Understanding Customer Buying/Decision Process = ROI

ROI does not mean Return on Influence or Return on Impact in this case. I am going with the ROI (Return on Investment), Olivier Blanchard cleared up for us this week in his post ROI vs “Impact X”. Right on the money, Olivier!

Pause…read the article before we move on because I will not rehash his words or charming video.

Don’t skip reading those comments….golden nuggets in there!

Especially my comment:

Amen. Agree with you and Katie that definitions of ‘R’ and ‘I’ are all overt the place! This debate is nothing new for me…being a PR person, bottom line measurement is something we have been struggling with as an industry. Reason? Work load. Excuses. Math deficient! You said a key word in video…most people are looking for “easy” and a quick sell. Pretend money and results may work for my kidlette, but not my CMO and CFO. I talk in sales. How does influence impact the sales cycle then…wait for it…prove it! The tools to do so aren’t vanilla and this is why it is always said such relationships cannot be validated.

First you need a roadmap to know where you are going.

What do you want to achieve? What channels/tools will be employed? If social media is relevant, are you afraid C-suite will balk at the resources to engage and use social media?

When working with clients, I help map out the desired path using the Customer Buying Process as a guide to delving into what results the client truly wants (versus what client thinks they want) and the necessary tools needed to succeed.

I cannot take credit for using the Customer Buying Process in my counseling. I must give a hat tip to my first employer. He would rattle off the five steps over and over again. I would ask myself, Why does this matter? I was upset my boss was more of a marketer and obsessed with the hustle rather than pr. Little did I know then that he was, like Olivier, right on the money. PR professionals make a better case when they can tie results to the bottom line all the while creating long term relationships.

Want a seat at the C-table? Listen up.

  1. Need/Want Recognition: Consumer identifies problem/desire? If impulsive buy/decision the cost to consumer is low. Larger buy/decision is greater risk and cost to consumer. Questions You Need to Ask: How quickly can consumer make this decision? What is sales cycle? Consumable product/brand? Impulsive purchase? Who are influencers? Who are adopters? At what phase does consumer adopt this need/want?
  2. Information Search: Once the consumer makes the choice to fill need/want, consumer begins to research best choices available. Questions You Need to Ask: Where are consumers finding info on you/competitors? Most frequently used search terms? How does the consumer speak about product/brand? How does consumer relate to product/brand?
  3. Evaluation: Consumer begins to filter information gathered and narrow choices. Questions You Need to Ask: Is there any additional information the consumer needs to make purchase/decision? What/Who are the consumer’s filters? Where is the consumer comfort zone?
  4. Purchase: Consumer makes purchase/decision. Questions You Need to Ask: Is the consumer connected witht the right person in the organization or know where and how to complete the purchase?
  5. Cognitive Dissonance: Often a consumer has post purchase anxiety and will second guess purchase/decision. This is the beginning of post-product relationship. Questions You Need to Ask: How will you prevent and/or counter this anxiety? Do you have a trial period, guarantee and/or warranty options in place? How often will you follow-up with consumer to gauge satisfaction/issues/additional needs and desires? Would consumer recommend product/brand to a friend (NPV)?

Sync this five-step process with the psychological needs driving human motivation to your brand.

For each step, identify all channels (traditional and social media) where actions are being taken by consumer/community along the customer buying/decision process.

Now from that list, identify appropriate channels and tools you will employ to facilitate customer buying/decision process. (Go to where the customer/community already exists!)

If relevant, this is how you begin making the case for using social media! Set the criteria.

Identify consumer action goals/objectives for each step. What is success/conversion rate of and to Step #4? What is rate of repeat business of Step #5? ===> Bottom Line Sales!!!!

Participate/Engage/Execute in every step of the customer buying/decision process. Always tie back to Step #4 and repeat business. I am not advocating being in the position of always making the sale. Not appropriate. Just be aware of where you and the customer are in the process at all times! The goal is to keep the consumer moving through the process to purchase/decision, maintaining relationship for repeat business (rinse and repeat) and acquiring new customers into the process through consumer recommendation.

At the end of the day, cold hard cash is the lynch pin.

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