Content for the customer buying process: problem recognition

by Stratton Craig

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You may already be familiar with the customer buying process – the steps your customers take on the way to purchasing your product or service. By understanding both your audience and each stage of the process you can more effectively market what you are selling, and content can help at each phase.

This is the first in a series of blogs that will explore the right types of content for each step, to help you lead an interested individual down the path to becoming a brand champion. Read on for the content that turns problem recognition into information search.

Problem recognition explained

Problem recognition is the point at which a potential customer realises they need or want a product or service. It’s the first step in the buying process and one of the most important. If your customer doesn’t need or want a product or service, you’ll have a hard time making a sale.

Problem recognition is also often out of the control of marketers, as it could be generated by something as automatic as thirst making an individual need a bottle of water. However, marketers can leverage content to help create a need or want among their targets. Below, we look at two prime examples.

How-to and explainer videos

A need may already exist among your customers, but they may not realise it yet. You can help them to recognise this need by showing your product or service in the context of their life and how it can help. A how to or explainer video is a great way of doing so as it can be used to demo a product or show off your expertise. By clearly showing how to overcome a problem you are placing that same problem right in front of your audience. If it relates to them, they will likely be interested in the solution which involves taking the next step – information search. Here is a good example of how Dropbox used an explainer video to signpost visitors towards its YouTube channel, using a simple, real-world case study.


Testimonials may be effective at convincing a customer to choose your product or service over a rival’s, but they can also be used to help them recognise a problem they have. Just like a how to or explainer video, testimonials put a product or service in the context of a real-world situation, which your customers can relate to. They will recognise that they face the same problem as the buyer, and with your help, they can overcome it.

Importantly, the opinion of a genuine buyer is a lot more convincing than any biased sales message. By publishing testimonials that demonstrate how what you are selling solved a problem, you have a very powerful tool that can both create need and promote the brand. A testimonial received from RBB Economics after we’d delivered a messaging workshop and copywriting support shows this clearly. It’s not only flattering, but explains how we focused their thoughts on where the company was going and how they wanted to be perceived. This simple message can be all that is needed to make similar firms sit up and take notice of their own written communications requirements:

Stratton Craig really helped us to focus our thoughts on where we’re going and how we want to be perceived. They led us through a really engaging and valuable self-assessment process, and then converted this experience into some really excellent key messaging and value propositions. The brochure and web content they crafted was spot-on and expertly captured who we are and what we do. A great service all round.”

These are just two types of content that can help prompt your audience to recognise and understand their needs, which is the first step on the way to making a purchase. After identifying a problem, the next task is to search for information on how it can be solved.

Have you got any thoughts on the above? We’d like to hear them. Get in touch today.

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