March 01, 2023

Paul Sterett

Stage 4 of the Customer Buying Cycle : The Research

The vast majority of businesses are unaware of the two phases that encompass a customer’s buying cycle.  Your customers are either relational or transactional.  For the vast majority of a customer’s buying cycle, they are relational.  Not ready to make a purchase.   Conventional marketing and advertising wisdom has conditioned businesses to largely focus on the transaction, filling their advertising messages with facts and figures. 

It is not until the fourth stage of your customer’s buying cycle, the Research Stage, that facts and figures matter most.  

In the first three stages of a customer’s buying cycle (Life, Situation, and Options), they are in a relational mode.   Take the time to read the articles on each of those stages to connect the dots to the research stage.  

The mindset of your customer in the research stage is focused on preparing for the transaction.  Making the purchase.  This is the time when consideration of price, preference, and service details matter.  Previously in the buying cycle, your customer has not been in a mode to retain this information.  

Businesses like yours are focused on these details in an attempt to win new customers.  The customer is focused on these details to rationalize the decision they’ve already made back in the situation stage.  The event that triggers a customer’s need for a good or service in the situation stage begins the shift toward a transaction.  The decision to do something to address the need is what customers use facts and figures to rationalize.

Transactional Media

Customers turn to transactional media when they are in the Research stage.   In today’s environment, they are largely using the internet.  Online reviews dominate a customer’s research.  These reviews used to exist in print, but now they are driven by Google My Business, Facebook, and other platforms where other customers have purchased the same goods or services.   


Your website is a factor in the Research stage.  If you are not working on your website on a monthly, even weekly basis, you are missing out on a lot of opportunities.   A neglected website hurts you in your online visibility.  A website built without your customer’s journey in mind also hurts your chances in making the sale. You should not build your website to make you happy but rather make the customer happy.   Too many businesses let their ego ruin their websites.  It is a tool to help customers make a buying decision. 

Radio and TV

Do yourself a favor and stop filing your radio, TV, or billboard advertising with your phone number, sales, website address, and transactional details.  Your customers are not taking notes.  When the HVAC goes out, no one sits down in front of the TV and waits for a commercial to come on to write down a phone number.   It is mind boggling why anyone would put a phone number on a billboard.  Are they expecting a customer to pull over, back up, and write down a number? 

Radio, TV, and other relational media are a powerful tool, don’t get me wrong.  I just don’t want you wasting your time and money putting the wrong kind of information in your advertisements on those media.   It is frustrating and demoralizing. 

Video Reviews

Going back to the online reviews mentioned above.  It is interesting to see how some businesses I talk with are intentional about encouraging customers to provide reviews on Google and social media.  Some industries are harder than others to get customers to leave reviews, but if you are not making an effort you should begin right away.   

If you want to stand out, take some of the best reviews of your happy customers and turn them into video testimonials.   Videos are the most effective tool to help a customer see themselves in the reviews of your current customers.  Video testimonials are also extremely versatile and usable across transactional platforms. 

Be Ready

When your customer reaches the Research stage, be ready for them.   They have not made a purchase yet.  You still have a chance to win or lose the opportunity.  To help the connection between the Research stage and the first three stages of Life, Situation, and Options, catch the replays of our Know Thy Customer webinar series on our Marketing Hub on our website.

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