by Karon Thackston © 2003 http://www.copywritingcourse.com
Most marketers don’t give a lot of thought to buying processes of their customers. That’s a shame. Lending due attention to buying process can have a dramatic effect on your sales.
What is buying process? Where does your customer fall within it? How can you use it to help bring your customer to point-of-purchase? Follow me as we take a look at decisions customers must make before deciding to buy.
Each and every one of us goes through some sort of buying process when we make a purchase. At times process is long and labored – as when buying a new computer. At other moments it happens almost without thought – when buying a box of your favorite cereal, for instance. But make no mistake… it does happen.
Generally speaking, buying process consists of five steps. Those products/services that are new to market, are new to your customer, or are very expensive will require a longer period of consideration in each phase. Products/services that are familiar, that have market longevity, or that cost very little will require a shorter (even instantaneous) process.
Step One - Need/Want Recognition
During this step, buyers realize they want or need something. They recognize that they have a problem or a desire, and they choose to find a solution. If this need or want is something along lines of lunch, buying decision can be made relatively quickly, without much thought of actual buying process. Hunger is a quick problem to solve, most options are familiar to buyers, and cost is usually low.
If need or want is a new car, however, actual buying decision can take weeks or months. There is a greater risk, new models and features come out all time, cost is high, and possibility of making a “mistake” when buying is great.
Step Two - Information Search
Once choice has been made to fill a need or want, your customer begins to search for information in order to make a quality decision that is in his/her best interest. Web sites may be visited (in which case you should offer some way for customer to remember you, such as printable versions of information, downloadable brochures and catalogs, a way to bookmark your site, etc.). Brochures may be gathered (be sure to offer your contact information). Phone calls might be placed (check to ensure you or your call staff has information they need to answer questions). Free samples, test drives, and other means of “trial” work wonderfully to guide your customer through information search stage and onto evaluation and purchase stages.