How can an understanding of your customer’s journey help you grow your business? Having a good understanding of your customer and where they’re at … whether they’re cold or warm, barely know you or they’re a loyal advocate of your product will help you know how to best market to them without turning them off and turning them away.
Do you remember back when you were dating or perhaps you’re currently in the dating pool? If someone were to come up to you and simply ask you if they could kiss you, you’d probably slap them in the face. But what if you’d been going out for a few weeks and then they put the moves on you. Would you slap them or kiss them back? If you’ve gotten to “know, like and trust” them and you’ve warmed up to them, you’ll probably accept their kiss. But a marriage proposal? You’re probably not that warmed up … yet.
The same goes with working with your potential customers. You can’t just go after them right away with what you have to sell, whether it’s a product or a service. Understanding the stages and how to market to each one of them is effective marketing.
The Customer Journey
Depending on who you ask, there are different steps to the customer journey. For the purpose of this post and to keep things simple, we’ll address the main 4 steps of the journey: awareness, consideration, purchase and advocacy.
There’s actually two kinds of awareness and both of them play into this first step. First, there’s the awareness of the problem that the customer has. If you run a hair salon, your potential clients need to know they have a problem. They need to be aware of their pain points. Maybe it’s the hassle of dealing with curly hair. Or that there’s a more organic, safer way to dye their hair. Second, it’s awareness of who you are as a business. You’re not pushing products or solutions here, just making them aware of who you are. For example, think of the Geico commercials you see on TV. They’re not telling you about their rates, their service, details of their polices, etc. They’re just making you aware of who they are so that when you’re thinking about insurance, you’ll remember and think of them.
With your potential customers or clients now knowing that they have a problem and that you’re a business that addresses said pain points, they move into the consideration phase. You’re not their only choice at this point. They’ll be considering other options as well. This is when they start looking at what makes you different from the competition. Why should they buy from you? What makes you the best option? They’ve gone from a “cold” client to one that’s now warm. They’re aware of you and you can start to sell a little more to them as you move them along their journey, down the sales funnel towards making a purchase.
Ah … they did it! They became a customer or a client. They whipped out their credit card or a wad of cash and made you rich … or at least they’re about to. If they haven’t pulled the trigger yet, what’s holding them back? This is where you need to address any reservations they may have. What’s questions or objections do they have? Help them get over the last hurdle and become a customer. This is often done through testimonials and frequently asked questions.
Now that they’re a full fledged customer, you don’t want to lose them. They’ve gone from cold to beyond warm … they’re hot! It’s much easier to retain a current customer than it is to go out and acquire a new one. Not only that, but as you work with retaining them, you also create an advocate for your brand or company. They’ll be the evangelist out singing your song to others! And who do we trust more when learning about a new company – the owner themselves or their happy customers? So just because they’ve made a purchase, don’t forget about these folks. Keep them happy as loyal followers. It’s just as important to market to them in this part of their journey as it is those that are still in the awareness phase.
Knowing where your customers are in their journey gives you the upper hand. Once you know that a customer is in the awareness phase, you’ll treat them as a “cold” prospect and address your marketing techniques accordingly. If they’re already a “hot” customer in the loyalty or advocacy phase, you’ll approach them differently. The end result is a more effective use of your time, your money and your resources. Your business will grow as you work with each customer in their respective part or phase of their journey.