Microsoft and IDC Research paired up this year to build three marketing quick guides to help you understand the full customer journey from prospect to loyal customers. You can find all of them at aka.ms/smartpartnermarketing and direct links will accompany each guide as we cover them in our blog series.

What is a Quick Guide?

A quick guide is a short informational document that illustrates a concept (let’s call it a mini marketing class) that may help you pull the larger pieces of a puzzle together. Along with the concepts, we share quotes from partners who are using these skills/practices today.

Guide 1: From Stranger to Prospect – Break the Ice

This guide helps you focus on how to build trust with a stranger, how to share educational information about your solutions, your company and most importantly the PAIN that it solves for the prospect. Sharing content in a transparent way will allow a prospect to self-educate and decide that they want to learn more. Because you have peaked curiosity, prospects will be more likely to give you their consent to learn more, and you can begin to build a relationship and conversation that will be mutually beneficial.

The guide will help you understand how to break the ice… how to get noticed, build trust and curiosity. There are a series of questions to work through to put yourself in the shoes of your prospect and walk a day in their life. This will help your content to be focused, differentiated from the crowd and deliver value to the prospect.

slide from "Quick Guide 1: From Stranger to Prospect – Break the Ice"

Your ideal buyer

The key to great marketing and selling is focus – and go vertical. Having services and solutions to speak to individuals and the specific roles they have is key. Thinking through the customers you have today and what common characteristics they share is a great starting point to start painting a picture of your ideal customer and some fictional personas to help guide your work.

quote to support the above copy

Why will the buyer buy from you?

People are busy and have lots of ways to spend their time. You need to work hard to attract their attention and this is by being relevant and timely. This is important but hard work to make sure your value to the customer is clear, rooted in facts, based on their daily pains and is specific. The work of building a strong value proposition involves your whole company and your customers to get it right.

What will you say?

Buyers are busy with their own problems; they are WAY more interested in themselves than you in the early stages. So, your job is to position yourself as their guide. Answer their questions! Give them more things to think about than they already had in their minds. Here are some ideas to get started:

slide from the "From Stranger to Prospect – Break the Ice" report

Where will you have the conversation?

Make sure your online home is in good order. Prospects will find you when they are searching, and you’ll want your content to help educate them and have them reach out for more. Review your company website, blog, social media pages and any events you host for consistent messages. Prospects in B2B exhibit the same behaviors as you do: they SEARCH, they talk to trusted colleagues, they hang out and participate in social media, they attend events and belong to communities. These are all great sources of information and places to have conversations.

quote to support the above copy

Putting it all together

Link your content – your social media channels should link to your blog, articles and videos. Once you build trust with your prospect, you can cater specific content to them, like whitepapers, video series, demos, etc. Our guide will help you think through all the key places for your messages and content.

Measuring success

Measurement can be difficult when you are still stringing together a marketing system and data. However, if you focus on the following, you are off to a good start:

  1. Conversions and outcomes: click throughs to content, time spent with content or with reps.
  2. Relevance: key word performance, content shares/retweets, bounce rates, time spent, and mentions by influencers.

Review our guide for best ways to spend your time measuring. And remember, don’t spend time measuring everything, spend time with your customers and refining your key value propositions and key content and you’ll find your way to the performance.

quote to support the above copy