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  • Kristen

What Is The Consumer Journey? Podcast Episode #5

Full Transcript:

Think about the last time you bought something that costs more than $100. Was it an impulse buy or did you do some research ahead of time? Maybe you looked at multiple brands, maybe you read reviews, you asked people you knew for a recommendation. That's all a really normal process for buying something, and that's what many people do.

I know the last time that I bought something for more than $100, I think it was my son's summer camp. And last year I did a lot of research around it because it was his first time going, and I looked at multiple places. I was online looking for reviews. I asked around, finally narrowed it down to a couple of summer camps and compared the two and ended up deciding on one. And then this year, since I had a good experience last year, I went ahead and went with the same camp.

The same idea works for any kind of product. And that process is called the consumer journey. And there's different visuals for the consumer journey. I like the one from McKinsey. So if you Google McKinsey Consumer Decision journey, you'll find it. But it is basically a circle, and it's going through the process that people go through when they are deciding to buy something.

The first step is usually there's something that is triggering you to need to purchase something. So in my case, summer was coming, and I have a child and I wanted him to be in camp and not at home. School was closed. So then I started looking. And that's when you move to the next stage, which is your initial consideration set. And you might have some places in mind, some products in mind that you've already heard of. So you start with those, but you want more. So you go out and you do some more research. And that's where you start talking to people. You start going online to research, looking at reviews, things like that. And you're moving into the evaluation stage where you're gathering information, you're shopping around and you're trying to decide what you're going to buy that leads you to the purchase and you buy. And then it doesn't stop there. After you purchase, you're experiencing whatever it is that you've bought. And during that time, you're either having a good experience or bad experience. And if you're having a good experience, then you're going to end up recommending the product to other people or you're going to end up buying again or buying more. If you have a bad experience, you're going to find something else and you're going to go through that whole journey again.

When you're working on your marketing plan for your education product, you want to think about that whole consumer journey, because people are at different stages of that journey at any moment. And yes, in education, especially if you're selling to schools or universities, there is some kind of timeline where people are searching more than others, like over the winter or the spring, because that's when they're finalizing the budgets for next year or they're closing out their budgets for the current year. So that's a good time that people are usually out there in the evaluation and initial considerations set stage, but it could vary. And especially if you're not selling into schools, you're selling into parents. It's going to be different.

You always want to be running marketing tactics that are reaching people at no matter what stage. So that means that you're not just focusing on consideration and evaluation, which is where a lot of people are focused, like around conversion. Who is ready to buy now? We need to be running Google ads so that we're targeting people who are looking at the service right now and are going to buy from us. But by doing that, you're limiting who you're reaching. Yes, they might be ready now, but there is a whole other set of people who are out there at that initial trigger awareness stage where they're just starting their process. And if you get in front of them now, then that's going to build your pipeline and you're going to have more people that are going to be in your system that you could be communicating to over time. And when they are ready to purchase, then they'll already know about you.

You want to be running marketing that is getting the word out about your product or service at a high-level. So something like blog posts or press or articles that are getting out and reaching people who are just starting to explore whatever it is that you have to provide. Plus you want to be providing things that are available for people who are ready to buy or getting closer. So whether that's reviews or demos or other pieces of content that are going to be helpful for them along the way. But then you also don't want to forget about the loyalty stage. And once people are customers, you want to make sure that you are doing everything you can to make sure that they are happy with what you're providing. Because especially in the education business, word of mouth and referrals are huge and you want to make sure that you're making the best experience for them while they are your customer. Because in the long run, that's what's going to help you the most. Referrals are definitely the cheapest form of marketing. Teachers they trust other teachers. It's a small world in education and people do talk to each other. Reputation is really important. So you want to be thinking about loyalty also.

Think about the whole consumer journey. People go through a process when they're buying, especially when it's bigger ticket items, when it's something that's going to be impacting the whole school or it's going to be an education product that's going to be impacting the child of a parent and their future education. So you want to think about how you could communicate your product throughout the path to buying.


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