The Customer Decision Journey in Bridal: Awareness Stage
This is the first of an ongoing blog series about the customer decision journey in bridal.
For those of you who don’t know exactly what the customer journey consists of, put simply, it’s the 3 stages a potential customer goes through to become a customer: awareness, evaluation, and conversion. I’ll be focusing on the first stage here and will explain why it matters and how your can start thinking about developing a strategy.
Also before moving on, I want to share that I’m writing this series because I have spoken with a number of bridal designers who have great potential of growing their brands but don’t quite see the value in investing in this first stage of the buyer’s journey (creating brand awareness). In other words, they want to move right into the second and third stages (evaluation & conversion) and make sales without having a brand awareness plan that fits today’s buyer.
So, the problem with this mindset is that most customers don’t buy the way they used to anymore, especially bridal boutique owners who have to invest thousands of dollars in their bridal lines. The idea, then, is to build brand awareness first and to do it in a way that is nondisruptive for your potential customer. Having your sales team cold call bridal buyers is extremely disruptive (think about your own experience with telemarketers) and the goal is to move away from disruptive tactics if you want to create a flawless customer experience.
This first stage, awareness, consists of your potential retailer becoming aware that he/she has a problem that needs solving.
In bridal it typically means the shop is missing a certain price point and dress style your line may be able to fill. It could even be the case that the shop owner doesn’t know they need your line until they stumble upon your website or a dress they saw on Instagram that piques their interest.
A strategy for building brand awareness, then, should not be an afterthought. There’s a process to acquiring customers and creating brand awareness is always the first step. Now, if your idea of brand awareness consists of having a website and posting images on Instagram, you’re limiting your potential to grow.
You need to start thinking about a strategy that ties your website and social media to your overall business goals. This entails creating content that specifically addresses this stage. Blogging about your brand; consistently posting on the social media platforms where your potential customers spend their time (Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook) and collaborating with wedding vendors (photographers, florists, event planners). You should also post content that includes customer reviews and addresses questions about your brand and your process.
The point is, you need to make it easy for customers to find you and learn about you, and you need to be where they are with a consistent message that will appeal to them.
The alternative is cold calling and emailing buyers who, much like you, have a business to run and a busy schedule to keep. And I don’t mean you should never call or email a potential customer. What I mean is that you should only do it when the time is right. That is when the buyer actually wants to talk to you or your sales team. By then, they should already have at least 70 percent of the information they need about your brand and the sales agent is there to merely facilitate the closing of the deal and answer any lingering questions.
Think about it, no one likes to receive disruptive calls when they’re trying to run a business. The best way to reach your ideal customer is to help them find you online, and so having a strategy that makes it as easy as possible to do this is what the first customer journey stage is all about.
Next week, I will discuss specific ways to tie your social media efforts to your business goals. It will be a step by step process you can use as a template to create a strategy addressing the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey.
I want to encourage you to leave me your questions or comments below. Have you had a different experience than what I’ve discussed? Do you have any thoughts on this? Let me know!