What's Your Purchase Cycle?

[Before each and every one of us buys something, no matter what the product or service might be, we typically go through specific phases that lead up to our actual purchase. We refer to this process as the Purchase Cycle.
Over the years, we have found that the best way to effectively advertise to our clients’ prospects is to first understand the prospects’ purchase cycle. Knowing this process beforehand can dramatically enhance our clients’ advertising results.
The Purchase Cycle, as we see it, has five distinct phases. We call them I Don’t Know You; I Now Know You; I’m Ready to Give You a Try; I Want More; and I’m Going to Tell a Friend. Here’s what each phase means and how your advertising program should be tailored to generate greater results.

Phase 1: I Don’t Know You

This first stage is obvious. Your prospect has no idea who you are. Your goal is to get on their radar screen and let them know who you are and what you can do for them. Targeted conventional media (such as print publications, electronic, out of home, etc.), public relations and online media are good tools to build awareness quickly.

Phase 2: I Now Know You

At last, your prospect has an idea of who you are. They’ve heard your name, so your goal is to get them interested enough to find out more. They are willing to listen if the message is right. Your website, targeted conventional advertising, targeted email, publication partnering and smart promotions work well during this phase. And having a consistent message in all media strengthens and builds your brand.

Phase 3: I’m Ready to Give You a Try

Now they’re seriously thinking about you. They just need that extra little push over the fence to give you a try. Direct mail and email, customer testimonials and strong promotions or trial offers work exceptionally well here.
Phase 4: I Want More
They’ve tried your product or service. You now want them to buy again. Here’s where you need to be sure they know their business is valuable to you. Remember, it’s 80% less expensive to get an existing customer to buy again than it is to get a new customer. Customer perks, customer clubs, specialized newsletters/emails all work well. Just stay in front of them with valuable information and make them feel special.

Phase 5: I’m Going to Tell a Friend

This is what every marketer lives for: The Grand Slam of Marketing. During this phase, your customers become your salespeople. Their word-of-mouth advertising and referrals become powerful, low-cost sales tools. If you do phases 1 through 4 correctly, the big payoff comes if you can make it to phase 5. Try to thank and reward these people as much as you can.
Just knowing about the five phases of the Purchase Cycle can dramatically help you in your tactical marketing. Since you most likely have prospects currently within each phase of your cycle, tailoring your message to each of the five phases can be critically important to the success of your marketing program.
Until next month…

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