Customers don’t act randomly. They go about making purchases in a specific way. Marketers call this the “customer’s journey.” Indeed, academic studies have proposed that customers take a series of steps when they buy goods and services. We also know that the buying cycle is taking more time. By understanding your customer’s journey and how long it will take, you can ensure that your marketing attracts as many customers as possible.
Step 1: The Problem
Customers like to buy goods and services to solve problems. For example, if customers have a problem with hunger, their solution is to buy food. With this in mind, you can use marketing to identify a problem. Thus, you could market snacks as the means to solve the problem of hunger. What’s important here is that you recognize that a customer does not purchase unless he or she has an underlying problem. This is the first stage of the customer’s journey.
Step 2: The Search for Information
The next stage is the search for information. In many instances though, customers don’t just buy goods and services to solve identified problems. They like more information about what they may be buying. In today’s information-rich society, you need to be aware that customers have become particularly keen for details about products and services. For example, if a customer needs a computer for work, you cannot just sell a computer on the simple grounds that it solves his or her problem. You have to provide a significant amount of marketing material in the form of related data about the computers that you have available.
Step 3: Weighing Up the Choices
You then need to understand that when customers have a lot of information, they weigh up their choices. Some marketers address this issue head-on. They suggest that customers look at what their competitors have to offer. Such an approach can build trust among your customers because they feel that you have nothing to hide. Such trust can tip the balance in your favor and encourage people to buy from you.
You will need to have content to help your potential customers weigh their choices. That content can be blogs, white papers, ebooks, images or even reviews on Google. Think about it. If you are looking to purchase something from Amazon, you may look at all the pictures, the Q&A as well as reviews from other customers.
Step 4: Deciding to Buy
However, even if customers are happy with the information you’ve supplied and trust you, you still have to convince them to decide to buy. You can never assume that a customer has made such a decision. This is where marketing material on payment options and sales deals can make a significant difference. At this step of the process, what you must offer a customer is the best possible deal with a convenient method of payment.
Step 5: The Purchase
Although they may have parted with their money for goods, customers may still change their minds. They know they have this right and are often prepared to exercise it. Your marketing literature needs to make it clear, for example, that if customers wish they can return goods within a certain number of days and receive complete refunds. By saying this, you show that you understand your customers and that sometimes they change their minds. Moreover, by demonstrating such comprehension, you create a bond between your business and your customers that can lead to repeat sales.
Taking time to understand how consumers buy goods and services is well worthwhile. With this knowledge, you can use marketing techniques to guide customers through the buying process and thereby increase the sales of your business.
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