I have two distinct modes of buying things. Researched and autopilot.
The thing I buy on auto pilot are things that I’ve tried, liked and don’t put much thought in to.
I buy the same breakfast cereal, household products, soft drinks, snacks etc on autopilot. I give little thought. I spend little time. I just buy them. Great business to have if you’re the recipient of these autopiloted purchases.
On the second type of purchase, I do my research. Personally I do a LOT of research. Comparative research, reviews, product tests, the lot – I read them. In fact I think when purchasing a product such as a book, in fact an audio book when I’ve actually already paid for the product (it’s delivered on a monthly credit system) I’ve spent several hours in the past researching which books to buy. Think about that, several hours on something I’ve already paid for!
Here’s what the process goes like.
I have an idea of the type of book I want to buy. Let’s say it’s a book on marketing.
First thing I do, Google. Google is the first port of call for a LOT of my purchases.
I will Google something like ‘best ever marketing books’.
Invariably it will be Amazon that comes up first and there will be a list of someone else’s choices.
That’s where I’ll go. I’ll review the list, taking particular notice to the user ratings of the books almost before I look at their titles. The ‘rank’ on the individual reviewer’s list is secondary to my scanning of the product rating. I will look for products that have good ratings and which have had a lot of reviews.
I take a look at a highly reviewed product, ideally one that has more than 100 reviews and at least a 4-star rating.
I’ll read the synopsis. Does it cover the subject area I’m interesting? If not, does introduce a subject area I’d like to learn about?
Next, if I like what I see, I always (without exception) take a look at the 1-star review of that particular product. I do not know why I do this. I scan through all of the good and go straight for the bad even when there might only be maybe 1 or 2 1-star reviews against the 100 or so good ones. I think it’s because I want to see what the person/people who HATE the product actually found annoying.
I will judge the credibility of the bad review. In some cases people have given a book a bad review because it was delivered late! Little harsh on the author right there. Other times I see the critical review and feel like maybe I can take it with a pinch of salt (competitors to a particular product are usually easy to spot) but other times someone will say ‘This book is absolutely terrible in comparison to….’ – invariably I will check out the alternative recommendation. If the alternative has less reviews, less positive feedback and just generally looks weaker, I’ll go back to the original book.
Next up, I will start to Google this particular book I’m now researching and I will do a Google search like this ‘My book v…’ so I put the name of the book I’m interested in and place the letter ‘v’ or the word ‘versus’ as often Google will show me where other people have been doing direct comparisons.
I feel like I’m in a cycle trying to give me some indicator as to why I shouldn’t be buying this particular book when there is a much better one out there.
If that obvious ‘better’ book doesn’t turn up, I start to look at more lists of ‘best marketing books’ and here’s where my mode has changed. Now instead of looking for reasons not to buy, I’m in the zone where I’m looking TO buy and I – for some reason – just want this decision (which, in reality has already been reached) to be ratified. And it happens very quickly. If I see my book mentioned just two or three more times in other people’s recommendations, that’s it – I’m buying. I feel like I’ve made a great choice and others feel the same, helping me to know I’ve picked a quality product that will enhance my life. I feel good. In fact, I’m excited to read/listen to the book now. My mood toward the product is positive and I haven’t had it yet. That is a fantastic advantage for the product though. I WANT to like it. I want it to validate me as a clever purchaser. I want it to reward my decision. I’m prepared to give it every chance to do that.
It’s not just books either. Much bigger purchases follow this pattern for me. I start on Google, I first look for reasons not to buy, I judge the credibility of the bad reviews and I look for some social proof that I’m about to buy a product which lots of other people loved.
What does this mean for you and your pet business?
It means you need to understand how people are STARTING the process of buying products and services in order that you can ensure you can be on the path for them to get to you.
Note, I did not say you can SEND them down that path. These people plan their own journeys. You need to be waving to them at several points along their journey, they need to see you, a few times, and you should be making a good impression.
Have people review your products. Have people offer you bad feedback. PUBLISH that bad feedback. Don’t be scared of it. It will help people recognise what people didn’t like, the buyer will be smart enough to balance it against the positive reviews (if your negative feedback out numbers your good, you may have a product problem, but you don’t need me to tell you that!).
Make sure you are appearing in the search results, not just via your own site(s) but on others – others that are well ranked for the search terms that your future customers will be using when they begin their journey, which you hope will conclude with you and your products as the final destination.
If you are not appearing on your customers research route, they won’t buy from you even if they find you directly. If, like me, they find a product they think they’ll like, they’ll still go away and look for validation that a purchase will be rewarded.
Social networking is probably one of the very best ways to ensure that you are planting billboard notices about your company along your prospects purchase journeys. Better still, if you’ve done things properly you will actually have a team of people who you’ve never even met putting those billboards up on your behalf, and their billboards will carry even more weight than yours!