Understanding your consumers is one of the most important aspects of owning a business and being a marketer. You sort of have to be a mind reader. You’re constantly thinking about a customer’s thought process, and ways to address it before that thought even crosses their mind. There is a science to sales, and we’re here to let you in the loop.
What if you had a tool that you could use to focus all of your marketing on in order to have the best possible outcome? Behavioral Interventionists have been using this technique as part of their toolbox for years in order to address disruptive and detrimental behaviors of people. Today we introduce it to the marketing industry and businesses in order to secure or retain your target consumer! Here’s how to use science to make sales.
The Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change (Stages of Change) is an approach that addresses the process of intentional behavior change. This approach has identified five major stages a person goes through before they change any behavior.
These stages are:
(PC) Pre-Contemplative — NO WAY! NOPE! NEVER!
(C) Contemplative — I would, but…
(RFA) Preparation or Ready-for-Action — I’m ready to make the switch.
(A) Action — I’m doing it.
(M) Maintenance — I’m living it.
(R) Relapse — I made the change, and then something happened.
Let’s use smoking cigarettes as an example.
Someone who is PC about smoking doesn’t see a problem with it or just doesn’t want to quit.
Someone who is C understands that smoking is bad for them, but needs to smoke when their stressed or has some sort of barrier stopping them from quitting.
Someone who is RFA has realized they can no longer smoke or they’re going to die, and has decided to quit.
Someone who is A is trying to quit, hasn’t smoked in a few weeks, and is still struggling with quitting.
Someone who is M is done smoking, doesn’t even think about it anymore, and rarely has cravings.
Someone who is R may have been at A and was doing really well, but then got fired from her job and went back to smoking to help with the stress.
Get the concept?
Well, each stage also provides someone trained the opportunity to employ a response which moves someone to the next stage. This could be used to help someone who smokes move from C to RFA by helping them find another way to manage their stress so they no longer need the cigarette.
But how does this apply to marketing?
Identifying the stage, or stages, of your customers will provide you the ability to tailor your engagement approaches, marketing materials, promotional strategies, pretty much everything, to move them towards buying your product or service.
How to Address the Stages of Your Consumers
The PC Customer, I’ll never switch!
If you know that when entering a market, your target consumers are likely to not want to
switch to using your product, you are going to address them by sharing consumer stories (focusing on the benefit of switching), or use statistics to show how your product or service will benefit them.
Addressing consumers who are in the PC stage is all about showing them how what they are currently doing is affecting them, and how switching would benefit them. Take the Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile feud for example. They focus on the increased service, better coverage, and cheaper prices to engage new customers.
The C Customer, I would buy, but…
If you’re entering a market because your product is better, chances are you’ll have a ton of consumers who HATE their product, but are used to it so they don’t want to. In order to get them to buy your product, you need to address why they won’t. Focus on addressing the “buts” or “barriers”. Highlight how their beliefs are invalid, or how you can help them make the purchase.
Addressing the C consumer is all about making that barrier to buying disappear. They already know they need to, you just need to show them how easy it is. Again, take Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile as an example. They address customers who want to switch, BUT are stuck in a contract, by promoting that they’ll buy out their existing contracts if they come over to their side.
The RFA Customer, Let’s do this!
The RFA customer is ready to buy your product! That’s awesome, you don’t need to do anything right? WRONG! This customer needs help. You want to do everything in your power to make buying easy. Maybe it’s making your e-commerce site mobile friendly. Maybe it’s using re-targeting or email marketing. Whatever it is that the customer needs to make the change easier, is what you do.
Making it easier for people ready to buy is the best way to address this stage! If you enter the market knowing a big concern of customers is access to the product, you should immediately address it. Let’s use CVS as an example. Customers wanted a way to refill prescriptions, see what scripts were ready for pick-up, and reminders for when to take their pills, so they introduced Mobile Tools on their app.
The A & M Customer, I got this!
The A & M customer are the same. They’re buying but, how do you keeping them buying?
In order to address this stage you want to reward customers for buying, and address anything that may stop them from buying in the future. Maybe you start a loyalty program, send thank you notes, keep them updated on new product lines, no matter which you choose make sure they understand you appreciate them buying. On the other end, you want to make sure you don’t lose them to a competitor. Make sure they’re happy by creating surveys, and asking what could be better.
Giving A & M customers a sense of appreciation, and addressing their concerns shows them buying from you is a great experience. You want them to feel proud of buying. Look at your morning coffee routine. Many coffee shops and gas stations offer their coffee drinkers a program where after “X” amount of cups you get one free. Using this encourages continued participation, and also provides a reason to avoid going somewhere else for a cup in the morning.
The R Customer, Whoops!
The R customer was buying, and then something happened. Whether it was your fault or something changed in the customer’s life, it’s on you to get them back. This is a tricky situation because you need to first see which stage the customer relapsed to. Maybe they no longer needed your product and are PC. Maybe they lost their job and don’t have the funds right now to buy so they are C because of the barrier to funds. In order to find out you should make sure you are keeping tabs on your customers. If you notice someone hasn’t purchased in a long time, reach out and see what’s up. Once you find out why they aren’t buying, address that stage.
This stage is all about researching and understanding what happened. If you notice a huge decline in activity, first look internally. Did you recently raise your prices? Switch to a different product? If you did something new, maybe that caused your customers to relapse. Maybe your customers’ needs have changed, and you’re not providing what they need any longer. Re-engaging these customers should be a priority.
Using the Stages of Change will help you understand the biopsychosocial state of your target consumers, and allow you to provide a strategy to turn them into customers.