Target Your Advertising to Your Customer's Stage in the Buying Process


by Judy Camp
Paradox Productions, Inc.

Advertising has addressed the buying stages for years to create messages and choose media. Google Adwords or other search engine advertising alternative, for example, can be a great way to introduce consumers to some new products, or at least products new to them. At first, all you want is to create an awareness that you exist. By following all of the stages, the web allows better targeting than almost any other media. The idea is to creatively pull a consumer from the point of not knowing your product exists to developing a preference that causes them to refuse to even consider buying any competing product.

Awareness

Your first step in advertising is to let potential customers become aware of your brand. There are many forms of media available to do this. Normally you would identify your target audience, and decide where those people are already going. A new restaurant, for example, might purchase space on a billboard just before the highway exit leading to it. To reach a specific age group, you might place radio ads on a station that targets that age group. The web is probably the least expensive advertising medium. At the first stage, when you want to create awareness, you will want to get listed highly in Google and other search engines, and maybe find some complementary sites that reach the same audience, but don't directly compete with your product or service. For example, to create an awareness for diapers, you might want to purchase an ad on a site that gives advice to new mothers. Your goal is a click-through to your site where you can try to get the prospect to provide an email address. The best way to do that is to offer something free, like a report entitled "Twenty things all new moms need to know." The report would be delivered immediately, by autoresponder, using a service like Aweber, and later you can send a regular newsletter or link to your blog entries. But that's coming in the next few stages.

Information

This stage includes a little more in depth information than a search engine listing or tiny image ad on another site. Here you can use press releases and more descriptive ads. These also are best with the intention of getting the person to your landing page to sign up for a free report or subscription to your newsletter. Just ask for the first name and email address. Your numbers will greatly increase if you don't require any other information at this time.

Appeal

This is where you would create excitement or promise status with your message or your graphics. Look for an area of interest to your users. Are they trying to sell products of their own, and you can help? Can you make their lives easier somehow? Can you increase their popularity? Be sure to address these issues, loud and clear. With the diaper example, you might offer to send a free diaper bag with a number of proof of purchase seals. Maybe you can point out how your brand isn't using harmful chemicals in the making of its diapers, out of concern for your customers' babies.

Purchase

The prospects are now poised for buying and buying again. To initiate the next step, last-chance offers, bonuses or special pricing can be used to nudge the prospects If you have managed to get the email address and are sending regular emails, you will have numerous opportunities to get the first purchase made.

Preference

This is what every advertiser wants. Preference. We all have brands we will always buy, even if a competing brand goes on sale. Do you have a favorite brand of jeans, laundry detergent or socks that you like so much you won't even consider trying anything else. Well, that advertiser has found its sweet spot, it's throne. When you send your emails (remember, you collected their email address earlier), you can coax your customers to this point by continuing to point out your benefits over the competition. Point out your advantages over your competitors and provide persuasive reasons why you offer the best product or service. You don't need to name the competition, of course, or even refer to them, unless you know the competition has a strong presence in the buyer's mind.

Another way to get to the preference stage is to give your customers things to make them loyal to you, like information on related topics. Your newsletter or blog should contain lots of articles on topics your customers would need to know about, and you will want them to look forward to your emails. Selling should not be all you do.

Reinforcement

Follow up to reduce buyer remorse and to encourage future buying. Testimonials are perfect for this stage, so customers can hear from other satisfied users of the product. Here is where a Facebook page or a forum on your website would come in handy. Allow your customers to write their positive comments on your page. If they write negative comments, try to address them quickly. Monitor the forum, and delete any vulgarities or nastiness, but don't delete every negative comment, or they will figure it out and think you are hiding something, or that you are insincere.

Introduce Companion Products

Now that your customers have a preference for your product, you can capitalize on that satisfaction to introduce them to related products. Even if you don't offer them yourself, you can suggest a product through an affiliate link and get a commission on the sale. Continue to provide information on both products and get testimonials from buyers of both products. Then look for other products to introduce, and keep the cycle going.

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