The buying behavior of individuals is so complex that now business schools offer PHD’s in this subject. Buying behavior both pre and post the actual purchase is a fascinating study in psychology. The methodical buying process a client will go through before actually purchasing a service or product can be looked at in five stages. These five stages are not clearly separated and people do not always operate as methodically as this model suggests. But, most clients when deciding to purchase a new service or product do move in some way through one or all of these stages.
Understanding this client buying process will help you as a pet industry business owner design your educational marketing activities so they are effective in converting the “problem solver” prospect into a new client.
- Problem recognition. Your prospect recognizes they have a problem and need help solving it.
- 2. Search for information and alternatives. Before making a purchasing choice your client may look for alternative solutions. They will begin their research. (this is where your educational marketing becomes so important)
- 3. Evaluation of alternatives. Clients will begin to make evaluations of the alternatives available to them to solve their problem. Their individual set of beliefs and attitudes will affect where and how they look. (how effectively you have branded your business will impact the client here)
- 4. Purchase decision time. At this time the client will make a decision to purchase your services or not to purchase them. (how easy is it for a client to actually purchase from you)
- Post purchase behavior. Buying is a risky business for a client. Research shows that buyers read more about the service provider after they make the purchase decision than before!
Think carefully about numbers 2 & 3. This is where all your marketing efforts should come into play. And come decision time, number 4, how easy is it for your clients to purchase from you once they have made the decision? It is important to eliminate all the potential purchase barriers. Amazon is a great example of a company that has removed all the barriers. It is so easy to part with money when just visiting their website; evidence of this can be found on many a credit card statement.
Whether your clients use all five stages of the buying process will depend on their actual buying situation.
- Routine response- simple purchases that are low risk do not require an effort or a long decision making process.
- Limited problem – If the client is familiar with the services and their features and benefits the decision to purchase is going to be easy.
- Extensive problem solving – If the decision is complex due to a lack of understanding or the risks attached to the purchase then the decision will take longer to make.
- Impulse buying – who, me? Never!
During the buying process the following will also influence your prospects
- Their social beliefs, experiences and attitudes.
- Their age, gender and demographic information.
- Their culture, religion and nationality.
- Their family, a huge influence on an individual’s buying decisions.
In summary, understand your potential clients buying process given the different buying situations and how your prospects are influenced in these situations during their decision making process. This knowledge will help you develop effective marketing plans and sales activities.