What the heck is a buyer's guide Sarah? And what's that got to with my business blog? And is this some of that hard work you're always talking about? All these questions and more will be answered in this post, grab a cuppa, a Jaffa Cake then sit back and read, make notes, jot down ideas. You'll not only discover why you need to create buying guides, but you'll also know how to write them so that they transform your content and grow your business.
Oh, and you have the opportunity to nab a handy content roadmap to help you create the best possible buyer's guide.
An educated customer is a better customer. Really. They know what they're looking for and they make better decisions. They also remember you fondly as the person that helped them, even if you don't know who they are. They talk about your business; boost your word of mouth marketing. They'll also share this particular piece of content online, save it on their smartphone or desktop and grow into an evangelist for your business.
Online, this type of content gets more links and boosts your site's visibility because they're not small pieces of content and they're incredibly valuable content. They're great traffic drivers and they make everyone, including you, feel good.
A buyer's guide is used by someone who wants to buy, they're not browsers or tyre kickers, they're a group of people who haven't got time to do the usual research and ask friends for their opinion, they have a need, they know the solution and they want to get the best product fast. They're the educated customer, the kind that will spend a little more because they know precisely what their problem is.
Because they know their problem, and they have the desire to fix the issue (to make it go away), they will search differently to someone who is browsing or whiling away the time until the next episode of The Good Wife comes on.
They actively seek out buying guides. Why? Because a buyer's guide simplifies the process for your customer and answers all of their questions in one convenient place. It helps them make a purchasing decision.
Nothing demonstrates your expertise in any topic better than a buying guide.
Everything that's relevant. Take this article, for example, you're new to buyer's guides so this article is going to go through all of the basics of writing one. To help you take action and get results there's even a content roadmap at the bottom of this post!
For someone who is an experienced writer, the buying guide information they're looking for will be different. They will be looking for information about how to make buyer's guide convert better, they'll also be looking at the design of the buyer's guide and other factors that we'll only touch upon lightly here.
A buyer's guide can be a blog post, it can be downloadable, and it can be both. It can be your lead magnet. It can be multi-media, and it should absolutely be what your target market is looking for.
Your buyer's guide should not be light and fluffy. 11 words and 49 pictures will not cut it here; you cannot fake a buyer's guide, and if you try to, it will backfire on you. In content creation terms this is a more advanced piece of content marketing, it's not really suited for a beginner. If you're new to this, bookmark this page, go create some content and then come back to it later on.
The easiest one to start with is the one that you have products or services related to, and the one that suits your ideal customer. Mine could be “Hosting: The Buyer's Guide For New Dad Bloggers”.
- First-time purchase guide
- After-care guide
- Comparison guide
- Additional Products /Upsells
- Advanced / Pro User Guide
You don't need to actually call your buyer's guide by this term. You can also use recommendations or “how to choose”. Using my example I might call it “Hosting Recommendations for Dad Bloggers” or “Dad Bloggers: How to Choose Hosting”, or “Hosting comparisons for dad bloggers”. Don't call your guide the ultimate guide unless it really is the ultimate guide.
The next step is some research. You'll search for your product's keyword or name and the word “problem”.
Make a note of some of the problems that your ideal customers are facing. Not all of the problems are being addressed, but the ones your ideal customer is going to be affected by. In this example a business blogger will have different needs to a dad blogger, I'll need to separate the two out, and list them in two individual documents (if I want to create another buyer's guide later, my research is half done).
Add in the phrases that you'll call your guide and see what comes up.
Remember to check the images, video, and shopping options as well as just the web search and note down your findings.
Although buyer's guides sell really well, the tone of your words should be educational and informative. There's no need to go into selling overdrive, the reader is all ready to buy, they just need:
- Confirmation of what they know,
- Reassurance its the right product for them
- Proof that you know what you're talking about
Writing your buyer's guide will take some time. It's time well spent. In your first draft include everything you can think of including
- Who needs this guide
- Why do they need it
- What products and services are included
- How much does it cost?
- Where can they get it?
- Where will they use it?
- Can the reader contact me easily?
- What links will help the reader?
- What images do I need to add?
- Will video help my reader make a better decision?
Use the content roadmap to help you with this.
Then sleep on it. The next day concentrate on editing. Eliminate everything that's irrelevant and doesn't make sense. And then sleep on it again. You can see why this takes time now! Don't faff (a technical term) with the format of your guide until you are 99% happy with your words and the images.
Remember to add tips to your guide. These show your reader that you're knowledgeable. They also help pull the reader into your content.
If you don't have the time, this project is worth outsourcing to a copywriter. Find a copywriter who specialises in your industry as they already know and understand the linguistics around your niche. They understand what you're trying to convey.
I recommend Dale Darley for spiritual niches, Adrian Higgs for industrial niches, and Yolanda Facio for business niches. If you'd prefer a writer with experience writing buying guides then Vidya Sury may also be available (see her comment in the comments section).
