Why you should pay attention to your customers’ buying process

You understand who your customers are, you know their needs and wants, but do you know what drives them to purchase your products or services over someone else’s? Many businesses are not aware that there is a clearly defined process that most people go through when they are making a buying decision.

Understanding this process and how it applies to your customers can help you tailor your marketing messages so you are sending the right information at the right time.

There are five stages to the typical customer buying process, although this can vary between individuals in different circumstances.

1. Need recognition

The decision to make a purchase is triggered by the identification of a need. This could be a physical need like hunger or thirst, or it could be a material need. Maybe an appliance has broken down, your customer has seen an advertisement about a new device they think would improve their lives or a friend has recommended they get financial advice. As a business it’s a good idea to consider what needs trigger your customers’ buying decisions so you can make sure you are reaching them at the right time.

2. Information gathering

This stage is where the product or service is researched. The information gathering stage can be brief or even non-existent in cases where the need is small and easily met. How do your customers research your products or services? Where do they go? Once you have determined where and how they find out more about what you’re offering you can make sure you are providing them with the information they need in the right places.

3. Evaluation

Once they have all the information they need, your customers will then undergo a process of evaluation where they decide which product or service to choose. If you want to reach customers at this stage it helps to spend some time thinking about what factors other than price make them choose you over the others and ensure these factors are made clear to them at this time.

4. Purchase

Once the decision is made, the customer will make their purchase. During their research and evaluation stages they will have developed certain expectations about your products or services and it’s important that you meet them. Paying attention to customer service, quick shipping and quality control are important here.

5. Post-purchase

This is an important stage that many businesses forget about. It is common for buyers to experience remorse after they have purchased a product or service, especially if they feel it doesn’t live up to their expectations. Disappointment post purchase could lead to bad word of mouth and little repeat business so it’s important to take this stage seriously and follow up with customers to reaffirm that they have made the right decision and deal with any queries.

As a business, the more you can tailor your marketing to speak to your customers at different stages of the buying process, the more effective it will be. By understanding the five stages and adapting your marketing to make the most of each stage you can increase your sales and improve your marketing results.


About the Author:

Jo Macdermott is the Chief Marketing Consultant at Next Marketing in Melbourne. She has 15 years of marketing experience, is a Certified Practising Marketer and is a sought after marketing media commentator. Jo specialises in working with small and medium businesses. Follow her on Twitter here.

  • This is a great article that discusses everything a serious small business owner should know moving forward. It is going to be a very competitive world and taking good care of your customer’s interests at every stage is crucial.