PR makes measurement possible. It teaches modern communicators terms from marketing and helps them think about ROI from the start of planning any campaigns. Inbound PR creates a new set of skills that I believe any communicator in the 21st century must develop if they want to be successful in the future.

In your opinion, what will be the next big thing in the communication industry?
The next big thing in the communication industry is most definitely AI. I think we’ve only scratched the surface and there’s so much more to happen. With AI, we’ll be able to automate more of our work but because of that the need for strategic business thinking will intensify even more.

www.iliyanastareva.com

Author: Iva Grigorova,
Director PR Business MSL/ Publicis Groupe Bulgaria

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