Getting your customers from here… to there
Cult has developed a simple model that is useful in identifying how people move down the decision-making funnel and how to positively influence that journey. This framework is a great way to help map the customer journey and identify the touchpoints that a customer interacts with.
Step 1: What do you really know about your Target Audiences?
Figuring out exactly who your target audience is, how they think, and what will motivate them is extremely complicated.
On one hand, you can easily identify certain criteria and characteristics that your target customers (or target companies) must have in order to be considered valid prospects. For instance, one of our clients targets companies with 250 or more discrete physical locations. Another client only targets companies with over 2,500 employees that self-fund their health care benefits programs. In the consumer space, it might be women that wear sexy lingerie. That’s step one and that puts you into the consumer category or industry you’ll be marketing and selling into.
Now, the tough part. How do you get deep inside the mind of your target audiences? We know from the marketing literature that about 90% of decision-making takes place in the emotional/subliminal part of the brain. That’s what you need to understand about your target customers. Cult has an interesting qualitative methodology that is a combination of ethnography (observational research) and the narrative sciences (psychological research) that yields breakthrough insights. We can also use quant to further validate the findings.
Step 2: Understanding the decision-making process
The first step in any decision-making process is always the Need/Want phase. And by the way, most of the time it’s the Want part that is the driver. After all, do you really Need that new pair of shoes, tickets to a concert, or to eat at the new steak restaurant? Nope. The Want part of the equation is largely driven by that emotional element so this is where branding plays a major role.
Moving down the funnel, now the customer is looking for what’s out there in the Search for Information phase. In the digital age, this will likely start with a mobile device (about 70% of the time) search on Google or a visit to Amazon or other digital site. Cult now has research tools by which you can follow your customers’ exact digital journeys. And, let’s not forget the role of TV advertising, outdoor, print, conventions/trade shows, referrals and good old word of mouth.
Next up is the Evaluation of Alternatives/Decision Factors phase. Here, the consumer is comparing your product or service to other alternatives. If the customer is brand loyal, this phase of the process goes fast. Touchpoints that impact this phase are consumer reviews and expert opinions, as well as previous brand experience, sampling, or trusted networks. Some customers become more cognitively driven at this point and look at price, payment terms, and a wide variety of tangible product features.
Finally, the Engagement and the Brand Experience phase is the physical act of buying the product or service and the overall purchase experience. Whether in a retail environment where there is a real life human interaction, or online, this can be the breaking point of a transaction. If it’s a complex, high involvement purchase, there are a ton of opportunities to gain or lose trust.
Step 3: Impacting the journey at every touchpoint
Here is where good creative and precise implementation, based on a deep knowledge of decision-making and buying behaviors comes into play. A holistic approach that considers each brand touchpoint is critical here and must be constantly monitored. The best companies have figured out how to positively impact these touchpoints through solid internal and external branding.