If you’re a business owner, it’s likely that what you need is more customers. Good ones, that really want what you’re offering and won’t end up wasting your or your staff’s time.
The best way to get them? Providing them with what they need before they even “walk in the door.”
In digital marketing, particularly search engine optimization and search engine marketing, you’ll often hear practitioners use the jargon-y word “intent” when they talk about the motives behind what people are searching for. But the reality is that people don’t think or talk about their “intent.” They talk about—and look for businesses who can provide—what they need.
The essence of any marketing, digital or otherwise, is showing how you solve people’s needs. The more effectively you do so, the more your business will grow.
An enlightening survey conducted by Google and its research partner Kantar explored the science behind those needs. The results they found provide some interesting insights into how you can best reach your customers.
It all starts by understanding the six basic need states people experience when they’re in the midst of their decision-making process.
There are many touchpoints along the consumer journey. (Think of a touchpoint as any way a consumer can interact with your business, whether it be person-to-person, through a website, a television ad, an app or any other form of communication.) Your customers’ need states will change throughout that journey, and the tactic—and message—you’ll need to employ at each touchpoint should be tailored to address that need.
As you craft those messages and plan your touchpoints, remember that even in the Educate Me and Help Me need states, decision-making is an emotionally-driven process, not a rational one. Our brains attempt to apply a rationale for our choices only after those choices are completed, as a way to justify why we arrived at the conclusion we did.
So how is that most effectively done?
If you’re a local contractor, for example, it can be helpful to think through each of the six need states listed above and imagine scenarios when your customers might be in each of them. Then you can identify specific touchpoints and tactics that will allow you to present your business to them in those moments, and tailor your message to demonstrate how your business fulfills their needs.
- Consider the benefits of an online video that shows off your personality and sense of humor while providing valuable information about identifying and resolving the problem they’re experiencing. You can use the video in a variety of places online, based on where your customers are most likely to be spending their time.
- Can you imagine the value of the positive reviews your customers have posted on various platforms—most often the result of you intentionally asking for that feedback—for someone seeking reassurance that they can trust your business?
- Sometimes fulfilling the “Impress Me” need state can be almost as much about where your potential customer sees your message as it is about the content of the message itself.
The combination over time of all your messages across all those touchpoints is what will convince someone they want to work with you.
This is not to say that every consumer journey follows the same pattern or timeframe. The decision-making process for someone who needs help to resolve an emergency plumbing leak (Help Me! Reassure Me!) is obviously different than someone looking for a supplier partner whose products they want to sell (Surprise Me. Educate Me. Impress Me.). But in either of those situations, anticipating the need states of your potential customer so that you can present your business to them in the right place and with a message that resolves their particular needs can be the difference between them choosing you over a competitor.
And ultimately, isn’t that what we all need?