When marketing our products, it is tempting to think that the most important thing we need to figure out is the target audience and the right media to reach them. If your audience is moms with young kids, you might focus your marketing on wherever it is that you think they tend to spend most of their time. The online version of this bias that is growing in popularity is the idea that demographics might matter less than what they are seeking. So if you reach them when they do a search on Google for vaccum cleaners and you show up, you might stand a chance of actually selling one.
What if instead of looking at demographics or even stated need, you tried to focus your marketing on a more basic ladder focus on the different levels of human need. Whatever images of a pyramid by some guy named Maslow this might conjure up for you, I'm not going to tell you about basic human needs like water or shelter. From a marketing point of view, you certainly hope all your customers have those things already. Here is a model that you may also consider for better tailoring your marketing based on what I believe are the 6 levels of necessity that your customers may be in:
- Curiosity - This is the stage most people begin at, when they have no need at all and the only way to really engage them with marketing is to peak their curiosity and make them want to learn more.
- Learning - When a customer first enters the market for something, they often don't know anything, including what to ask. The learning phase is increasingly moving online and means that for most brands, if you don't have a good online presence you may be missing this phase altogether. The best way to engage a customer in this phase is to offer them learning about your product or service that goes beyond what you sell in particular. Help educate them about your category and you can set yourself up to win in the future.
- Browsing - This level is where a customer may be actively comparing options or doing the online equivalent of "window shopping." They are getting a sense of what specific products or services are available and potentially even how much they may cost.
- Buying - This is the holy grail moment, when you most need to be in front of the customer because they are ready to buy. They may be comparing prices or features that you are offering, and they are definitely in an emotional moment when they are ready to say yes and actually sign on the dotted line.
- Desperation - This last phase is often ignored but it is important only because it can mean that a customer might skip many of the phases above if the situation were right. For example, if you own a mechanics shop, this would be the situation where the customer with the flat tire has to come in and get a new tire. There is no choice. Believe it or not, this could be your area of greatest success if you can exceed expectations in this situation.
If you consider these 5 levels, the main marketing lesson to take away from this is that there are many different types of moments that consumers may be in, in relation to your brand and getting better at spotting which one someone is in can do wonders to help you reach them in a more compelling way.