Marketing is a vital aspect to having a thriving business. It introduces your product or service to the market and builds your business’s credibility and sustainability by continuing to provide information throughout the product or service’s lifespan. In short, marketing drives sales!
Exercise 1: Look through your marketing campaigns over time. What were your goals for marketing in your business?
The buying cycle goes through several major stages: awareness, consideration, comparison, purchase, post-purchase; then re-purchase and Brand Evangelist.
The Awareness Stage
Interestingly, most businesses spend their entire (or the majority of their) marketing money on the “Awareness” stage of the buying cycle. This is the stage where a potential customer becomes aware that they have a problem or pain point.
What these businesses forget is that not every customer is at the Awareness stage. There are two more stages in the customer’s buying cycle that influence whether or not they make a purchase – consideration, and comparison.
The Consideration Stage
Important to note is that a good number of your potential customers are already aware that they have a problem. When they search, it is to uncover potential solutions. They are trying to figure out what option among the many is the best fit to solve their problem. This is the “Consideration” stage.
The Intent / Comparison Stage
At the “Comparison” stage of the buying cycle, your potential customers are evaluating their choices. They are looking for something (or someone) to convince them that your product or service is the best for fulfilling their need(s). During this stage, customers will look around for all possible convincing proof, which often includes reading reviews from existing customers.
The Purchase Stage
Once a potential customer has decided on the product or service that feels right for them, they proceed to the “Purchase” stage. At this juncture, they choose which company they want to purchase from. They likely consider several aspects, asking themselves questions like: ‘Who is the most trustworthy?’, ‘Whose product or service promises the best results?’ and ‘Whose product or service is the best value for money?’.
Exercise 2: Look through the content and marketing campaigns you have prepared for your business over time. Did they address all the stages of the buying process?
Maximizing Your Sales
To maximize your marketing and sales, you should have content on your website and across your social media channels that speaks to each of the stages in the buying cycle.
Remember, each piece of content and each marketing campaign will be appreciated by a different group of potential customers, guiding them into the next stage of the buying cycle. Ultimately this then leads to a purchasing decision.
Exercise 3: For each stage, ask yourself this question. “What does this look like?”
If you’ve correctly identified the pain points (problems) your potential customers have, this question will help you identify WHAT the message needs to be at each stage… so you know how to educate, close the gap, and lead them to your goal.
All these will need different ad copy(s), image(s), videos, and offers. Tailor each item to adequately address the buyer at each stage.
But your marketing shouldn’t stop with the purchase! There are three more key stages in a successful buying cycle, and the ideal end goal is to build the number of customers who fall into the final stage.
The Post-Purchase Stage
So, you have successfully convinced a customer to purchase your product or service – congratulations, that’s a big ‘win’. But is that the end of the road? Does your marketing end there? No!
In the “Post Purchase” stage, it’s time to deliver and delight your customer with fabulous customer service and “on time/successful” delivery of the product or service. Once you’ve delivered the goods, then it is time to keep them feeling warm and fuzzy and encourage them to the next stage.
Do you have a warm thank you process after their purchase?
Have you made it easy for them to provide a review (a key element for potential customers during the Comparison stage)?
Perhaps you have a second product or service that goes well with the first and you would like to encourage them to try it?
Maybe you offer a rewards program, coupon, or percentage off for existing customers?
The Retention Stage
As a business owner, your goal at the end of the day is not only to make a sale but to boost the profitability of each customer, to build customer relationships and loyalty, and to make a lifetime of sales. In our tip It is not just one sale, we explored the reasons why you should work towards customer retention for the long haul.
In the “Retention” stage, also sometimes known as “Repurchase” or “Renewal”, customers come back and purchase more of the product or service. They enjoyed their first experience with your product or service, and have confidence in what your business has to offer them.
Remember, it is much easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to attract and engage a new potential customer or convert them to make a purchase. Existing customers already trust you and have confidence in your product or service. New customers look at you with uncertainty and may be distracted by, or weighing you against, other companies selling similar products or services.
The Brand Evangelist Stage
This is the final stage in the buying cycle for your customers. At the “Brand Evangelist” stage, just as the name suggests, customers become an advocate of your brand and business and share their experience with other potential customers. They give great reviews or testimonials, they convince people to switch from other businesses to patronize yours, and they do it all without your bidding. In essence, they become one of your business’s best sources of advertising. Plus, when your customers get to this stage, you can be assured of their full (lifetime) support.
Getting your customers to the Brand Evangelist stage should be your goal right from the start of your marketing process.
What do you think your customers would like to see or hear so they stick with your business all the way to the end?
What experience can you give them that they don’t get anywhere else?
How can you make them feel valued, whether their purchase is made online or they are standing right in front of you?
- From your review of your content in Task 2, do you think you’re talking to potential customers at each of the different stages of the buying process?
- What stages did you skip? List them down and come up with a plan to complete each.
Putting the Stages to Work
A strategic marketing plan that considers and includes all stages in the buying cycle can easily convert an uncertain situation (for the buyer) into an actual purchase, a first-time buyer into a repeat customer, and a repeat customer into a Brand Evangelist. As you do this, leads and sales will increase because you are leading your audience through the process to make their purchasing decisions.
Your Online Partner… for Success
How are you doing with marketing to your stages? Have you identified the needs at each step? Want someone to help clarify and dial in your message? Take advantage of a free 30-minute session with Christy.