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Activating Your Customer Journey to Grow Sales

Updated: Jun 23, 2022

Most businesses are aware how important it is to define a niche market and specify their target customers. Unfortunately, they don’t get much farther than that, and then find generating leads and closing sales is excruciatingly challenging. They are missing the crucial customer journey component.

Knowing who you serve, what their unique needs are, understanding their demographics and psychographics and the solutions you provide is meaningless until you create a journey to follow.

Haven’t gotten that far yet? That’s OK. You can grab a copy of the Target Audience Workbook, to walk you through identifying and clarifying your ideal customers. In the meantime, read on, so you know what to with that information when you have it. The key is that understanding your customer journey puts you light years ahead of most of your competitors.

What Is A Customer Journey?

In marketing and branding, a customer journey refers to the path followed by a customer via so-called touch points before making a purchase decision. Along with many others, I add that the customer journey continues past the first purchase, through the experience of interacting with the brand, and continues for the lifetime of the brand-customer relationship, which is the foundation of brand affinity (or sometimes “brand intimacy”).

The most important thing about any customer journey is simply this: if you don’t know what your customer journey is, you can bet your customers can’t find or follow it reliably either.

What Are The Steps In A Customer Journey?

The customer journey is built around how they behave, with or without you. It acknowledges their needs and processes, then offers your solutions with them early in their process, and invites them to travel their natural journey with you, or your brand. Here are the universal steps that lead to the first purchase:

1.     Awareness of a challenge

In this initial phase, a customer will discuss their challenge with peers, colleagues, in forums or in social media. They are likely actively still experiencing the challenge in their work or life, and frustration is reaching a tipping point. During this phase they will seek out and observe trusted influencers insights about their specific challenge.

HOW TO APPLY THIS PHASE: While you know that your brand offers a solution to their challenge, be very careful that you offer specifically the solution they are aware of at this point, and not the ultimate solution they don’t understand exists. For example, if your customers are struggling with not enough income or sales, you must appeal to them with increased income and sales, even though you know they need a clearer message.

2.     Researching solutions

As the buyer becomes acutely aware of their challenge, they will begin actively searching for solutions to try. Their search may include any or all of these:

  1. Online searches

  2. Absorbing blogs, podcasts, and articles

  3. Listening to topic experts

  4. Reading books, white papers and taking classes

  5. Connecting with and following subject matter experts

HOW TO APPLY THIS PHASE: This is where your brand can build its authority through speaking, social media, hosting or guesting on podcasts, and more. Your authority is built on growing visibility and awareness established on your unique approach and expertise. Try to avoid the temptation here to push out large amounts of social content thinking that that alone will complete the customer journey to purchase. This is only step 2.

3.     Evaluating solutions

In Steps 1 and 2 the buyer is non-committal (and often anonymous.) They might be interested in your brand, following and observing. They aren’t convinced yet, though. Depending on the solution(s) your brand offers, the customer will:

  1. Check out your website

  2. Follow your social media

  3. Reach out for a meeting

  4. Buy your book

  5. Attend a presentation

  6. Respond to an offer

HOW TO APPLY THIS PHASE: This is where your brand must search for ways to engage with the customer in their moment of need, and provide them with a clear, specific call to action (CTA) that connects them directly to the solution they are craving. That’s why “Sign up for my newsletter” and “Grow your consciousness” are extremely ineffective CTAs. They don’t provide a clear, specific solution. Instead try something like “Double your income” or “End the cycle of procrastination” to move them from evaluating to finding out if you are their answer.

4.     Making a decision

Here the customer is hopeful but not fully convinced. Regardless of the investment purchase will require, from a tee on Etsy to a million-dollar consulting contract, they will be looking at the following for their initial purchase:

  1. Evaluating expertise and/or quality

  2. Asking about past experience, both of the brand and of previous customers (the pivotal point where testimonials and reviews can make all the difference)

  3. Assessing pricing and timeline

HOW TO APPLY THIS PHASE: This is the high-stress phase if your brand is ill-prepared to address the value you provide, since price is only relevant in the context of the solution’s value. This is why the solution must be specific. “Creating greater fulfillment” sounds wonderful, but how long will that take and how much will I need to invest to create that? If you don’t have a clear answer to that, you will trip over this last mile of the initial purchase every time.

As mentioned earlier, the customer journey continues past these four phases, and your brand must continue to lead the buyer into a deeper and more enriching experience with your brand. Once they have bought the first product or service, you must anticipate what new need you can address, what enhancement you can provide and how you can expand your offering to keep and attract more customers. If you are interested in mapping out your customer journey, reach out, and get the clarity your brand deserves.

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