An essential part of any advertising campaign is consideration of the consumer buying process. Understanding and addressing the stages of the process at the top of the purchase funnel can influence whether the consumer buys from you or goes to one of your competitors. We’ve put together some tips for advertising aimed at the early stages of the consumer buying process.
Overview of the consumer buying process
- Problem recognition. In the first stage of the purchase funnel, the consumer has a desire or need for something.
- Information search. Once the consumer becomes aware of the problem, they will begin the search for a solution.
- Evaluation of alternatives. Consumers will do their research and compare options to ensure they make the right choice.
- Purchase decision. Once a consumer has explored the options and understands the price alternatives, they will make a decision about whether they want to purchase.
- Purchase. At this point, all the steps necessary for conversion have been completed.
- Post-purchase evaluation. The customer will decide whether they are satisfied with their purchase.
Why it’s important to advertise before the customer gets to the purchase decision stage
Let’s say you have a household appliance business. A refrigerator or dishwasher is not something consumers purchase every day. But when their refrigerator stops working or they decide to upgrade their kitchen, you want them to think of your business. That’s why it’s important to stay top-of-mind with consumers and ensure that yours is the first business they think of when they realize they have a need. To do that, you need to be talking to consumers throughout the various stages of the buying funnel.
One of the best opportunities for marketing is in helping consumers get to Stage 1, problem recognition. In effect, you can “create a problem” for a customer by helping them realize they have a need for your product. For example, you might run a radio ad that uses a short testimonial from one of your customers about how satisfied they are with the product or service they purchased from you, followed by questions that pull the consumer into the buying process.
Positioning your business as a thought leader and a trusted source for information is a way to advertise to Stage 2 of the purchase funnel, the information search. In your radio advertising, you might mention the well-known name brands your store carries or that your company has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
In Stage 3, during the evaluation of alternatives, consumers are doing more research than ever. Even if they’re sure of what they want, they will still compare options and price points. Your advertising should put the focus on the benefits of your products and the reasons the consumer should buy from you instead of your competitor. In your radio advertising, you might offer a free trial, or create a sense of urgency with a limited time offer or discount.
A consumer’s decision to purchase, whether it’s from you or your competitor, begins with their perception of a need. Your advertising should help to create that perception among consumers, establish your business as a trusted source for solving the need, and reassure them that they are making the right decision when they choose to buy from your company.