The Buyer’s Journey Through The Lens Of A Traveler

I think we can all agree on the familiar cliche that life is a journey. In our work, marketing is a journey, too, correct? After all, both life and marketing involve a sizeable degree of branding. Please indulge me as I explain my way out of this mess.

A Buyer’s Journey

I recently decided to take a month-long trip to Africa. In time, I narrowed my selection to Namibia, just above South Africa, hugging the west coast of the Atlantic Ocean; the magnificent scenery, the Namib desert, animals and birds living free, starry skies, and the famous huge orange sand dunes. Imagine the photo ops! For months, I pored over books and guides about all of the splendors of Namibia and the many opportunities to experience something very new and very foreign. So much thinking, so many ideas, but my need was to stay on track and consider what I wanted out of the trip.

To help with my decision-making process, I then looked at this journey in another, more analytical way, breaking it into three distinct steps.

Awareness

I was aware that I wanted to take a trip and understood the symptons of my desire to travel. As a photographer, travel is the vehicle of my creative output, so it clearly topped other possible solutions to my bug.

Consideration

But where should I go? — After much consideration of all the information available to me, I made the decision to go to Namibia, and researched possible ways to make the best use of my time. I leveraged all the channels a typical buyer has access to these days – and there are a lot of them: social, agency resources, travel and photography forums, travel books, etc.

Decision

I then had to decide on the best course of action to make this trip happen and to take advantage of everything it had to offer. And by the time I contacted my agency, I was well-equipt with a library of research and advice.

Since we’re all business people, let’s now look at this in a more abstract way, using a funnel to illustrate this approach. We begin atop the wide end of the funnel with the entire world in front of us. As we travel, we’re actually descending through an ever-narrowing tangle of information, eliminating what we know we don’t want, down the length of the funnel until we finally reach the bottom tip; our destination. From there, we’ve made our decisions, and have planted ourselves in perfect position to explore what’s around us.

But wait a moment; that also sounds like life. And, eerily enough, it also sounds like marketing.

How do we succeed in business in this ever-developing and dynamic world without tripping over all the stumbling blocks along the way, wasting precious time, effort and money? We often know what we want, but we don’t always know quite how to get there. As in traveling to a distant destination, we need to see the journey as a series of segments that progressively get smaller and smaller, reducing to the point where we arrive at our initial destination, and the proper course going forward.

Once again, I’m seeing similarities between life and marketing. But I’m also seeing both life and marketing in terms of branding. People are brands. We hone our brand as we go through life and form our personas with unique personalities, presentation, style, interests, and taste.

Back specifically to marketing…

Similar to the aforementioned travel scenario, effective marketing is broken into steps. It begins with questions, then the thought process when a buyer realizes that there is a problem, a void, a weak link in the company’s marketing efforts. Perhaps the brand is being adversely affected by a weak link. This individual is educating herself, searching inbound marketing content and social media, to view what information is available to facilitate the thought process to attain her objectives.

Next step: Using the power of the available content, the buyer has identified and prioritized the needs and possible short- and long-term objectives, and is now researching more specific options available to put her company on the right path. She is considering the type of marketing partner to help meet her needs; the criteria employed for choosing the correct agency; the level of experience offered by the agencies; and the idea of personal chemistry since ongoing communication is critical with himself and perhaps his entire team. I call this “Speaking the Same Language.”

Thirdly, the buyer, after meeting with several contenders, has now decided on the correct team to engage. The selected agency offers across-the-board capabilities to address all of his company’s objectives and understands how to leverage a brand’s customer lifecycle to engage its audience.

What Are the next steps?

Well, does Life = Marketing? They certainly share some modes of reaching a successful destination. They both involve strong branding and a consistent presence. And they are both built on a series of stages, beginning with a thought, encountering a series of thinking processes, and then making decisions to proceed along the most intelligent path. This is an introduction to the type of Customer Lifecycle Marketing that helps our clients grow everyday. The challenge that most companies face –and something that we specialize in– is using everything available to your brand- your customers; your content; your resources; your social presence and blog; your technology, data, and strategies; to work for the brand in unison.

Unsure about where to start?  Contact Us for a Free Brand & Inbound Assessment  that will help you define your roadmap to a stronger brand and inbound marketing strategy.