4 Stages in the Consumer Purchase Path

4 Stages in the Consumer Purchase Path

by | Jan 6, 2021

We often hear people questioning broadcast media’s relevance in the years to come. Something along the lines of “how does broadcast fit into today’s digital world?” Here at P1 Learning we’re confident on broadcasting’s future! Not only will we have a seat at the table, but we would dare say that we have an opportunity to sit at the head of the table!

Broadcast is a remarkably effective method of delivering your customer’s message. The greatest strength can be summed up in one word. Reach. We reach the masses, we are the voice of the communities that we serve.  Digital marketing is a remarkable tool in its own light… and its strength is depth. Search engines have made today’s consumer the best-informed customer in history (thank you world wide web, right!?). Both effective on their own. But, imagine what would happen if they were to join forces. In today’s world account managers have the ability to do exactly that. Exciting times for our industry.

But how is this done? Well, as marketers we are “match-makers” if you will. We want to make sure we connect the buyers with the sellers.

The first question you may have to address in this stage is “what motivates that potential customer to make the purchase?” It’s not as easy as running that 30-second message a time or two telling them how cool the product is and giving them the address and phone number and then waiting for lines to form outside of the business owner’s door.

There is a psychology to sales with that may we introduce to you the Consumer Purchase Path this concept was introduced in 2015 by McKinsey and Company and the theory is pretty simple. And that is… that it doesn’t matter if we’re trying to decide on something as simple as where to go for lunch or more complex decisions like purchasing a new outfit or buying a house. We humans all must travel the purchase path.

There are multiple stages to this process, so let’s unpack each of them briefly beginning with…

Stage 1- Discovery

Your advertiser’s product has got to be on their potential customer’s RADAR screen. I don’t care how great their product is, how wonderful their customer service is, or how unique they are in the marketplace. If your advertiser’s potential customer doesn’t know that the advertiser exists, they don’t exist. You can’t expect someone to drop by if they don’t know they are there. It’s just that simple. And of course, we know that advertising is the best way to accomplish this. Because with advertising they are leaving nothing up to chance, they control their own destiny. They may not be doing a lot of advertising but at the very least they should be doing Word-of-Mouth advertising. You can’t beat the price. FREE! But the downside of word of mouth is that it’s an amazingly slow process you’ve got to do business with someone prior to their spreading the good word about you. The biggest downside to this organically grown version of word of mouth advertising is that you don’t have script approval… you don’t get to write the copy. So you have no control whatsoever.

This is where broadcast media comes into play as we are in the word of mouth business. In fact, we do word of mouth the same way as your advertiser. The only difference is that we’re bigger, we’re faster. Your advertiser is talking to their customer one at a time through phone calls, in-store visits, and emails. We are talking to the customer tens of thousands at a time. Kind of word of mouth on steroids. Plus with broadcast, they (and we) control the message. We work for them, we’ll craft the message together.

Okay, so let’s say that your advertiser has mounted a successful advertising campaign, and their potential customer has received the message. AND, thanks to your brilliant advertising copy I must say that they are at this point more than a little intrigued they’re not ready to sign on the dotted line but they are now interested enough to move to the next step of the purchase path. 

Stage 2: Exploration and Evaluation

We, humans, are inquisitive by nature we want to do our homework our due diligence. And again thank you again world wide web we are the best-informed consumer in history. Through search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo we’ve got the ability to really drill down. We can check specs, packages, pricing, side by side comparisons. Plus through mobile applications like Yelp we can see what other customers are saying about the product good bad and indifferent. Once we’ve successfully completed our due diligence and we like what we see we are ready to take this to the next step of the purchase cycle my favorite step by the way and that is SOLD!

Stage 3: The Purchase

Sign Me Up! I’m In! Let’s do this! As you can see we are now in the purchase phase. For year’s this was considered to be the end of the process once they sign on that dotted line. We’d start hunting for the next prospect. Today we realize that this is NOT the end of the process in fact this is only the beginning.

We are not here just to make a sale. We are here to develop a customer, a long term partnership. This is accomplished by not just meeting basic expectations this occurs by blowing away those expectations. Building what we refer to as brand champions or as we like to call them… “Raving Fans.”

You all know what a raving fan is, right? This is a customer that loves your prospect’s company, their product, their service, the client themselves. This raving fan wants them to succeed! This takes us to our final stage…

Stage 4: Customer Engagement

That raving fan feels a high level of engagement they feel that they are a part of the company and in effect they are. In many cases through testimonials, they become one of your advertiser’s best salespeople. They’re out there 24/7/365 spreading the good word about you! They can’t help themselves and that’s okay because as you can see the purchase path is not linear it is circular by nature. So once that raving fan spreads the good word then others will discover, explore, evaluate, purchase, and engage. Next thing you know, you have a legion of raving fans spreading that good word! Make some sense?

If you don’t mind, we’d like to give you a personal example… but that will have to wait until our next session in the series “Broadcast Media in a Digital World: Part 2“. How’s that for a cliff hanger? To view this course, go ahead and log into your P1 Learning account now.

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