Customer Buying Cycle Stage 3 The options for a red outdoor jacket

February 01, 2023

Paul Sterett

Stage 3 of the Customer Buying Cycle : The Option

Building and deploying strategic marketing to position yourself as a leader in your industry is an ongoing journey.  Your industry changes, marketing platforms ebb and flow, and outside influences continuously evolve.  One thing that sees little change is the flow of a customer’s buying cycle.  This behavior is strongly ingrained in the way people are. 

The third stage in your customer’s buying cycle is The Options.  At this stage your customer is actively looking to satisfy the need brought on by the previous stage, The Situation.  Being in consideration is the result of executing well in the previous two stages. 

Stage 1 is Life and stage 2 is The Situation.  If you have not read those posts, take a moment to catch up on both. They will be helpful as you continue here. 

When your customer begins looking at their options for goods and services, they are moving out of a relational phase of their buying cycle and becoming transactional.  They are getting close to making a final buying decision.  There are three overall options to choose: choose you, choose a competitor, or choose to do nothing.  Choosing nothing is unlikely.  It comes down to you and a couple of your competitors. 

The Situation

Graduating college (The Situation) created a need I had to satisfy.   I needed a job.  I did what millions of other college grads did.  I started lining up interviews.  To look the part I need to buy a suit.   Surveying my options, I could buy a suit, borrow a suit, or risk showing up in a shirt and tie I had buried somewhere in my closet.   As I mulled things over, I remembered someone telling me I was going to like the way I looked if I went to Men’s Wearhouse.  Thanks George!

Recalling Men’s Wearhouse at this stage in my personal buying cycle was not accidental.  For years I fit the target profile for Men’s Wearhouse.  Prior to my college graduation, however, I had no need for them.   In high school I wore a uniform and in college I could attend class in my Pjs if I wanted.  For eight years Men’s Wearhouse built a relationship with me through an emotion 99% of us all share.  The concern of how we look.  

Accessing Their Options

For your target customer profile, how well you communicate and build relationships with them prior to them assessing their options will determine your ranking on their list to satisfy their needs.   The previous two stages represent the vast majority of where your customers spend their time.  More than 95% of their lives are spent in stage 1 and 2 for any given goods or service.   

These days an internet search is the predominant source of compiling a list of options for your customers.  If you’ve done the work to show up in a search result, will a customer recognize your name?   Will you be a stranger to them?  All things being equal, customers want to do business with someone they know.  Showing up on a search result is a topic in and of itself.  Being recognized on the list is an outcome of your marketing efforts.  Showing up and being recognized are connected to the quality, quantity, and placement of your marketing communications.

Building a relationship with the right target customer profile in stages 1 and 2 requires effort and focus.  Many businesses spend precious time and money delivering the wrong message at the wrong time and to the wrong people.  Equally unfortunate is businesses delivering the right message at the wrong time to the right people.   Both outcomes are not good.   They diminish your chances to show up on a list of options to satisfy your customers needs and to be recognizable.   

Deepening your understanding of your customer’s buying cycle and building on each stage is what drives the best outcome.  Growing your business in a sustainable and healthy manner.  It makes this part of running your business fun.  Expanding your knowledge for each stage of the cycle creates a stronger foundation for your marketing plan.  The next stage to come is The Research.

If you would like to learn more, I would love to talk with you more. Contact me to have a deeper conversation.

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