Do you have a buyer’s journey map for your clients?
We often think about how our people find us. In-person networking, a speaking engagement, a blog post, social media, and so forth. But what do they do next is just as important as how they get to you.
There’s an old saying accredited to Lao-Tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” It’s true for your clients also. And that first step is probably not filling out an order form or engaging your services.
The exact process will differ by product or service, and your cliets come to you by different routes than those of even your closest competitor. But it’s always a process, and it pays you in many ways to be aware of it.
Buyer’s Journey: Investment and Stakes
People go through a buyer’s journey for every purchase. For something inexpensive and low-stakes, that journey will be very short.
Should I buy a drink?
There might be some other questions in there. “What’s the best price?” “Is this good for me?” But most people reach an answer, whether yes or no, quickly.
If the purchase is more expensive, like a flat-screen TV, for example, the process will be longer.
This TV is terrible.
Can I fix it or do I need a new one?
What features do I want?
What’s my criteria for a good TV?
What’s the best deal on a TV in my preferred category?
Is that brand reliable?
When is the best time to buy?
How will I get it home?
The larger purchase decision usually involves research, from googling the reviews to talking to friends. Then there’s the search for the best vendor and finally the purchase decision. It can take place over a few days to several months.
The TV is a higher-ticket item than the soft drink, but still low-stakes. If it turns out to be a terrible TV, the customer has lost only money. So while buying a TV takes more consideration than buying a soft drink, it’s less than buying a high-stakes item.
A high-stakes purchase could have a profound effect on your life, whether for good or bad. A bad doctor, an incompetent attorney, a dishonest business partner — all these have the possibility of devastating your life if you choose poorly.
Your product is the best and your service is reliable, but look at it from your clients’ point of view. What do they have to gain? What do they stand to lose? How can you help them through the process?
Your Clients’ Buyer’s Journey
What is the journey to your service or product?
There are many ways of counting the steps leading up to the purchase, but here is a simple one:
- Awareness — The prospect goes from not knowing there’s a problem to knowing there’s a problem and wanting a solution. For example, until I got glasses in fourth grade, I had no idea I needed them. The steps to reach people who don’t know they need your services are different from the ones that lead them to click the “buy now” button.
- Exploration — The prospect begins researching solutions to the problem. Looking at different approaches. At the end of exploration, the prospect has decided on a category of solution.
- Search — The prospect looks for the best provider for that solution. Who will give me just the service I want for the right price? Who is the most reliable? Who can I trust? At the end of search, the prospect has become a buyer.
After the purchase, the journey continues:
- Use — The client needs to get the most value possible from the product. (Hint, if they don’t get the benefit, they won’t buy anything else, and your reputation may suffer, regardless of the quality of what they bought.)
- Recommendation — The client has had such a good experience that he or she raves about you to friends, writes you up on social media, recommends you to others with the same problem.
There are many ways to categorize the steps in the buyer’s journey. Here are a couple more you can use for comparison:
Creating Your Buyer’s Journey Map
So, how do your clients arrive at your door?
You can make more intelligent decisions about both what you offer and how to market it if you know the answer to that question.
It starts, as everything in your business does, with who your client is. Demographics, interests, challenges and aspirations.
Then what is the process for arriving at your door.
What about the clients you have now. How did you meet them? How did they find you? How did they decide to hire you?
Do you need to make them aware of the problem? (Before I got glasses in fourth grade, I didn’t know I needed them. Someone had to figure out that I couldn’t see.)
Is your service low-stakes or high-stakes? How does that affect your client’s journey?
What is the best content and what are the best channels to reach your client at each stage of the journey?
And finally, how can you help them make the best use of your service and encourage them to recommend you to their friends and colleagues?
The buyer’s journey map will take into account:
- First contact
- Best channels for each stage of the journey
- Content that helps the journey along
- Small, medium, and large offers that smooth the way through the funnel.
- How to maintain ongoing contact with your clients and prospects to lead them to develop stronger and deeper relationships with you.
If you think through these questions, it will lead to new ideas about what your clients need and how best to communicate with them.
There are a number of tools you can use to explore this.
If you need help to get started, Crownpeak offers a 10-minute template.
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