The consumer buying process has been modelled and studied intensively over the last 50 years and although businesses and marketing techniques may have varied over time, the decision making process remains largely the same. Understanding this process, and how it applies to your customers, can help you tailor your marketing strategy to ensure you’re providing the right information at the right time.
First stage: Problem identification and evaluation
The entire buying process is triggered by your customer realising they have a need. Needs most often occur when a gap is identified between a consumer’s ideal situation and their actual situation. Gaps can be identified from internal factors like physical needs, changing life stages, or from external factors like marketing and advertising or advice from friends.
Once the need has been identified, your customer will then probably start to seek out information to help them find a way to meet that need. This is where you can provide them with valuable resources and content to help build trust and position yourself as an authority.
Second stage: Narrowing down and decision-making
The second stage involves a process of narrowing down and making a final decision. Decisions are often made on a number of factors, and as a marketer its important that you know what it is that makes customers choose your products or services over others so you can present those reasons to consumers at this stage.
Marketing materials and information geared to customers at this stage are often action oriented and provide detailed product information.
Third stage: After purchase
Marketing shouldn’t just stop once a customer has completed a purchase. For the best chance of building and maintaining a loyal customer base you need to stay in contact after the purchase to make sure that your customer’s experience of your product or service is a positive one.
Its common for customers to experience remorse after a purchase so its important to provide validation and reinforce the message that their purchase was a good one, as well as following up quickly with any issues or questions. The better a customer’s experience of your product or service, the more likely it is that they will recommend you to others.
The more you understand each stage of the buying process, the easier it will be to tailor your marketing messages effectively to provide the right information at the right time. This can help increase the chances of you being able to influence them early on in the process and also of building long term sustainable relationships with them that will turn them into loyal customers in the future.
About the author:
Jo Macdermott is the Chief Marketing Consultant at Next Marketing in Melbourne. She has 15 years of marketing experience, is a Certified Practising Marketer and is a sought after marketing media commentator. Jo specialises in working with small and medium businesses. Follow her on Twitter here