You are on a continuous journey in your business, but so is your customer.

Potential customers get on the road with you beginning with the first leg of their journey- awareness. You should clearly understand what problem your business solves for someone, but the potential customer must realize she has a problem requiring a solution such as what you can offer. When businesses miss seeing who is aware, they often fall into the trap of convince and convert. This is a really difficult and almost always uphill rocky path to trying to grow business. When you find aware people, you can start relating to them about the problem you both see instead of pushing a solution towards people who don’t see their need for you. Paying attention to your SEO and having good word of mouth are just two messaging strategies to start the journey with the aware person.

Once potential customers get past, “I need help with something,” they start getting really interested in diving deeper into learning about solutions. They begin considering. Continued word of mouth conversations that sound something like, “Yes, I had the same problem, and ___________(referral) was so helpful, and I don’t have the same problem anymore,” will help others see you as a potential contender to fix whatever needs fixing. This is the stage where helpful social media that shows how you are the solution can really make impact. A strong website, blogs, and email marketing also serve the potential customer in this interest and consideration stage. Think of every time you’ve Googled a question looking for a product or service (awareness) only next to start seeing all kinds of ads in your social feeds for those same services to then clicking on websites and signing up for an instant coupon. The great minds behind social media marketing know as soon as you become aware, if they can show you all the things you need, you’ll probably pick one at some point after deeper consideration, which leads us to…

Decision. After some interest and consideration, the customer journey brings them to decision time. This is the part of the journey where your value proposition (knowing what you do differently, better, or more memorably than your competition) is so very important! Any avenue in your messaging by which you can show and tell your advantages will help your customer get to the purchase. It’s also important in this stage to let the customer feel assured that you are going to deliver big while also creating some sense of urgency (what they are going to gain quicker or lose for longer), if they don’t get on your train.

The customer made a decision to choose you! You got a new customer! Super! Sadly, this is where many people in business leave their customers- feeling they’ve reached the end of the journey; however, there’s so much more of a beautiful customer experience that can lie ahead. Do you know what’s so much easier than getting another new customer? Retaining an existing customer. At this stage, retention, your messaging needs to court the customer. She needs to know your company’s appreciation and all the perks of being “in” with you. She also wants to see you involved in your community to feel good about associating with your brand. She wants to believe she made a solid purchase before, and she needs to know you remember her and truly value her. Follow-up emails, thank you cards, satisfactions surveys, and social media which gives sneak peeks or encourages your customers to help you make purchasing or new product decisions are all great ways to retain her long after the first purchase.

When you capture someone’s loyalty to you and your brand, you will be beyond selling someone on the idea of a repeat purchase. You will be her preferred service provider or go-to girl for whatever you sell. A trust will be established such that she will become your advocate. Your values are her values. Your mission becomes her mission. Chances are great your ideal customer knows more ideal customers- Birds of a feather flock together! When you get to the advocacy stage with your customer, you have just created an influencer for your brand. They will organically grow your social media, introduce others to you, share their former problems and that you were the solution, and will propel your brand. Treat your influencers with great care, and they’ll always remember you for their needs or when they know someone who needs that special something only you can deliver!

You may have never thought before about how your customer thinks through stages. By shifting your mindset to HER, you can talk right to her wherever she is on her journey with you. Go court some customers. Walk the whole journey with them, and watch others catch your vision!

Dream Big and Serve Always!