For all the football fans out there, we know the NFL season can be stressful, but it’s always full of excitement. For instance, the Philadelphia Eagles showed me how one team can have some great wins and some painful losses (cough, cough, Miami Dolphins) in one season. The same goes for your business.
Before I get started in this blog, I have a little brain twister for you. Have you ever thought the NFL season could relate to your business, specifically the customer journey?
The NFL season has its own journey – from the pre-season to the off-season. Each team has to prepare for each game differently. Each competitor has a different strategy, strengths, and weaknesses. So, how does one team come out on top?
Let’s start off by understanding what the buyer’s journey is before I get into the similarities of the NFL season and the buyer’s journey.
What is the buyer’s journey?
The buyer's journey is the process buyers go through to become aware of, evaluate, and purchase a new product or service. The main objective is to create more content and opportunities to solve potential customers' problems. This gives you a chance to help guide them through the sales journey by being in continuous contact with them, knowing what stage of the journey they are in, and what content they should see at each stage in the journey. The stages of the buyer’s journey are vital to converting leads into customers. The journey is an essential part of the marketing and sales process.
We aren't just talking about when someone speaks to a salesperson; you need to think about every part of how your brand interacts with a customer – ads, website, social media, etc. 67% of the buyer’s decision is complete before a buyer ever reaches out to sales. They are already aware of who your company is, and what you have to offer, they just need to be convinced that purchasing your product or service is the right decision.
Why does the buyer’s journey matter?
As a business, you can nurture your leads and customers towards deciding to buy from you. You need to provide them with the exact information they need, depending on their stage.
For instance, if a lead is in the awareness stage, you might target ads and send a “who we are” email to that lead. In the consideration stage, it would be appropriate to send an online demo or a case study to help persuade your lead to buy.
I mentioned above that you need to target potential customers based on the stages within the journey. A stage is a position of the journey a lead is in – awareness, consideration, decision, purchase, or advocacy. The stages of the buyer’s journey and how you reach your customers are similar to the stages of the NFL season. They both follow a similar path.
In the spirit of Super Bowl 54 on Feb 2nd, this blog is looking at how your buyer’s journey relates to the NFL season. So, let’s kick this off! 🏈
What are the stages of the buyer’s journey?
1. Pre-Season - Awareness
During a regular NFL season, there is never a time that the Super Bowl isn’t mentioned, and fans are rooting for their own teams to make it to the big day. That is the end goal, right? I am sure the Kansas City Chiefs went into the season with their eyes set on the Vince Lombardi trophy, just like every team.
The NFL pre-season aligns perfectly with the first stage of the buyer’s journey – awareness. In the awareness stage, you are boosting customer awareness. Brand awareness is a constant ongoing stage. In the beginning of this stage, your buyer most likely has seen an ad or has heard a little about your company. However, they haven’t realized their need yet. Now is the time you create awareness around your product, service, or company to allow buyers to understand what you have to offer.
In these two stages, you are leading up to the big day – whether that is the Super Bowl or a customer purchase, the awareness stage is extremely important. Think of this awareness stage of the customer journey as your first impression.
It’s the same with a football team in pre-season; it is the first look at the team. It’s when fans gain awareness of how they will play the rest of the season. The team needs to prove to their fans that they are worth committing to as a fan. It provides a chance to “advertise” the team as the top team of the year when entering into the season.
For small businesses, the awareness stage lets people know who you are. You want to show your potential customers that you are the solution to their problems, wants, and needs. This is where you use targeted ads, share blogs, attend events, and other strategies that introduce your business and your product or service.
2. Regular Season - Consideration Stage
This is the time where marketers and football coaches are pulling their hair out.
The consideration stage is when buyers (or the football players) have clearly outlined and defined their goals and challenges. They are beginning to look for the best potential buyer options or the best ways to play on the field and keep their audiences’ attention. It’s not a simple walk in the park. It requires an understanding of your strengths and weakness against competitors.
For example, the Philadelphia Eagles faced the Seattle Seahawks on November 24th, 2020. Going into that game and every other game of the regular season, each team had to identify their strengths and weaknesses, and what makes them better than the other team. This helps them prepare for the game.
It is the same thing for businesses. Your strategy in the consideration stage should be to represent your best self and what makes you the best in your industry. For example, if you are a lawyer, what makes you the best lawyer in your city? Once you have that answer, show it to your audience.
Your buyers in the consideration stage are doing the same thing. They are identifying and evaluating every aspect of your product or service. Your job, as a business, is to present your best self and how your product, service, or company would be beneficial to this lead if they decide to become a customer. I recommend increasing your communication and engagement during the consideration stage to provide the lead with a feeling of building a relationship, trust, and comfort.
Whoever your team or business faces in the regular season, be prepared to play hard, present your best self, and provide evidence that your buyers or fans should choose you.
3. Playoff Rounds - Decision
The decision stage is when your leads are ready to select a vendor to make a purchase. It’s the same with the playoff round, but instead of a purchase, you are trying to make it to the Super Bowl. So, whether you are in the wild card round, make it to the divisional round, or get to the conference championship, top teams are constantly facing off to make it to the next round. This is the battle you have been waiting for.
As a small business, you want to be the final decision. Your goal as a business is to help the lead get to the purchasing stage. In these rounds, your small business is facing your competitors head-on. The buyer’s job is to eliminate all the competitors and determine the right company for them.
Eliminating your choices to get to your final decision in a buyer’s journey can be a hassle. And I will tell you it doesn’t take thirty seconds, so do not rush your leads. This is your time to share convincing content such as testimonials, demo videos, case studies, and comparison guides.
Your only job in the “playoff round” is to eliminate the other choices, just like in football.
4. Super Bowl - Purchase
For those who don’t know (but, I am hoping you all know), the Super Bowl is the world championship football game. It is when the two conference champions face off to see who will take home the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Now, that’s a prize; am I right?
Football teams face every game during the season with their hearts set on the Super Bowl.
The purchase stage gets us all excited. For small businesses, you may not win a physical trophy, but converting a lead into a paying customer feels like a trophy. In the entrepreneurial world, that’s awarding enough. This stage of the buyer’s journey is vital. You gain a lead who has made a decision that want to be a paying customer. What is your next step? You need to give this customer your time, best efforts, and attention.
As a business, your lead has already decided they want to purchase. Provide your lead with everything they need to make that purchase easy. For instance, providing them with onboarding, helpful tutorials, welcome emails, and other content will make their transition smooth sailing.
5. Off-Season - Advocacy
Just because the season is over, that doesn’t mean you are no longer a fan. I still wore my Eagles swag on the day of Super Bowl 54. You’ll notice your NFL team is still engaging you with content, even though they aren’t playing. They are posting on social media, having events, and continuing to ensure that they are top of mind.
It’s the same for small businesses. Your advocacy strategies should include proactive ways your customers can promote and refer to your product or service. This is the stage when customers (or fans) become an active advocate for your brand. They say great things about you and your company, refer their friends and family to you, and/or even advance with your business and purchase more.
So, don’t forget to keep engaging with your customers after a purchase. They still need tender, love, and care.
The trophy is yours to take
But first, you have to map out your buyer’s journey and determine how you are going to engage your customers during each stage. How can you make them aware of your product or service? Once they buy, how are you going to continue engaging with them?
If you do this, you will win your Vince Lombardi trophy and improve your buyer’s journey. When your marketing and sales techniques are done the right way, you will see an increase in your conversion rate. The buyer’s journey is not a short journey, but when you get one lead to convert to a customer, it feels great. It almost feels like winning the Super Bowl.