If you want to write your own buyer's guide and you're not confident, do it, and then hire an editor. I recommend getting in touch with Alison Jones. You need a critical pair of eyes to make sure your buyer's guide is easy to read, relatively jargon-free, and understood by your potential new client.
If your guide is a blog post or web page, you might want to take a look at tools like Thrive Architect (part of the Thrive Suite) to help you create a great-looking landing page. Make sure you include headings, subheadings, bullet points, and nice coloured boxes to call out the highlights. Images and videos in each section will make your guide more impactful.
As a downloadable, you can use tools like Canva or PowerPoint from Microsoft to create a template and then add your words to it. If you do create a template, remember you can use it to keep your branding consistent, plus your next guide will be faster to create.
Make sure when you put your guide together you add in the relevant links and calls to action.
Once you've created your guide you need to market it so that your ideal customers see it. You'll need to share it regularly across social media. You should also ask people in complementary industries to share your guide if they hear of anyone looking for your product or service.
Email the guide to your existing subscribers and encourage them to share it if they find it useful. Most people are happy to share valuable content, it helps them build a stronger following.
- Canva is also great for creating infographics and you can adapt your finished guide to a visual infographic to gain more traffic from sites like Pinterest.
- Blog post to PDF and use it as a Content Upgrade
- Use a tool like Thrive Leads to gift your guide and generate subscribers
- You can take soundbites from your guides and create social media updates and shareables.
Your guide will generate traffic, leads, and sales with smarter content for your marketing.
This is REALLY helpful Sarah! I am currently working on a webinar for my mountain trek for International Women’s Day – having read this I’m going to do it with a Buyer’s Guide format.
Thanks for the worksheet
That would be brilliant Lottie, I think it has a the potential to convert people really well for you. Let me know how it works out x
Fab post Sarah as usual. Tons of great advice. I am going to add a buyers guide to IT Training to my list of projects to work on! Thanks for great information!
Ah yes, the never-ending list! This is something that should be quite up as it’s a valuable resource. Good luck x
This is really great! Thank you Sarah! I have downloaded the worksheet and will think of what I could create…! x
I can’t wait to see it Morena, I think this will really lift you x
Thanks so much for this Sarah! This has just given me loads of great ideas and I wouldn’t have known where to start without this. I think this will be one I write over time as I want to do it properly and get it right, but have bookmarked this to keep referring back to.
Thanks for bookmarking Jenny. As a gallery owner / artist / retailer this has so many uses for you. If you can “template” yours as you go along, you should be able to use the templates to create subsequent guides quickly and easily
Fabulous idea – really like this … I can do a buyers guide for coaching; a buyers guide for a joining a business mastermind group. So many great ideas being sparked from this one post.
Indeed Sherry, and one for mums on how to choose the right support… There are so many for your business.
Wow, this is a ton of information (as always!). I will def be bookmarking this page and coming back once my blog evolves a bit more. I love reading posts like these because it gives me ideas for where I want to direct my blog for the future. Thanks Sarah.
Thanks for your comment Gillian, this type of post has tremendous potential and I think your readers will love it x
This is fabulous Sarah I can really see it working for my business, lots of ideas to explore and work on. Looking forward to using the worksheet to really cover this in depth.
It’s absolutely perfect for you Rosanne, a swimwear buyer’s guide, a bra fitting one… You could be at this for weeks 🙂
Great information Sarah. A few questions:
1. Do you need to try out every product or service you write about?
2. If you include images in your guide, should you seek permission first?
3. Do you have a link to a buyer’s guide that you’ve written?
Hi Claire, great questions. I recommend you write about products that you’ve used. To write about something you haven’t means you might make errors, and that won’t build your reputation. Most companies have images for products for PR purposes. If you can’t speak to a company to obtain permission for the use of images, then their PR people will usually grant you permission. I’ve never had any issues obtaining images and the permission to use them. One company when they found out what I needed them for actively promoted the content. They were also brilliant at answering some additional questions and it made for a better guide.
And finally, I don’t have a link, but as soon as a back-up service stop holding my back-ups hostage (long story), I’ll ping you a copy of one that I created for the transport business. It was an excellent lead generator.
Thanks for this great post. I am always thinking of some type of guide or instructional manuals to write.
This post has given me so many more ideas. So Sarah, I both thank you and say shame on you. LOL – I will never get through all of the things I want to write. You know I’m kidding, right?
Have a great weekend.
Hey Monna, would love to read your writer’s guides. If you sell them, I’d be your first customer x
What a brilliant idea, and so much good advice too. It’s very rare for me to give out my email address for anything these days – but I’ve asked for that worksheet. I know exactly what I’m going to use it for 🙂
I look forward to reading your post Joy, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts x
Your “how to” post totally rocks!And it makes perfect sense too!
Because as you pointed out, practically nobody takes the time to search specifically for a buyers guide of some kind, unless they are either ready or 99% ready to make some sort of purchase!
Plus, as you also mentioned, education based marketing (aka) edu-marketing is proven way to stand out from your major competitors and demonstrate your expertise to your prospect/target audience.
