As needs-based consumers, we generally go through some routine stages prior to purchase. It is really helpful to understand the concept of ‘the buyer’s journey’ when running a business involving the sale of a product or service.
We begin with the identification of a ‘need’: from something as simple as being invited to a BYO party (“I need to buy drinks to take with me”) to more complex purchases for your business (“I need to market my business better”).
We call this “the buyer’s journey” and simply put it’s the active research process a buyer goes through trying to solve a problem they have, leading up to a purchase. It is a model that helps businesses keep the buyer’s behaviour, information, needs and pain points central to any activity in sales and marketing divisions.
There are three stages of the buyer’s journey:
1) Awareness – The buyer is expressing symptoms of a problem. They don’t know the name of their it yet; but they are expressing symptoms of an underlying problem you can solve for them.
2) Consideration – The buyer puts a name to their symptoms, reviews options and selects a course of action to explore.
3) Decision – The buyer investigates products or suppliers that might help them solve the problem from the course of action they have chosen.
We’ve all done it and we do it every day. Example 1:
1) Awareness (expressing symptoms of a problem): I have a sore throat and headache. I feel cold and lethargic.
2) Consideration (naming their symptoms and exploring options): I think I have a virus. I could go to the chemist for some medicine, I could go for some natural therapies, I could see a doctor, or I could head to the hospital. I can’t afford to be out of action for long; I’ll head to a doctor.
3) Decision (making a decision): There’s a local doctor in the City I could go to immediately who doesn’t bulk bill, or I could wait until I get home and go to the local medical clinic that bulk bills. Cost is a consideration; I’m going to the local doctor tonight.
1) Awareness: I have a new job and have to travel a long distance in the car. My car isn’t very economical; it costs me a fortune in petrol.
2) Consideration: I need a new way to get to and from work. I could use public transport, car-pooling or try a different car. Public transport increases my commute by an hour each way and no one is travelling the same way as me. I need a different car.
3) Decision: I like the running costs and look of the Suzuki Alto or the Holden Cruze Equipe, but I have other needs like safety. I’m getting a Holden Cruze Equipe as it best meets all my needs.
In the land of content marketing, one size rarely fits all. So once you’ve created your buyer personas, it’s time to go through your content mapping exercise. This process is the beginning of your content strategy, targeting content according to:
(a) the characteristics of the consumer (the Buyer Persona), and
(b) how close that person is to making a purchase (stages of the Buyer’s Journey).