I recently read Todd Brown’s Article on “the Greatest Marketing Lesson”, which I thought useful, and it made me think about reiterating this important lesson to go along with it.
Todd actually wrote about a concept he learned from Eugene Schwartz regarding the “level of sophistication” your audience has achieved and how to tailor your marketing to that. When you’re finished reading this post, go read Todd’s.
What Eugene Schwartz doesn’t talk about in that lesson is knowing what stage of the buying process your audience is in. Without fully understanding these, you may still be sending the wrong message using Eugene’s marketing advice.
There are three basic steps in the buying process.
The First Step of the Buying Process
The first step is the education phase. That is the phase my Benefits-of-Resveratrol.com site speaks to. Anytime you’re learning the benefits or features of something – you’re in the first phase. Calling the site Benefits of Resveratrol speaks directly to that first phase desire: This is where you can learn about resveratrol. If you just googled “Buy Resveratrol Supplement” and one of the pages of my site came up in the results, your first inclination would be to click the GNC.com / HealthSupplements.com or other e-commerce sounding link before going to the benefits/wikipedia style site. If you do have an informational benefits/features site – you should recognize you’re marketing to Phase I consumers and should read Todd’s post about understanding the maturity of that audience.
The Second Step of the Buying Process
The second step is what Consumer Reports caters too. You already know the benefits of the digital camera you want, you’re ready to compare cameras to see which offer those benefits. Perhaps you could call this the comparison phase. Whether you’re comparing features, benefits, price, delivery speed, or website return information – you’re in the second phase. If you have a comparison site (where you feature 4 stars for your top rated product for example) then you are definitely catering to the Phase 2 crowd – but are probably seeing some of the “buying stage” customers as well. It’s important to recognize that much of your customer base isn’t at your site to buy. They may buy – but they are there to compare. Grasp That. Market to that need so well that they fell compelled to buy from you as well.
The Final Step of the Buying Process
The third and final step is the “buying phase”. You may still be comparing price a bit – but if you are, you’re likely comparing the price of a specific microwave oven on one site to that of another site. The final phase customers know what they want – they need a place to buy it. This is the phase that a 1800Flowers.com or GNC.com caters to directly. They pay for ads for specific products directing you to that product’s Order Now page. This is the phase that Todd’s post speaks to directly in terms of understanding the experience level of your customer base. If your customer is there to buy – they don’t need to be ‘sold’ again on how much dirt your vacuum picks up.
Without combining Eugene Schwartz’s marketing message and your knowledge of your customer’s current buying process ‘mindset’, you may still be sending a mixed message. Know where your site fits into the buying process – and take that knowledge with you in determining the “sophistication level” of your market.