This one is important so pay close attention. These are the 3 absolutely crucial barriers that need to be passed in order for a customer to make a purchase. They are: Awareness, Trust, and Value.
Quite self explanatory I think. The customer needs to know the business exists and what it does. This is the first place advertising and PR should come into play. The goal here is often information, facts, and explanations. This type of awareness promotion is increasingly going towards social networks and the fad of ‘viral’ promotions. The biggest benefit is to help break down barrier number two at the same time; trust.
A customer needs to believe that your business will fill the promise that it makes. That they will pay, you will deliver the product or service, and it will function as specified. Another phrase often associated with trust is social proof. This is the single best way for a business to gain trust. The mass majority will not just trust a brand based on what they say. They listen to what others are already saying about the brand.
Online reviews, social media, and suggestions from friends are great sources of social proof. A couple decades back TV ads were another great source because people would assume that a lot of people purchase that brand’s product and that’s how they can afford TV ads. But with the decline of standard TV watching and ad dollars this prestige has been lost.
The slightly less obvious source is from personal observations. This I what Apple has done with absolute perfection. I know mentioning apple in a marketing blog is probably cliche now but whatever. They took a product often hidden out of view and made it a walking sign. The white headphones that accompanied their iPods and iPhones are that perfect cue for ‘oh they have an iPod’ moments, and people started seeing them everywhere. This is exactly the type of social proof that works; seeing the product in action.
The last barrier can be very different depending on what type of product you’re selling, but the essence of it is the customer needs to believe the value they gain is greater than the money they pay. This covers everything from desires, dreams, social status, utility, and will in turn lead to the transaction.
These three components all exist with each other in the purchase process and all need to be considered when marketing your product.