The Customer Buying Journey

by | Oct 18, 2019

Everyone talks about the customer journey and how important it is to understand it. And it is important to understand it. We usually visualize it as a funnel (hell we even call it a funnel) or a squiggly line or something. And then we place our Tools or messaging across the line and that becomes our Strategy. Like this or especially this or good God this thing.
And then it doesn’t work and we wonder why.
I think one problem is despite mountains of data and analysis, all of the representations of the journey end up too abstract. It’s a little bit of a The Map Is Not The Territory issue. We think of the solution in devices, reach or platforms without regard for the reactions, needs and concerns of the people taking the journey. Or there’s a disconnect between the people driving strategy and the creative team.
I say this directly to people (maybe more often than I should): it doesn’t matter how amazing our creative is. No one is going to be scrolling Instagram, see your ad and go “holy shit I need to buy this thing right now” and just stop everything else they had going on to hand you all their money for the thing you sell. Nor do people wake up one morning, go “I need a swimming pool”, search “Pool Builders Atlanta” click the first link and write that guy a check that morning.
Your customer journey needs to factor in realistic ideas of what your customer is thinking, how they will behave in relation to your marketing, and how long it will take them to get to the next step. You need to mentally (or physically if you can) put yourself in their emotional shoes and walk through:
  1. Where does the need stem from? What happened?
  2. What does it feel like to have the need you’re solving for? Does it make your anxious or insecure to not have your need fulfilled?
  3. Is it reinforced or affected by someone else, like a loved one or culture?
  4. What would be important attributes of the solution that really quench the need?
  5. Does the important attribute change based on different starting points, such as socioeconomic circumstances or community culture? Do you have multiple paths to map?
  6. Where you would be along the path to deciding on that solution? What about the provider of said solution? This doesn’t just mean as you actively work to find a solution, I mean in your daily life as it’s weighing on you in the background. Are you at work? Commuting? 2nd job? Picking kids up from daycare? Bar hopping? Stressing over finances? Marriage counseling?
This is hard stuff that can also feel not all that productive in a world where we measure output in tasks completed or emails answered. It takes time away from the desk or inbox, just sitting, thinking and talking with trusted advisers (ahem) that can provide different vantage points.
But if you’re a business owner this is your job. Block time off in your calendar and let’s get to the work of understanding your customers so you can better help them. You may even find they come back more often too!

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