In our whitepaper, “Engineering Consensus – The Syntax of Consumerism,” we talked extensively about ensuring the right message, in the right place, at the right time. If you haven’t read our whitepaper, it’d be a good idea to do so; specifically the section on “The Taxonomy of Society.”
Therein, we classify consumers by group types. Here, now with more information and data, we want to bring forward the idea of situational messaging, in relation to the taxonomy of consumer group types. This is important because how does one know what kind of message to create and use in any given channel?
How does the message for a group of people using a social media channel to compare brands, differ than the message for an individual using a search engine to gather information about a product or service?
If we step back and look at the consumer shopping experience – especially on high-cost items – we can discover a psychological process at work in different situations. While what may be considered high-cost to one person is inexpensive to another, there still remains a psychological and emotional path to purchase, for each consumer. That is to say that most typical people follow some basic processes when buying.
Inform. Educate. Inspire.
Knowing your business’s typical sales cycle is helpful, but let’s presume we’re working with a 6-month sales cycle for our discussion. Each part of the sales cycle needs to address the situational concerns of each consumer at their point in the sales cycle. Info-seekers are looking for different information than brand- comparers are. How can we message consumers more effectively throughout this entire process?
Let’s say this is the 6-month start of our sales cycle. Once a person decides they’d like to purchase something, their first step is to get information about that product or service. What choices are available, what brands offer what selections, what price ranges includes which features? This is the information gathering phase. You know this situation. You’ve been there yourself, when buying a car, a home, your suits, shoes, etc.
After approximately 3 months; once a person knows what price range, location, feature set or has otherwise gathered enough information, the education phase begins. This situation is where the difference in brands becomes essential in communicating. Competitive differentiators like brand recognition, initial customer experiences, post-purchase support and what your friends and family may think are key factors in the decision-making process.
One week before purchase, most consumers arrive at the situation where they’ve decided on the one or two brands they’ve agreed on. The kicker in this part of the process for many people is that if the product or service can inspire them, then half the battle is over. That’s why, once consumers compare brands, marketers generally employ incentives tactics. Incentives are often the difference between making and breaking the sale. They inspire motivation and a sense of accomplishment for many consumers.
Look at your situations as both a consumer and a professional messenger. What channels are applicable at what stages? What tactics have worked best in each stage? We’d love to hear your experiences.
If you’re looking to make your advertising and marketing dollars go further, try situational messaging. Questions? Ideas? Just contact us.