“My old man….has an ultimate set of tools. I can fix this.”

I caught a rerun of the 1982 movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High recently and this phrase stuck in my mind.

Let’s set the scene.

Jeff Spicoli—the surfer played by Sean Penn—has just crashed the sweet new Trans Am that belonged to the fearsome football star.

Spicoli’s solution? 

Fix the car using his dad’s tools. 

In many ways, that’s similar to the approach we take in marketing: fixing a problem with the tools at hand. 

But just like Spicoli, we’re not always certain if we have the right tools to fix the problem.

In B2B marketing and communications, we have two popular toolsets available to us: the PESO Model™ and the buyer’s journey.

The PESO Model integrates digital marketing, public relations, and content creation into a dynamic platform that amplifies the reach and impact of any marketing campaign.

The buyer’s journey helps us understand where our customers are in their purchase decisions and how we can help them.

When combined, they become an even more powerful marketing solution. 

Let’s review each of these tools.

The PESO Model™ In the Buyer’s Journey

The buyer’s journey has replaced the traditional marketing funnel as the way to understand what’s going on in our prospects’ minds as they move closer to a purchase. 

Stage One: Problem Awareness

Problem awareness, the first stage in the buyer’s journey, begins when a customer realizes they have a challenge or need.

This is where the marketing team can begin to show a customer how their organization can help solve their problem. 

But until a customer knows they have a challenge, they are typically oblivious to the marketing programs around that. 

PESO Model Tools for the Problem Awareness Stage

Earned media should be aggressively used to tackle problem awareness.


Because earned media involves a broad audience and is great for providing educational information on new ways of solving problems and new technologies. 

Owned media plays a significant role in problem awareness, as well.

Blogs and websites are ideal places to publish in-depth content addressing the underlying challenges customers may face.

Owned media provides the space and resources for deep dives into the issues using blog posts, videos, graphics, and more. 

Stage Two: Research 

Search is a critical component of the research stage, with 72% of B2B buyers using Google to find product information, according to Pardot.

(Seriously, what are the other 28% doing?) 

How important is the research stage?

Only after buyers do their online research do they begin a serious sales conversation.

Salespeople can be helpful as a conduit and source of product information.

PESO Model Tools for the Research Stage

Paid media is a critical channel for distributing content to prospects.

Advanced demographics for this audience are available, and that makes paid an important tool for reach and repetition. 

Earned media tactics for the research stage include product launches, product-related partnership announcements, and contributed product features in industry publications.

Where relevant, working with industry analysts and being a part of their research reports is an important and high-value way to secure product comparisons. 

Shared media, as a tool to promote sales-oriented content, offers the same benefits as paid media.

However, they do so at a lower cost and better ROI. 

Owned media is the heart of the PESO Model during the research stage.

Owned media campaigns that balance shorter content pieces, or webpages that serve as introductions, can be combined with industry-specific case studies, more detailed application notes, or whitepapers.  

Stage Three: Purchase

The purchase stage begins when the prospect turns into the customer.

Once the research is done, a preference is established, and sales folks are engaged.

Now’s the time to ensure a smooth transition from prospect to customer.

In traditional thinking, the purchase stage is the “finish line”.

Marketing fully hands off the prospect to the sales department.

But even now PESO Model tools play a role.

PESO Model for the Purchase Stage

The purchase stage is a time when the buyer may need to get additional approvals from other leaders in their organization. 

This could include their manager, finance executives, or even the CEO.

For earned media, try to work with journalists on your company stories and manage your corporate reputation for anyone at the buying organization who wants to know more about your company. 

Owned media for the purchase stage should focus on the information the customer needs after having made the purchase.

This includes things such as installation, maintenance, proper operation, and upgrades.

Stage Four: Advocacy

At this stage of the buyer’s journey, the role of the PESO Model is to encourage new sales and leverage the excitement from the new solution into owned content to use for other prospects who are starting their journeys. 

PESO Model Tools for the Advocacy Stage

Media shared in a closed group is an excellent way to create a user community or otherwise communicate with satisfied users. 

Owned media tools, such as a newsletter, intranet, and sales collateral, are important ways to connect to customers with updated information.

When the Buyer’s Journey Comes to an End

The buyer’s journey is a great way to understand the mindset of prospects at the various stages of a purchase.

Each stage of the journey brings the need for new and different information.

When you use the right PESO Model tools at each stage of the journey, it is possible to optimize a communications strategy that will ensure the prospect has what he or she needs to become an active and loyal customer.

Have you applied the PESO Model to the buyer’s journey? Share your thoughts in the comments.

David Rodewald

David Rodewald is the managing director of The David James Agency and co-founded the agency in January 2003. Previously, he was Group Vice President of Communications for Alcatel’s Enterprise and Consumer Group, based in Paris, France. He began his career as a reporter in Portland, Oregon, and also practiced public relations at top-10 agencies including MSLGroup in Los Angeles and Fleishman-Hilliard in Portland.

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