What Is The Buyer’s Journey And How Will It Help Your Business

buyer's journey
Image by Cindy Lever from Pixabay

There are many useful tools and models to help your marketing communication efforts such as the PESO model but have you ever considered the buyer’s journey?

It’s a great way to flip the marketing funnel and understand the journey from the viewpoint of a prospect. This is important in helping you create content and messaging that will resonate.

The marketing funnel is more about you. The buyer’s journey is more about them.

As you will see as we talk about it, there are many similarities to the marketing funnel. We’ll talk about that in another post. For now, we’re going to examine the buyer’s journey and understand its value.

The Buyer’s Journey

There are many marketing funnels. Some are complex and others are more simple. The buyer’s journey is no different. If you were to Google “buyer’s journey”, you would find a myriad of different ideas in relation to this concept.

There isn’t a journey that everybody agrees on. Some have more steps and some less. While there are similarities there are also differences. I’m taking the concept of the buyer’s journey from an article here but as you will see, I’m tweaking it.

I’m defining the buyer’s journey as having four stages:

  • Awareness
  • Research
  • Purchase
  • Advocacy

It Starts with Awareness

This mirrors the marketing funnel that I use in that it all starts with awareness. With the marketing funnel, it’s about making people aware of products and services but this isn’t enough for a prospect to make a purchase or even considering making a purchase.

For the prospect, it’s a little different. Awareness is the realization that they need or want something. There are two things that will spark the journey. The first is a problem they need to solve.

The problem could be anything. Maybe the washing machine breaks down. The car could be less reliable. A computer may be running too slow or is old enough that it doesn’t support new software. Maybe a service has just become too expensive to continue or there was a bad experience.

There is a trick with a problem. Sometimes people aren’t aware they have one. They don’t realize that they could save $300 a year on gas with a new car or 100 hours a year with a different accounting program. These are the types of things that can be addressed in your marketing efforts.

The second thing is a want. Sometimes a prospect doesn’t need something, they just saw an ad have a friend that uses it so they want it too. When the iPhone XR came out my niece started saving her money to buy it. Her iPhone worked fine but she wanted the new one. She purchased it last spring but the way she uses it hasn’t changed. It’s just cooler.

Sometimes people will want something so bad that they will find a way to rationalize it. Several years ago my dad wanted to get rid of the car and buy a Toyota Highlander. My mom had a bad hip so he decided that they needed to buy the Highlander because it was easier for her to get in and out of as it was higher than the car. The fact that she was going to have a hip replacement anyway didn’t factor into it. The bottom line was he wanted the Highlander and was using her ailment as an excuse to get it.

Think about why you purchase. Was there a need or did you just want something?

Searching for an Answer

Once a prospect decides they need or want something, it’s very likely they are going to research it. They want to know how it compares to other products in price and features. Reviews are also important. Is the product all it claims to be or does it fall short?

The last time I bought an iPhone I did a comparison between the models. I wanted to understand the different features on each and how they worked. Was it really worth spending $150 for a few extra features? Some were nice to have but I didn’t see the value to justify the extra expense.

In your marketing, you want to address what is offered and why it is valuable. Better yet, show them why it is valuable.

Think about your own experiences and what type of information you needed before making a purchase decision. Remember, a prospect won’t become a customer unless it’s good for them.

Purchase

Your prospect has made a purchase and is now a customer. Many companies view this as the end of the buyer’s journey. You could look at this as the end of one journey and the beginning of another but it would be a mistake.

If customers are happy, they will purchase again and again. If they like a current product they are more likely to purchase another one in the future or another product you offer.

Years ago when Apple made the iPod available for Windows customers they saw a halo effect. People who loved their iPods were more likely to buy a Mac when they bought a new computer.

Customers want to know they made a good purchase. What are you doing to reinforce that? Years ago I bought a CD from an independent company called CD baby. Instead of the normal order confirmation, I got this:

Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing.

Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved “Bon Voyage!” to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Friday, June 6th.

I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did. Your picture is on our wall as “Customer of the Year.” We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!

It certainly made an impression.

I’ve bought things and took services that I wasn’t sure about but changed my mind after getting great service. I’ve also bought things that I liked but decided not to do further business with the company after poor service.

The experience goes beyond the product. It’s inevitable that something doesn’t work the way should and the customer needs help. What kind of support is available and how is it available? Is there a support page on your website? Can they call or go to the store? How are problems solved?

Advocacy

If your customers have had a good experience with the product and your company, they will promote your company and its products.

The Cult of Apple was all about this. It was people who were passionate about their Macs and anything else Apple. They would promote and defend the company to their friends, family, and strangers online and offline.

Apple is not the only company that has experienced this. Growing up I remember hardcore Ford people and hardcore Chevy people and they were very vocal about their brand.

Your advocates are essentially giving you free marketing. They are trying to convert people to your products. They are also hardcore customers who will buy from you again and again.

Have you ever had a product or a company that you advocated on or offline? Are their companies than you can’t imagine leaving because you’ve had such a wonderful experience?

Final Thoughts

There are many tools to help your marketing and public relations effort such as the marketing funnel. The buyer’s journey flips the viewpoint from the company to the prospect and customer.

It’s a great tool that helps you look at the process from the customer’s view and will help you design content and processes that will help convert and keep customers.

Shane Carpenter
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