One element we often find companies don’t consider in their marketing strategy, is to consider how a purchase is really made. Once you have a deeper understanding around how your own products and services are purchased, you will have the beginnings of a more effective marketing strategy. So, let’s dive deeper into how people buy.
First, a need is discovered or uncovered, whether it be material or emotional. Whether the consumer has a dire need, like a roof replacement from a damaging storm, or a less critical need, like ice cream to satisfy a craving, a need is usually required for someone to pull out their wallet. We have all heard the phrase, “sell ice cubes to Eskimos,” an obvious example of trying to sell something cold to a group who is most likely interested in something hot. Make sure that the need that your product or service satiates is explicit and well targeted.
Second, a consideration is made about the importance of satisfying the need. Buyers often rank purchases in a perceived order of importance, then spend accordingly. The recognition of “how much” do they need (or want) something drives the timing of a purchase. Identify the timing and seasonality of your product or service and where your product or service may get outranked by other offerings. Consider social, familial and work priorities as it relates to your offerings. Examine other products in the market place that may be perceived as more or less “attractive” then your product/service. An example would be trying to sell new furnace installations in July. Staying warm is not a priority for most during this time.
Third, today’s consumer is a savvy researcher. If the purchase has more perceived value, a buyer will spend hours researching search engines, websites, and reviews to gather information about the potential spend, for example, buying a car. If the product or service is more commoditized, less research is done, but many will grab their phones to look for reviews before eating in a restaurant. Create content that supports how your product or service satisfies the need. Share stories, testimonials, features and benefits to entice your buyer into wanting more (and use your keywords often!) List yourself on local directories. Be active on social media. Then, when your potential customer does their research, you will be seen.
Fourth, rarely does a consumer purchase without some sort of comparison. The evaluation of alternatives is when you need to consider competition and accessibility. Again, be active in social media and remember to monitor and engage with any consumer who may message your company. Gain reviews from customers on Google, Yelp and Facebook. All these components will create name and brand recognition which leads to trust, a critical component in a buying decision.
Fourth, a decision is made. A purchase is experienced (or not.) There is obviously much more that can go into the decision-making process, but ultimately once a buyer has undergone the first three components of this buyer behavior model, they either buy or not. And most likely the choice not to buy is actually “not to buy now”.
As you determine your marketing strategy, consistently revisit how people are buying from you. What criteria are they using to choose you over a competitor? How long does it really take for them to buy? How many “touches” did it take to entice a sale? Then begin your marketing plan.