And like you said, by consistently doing so, more times than not, they will usually turn to you for more guidance and recommendations and therefore view you as the trusted source from whom to purchase!
And thank you also for providing so many excellent resources!Some of which I hadn’t previously heard of until now!
As a result, I just discovered Shane Melaugh’s excellent blog! And I’m going to listen to one of his podcasts as soon as I finish posting this comment!LOL!
BTW, I can’t seem to find your contact page, so I can get your feedback on the question you posed over at my blog.
Are you on skype? Or if you prefer, just leave your email address over at my blog , via my contact page and I’ll get that info over to you asap!
Thanks again Sarah!You totally hit it out of the park, as usual!
Hey Mark, thanks for dropping by. Let’s talk, it would be lovely to hear your voice after all of these years I’m sarah.arrow1 on Skype.
Buyer’s guides are an incredible tool for business owners and quite often because they’re not an easy piece of content to create, they’re neglected which is surprise.
I adore Shane and Thrive Themes team, they’re just a spectacular group of guys creating products for marketers that actually work! I do have a contact page… I may have buried after a lot of contact 😉 looking forward to speaking to you 🙂
Everything you do is with excellence, so informative…love it Thank you.
Aww thank you Sacha, this is high praise coming from you x
I love writing buyers guides – in fact, one of the things I quickly discovered when I began my writing career, it was that I had the aptitude for long form content. I like to call buyers guides “Consultancy in a capsule”
Great ways to promote these guides – I am tempted to just pick a topic for myself now and write one just for fun. Looking forward to digging into the worksheet, Sarah!
That’s brilliant Vidya, may I add your site to the people who are good at this shizzle list?
What a great approach Sarah – even though this is outside my usual content focus you’ve really got me thinking about how I might adapt this idea to a couple of projects I have coming up. Oh, BTW, i agree with you about Shane and Thrive. I just recently purchased their landing page plugin and have been so impressed with everything from the ease of use and tutorials to the support so I wouldn’t hesitate purchasing their other products.
Hi Marty, thanks for stopping by. I’m such a fan-girl for the Thrive products, they really look after their customers. I’m glad you’re enjoying their content builder as much as I do 🙂
I love this idea and have done a couple of Buyer’s Guide for my PLR business. Definitely worth looking at again. Great tutorial!
Thanks for stopping by Sue, yes I can see how they’d really help PLR buyers who didn’t really know what they wanted, or how to use it x
This opens up a whole new world for me! Thanks so much for explaining this because I haven’t heard about it yet.
I book-marked this because I’m venturing out for some time on vacation. I know I’ll be using this because I like to plaster my stuff all over the place lol. This does seem like a great way.
I’ll swing by again!
Love it Donna, please don’t let David say I ruined your vacation x
Wow, you have shared some valuable stuff with us. Like everyone else, this got my wheels spinning and gave me some great ideas.
I already have a guide for those who are new to working from home. I’ve been thinking about putting something together for new bloggers and I think a guide would be perfect.
Thank you for sharing this with us. Have a great weekend Sarah!
Interesting concept. I hadn’t though of a buyers guide. I like that you itemize the steps to take to create one. You made it really simple. And the worksheet is a great touch.
This idea could really work because people like having that info listed out for them. And having it all in one place, they’ll love you for it I’m sure.
I don’t suppose you turned this post into an ebook by any chance? GREAT idea.. never occurred to me. Not sure what I would write but it’s another good idea for ways in morphing your content into a variety of useful items … 🙂
D’oh! Sometimes something is so simple and brilliantly obvious you can’t imagine why the heck you didn’t think of it for yourself! I’ll get on with one next week!
Can’t wait to see it Simon 🙂
Brilliant as always. I love this idea. Got my mind spinning and I’m off to get the worksheet. Also great that you’ve listed people who can do it for you. xx
Hi Sarah. This is an idea that never would have fallen out of the sky into my head. I have a new Twitter product coming out next week and a video marketing product at the end of the month. I also have a few other irons in the fire, so my finding this post came at the right time.
Thanks so much for the worksheet, as well.
All the best,
Love this advice Sarah – spot on!
Thanks Alison x
Sarah, Check your plugins. One is disabled and showing the bare shortcode: [content_upgrade id=12043] handy worksheet[/content_upgrade].
Excellent post but I would change one thing: Add the comparison component to your worksheet. Otherwise it is more a recipe for a salespage or brochure than a buyer’s guide.
I love your writing and you’re giving sound advice. You’re on my short list of sharable content providers.
Great article, Sarah. It’s given me some ideas that I can create buyers’ guides for. Thanks.
Great way to shift the emphasis from “selling” to helping buyers understand how my service will solve their problem… and if mine isn’t the right service perhaps help them clarify what they really need. It’s a nice way around the selling aspect and a good way to move people into making a decision. As always, well written and helpful content. I read another of your posts and clicked this link for even more helpful info!! Thanks ~