Understand Your Prospect

According to the 4 Phases of the Consumer Buying Journey by Experticity, marketers can’t reach their goals without knowing exactly who their target audiences are and how those people make purchases. But, while creating buyer personas and understanding target markets, doing so has become more difficult as consumer habits evolve and potential customers are spread more widely around the world.

The report says that marketers need to understand exactly how consumers are buying, and who those consumers are consulting along the way. Marketers also need to understand how to better fit their brands into the key conversations consumers are having as they decide what to buy.

As technology expands exponentially, says the report, consumers continue to learn about new offerings from channels and devices that didn’t exist before now. There are more than 200 social networking websites available to consumers, and growing, with numerous review sites, loads of content-marketing offerings, and endless product SKUs combined with anytime-anywhere access through mobile devices.

As today’s consumers operate in a much more complex way, management consulting firm McKinsey & Company has determined four primary phases in which marketers can focus their time and capital:

  • Initial consideration
  • Active evaluation (the process of researching potential purchases)
  • Closure (the point of purchase)
  • Post-purchase (the ongoing experience with product or service)

Consumers form opinions of brands by gathering conscious or subconscious impressions from advertisements and media, why traditional advertising is still so important, says the report; so important that brands will spend millions for 30-second commercials during highly-watched television events or billboards in Times Square. These consumer impressions form what McKinsey & Company refers to as the “Initial Consideration Set: the small number of brands consumers regard at the outset as potential purchasing options.”

Considering the immense amount of advertisements consumers absorb on any given day (more than 5,000 ads and brand exposures daily), says the report, savvy consumers’ reactions have been two-fold: they’ve begun tuning advertisements out and, more importantly, trusting ads less. Only 4% of Americans think the marketing industry behaves with integrity. That’s why they turn to family, friends, online acquaintances and other credible experts for honest reviews.

According to Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Survey, 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and 70% of people trust the online opinions of their fellow consumers. These reviews and opinions help buyers narrow down the brands they’ll ultimately buy. But, while the consumer will take reviews into consideration and do further research online, they still crave expert guidance. In technology, they often want it from retail employees in specialty electronic stores or big-box electronics departments.

Retail sales associates have the power to make or break a purchase like this. Their knowledge and enthusiasm for the product can ensure a brand is chosen, or not chosen. Up to 40% of consumers change their minds just before a purchase due to something they see or hear, confirming that interactions with salespeople are immensely important.

Finally, once a consumer brings a product home and begins using it, an opinion (hopefully positive says the report) forms that the consumer will share that review with friends and family, continuing the word-of-mouth marketing that so many brands desire. If that review is negative, though, the brand may experience a marketing challenge that no amount of advertising can overcome, says the report.

The most important aspect in the new buyer’s journey is the consumer-led information they encounter about your brand. People are still the key to influencing what’s being purchased, says the report, and brands need to align their media mix to hit this reality.

Concluding, after an analysis of the marketing alternatives to overcoming some of the consumer’s reluctance, modern consumers are still affected by advertising and traditional marketing tactics, notes the report. However, today, it’s about getting the right people at the right stages talking about your brand and sharing their experience and recommendations. By understanding how today’s consumers make decisions, your brand can harness the power of influencers and empowered sales associates and their word-of-mouth recommendations, where today’s consumers are most likely to be influenced.

To read more of this study, please visit Experticity here,





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