Hubspot defines the buyer’s journey as “the process buyers go through to become aware of, evaluate and purchase a new product or service”. Typically, the journey a buyer goes through will be a 3-step process containing – awareness, consideration and finally, the decision stage. Within the awareness stage, the buyer acknowledges that they have a problem then they move into the consideration stage where they work on defining the problem and beginning their research to a solution. Lastly, at the decision stage the buyer of course makes the purchase or decision to use a specific solution or work with a business. Defining the buyer’s journey for your business can seem like a difficult task if you have been using referral marketing as your main strategy. However, understanding the steps a new client will take when searching for your solution will improve your business model, help you make better decisions and ultimately grow your revenue.
How You Can Define The Buyer’s Journey For Your Company
Do I need a buyer’s journey if my business has always relied on “word of mouth” to grow?
Many businesses have spent little time thinking through their ideal customer’s buyer’s journey because they continue to grow through referrals or word of mouth. While word of mouth and referrals can be considered the best way to gain new clients and business, relying solely on this type of growth can result in loss of ideal customers. Word of mouth is hard to control, especially when it comes to targeting the right customers and promoting services that increase your revenue the most. Relying on referrals only can be a weakness that will not bring in consistent revenue and help with predictions for business decisions. So instead of accepting how things are done now, look towards the future and consider an investment in other types of marketing that will help you grow and retain your best clientele.
How To Define Your Business’ Buyer’s Journey for Better Marketing
For businesses, no two buyer journeys will be exactly the same. However, using the 3-step definition from Hubspot (awareness, consideration and decision) you can align your ideal customer’s journey to improve your marketing tactics. Remember that the content you provide at each stage of the buyer’s journey should not be about your brand but focused on the pain point of the customer at that stage. Let’s use the example of what a prospective client would go through when searching for a veterinarian.
Stage 1: Awareness
At this stage, your prospect may not be aware that they have a need for a veterinarian or they are aware of the general need but not sure of the specific solution. The key here is to provide the prospect with educational content that will provide value to them as they explore their need and possibly solutions. For example, maybe they just adopted a new puppy and are not sure what the first steps are to caring for a young dog. As a veterinarian office, you can provide content such as:
- Blogs: A new dog owner may be searching around the internet for advice on the best ways to care for their family’s addition. By publishing articles on your website about the first things to when adopting a new puppy, caring for a young dog and the “need to know” information for this type of prospect at this stage is a great way to pull this prospective customer into engaging with your business. The key is to include useful, actionable information that will build trust with the reader and get them to continue reading and/or subscribe.
- eBooks, Checklists and White papers: The more content, the better. This stage of the buyer’s journey is all about education and content consumption. The prospect needs to understand their challenges and see your business as an expert. Create a downloadable offer in the form of an eBook , checklist or white paper where you ask for the visitors email in exchange for a download. This type of content at this stage can be extremely valuable for both your business and the prospect.
Stage 2: Consideration
Your prospect is now at the stage where they understand their need and possible solutions but are not sure about the exact solution or business to choose. A new dog owner may have read up on the appropriate training and acclimation techniques for their puppy but has also became aware that they are in need of a vet appointment for shots and a check up. They are not “considering” their options and looking around for solutions, offices, to fit their needs. At this point it’s important for your business to:
- Understand your ideal customer’s pain points and provide easy ways for them to find that information on your website. Clearly identify your location, your office’s experience and accreditations. Is budget a factor for your ideal customer? Clarify pricing and payment options on a specific website page. Use your website as a way to speak directly to your ideal client and give them what they need to consider your business as their choice.
- Know your competition. It’s important to do your research on your competition and understand how you compare and how your prospect will see your business vs. them. What type of information and value can you provide online that your competition does not? Communicate what makes you different and better than other businesses they may be comparing.
Stage 3: Decision
Now that your prospect has done their research and made their comparisons, it’s time for them to choose a solution. Don’t think that at this point the “work” is over! Make sure to keep communication constant and clear once the prospect has called for an appointment. First impressions are very important so staff training on this stage can be critical to keep clients happy and actually coming in for the appointment they called for. Using software like a client portal where new customers can access information and fill out a questionnaire ahead of time can increase customer experience and help “delight” at the decision stage. Confirmation and appointment text messages, emails and reminder calls are another way to ensure success at the decision stage of the buyer’s journey.
After the decision stage, it’s critical for a business to continue to delight and educate. Sending out monthly newsletters, follow up surveys for feedback and even calling to remind for re-booking are all great ways a veterinarian, or any business, can delight post-decision.
As you improve your content and begin to understand your ideal buyer’s journey more and more, you may begin to develop new ideal customer personas and additional aspects throughout the 3 stage journey. Ideas for content, social media marketing and email campaigns will all stem from the insight you gain into how your client solve their challenges. For businesses that previously relied only on word of mouth, with this change you can expect to see a growth of business in your target audience and a deeper understanding of why they chose you!