Your Audience Is Smaller And Bigger Than You Think: Understanding The Buyer’s Journey

Your Audience Is Smaller And Bigger Than You Think: Understanding The Buyer’s Journey

I blogged recently about a local business called Rook Coffee Roasters. No wifi, no tea, no espresso drinks, no chairs to park yourself in for hours. Starbucks is right across the street.

Yet, in the morning the lines at Rook are out the door.

Excel At What You Do, Not At What Your Competitor Does

Rook co-owner Holly Migliaccio says while she appreciates Starbucks, she isn’t trying to copy it. Each cup is ground and brewed to order, West Coast style. It’s a laborious process, but Rook strives to be the best at it. Not everyone is Rook’s customer, and that’s okay.

Nor is everyone a Starbucks customer. Many people swear by Dunkin’ Donuts and consider it ridiculous to pay more.

What I often see with business owners who aren’t selling is that they haven’t given enough thought to who their customers are, what motivates them, or what they are thinking about. “Publicity Hound” consultant Joan Stewart tells me that she’s astounded that many aspiring authors can’t tell her who their target audience is and are stumped by the question.

Everyone wants to own the mass market and focusing your audience is viewed as giving up on everyone else. Not so.

If you try to sell to everyone, you risk homogenizing your message and becoming boring. As Seth Godin says, find your tribe and lead it. If you greatly please this audience, it’s likely to grow. You’ll win converts. Many of Rook’s customers probably didn’t realize they preferred their coffee fresh brewed until they tried it.

The Buyer’s Journey Can Be Long

Think about your own “buyer’s journey” or “customer’s decision journey.” How long does it take you to purchase, especially a big purchase? For a while you may realize only that you have a problem. You’re unaware that there’s a solution. So you are not actively “in the market” for anything; you merely have a vague dissatisfaction.

The three phases, which go by different names, are:

  • Research (Wanting a change) – “So what if you have 20 years of experience? I care about my immediate problem, not about you.”
  • Consideration  (Establishing buying criteria) – “You have quick installation? That’s nice, but being able to upgrade might be my priority. I don’t know until I learn more.”
  • Decision (Choosing a vendor) – “I trust you because you’ve been so helpful in educating me about tax preparation without pressuring me to buy. Do you have the service/product I want at my price?”

The common mistake is to focus on separating the tiniest group, those already in the decision phase, from the other two groups and persuade them you are the vendor they want.

But this leads to the unnecessary loss of viable prospects on your website. Which is bad because you will lose 98 percent anyway, even if you do everything right.

You Will Lose The Business Of Most Of Your Visitors

Even top sites don’t convert most of their visitors into customers. Sorry, but “no matter who you are and how hard you try,” the chief analyst for Google, Avinash Kaushak, says two percent is the expected overall conversion rate. That’s why you must maximize your traffic to get more leads. It’s a numbers game.

Most website visitors will bounce in less than a minute, because the information they want isn’t there and your calls to action to send in your form or get a quote or have someone call scares them off. It’s too much, too soon.

People are just kicking tires, browsing for nuggets of information. A viable goal is to get your bounce rate below 25 percent. Getting people to engage with your site by clicking is the first step.

Don’t Write Off The Tire Kickers 

Accept that the low hanging fruit is limited and reach higher up.

Find prospects in your target audience and meet them where they are. Target them for “micro-conversions,” such as watching a video or downloading a checklist to solve a related problem. This begins the relationship. Once you have their email address, you can contact them. But if you aren’t addressing their concerns at their current phase in their journey, they’ll delete you. It’s easy to lose the first two groups, as I showed above, by doing too much “selling.”

That’s why understanding your buyers’ decision phases is crucial. If you help them out when they are just looking, they are likely to seek you out at the end of their journey.

Linda Rastelli

Linda Rastelli

Linda Rastelli is an award-winning journalist, scriptwriter, publicist and co-author of "Marketing: Essential techniques and strategies geared toward results" (John Wiley & Sons, 2007). She enjoys helping businesses sharpen and communicate their marketing messages and the challenge of making complex or technical ideas accessible. Journalism taught her to ask the right questions and to get to the point, scriptwriting taught her to think visually, and writing books taught her patience (but not quickly enough).
Linda Rastelli