Understanding People-Based Marketing and the Consumer Journey
In my previous blog, How to Develop Mobile-First Marketing Strategies, I mentioned that "the path to purchase is complex" and that we "need to engage in people-based marketing at every stage of the consumer journey." But what exactly does "people-based marketing" mean and how do we understand the consumer journey?
People-Based Marketing vs. Product-Based Marketing
Product-Based Marketing uses the value proposition (strengths and "good points") of a product as the foundation and center of a marketing campaign/initiative with the expectation that people will buy it because of the value proposition.
People-Based Marketing on the other hand connects a brand's/product's value proposition to its target market's expressed need.
Let us use the target market definition we used in my previous blog:
- Stay at home millennial Moms in the East Coast
- with children below 5 years old
- has a seasonal allocated budget for family clothes and accessories of $500-$1,500
- owns a mobile device (smartphone or tablet)
- has high-speed internet access
- active on Facebook, Instagram and/or Pinterest
- usually goes online around 6-8am EST before household duties begin and again at 8-10pm after household duties are done
And let's pretend that we are a brand of children's clothing that uses organic cotton as the base material of our product line and we are trying to market our product to the aforementioned target audience.
Simplified Example A: Our line of children's clothing is made of organic cotton so it's a good product for you to buy for your children.
Simplified Example B: Your child's skin will be extra sensitive from birth to about 6 years of age. Our line of children's clothing is made from organic cotton that is grown naturally without chemicals.
Example A highlights the product's main value proposition and promotes that as the focal point of the marketing strategy. Example B still capitalizes on the product's main asset BUT relates it with a need of the target market.
Nowadays it is not enough to just come out with a "good product." That product only becomes legitimately "good" only when it is able to meet the needs of your target market. If it's not doing that, then you either have the wrong product or the wrong market.
The Consumer Journey
The Consumer journey is like a funnel
But because we are now living in the Digital Age, the path to purchase has become more complex. Don't get me wrong. The funnel system is still applicable today, but it does blur the fact that a consumer can become a customer at any point in their path to purchase -- if we reach them where they are at the "right" (opportune) time.
Consumer Journey: AWARENESS
How to Market: Awareness is the most common type of marketing you will see out there, this is when brands "introduce" themselves to the world and try to win over their target market block.
Awareness marketing are usually about brand identity and their product's or service's value proposition -- meaning why they're product/service valuable or how it will add value to their target market's life.
It is not impossible to convert a consumer into a customer at this early stage in the consumer journey because there are some people who are actively on the lookout for "just the right" product, and if you present your product out there, showing that it meets what a consumer is actively looking for, they can buy your product/ avail of your service on the spot (convert from consumer to customer).
Consumer Journey: DEMAND GENERATION
How to Market: Not everyone is as easy to convince as those who convert from consumer to customer at the Awareness stage. Some people need a good deal of convincing and this is where Demand Generation posts come in.
At its simplest, it's about generating demand -- making your target market "want" your product/service by presenting or creating an environment that will "ripen" them for purchase.
Depending on the characteristics of your target market, Demand Generation marketing can include (but not be limited to) a loyalty reward system, posts that highlight getting value for their money, introducing a limited/exclusive option, offering discounts, using "influencers" -- celebrity endorsers, individual or group advocates, lifestyle personalities, etc.
Consumer Journey: ACQUISITION
How to Market: You'd think once a consumer has the item in their cart that it's just a matter of clicking the "Checkout" button right? Well it's actually not that easy, not even at this stage in the consumer journey.
According to a research conducted by the Baymard Institute in January 2017, the average documented online shopping cart abandonment rate is 69.23%, which means it is actually higher on some industries / business categories than others.
How can this be resolved with marketing? Well, depending on the possible reasons a consumer would abandon their cart from your shop, you can try creating solutions and improving systems in the areas of:
- how easy/simple is the checkout process
how honest are the calculations
- how upfront is a shop about taxes and other fees charged on top of an actual purchase, etc.
Shipping and Returns
- do you provide honest shipping rates -- meaning if a consumer checks with the local post or the courier you use, will they find the same shipping rates
- are return policies convenient and hassle free -- meaning the return process is simple and does not cause the consumer undue stress or incur exorbitant costs
- are they given the choice of refund or replacement, etc.
- 0% interest credit card installments
- buy-now-pay-later option
- partial payment option, etc.
- launching collections or dropping down prices during pay days is an example of a strategic sale
Consumer Journey: TRANSACTION
How to Market: And now to that coveted "ka-ching" stage in the consumer journey where a consumer finally becomes your customer.
The main things you can highlight when marketing at the Transaction stage is providing multiple and convenient payment options or payment gateways -- do you accept all major credit cards? Do you accept international credit cards? Can people directly checkout with their credit card without going through a middle platform? (i.e. PayPal) Do you have a PayPal option to pay? And if you have both brick-and-mortar / on-ground and online shop are you able to guarantee that their on-ground and online experience are seamlessly the same? Is their buying experience just as good if they buy in your on-ground shop or online?
At this stage in the consumer journey it is important to give them a good and convenient experience in order to secure two very important things: referrals and repeats.
Referrals. If your customer has a remarkable experience from your shop/business they will almost certainly tell someone about it. Whether that "remarkable" experience is remarkably good or remarkably bad, is up to you. But you know as well as I do that when it is a remarkably good experience, you are bound to gain a referral or two, at least.
Repeats. This is the closest you will get to "customer loyalty" in this day and age when people are truthfully only loyal to their needs and to whichever brand out there meets that need in the best way possible. If you get repeat customers that means you are doing something right. Find out what it is and make sure to monitor it to either maintain its consistency or improve it.