The buyer’s journey is the path your customers take from needing a product or service to choosing the right option and buying it. This process can take a split second, or it can stretch out over time.
For instance, a customer’s friend might suggest that they try a new restaurant in town, resulting in a short buyer’s journey. A longer buyer’s journey might look more like buying a new car, as most people like to put in some time or research before making a big purchase.
It’s important to think of your buyer’s journey separately from your company’s sales process because it begins before a customer even encounters your business. Thinking about what happens before your customer finds you will ultimately help you learn how you can best help them.
Thinking about what happens before your customer finds you will ultimately help you learn how you can best help them.
Illustrating the Buyer’s Journey
The buyer’s journey takes infinite forms, but one example is:
A person moves into a new office space only to discover that there’s a serious echo. After identifying the problem and researching different solutions like rugs, paintings on the wall, and new ceiling tiles, the customer decides to add acoustic panels to the office.
With a course of action in mind, the buyer must seek out a place to purchase acoustic panels. A music store? Amazon? A specialty seller? Ultimately, the buyer lands on Amazon, and the panels are delivered and installed within a few days.
This sample buyer’s experience provides a clear map of the three key stages in the buyer’s journey: awareness, consideration, and decision. We’ll break down all three of these stages so that you can better understand the problems and questions that prompt your customers to seek out your business.
1. Awareness: We’ve Got a Problem
The awareness stage is all about recognizing a problem. This is a key step in the buyer’s journey, especially if your business is trying to alert customers to problems they don’t yet know they have.
We’ll use a countertop installation company as an example. A customer might be a hobby chef who wants a new, durable countertop that will hold up to years of cooking. Maybe their current countertop isn’t durable enough to stand up to high heat. They might be able to identify this problem themselves, or they might rely on countertop advertising to spark the idea. In any case, the moment the customer recognizes their problem signals awareness: they know they need to make a change, and now they need to research their options.
The moment the customer recognizes their problem signals awareness: they know they need to make a change, and now they need to research their options.
2. Consideration: What Types of Solutions are Out There?
During the consideration stage, the customer will research what types of solutions might fix their problem. Our curious cook might look at options like granite or porcelain countertops. Maybe they’ll see if they can make do with countertop covers or cutting boards.
Once the customer knows what they might want, it’s time for them to figure out what they need to do to take action. If they’ve decided to replace their countertop, they’ll need to select a contractor to help out. This leads to the decision stage.
3. Decision: Finalizing the Solution
The decision step might be the first time the customer actually comes in contact with your company. This might look like a phone call, a submitted web form, or a visit to your office. At this stage of the buyer’s journey, the customer is seeking a solution to their problem, and they’re coming to you for help.
The decision step might be the first time the customer actually comes in contact with your company.
Often, the decision step only takes a customer to the beginning of their project with you.
Why the Buyer’s Journey Matters
If part of the buyer’s journey is happening before you even meet the customer, then why is it so important for you to understand? We consider the buyer’s journey a marketing basic because mapping out your customer’s buyer’s journey helps you know more about the questions and problems that drove them to your business. It gives you an opportunity to offer high-quality education and service so that you’ll be even better at pinpointing customer problems in the future.
Mapping out your customer’s buyer’s journey helps you know more about the questions and problems that drove them to your business.
The buyer’s journey is particularly important when you’re thinking about how to market your company. Identifying why and how your customers find you will inform the ways you market to them. Creating marketing materials that answer their questions will bring them to your business faster and better-informed.
How to Sketch Out a Buyer’s Journey Now
If you want to see what your customer’s buyer’s journey looks like, start by selecting a buyer persona. Begin by making a list of reasons why this buyer persona would want your product or service. To return to the countertop example, potential customers might be looking to match their new cabinets, install a kid-proof countertop, cook more often to improve their health, etc.
Next, make a list of questions, concerns, and mistakes that might come up for the customer while they’re trying to buy your product. Some example questions include:
- Which of your materials is the most durable?
- How long will the project installation take?
- How do I take care of the product once it’s installed?
- How do I know a quality material from a cheap material?
- Does this product hold up to daily use from kids?
Depending on your business’ specialty, there are a number of questions that might come up from your customers during their buyer’s journey. Do your best to outline as many as possible because it will help you identify trends that come up with your customers often so that you can educate them clearly.
Once you know more about your persona’s desires, concerns, or even their objections to buying your product or service, you can start to sketch an outline of their buyer’s journey. This doesn’t need to be a perfect document. Every customer is different, and special cases will come up, but it will be a helpful resource for you to refer to when answering common customer questions.
Once you know more about your persona’s desires, concerns, or even their objections to buying your product or service, you can start to sketch an outline of their buyer’s journey.
Our Favorite Resources on the Buyer’s Journey
For an in-depth look at the buyer’s journey, check out some of these great resources:
- Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller - This book is all about making the customer the hero of their own buyer’s journey (instead of you).
- Mystorybrand.com - a free resource connected to the book that business owners can use to workshop their company’s message.
- Our sample StoryBrand for one of our most common buyer personas, Homeowner heather
- Our free buyer’s journey infographic
If you’re ready to take the next step in your marketing journey, then schedule a Free Growth Assessment with our team to dig deeper into who your ideal customers are and what they experience during their buyer’s journey.