Marketing models typically lack a real understanding of how potential customers behave. Or more specifically, how they buy.
Why, how, when and where do customers buy your products?
Understanding the mechanics of buying forms a foundation for building effective content and marketing strategies. Stop wasting marketing budget on trivial impressions or clicks and start using it on conversions.
An ideal base for marketing and selling in digital channels should be a user or purchase journey. However, many companies are mapping customer paths and building funnels that could be leveraged by marketing automation. These funnels are usually based on REAN, AIDA or other similar models. What those models typically lack, however, is a real understanding of how potential customers behave – or more specifically, how they buy.
We can make the point simple by categorizing different buying behaviors into three broad varieties: impulsive buying, need-based buying, and consideration-based buying.
Therefore the first question a marketing director should ask is: Do customers buy this product on an impulse, in a situation of real need, or after careful consideration? Let’s take a closer look.
Impulse, need or consideration?
Usually, products and services that are easy to buy can be categorized under impulsive buying. These can be for example nutrition, clothing or apps – something that isn’t too expensive and has clear benefits for the customer.
The second category is the products and services customers usually buy only when they really need them. For example, a refrigerator. If your fridge breaks, you not only want to buy a new one, you need to buy a new.
A common problem is getting stuck with tactical and short-term marketing ploys, instead of purpose-driven, top-of-mind brand building.
The third category is commodities that need proper consideration – more complex products and services. These are usually products and services such as B2B services, entirely new technologies, or expensive investments like for example solar panels.
All the categories above are simple generalizations – practical tools that help to start building the marketing and content strategy. It’s a framework for making decisions. After you have categorized the product or service you want to sell, it’s much easier to choose your marketing approach and how to use your limited budget.
Buying behaviour defines tactics
At this point, you might already have an idea of how you will allocate money, time and resources. Each way, and each “buying behavior”, defines which marketing action is the most effective – or what part of the sales funnel you should concentrate on feeding with fresh content.
Impulsive buying is the easiest. With tactical and targeted ads, you can effortlessly drive traffic and potential customers towards your buy-buttons and conversion points. The downside, however, is that you quickly end up with short-term results and a long-term sales expense.
A common problem we have encountered in companies is that marketing departments get stuck doing tactical and short-term marketing ploys, instead of purpose-driven, top-of-mind brand building, and thus focusing on customer loyalty.
In need-based buying, marketing efforts should focus on brand awareness and search engine optimization. The question is: When a need arises, where and how are potential customers searching for a solution? Wherever it is, you should be there too. If your brand content works as it should, potential customers would go straight to your service.
Consideration-heavy commodities require a lot of sales and marketing efforts. If possible, you should consider is it possible to make your product more “impulse-friendly” to buy. For example, you can split the payment or launch a subscription model. Another possibility is to offer free trials to support the customer’s buying decision.
Consideration-heavy services and products need real sales efforts, like direct sales, cold calls, events and so on. All these should be linked to, and with, every marketing action.
Don’t sell, provide value instead
It might be useful to think of marketing as lead generation instead of sales. Then you can stop doing impractical tactical marketing and concentrate on building your brand’s positioning, awareness or thought leadership.
Moreover, you can then start producing content and stories that provide genuine value for your customers instead of constantly trying to sell them something.
Once you understand how your customers buy, you can start creating focused marketing plans guided by the behavioral north star. By mapping customers’ journeys, you begin to grasp how your customers’ buying behavior can be supported with content at every stage of their experience.
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