The aim of marketing and sales is to take people on a journey from never having heard of you to being raving fans who buy loyally and tell all their friends. So if you want to understand what marketing excellence looks like then you need to understand how your customers make that journey. And the journey will be different depending on your business, your product and your market.
Some buying journeys are quite short and buyers make their decision quite quickly. Others are longer, involve more stages, and require more support from marketing and sales.
Marketing excellence supports buyers at every stage of their buying decision, all the while building trust and reducing the perceived risk of moving forward.
If you think about the last time you made a difficult buying decision, you probably went through a number of different stages. The more complex the buying decision, the more stages you’re likely to have gone through.
In an impulse buy, like a new drink on the market (I’ll leave you to decide what kind of drink!), you might have first been unaware of the product. Then you might see an advert and been interested to try it. Then you might have seen if in a shop (or restaurant or bar) and decided to try it. If you loved it you might start buying it regularly.
In that instance there were four recognisable stages:
In more complex buying decisions there may be more. With some of my clients we can recognise eight or nine stages that buyers go through.
Most buyer behaviour models use between four and eight stages, so for this blog I’ll use seven. Bear in mind that your buyers may have fewer stages or more. These are the stages I usually start with when mapping out a buyer journey:
The aim of marketing and sales is to get customers from "unaware" to "loyal" (where they're most profitable) and preferably to "referrer" where they start generating business for you. To do that, you'll need to support your buyers at every stage of their buying process and encourage them to the next stage.
But how do you do that in practice? What does marketing excellence look like, where a customer is supported at every stage of the buying journey?
At each stage, we need to meet buyers emotional and logical needs to help them move forward in their decision-making process. We often assume our customers buy purely for logical reasons, or purely for emotional reasons. For an "impulse buy" that may be true. However, if a purchase is more considered, then our buyers will make their decision for both emotional and logical reasons and, as marketers and salespeople, we need to support that decision-making.
In this three-part blog, I'm going to go through a typical buying journey for a fairly considered purchase and explain how you can support your buyer’s needs with excellent marketing.
From ‘Unaware’ to ‘Aware’
When your buyer is unaware of you, your marketing task is to get on their radar. More specifically, you want to get on the radar of the right people - people who need and want your product or service.
My recent blog (“All in, or hedge your bets – how many promotion channels do you need?”) explains why you should be promoting yourself via at least 3 channels where your ideal customer is likely to find you.
‘Aware’ to ‘Interested’
Here your marketing mission is to demonstrate that you empathise with your customer.
Use powerful "away from" messaging to highlight your buyer's pain, problem or trigger, and show you understand their emotional needs. Then use "towards" messaging to explain the proposition, benefit, outcome and value that the customer will see, and the timescales they can expect to get it in.
Read my blog “Make your customers sit up and take notice” for how to create marketing messages that will resonate.
And the rest?
In my next blog I'll be explaining the later stages in a typical buyer journey and showing you how you can implement excellent marketing in your business.
We cover this whole process as part of creating a wider marketing strategy for your business in my Engineer Your Marketing Machine course. If you'd like to hear more about this course, or if you need specific help implementing marketing excellence in your business, get in touch. I'd love to hear about your business challenges and see how I can help.
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