Ignite Sales: A Marketing Secret To Control The Purchase Process
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It was with the help of science that Madison Avenue marketing consultants created the demand for diamonds, cigarettes, and SUVs. They took academic research from psychologists to improve their marketing campaigns, helping them choose which pictures, phrases, colors, and even camera angles to increase conversion rates.
Now, here is one of their tactics that you can apply to your own marketing campaigns. Consumers are predictable in their buying process, following the same five steps for every purchase. That means when they buy a car, hire an IT consultant, or choose a place to eat dinner, they follow these same five steps. And you will find this same process is followed by your own target market.
The consumer purchase process (CPP) was recognized 100 years ago by the psychologist and philosopher John Dewey. Marketers pulled it from his book published in 1910 called How We Think. Though Dewey was not intending to help us sell more products, we can apply his findings to our marketing efforts.
The process is as follows:
1. Need recognition
2. Information search
3. Evaluation of alternatives
4. Purchase decision
5. Post purchase dissonance.
Consumers still follow this same process 100 hundred years later, even in a world tilted by mobile. So, let’s deep dive into each step of the consumer purchase process, see how it relates to your business, and share marketing tactics that can help you win.
1. Need recognition tells us what to market
A tiny spark of energy in your buyer’s brain triggers a “need.” The spark takes the form of a desire, a pain, a void, a dissatisfaction, or a problem to solve. Your prospects have an insatiable appetite of needs. They need to feel happy, avoid emotional discomfort, fix physical pains, and have complete satisfaction. Needs come in many forms, and are triggered randomly from the environment. Your job is to find a common need amongst your target market, and portray your offering as the solution to solve that need.
2. Information search guides our SEO tactics
After a need is sparked, your prospect goes on a journey to find a solution. They call on their community for help, such as friends, colleagues, family, or spouses. Or they query their friends on Facebook. Some may look for a solution on Google Maps. And most importantly, consumers search for solutions on search engines. Consumers ask Google for help by typing in a query into the search bar. They click search, and up comes results full of information to study. Usually consumers look through the top four search results, and then if they do not find what they are looking for, continue through the rest of the page. It takes time to digest all of this information, but a more involved purchase captures the consumers commitment to making the right choice.
3. Evaluating alternative competitors for the best option
Consumers take the information they gathered and personally rank their options. One solution may be more expensive, but may last longer. Two or three friends may recommend a lawyer, so they must be credible. Weighing options can be a short or long process depending on how involved the buyer is, the price point, or the length of use, etc. For example, Samsung makes it easy to compare their own laptops and phones, where travel and insurance companies make it easy to compare alternative providers.
4. Increase your purchases and acquisitions
The prospect has narrowed down the options into what they believe is the best solution for them, and make a purchase. This step is the same for signing up to a newsletter, free trials, or even deciding to volunteer at an event. An acquisition is a one-word description for describing value exchange, and may not always be a purchase.
5. Post-purchase dissonance and buyer’s remorse
The buyer then reflects on whether they made the right choice. Do they love the IT consultant that was recommended by their friend? Did the truck hold up on the sand dunes? Did the furniture match the pictures? Higher satisfaction makes it easier for you to ask for and receive more customer reviews. The same goes for asking to spread the word on their social media.
MAKING THE CPP WORK FOR YOU
Marketers control the five steps of the CPP with proactive strategies and tactics. Take a moment to write down your target market’s purchase process. Here are three marketing tactics you can implement right away to influence your target market’s hunt for need resolution.
1. Search advertising and SEO
Create a list of queries that your prospect is using on search engines. For example, if you buy houses from distressed sellers, your prospects may be searching: “home buyer [location],” or “how to quickly sell my home.” You can use the Google keyword planner to see how many people are searching for these phrases. If you find a phrase that has a decent search volume, and low competition, then you should allocate marketing resources to buying ads that target those phrases. You can also implement SEO tactics to rank web pages and articles related to that query. We want to be on the first page of the search results to be considered during the information search step of the consumer purchase process.
2. Comparison charts for outranking the competition
Remember step three of the buying process? Your prospects are on the information hunt, and evaluating the information they discover. So, here is an opportunity for you to get more control. You can place a comparison chart on your landing page to show how your offering is superior to the competition. Don’t be bashful to list your competition, because we already know that your prospects are doing their homework. So, stay in control of how your prospects perceive your offering compared to the competition. You can list rows of the benefits of your offering, then show how the competition is lacking those benefits. I prefer to list benefits over features to appeal to the wants and emotions of the buyer.
3. Solicit reviews and upsells
After the purchase is made, follow up with an email or phone call to ask the customer if they are happy with their purchase. You can ask them to write a review at this point, or recommend a friend. Give them credit for referrals or enter them into a lottery for posting a review. You can also use this opportunity to upsell additional products and services.
And a bonus tip about consumer behavior: take a look at what your prospect is doing before and after a need is triggered. For example, are they in a boardroom, and their boss delegates an assignment to find a new vendor? In this case, the prospect sits back down at their desk to find a solution. If they are in a corporation, and using a company computer with Outlook, then they are using Microsoft Edge, which defaults to Yahoo. In this case, you should deploy your ads on Yahoo. And if your prospects are in their car when searching for a solution, then you need to place your promotional resources into getting ranked on Google maps, or buy ads on Waze.
Now, my fellow marketers, you are equipped with one more tool in your tool belt. By understanding your prospect’s consumer purchase process, you can show up where they are looking for solutions and provide additional value to their resolution journey, increasing your chances of acquiring a new customer. The consumer purchase process is here to stay, but the technologies that fit into the journey will change. They will get more targeted and quantifiable. For example, we went from the yellow pages to Google. In the future, more people will be asking Alexa and Google Home for a solution, and we will have to get our products ranked in those databases.
Brian will be speaking at the MENA Angel Investors Summit in Bahrain on November 12, 2018.