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When formulating marketing, sales, demand generation, and content strategies, an important factor is that of understanding the choices buyers make. Oftentimes, strategies are crafted with a singular focus on the purchase decision. However, increasingly evident today is that buyers make purchase decisions that are a summation of several choices. In today’s social world, buyers are confronted with making choices in more areas than ever that directly influence the ultimate purchase or renewal decision. Helping buyers to make choices in pre-purchase as well as post-purchase situations paves the way for influencing the purchase decision – hopefully in your favor.
At this moment in time, we are in an unusual paradoxical irony when it comes to choices and decisions. While the increase in Internet and social technologies have made it easier for buyers to control their fate, the many choices available to them has made the buying process more complex for both sellers and buyers. When there are more options and choices available, it can actually increase the complexity of decision-making. This unique combination of an increase in buyer options and choices along with an increase in the complexity of the buying process is directly impacting buyer behaviors today. One way of understanding changes in buyer behaviors is to understand buyer choices.
To gain such an understanding, we can look at several areas where buyers are confronted with choice:
I want to refrain from using the word content in this context. The word “content” is super hyped today and has taken on multiple meanings. If we look at the root of what buyers are seeking, it gets us to information. Buyers are making many choices on where to go for information, how to retrieve information, and identifying what information is relevant. We are still very much in the infancy of understanding the buyer behaviors associated with information gathering and the impact of new Internet and social technologies.
What has transpired over the past few years is a wholesale change in the collective set of experiences buyers have available to them. Preferences are beginning to settle into the minds of buyers and choices being made on the type of experiences they desire. I have written much about buyer experience over the past year; especially as an area of innovation for companies. Understanding how buyers are now choosing experiences they desire and how they impact the purchase decision is critical to informing future strategies. As I have written previously about, understanding the concept of experiential buying is becoming more and more important.
Buyers are confronted with choices on values they perceive as relevant. In today’s hyper-connected environment, these values are constantly shifting. Staying abreast of the choices buyers make on values they factor into decision-making can make a difference in discovering where your organization has the edge over competitors. Gaining an understanding of what influences choices about values as well as how these values influence the purchase decision allows for making the nimble and even subtle adjustments to strategies that connects with buyers on where they are at that moment. Having insight into choices and compromises on pre-purchase to post-purchase values can be a game changer.
Buyers are confronted more so today than ever on making choices about the goals they pursue. This is happening on both an articulated and unarticulated level. What do I mean by this? The amount of variables as well as constraints introduced to buyers is directly affecting choices made about which goals to focus on accomplishing. The shifting in goal priorities can make it difficult for buyers to articulate exactly what they are characterizing as a goal. It is still relevant, in fact, more so today that we understand the obvious as well as the not-so-obvious choices buyers make about goals. Qualitative as well as contextual inquiry based methods common to ethnography and anthropology are best suited to get at the unarticulated goal choices of buyers.
Buyerology© is a means for framing the need to understand buyer choices and changing buyer behaviors. Understandings that is crucial to informing future strategies and organizational decisions on how to be relevant to the new day and age of the buyer. What we do know today is that it is not business as usual. If that is the case, then we best find out what exactly is considered business today by buyers.
(Note to readers and followers: I will be making a transition by the end of the year to a new blogging platform and new website to focus on Buyerology© and enhanced buyer understanding through Business Buyergraphics©. Please visit www.buyerology.com for more information and to sign up for updates. Stay tuned for more articles on Buyerology© and I hope for a smooth transition over the next few weeks.)