Digital Presence Part 2: An Overview of Buy-Cycle Stages

Overview of stages in buyer's journey for local service businesses

Yesterday, we discussed the building blocks your business needs to have in place in order to accommodate buyers at any stage in the Purchase Consideration Continuum. Today, we’ll jump right into the commonly accepted buyer phases and related, appropriate social and digital media strategies. Let’s begin!

Unaware

The buyer does not know you, your product, or that they even have a need for your product's broad category as a whole. If you were a spa or salon owner, this could be eyelash extensions or permanent makeup. You want to tell a story that teases your audience and prompts them to engage and understand the challenge they face without your service or how they will be better off if they address this problem. You'll want to, at high level, package the hope or fear associated with action or inaction.

At this stage, local, targeted Facebook or local city site display ads are one avenue to stir such interest. This is broad outreach to your geographically, demographically and psychographically-targeted buyer personas.

Aware

The buyer first recognizes the symptoms of not having your service. But while you've hooked them on the problem, you've not likely hooked them on your solution yet. Usually, it's not even close at this point because this is where the buyer starts to do some research. They look at handful of providers before committing to any one.

The first thing to do is make sure buyers in this stage can find you! Directories and search engine optimization (SEO) are critical. And the best way to ensure that your presence is seen (and reinforce that you know what you're doing) is to create paid search campaigns that tie into your website copy and blog articles you write about your field and related solutions. Digital Sherpa states, "A blog provides accurate, relevant, fresh content that sales leads — and search engines — appreciate."  Blogs aren't just for big players!

Ensuring relevant, frequently-updated content populates your website is a way to be an SEO winner and get even your customers coming back to your site.

Solid customer reviews are important to avoid being weeded out early. Per Yahoo Small Business Adviser, "business reviews are more important than ever in 2014. Small business owners need to make sure they’re taking advantage of all the different review options, making efforts to earn quality reviews, and communicating with the team about updating and managing comments". 

Once they find you and reach out to you, ensure that you give them the ability to get more information (e.g. an online brochure). When they reach out to you, a landing page in which they provide their email address and phone number (or more) will provide you with critical information you need to follow up. You can even ask to have them join your email list at this point.

Interest

This is the stage where the buyer has come to understand they do indeed have a problem and they would like it solved. They understand the cost of inaction and the upside of action.

This is the stage is when the buyer turns the corner from considering you and many others, to, ideally, just settling on you or you and maybe just one other. In the Aware stage, your goal was to show that you knew what you’re doing; in the Interest stage, it's about showing what you do – clearly illustrating your solution so that they can begin to see themselves using it, enjoying it, even paying for it.  Take away all guesswork and scary scenarios and set them at ease. 

You need to make clear what the service or solution will be, what the ROI will be, and how your solution is the best available. Having basic YouTube videos (Statista reports that 28% of SMBs will invest in video this year), Pinterest boards (when an average Pinterest user clicks through to your site, they are likely to spend $179, per SMBNow), a Facebook Page, infographics and other information visuals, and customer case studies that show ROI will help here as well.

Desire to Take Action (with You)      

The prospects are now ready to move. They've done their research, they’ve seen what your solution looks and acts like, and they understand what it delivers. But they may still not be yet fully anchored to you - even beyond the terms and conditions still in the works.

Here, locking the customer in via your "successful" customers can get you to the altar. Increasingly important in the buyer consideration “close” stages are those customer ratings and reviews, written and video testimonials, and feedback on social media. These elements can either sway a prospect toward using your business, or drive them to a competitor. That’s why it’s important to encourage your happy clients to share feedback on review sites and social.

Action!

At this stage, prospects are really, really close to buying! Don’t take this last step for granted. Now is the time for personal contact, accompanied by email-based special offers or discounts. But, most of all, make it easy to buy, ideally via an online appointment and/or ecommerce transaction solution. Don’t let the absence of a deal closer close the deal against you. Don't give prospects a reason to let those feet get cold or to let buyer's remorse set in before they make a purchase.

 

About the Author

Jim D'Arcangelo

Jim D’Arcangelo leads Booker’s marketing organization, with specific focus on strategic market expansion, brand and corporate communications, product marketing, demand-gen and sales enablement.

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