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A Brief Guide to Understanding How Your Customers Make Decisions

Understanding Your Customers
Image by Luke Wisley

The key to creating an effective, targeted advertisement has less to do with creativity or uniqueness, than it does with understanding how people behave. You can catch someone’s eye with an interesting commercial, but you won’t really motivate a person to buy your product or service unless you figure out how to influence his or her behavior.

When making almost any type of decision, whether buying a home or choosing a restaurant for a first date, we typically go through an evaluation/decision process. This process includes four steps—awareness, interest, evaluation, and acceptance, or A.I.E.A. From impulse purchases to carefully-considered investments, every customer goes through some variation of this process before reaching a decision.

How A.I.E.A. Works

Phase 1: Awareness—Before your target customer can purchase your product or service, he or she must become aware of what you have to offer.
Phase 2: Interest—Your offer must catch the customer’s interest. When people repeatedly see an offer that is relevant to them, they’ll eventually pay more attention and interest.
Phase 3: Evaluation—As customers begin paying attention to your advertisements, they’ll evaluate your offer and determine the pros and cons it could have for them.
Phase 4: Acceptance—The acceptance stage only occurs when the customer finally makes a particular decision. When a customer buys your product or service, he or she will have accepted the value your business can provide.

Marketing More Effectively

Once you understand how your customers make decisions, you can begin to target your advertising to reach people more often. It becomes more of a mathematical process. For instance, if you’re using a local network television campaign, you’ll need to make around 9-12 impressions on the prospect before they’ll buy (if they’re in the market). Here’s some typical baseline numbers:

  • Awareness – To make customers aware of you are and what you have to offer, they’ll need to be exposed to your message about three times.
  • Interest – Once they’re aware of what you’re offering, customers will generally need another three exposures or so to become interested in your message.
  • Evaluate – After you’ve caught their interest, give customers another three or four exposures to evaluate your product and what you have to offer.
  • Acceptance – By the time the customer has been exposed to your message about 10 times, he or she will be ready to make a decision—one which will hopefully include recognition of your company’s value and result in a purchase.

image by Luke Wisley

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