I have a friend in e-commerce who assigned his Paypal alert — “You just received a payment” — it’s own specific sound. When his phone makes that sound, he knows his website has just made a sale.
“That’s my favorite sound,” he says, and while it’s wonderful making a sale, especially to a brand new customer, we all know it’s not as easy as that “DING” would imply. There was a complex process that took place before the customer clicked the BUY button and entered her credit card number.
For a professional in real estate, or any complex sale that hinges on relationship, you don’t get a sweet chime on your phone. It’s a little more involved than that, and the paydays are less frequent.
In both cases, however, the purchase of a digital product and the purchase of a house, the process generally follows a time-honored formula, beloved by all sales people. Maybe you’ve heard of it.
The AIDA formula is the process by which a customer moves from total unawareness to the moment where she takes action and buys the product.
Your content’s job is to track and speak to the customer at all four general points of the AIDA formula. Ultimately, that action you want them to take is to make a purchase, however in today’s marketing environment, you have to consider any action taken – a click to download an infographic, a view of a video, an agreement to participate in a live chat – a step in the right direction toward a sale.
In a sales relationship, your content has a purpose. Your goal is to create and share content tailored to help answer, explain, or reveal new information needed to get to the next step.
AIDA is the acronym for the customer’s state of motivation, as she gets closer to a decision to purchase:
It’s almost springtime in North America (if not now, then soon!), so it’s fitting to focus on DESIRE as it relates to your buyer’s decision-making process.
It’s also the season when home sales start to pick up. It’s not uncommon to see several open house signs in any neighborhood you visit. What is it about spring?
The Season of Desire
Until spring actually arrives in full color, it might be nature’s ugliest season. The remains of winter reveal bare branches, gray skies, melting, sooty snow banks, and oozing mud everywhere. Parking lots, soccer fields, bare patches in the lawn… all of the exposed parts of the ground are dark and slick with mud.
But underneath all that sledge and rotting decay are the seeds of beauty and growth. With a little sun, the mud will harden and plant life will shoot through the earth, forcing it’s mighty way into the world with wild abandon and limitless excess. In what seems like an instant, the gray mess turns vibrant, green and new.
It’s nature’s season of desire, and it’s a great way to think of the term, Customer Desire. It’s your customer’s need for the right message as they move from casual interest to a decision to act.
Desire is the tipping point in a decision to buy.
Desire is a high contrast state of being. It’s the moment when people realize they lack something they want.
And once they decide they want it, they want it now.
If we look at desire from the lens of a love story (take the opera Aida, for example — I couldn’t resist), the best love stories take place amidst war or conflict. The potential for loss due to circumstances beyond our control make the desire for the beloved that much more intense. On a lesser scale, your customer is in the throes of a similar heightened emotion. They’re feeling a lot of tension, maybe even with an elevated sense of passion and drama.
Some of these thoughts may be swirling in their heads at this point in the buying cycle:
- It’s now or never.
- I’ve waited long enough for this.
- This problem is only going to get worse if I don’t do something.
- The change is exactly what I/we need right now.
- This is what I’ve been searching for.
- This makes sense to me. Everything is becoming clear to me.
- This has now become a priority.
Interesting how those same thoughts could belong to a tiny green (personified) shoot as it finds its way through the earth to the sun?
Remember this desire phase comes just before the action step.
It’s like pulling back a spring or rubber band to the point just before you release it. That pent-up emotion will find a way to push through. Just like that seedling uncurling from the dark earth.
The desire to change must be greater than the comfort of staying the same.
I’ve heard it said a different way: “The desire to change must be greater than the desire to stay the same.” But that’s wrong. No one desires to stay the same. No one desires stasis.
Humans — at least the ones who buy, invest, contribute, and/or actively make a change in their lives because they are finally so uncomfortable that they have to change.
Desire can only be linked to something that causes or relates to change.
So as you decide what kind of content to use to reach the folks who are feeling desire, you have to remember that you are addressing a different person than the one who is just becoming aware that he has a problem. You may try to reach this person on different channels, possibly through different social media sites, and certainly with a more urgent, deeper message.
Now that you know the types of thoughts they’re having concerning the issue, you will want to make sure you’re providing the right information they need to make a decision. The glut of information on the Internet causes a consumer both confusion and empowerment, which is another source of tension you can ease with helpful content and a consistent presence.
One thing’s for sure; once a person reaches the point of desire, they’ll begin to research solutions.
Take note, however. Yours may not be the only resource they consult, even if you were the one that got their attention in the first place.
Because the desire phase immediately precedes the action phase, the one who gets the sale/listing is often the one who’s been most helpful and trustworthy at the Desire stage. But not always…
The sale or contract is naturally always awarded to the one who’s there at the end, or the Action phase. If you’ve done all the work to groom a buyer through all the phases of a purchase, you must never take it for granted that the business is yours. You must be there at the Action phase. But that’s another topic for another time…
Now picture yourself seated at a table with this person. Hopefully you’ve already done the buyer persona work, because you need to describe him or her accurately. You’ve discussed all the issues related to the choices before them. In terms of content this means you’ll offer different types of content from what you showed in the Attention and Interest phases. You’ve already anticipated specific questions they might have.
Now you’re getting into the nitty gritty – and of course showing lots of benefits to working together or using your product.
Some types of content you’d send in the Desire phase would be:
- Case studies of satisfied customers.
- Papers and stats that clarify distinctions between you and everyone else.
- Introductions to people they would be working with on your team.
- Steps they need to take, as they get ready for the next step — the purchase, listing, inspection, deal, etc.
Can you see why you would never send this type of content to someone who isn’t ready to receive it?
Someone who is just beginning to learn about your industry, service or product needs a series of broader, less explicit content. You don’t want to scare them or come off as too pushy, either. Consumers are sophisticated researchers, and when they decide to act, they will make moves indicating that.
Be sure your content strategy allows the customer to take small steps in your direction. Things like chat boxes and personal webinar opportunities, even a simple tick box letting them know you will call them at their convenience; all go far toward educating your customer and allowing them to feel like they are in control of their decision making process and ultimately, their purchase.
Possibly the most important thing associated with this desire phase is just being there. Remember that coiled spring. You want to be there, ready, when that coil is released.
The Desire phase is when you reach out and offer the most personal experience to date.
Is it appropriate to make a phone call and listen to your customer’s concerns? Send a personal email? Make sure your content marketing team and sales team are coordinated now (that’s another blog post, for sure) so that when your customer is ready with desire, you can assist them with a clear call to action.
An effective content marketing plan includes content for all phases of the AIDA formula.
By the time your customer reaches the desire phase, she will have probably been exposed to earlier content of yours, and will recognize you and your brand. She probably has a sense of how you stand out and why your offer is unique. “Desire” is the moment to wow her. If you do, you may hear that lovely sound that tells you your content strategy is working: The DING that alerts you of another sale, or in the case of a more complex deal, at least a move by your client in the right direction.
People in real estate don’t necessarily get that satisfaction. The point of sale is less frequent, as I’ve mentioned before. The sale is just as gratifying (more so!) even though you might not hear bells when you get a house under contract.
Would you like to get a clearer picture of your business’ content marketing strengths — and places where you could be wasting time and money? You probably already have a lot of pieces in place to deliver great content to your perfect audience.
Find out by taking The Content Quiz… It’s a fun and quick way to spot gaps where you can step up your digital marketing strategy. My treat. Contact me and I’ll send it right out.