Whenever anybody, anywhere, makes a decision to buy a product or service, they go through a series of decisions and actions. This whole process was pulled together by Philip Kotler, the god of marketing (well, okay, a revered US marketing academic whose research and models found the basis of all good marketing), into what is known as the Buying Process.

Understanding this process and what it means is the foundation stone to creating and executing marketing plans that deliver results. We’re now going to take you through what you really need to know about the Buying Process and explain how you can use it to really hone and improve your marketing.

The Buying Process – what you need to know

1. There are no shortcuts through the Buying Process
Every single purchase decision will go through this process. Accept that your job is to help people move through this process as painlessly and easily as possible, for them and your company, so they can make the purchase decision and become a loyal customer.

2. Your marketing plan needs to be structured around moving people through the process
Getting loads of press coverage, great social media stats and eye-balls, loads of clicks on your website…but poor enquiries and few sales. This is because you are focusing on one part of the Buying Process; awareness. Your marketing plan needs to ensure that there are great marketing tools in place at every single stage of the Buying Process. Not just one stage. These tools need to help people make the decision to continue buying from you.

3. Work your ratios
The dream ratio (and impossible) is 1:1. So, one person becomes aware of your product/service and they buy it. In reality, it might take 1000 people to be aware of your product or service before one of them buys it. What you need to know is what the figures are at each stage. Then you can start to improve them.

4. The Buying Process can be mapped alongside the Sales Process
The Sales Process uses language that relates to the seller’s perspective of selling a product. So there are “cold leads”, “warm leads”, “prospects”, “dead leads” and so on. The Buying Process is about the Buyer’s perspective of how they buy and what they want eg Interest; wanting to know more. The two work very well alongside each other, ensuring that sales targets can be met in a way that puts the customer at the centre of the process (which is what marketing’s job is).

5. If you aren’t making the sales you want…audit each stage of the Buying Process
Use the numbers you have found in point 3 (above), to see where people are falling out of the Buying Process. Do you have a really high number of enquiries but they then fail to move through to the next stage? Or do people almost buy, but then disappear? The numbers will give you a guide as to where to look. Then audit what is happening from the customer’s point of view; what is the barrier that is stopping them making the next step?

Every business who wants to grow successfully needs to understand Kotler’s Buying Process and what each stage means. There are different variants on the Buying Process (see KMS Marketing’s below) but they roughly have the same stages: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action. Take the time to figure out what you have in place to help people through the Buying Process and then improve it. We can guarantee your sales results will notice the difference.

By Kara Stanford, Managing Director, KMS Marketing. If you would like to audit your marketing activities, create a plan, or understand more about the Buying Process and how it works in your business, contact us.


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