In our first post in this series, we talked about how your salesforce and marketing team can help a prospect move from the "Unaware" stage to the "Contemplating" stage of their decision journey. If you haven't done so already, I strongly encourage you to check that post out, as it lays the foundation for what we're going to talk about now: the 2nd conversion point in the cognitive marketing process, "Contemplating" to "Planning".
Motivating the Customer With Emotion and Reason
At this point in their decision journey, the prospect already knows that your brand exists. They know that your service or product offers a solution to a challenge they are currently facing and the wheels in their head are turning. They're not committed to anything, but they're interested.
Your goal at this point is simple: provide information that motivates the prospect to develop a concrete plan of action (e.g., "I'm planning to do my research and buy from one of these brands within a month"). Your content should trigger a depth of feeling that propels your prospect toward positive change.
In our previous post, we talked about two key processes to drive customer awareness - raising consciousness and offering social liberation. Those processes apply to this conversion point as well, especially when it comes to "disruption marketing" (which we'll get to in a minute). However, there are two more processes that are absolutely critical at this stage: emotional arousal and rational re-evaluation. Both of which rely heavily on your website.
Incite Emotional Arousal
Emotional arousal is all about triggering the prospect's desire to change. Accomplish this by creating excitement around your service or product. Then, develop ads that are emotionally resonant for your target customers. Lifestyle and cognitive marketing in particular leverage this process to a powerful effect.
Think about automotive brands as an example. When you see a sleek Audi driven by a model in a TV commercial, what's the underlying message, really? "If you buy this car, this is how you'll feel. You'll feel like a million dollars inside! Others will view you differently, too." That may be a dramatic example, but you can easily see how ads like that have emotional arousal built into them.
With that in mind, here are the questions you need to think about:
- What is your marketing department and sales team doing to create that emotional response?
- Are they creating appeal or excitement around your service/product without making the prospect reveal who they are, via gated content or other lead capture forms?
- (At this stage, your prospect wants to stay anonymous. Thus, the Internet.)
- Does the content on your website help the prospect to see how something within their realm can be better?
Initiate Rational Re-evaluation
The second process you need to leverage for cognitive marketing is rational re-evaluation. This targets your customer's reasoning ability. In other words, you want to trigger a thoughtful assessment of the kind of person that makes that positive change.
If we go back to our car example, then rational re-evaluation looks like this: "Our car has exceptional gas mileage. It has won awards for its safety features. It is built to last. Wouldn't you and your family be better off if you owned a cost-effective, safe, and durable car?" You get the idea.
Since you're aiming for the customer's head instead of their heart, you need to ask yourself different questions compared to the process of emotional arousal.
- What content are your sales and marketing departments providing to trigger that thoughtful assessment in the mind of the customer?
- Do you publish before and after metrics for average customer savings on your website?
- What about testimonials or case studies?
- Does your content help prospects to ask themselves: What would happen if I buy? And can they find that information without human interaction? (Remember, anonymity is key at this stage.)
How Disruption Marketing Fits Into the Picture
There's one more thing you need to know about our 2nd conversion point during cognitive marketing. The gap between the "Contemplating" stage and the "Planning" stage is usually a choke point in the decision journey because of the Internet — and specifically because of disruption marketing.
Here's what we mean by the term "disruption marketing": even if a handful of brands have spent their resources to raise consciousness and offer social liberation (i.e., to drive customer awareness), once the customer starts to explore the Internet other brands can swoop in and "disrupt" the normal course of their decision process.
For instance, imagine that a customer is interested in buying a new car, specifically an SUV from Ford or Chevrolet. However, once they start searching on the Internet, they realize that there are other options available to them. Even though Ford and Chevrolet spent their money to convert the customer from the "Unaware" to "Contemplating" stage, these other brands are now in the mix. In fact, the customer may eventually buy from one of them!
Disruption marketing is often bad news for big companies; and a great opportunity for smaller brands. After all, why sink precious resources into conversion point #1 if your main competitor will do it for you?
Of course, you have to have a robust web presence to make disruption marketing work: a top-notch website, SEO-driven content, and pay-per-click bids on important keywords, just to name a few components.
Learn More About Cognitive Marketing
The bottom line? Whether you're leading the customer along the decision journey from the very beginning or entering the game at a later stage with disruption marketing, motivation is key. If you can stir up your customer's emotions and encourage them to think about how they would benefit from buying your service/product, then you've just helped them to move from the "Contemplating" to the "Planning" stage.
In our next post, we'll talk about the conversion point between the "Planning" and "Action" stages: