This is part one of a three-phase series on what marketers call “the buyer’s journey.” It’s a great way to market to people at various stages of the buying process. If you know where customers are in their buyers journey, it will help you to understand their specific needs. Below we will discuss awareness, consideration and decision, the three steps in the process.
What is the buyer’s journey?
Marketers talk a lot about what they call “the buyer’s journey”—the steps most people go through when they research a problem, trying to find a solution. It’s how we all end up buying something, even though we don’t consciously think about it.
When a business wants to market its product, then, it makes sense to study the buyer’s journey to see if its strategies reach all its potential customers at all stages in this journey. Think of this journey in three steps:
- Awareness: A person becomes aware that they have a problem that needs to be solved. Whether it’s the constant itch of eczema or a hunger for something they can’t quite put their finger on, they know they need something.
- Consideration: The person finally puts their finger on the problem. Once they identify it, they look for ways to solve the problem. This can include Internet research on the problem itself from authority sources (such as articles by dermatologists, for our eczema example), researching solution providers, and comparing prices and benefits.
- Decision: The person finds the best solution for their needs and budget, pulls out a credit card or a wad of cash, and buys it.
How to Market a Product During the Awareness Phase
- Identify: Identify the questions prospective customers might ask as they explore their problem. List the complaints they might have. These are probably the search terms they will use to look for ways to identify their problem.
- Insert: If the business is wise, it will insert as many of these phrases into their web copy and blogs as possible—without affecting readability, of course. The last thing one wants at this phrase is to come off as salesy. Using these questions as headings and subheadings in the copy can attract prospects’ attention since they are looking for the problem, not the solution at this point. Get them to the “Eureka!” moment with wording that help them find that problem.
- Provoke: Remember those ubiquitous “God” billboards from the late ‘90s? The ones that reminded you to be a little kinder, such as, “That ‘Love Thy Neighbor’ Thing, I Meant It.’ – God”? Depending on the business, marketers can add some of these memory-joggers to labels or other advertising. For instance, a toothpaste manufacturer may add “Bleeding Gums?” to the label on the product’s box. Just that little question may cause the person to pick up the box, read it, and discover that his problem may be the early stages of gum disease—for which the toothpaste may provide a solution.
Remember, marketing at this phase must be subtle, educational. Customers must first find several sources of information that point in the same direction. Make sure that most of those come from your pen.
Blog posts or forum posts on niche forums can help. A business can find potential customers with just the kinds of problems that their product or service can solve. A fledgling guitar studio once started a forum on which guitarists could post about difficulties they were having. Those questions, once nurtured with helpful information from the expert teachers, netted the studio many students for its online guitar program. We also wrote about a candy company that found ways to launch an effective, creative business marketing strategy.
With a little thought, a few well-timed blog posts and well-positioned signage, a business can use the awareness phase in the buyer’s journey to capture valuable leads.