Volume 27/Number 24; March 31/April 7, 2014
In the old days, consumers started in one end of the sales funnel with a product or brand in mind and then narrowed it down until they made their final choice. We used traditional marketing tactics—newspapers, radio and television—to drive them along the well-defined points. These were points we considered important; it had nothing to do with what the customer was thinking.
These days, the journey is different. Instead of relying on the salesperson for information, consumers look for input from their peers, online reviews and the brand itself, as well as your competitors. As they continue to get information, they discard some brands and move on to others.
Most consumers are putting off their purchase decisions until they get into stores. Rather than making it easier, the stores just add more information about product, which only makes it harder for the consumer to decide. You feel like you’ve done your job by driving the consumer into your store. If she buys, you’re even happier. (By the way, a budget of a group of large retailers shows 70% to 89% of money is spent driving customers to stores. What you don’t realize is if the product or your store is getting bad reviews, the customer isn’t making it into the store. In fact, consumers are more influenced by what someone else thinks than what you’re telling them to think!)
According to the Harvard Business Review, “Up to 90% of spending goes toward advertising and retail promotions. However, the single most powerful impetus to buy is often someone else’s advocacy.”
In order to do this right, you must begin to look at the customer differently. There are three things to consider:
1. You must understand the consumer’s decision journey.
2. The “touch points” that are influencing your customer.
3. Deciding which touch points are promoters and how to leverage them.
Develop a customer experience plan
In order to influence your customer, you must know what they’re up to. Today I called Barnes & Noble about a book I wanted and ordered it. Normally, I would have checked it out on Amazon, but I had a gift certificate for Barnes & Noble. The woman agreed to order it, and then I went to Amazon. I found a book by the same name and authors; it was available for $4.95 used. I called Barnes & Noble to cancel my order and inform them the book was cheaper on Amazon. I hoped I would get a rise out of the salesperson so I would have something to write about. Not a chance.
The woman said I was probably looking at the first edition because the second wasn’t due out until August 2014. Ouch! When I asked why she wasn’t “a little upset” she replied, “People call us because they get a ‘live person’ and like to hang out with us.” She was right; she definitely knew her customer’s touch points.
Even Nike—with its famous “Just Do It” campaign—has decided to change the way it interacts with the customer. Instead of telling us what to do, it is helping us. Nike is aware that “Just Do It” doesn’t motivate everyone. In fact, not everyone knows how to “do it” or really cares. Nike has begun to realize consumers want more than “Just Do It.” By developing online workout programs and global fundraising races it has more touch points to engage the customer. The more touch points, the easier it is to influence customers to buy.
Unfortunately, your newspaper is becoming limited in how much it can influence your customer. This is a job left for you and your company. Really, who would know better than you?