Don’t propose to your customers on the first date.
Your future spouse needs to get to know you before they are ready to spend the rest of their lives with you. It’s the same with your customers. Many businesses ask for the sale before they’ve built a relationship and wonder why they get rejected.
There’s a whole journey that customers take as they move towards buying a product or service. The buying journey framework is an effective way to plan your communication activity and understand your customer’s needs. Successful businesses master the art of engaging with their audience and potential customers during every stage of their buying journey.
The first stage in your customer’s journey is awareness. Your customers start out with no idea that you exist. You need to let them know who you are, what you offer, and why they should choose you. Optimising your website for search engines, creating valuable content, and running digital ad campaigns can all help you create awareness.
Now your customers know that you exist, help them engage further with you. Be interesting! Have a beautiful brand and stellar photography to tell your story. Talk to them in their language, using words and phrases that they can relate to.
Create ‘High-Value Content’ that helps them solve a problem in their decision making and give it away for free. If you’re selling mountain bikes, write a comprehensive guide titled, “what to look for when buying a new mountain bike”. You’ll immediately gain credibility with your potential customers because you’ve offered them something valuable. You don’t want to focus on promoting and selling your product at this stage because your customer hasn’t progressed to the decision stage in their journey. This could be in the form of a post on your website, video on social media or a PDF that customers can download. It’s a good idea to get the customer’s email address in exchange for the ‘High-Value Content’ so you can begin to build an ongoing dialogue with them via email.
Now you’ve established rapport and begun to build a relationship, you’ll need to create the desire in your customer’s minds to choose you and your product or service over your competitors. At this stage, your customer might have questions like, “What do I like about this business that would make me choose them and their products over and above everyone else?” “Will I receive good value from this business?” By the way – value doesn’t mean offering the lowest price. Value means providing the best customer experience, solving problems and having great communication.
When a customer decides to buy from you, it’s because you’ve communicated effectively that the whole experience your brand offers is the best choice for them. Now it’s time to ask them to buy. Give them obvious and easy ways to purchase.
Getting a customer to buy isn’t the end of the process. How you deliver your product or service will determine how your customer feels about their experience. Great communication is essential at this stage – particularly for big-ticket items or service-based business. It’s important for customers to feel like their expectations have been met and for you to address anything that wasn’t quite right.
If there is an issue with your service delivery or product, you have the opportunity to turn customers around from what could be a negative experience into a positive experience. This can only happen if you can communicate well and effectively resolve the problem.
If you’ve delivered well and supported your customer through their buying journey, you can expect to build a genuine fan! They’ll tell their friends, engage on social media, and share their positive experiences. They can even begin to lead other customers through the purchasing journey.
When you introduce a new product, your advocates re-enter their purchase journey at a much later stage, because they already love working with you.
Remember that not everyone is ready to buy right away. Make sure you continue to build communication tools that help your customers move along their journey towards becoming an advocate and loyal fan of your business.