Every time your customer doesn’t buy from you, they’re making a string of choices leading to that decision.
Successful marketers understand what that chain of choices really is, and focus on influencing the chain early on.
For example, if you’re selling tires: focus on educating consumers about how to get the most life out of their tires and how to tell if they need new tires. Your audience will appreciate the information, and feel more comfortable working with you.
For every product or service, the chain is unique. However, there are certain stages that are common to most purchase decisions, although they don’t always happen in the same order.
At some point your audience decides that some sort of improvement or change is needed in their life.
It’s at this point that your consumer shows interest in learning more about the product/service you’re offering (sometimes this is subconscious, and the best marketers kindle this need in their customers).
Every initial purchase with a brand is made with some sort of research. Whether that means comparing features online or at the supermarket, you will be compared to your competitors at some point.
In this stage, the consumer will also start to form expectations about what they should be getting for their money.
After all the facts have been gathered, your consumer will assign a value to you, plus your competitors. Factors that affect the valuation might include distribution channel, perceived service quality, product presentation, previous experiences, and perceived quality.
This is the critical part where your consumer makes a decision to go with a particular solution.
If you don’t meet the expectations established in the Investigation stage, you risk losing out on future business. If you go above and beyond to deliver a kick-ass experience, you might cause your customer to skip the Investigation and Valuation phases for the foreseeable future.
So you see, this is what marketing really comes down to. Influencing choices through the communication of benefits.