Behaving

My favorite stolen line is that you should never allow customers to engage in unsupervised thinking.

As marketers, we are tasked with encouraging specific customer behaviors. Some of these behaviors are rationally based, such as buying software with a known minimal return on investment. Others are completely emotional, such as Volvo suggesting that you are less likely to die a violent automotive death in their cars. Each is designed to get customers to take a specific action, and in complex business-to-business (B2B) sales, this may be a long series of tiny behaviors involving many stakeholders.

Unsupervised customers behave as well as unsupervised children.

Amazon is in the retail business, not the technology business (that is if you ignore their Elastic Compute Cloud offering). Thus they encourage consumer buying habits. One consumer behavior they need to control is to not allow customers to shop elsewhere – putting Amazon products in customer faces at all turns (having recently shopped for car stereos – which I bought locally – I still see Amazon car audio display ads when surfing random web sites). The Kindle is a major method for encouraging the desired behavior. Someone who is consuming content for hours at a time on a tablet is a great target buyer. Making suggestions – based on knowing your reading and web browsing habits – and guiding them to discover offerings via the same device is Amazon’s new way of supervising consumer behavior.

Amazon’s behavior modification plan works.

Guiding buyer behavior is necessary even in B2B settings. All your marketing efforts should focus on encouraging certain customer behaviors, but this starts with knowing what behavior you want customers to display. Branding can bias a purchase preference. Great customer service or technical sophistication can create technical brand loyalty and buzz. Guiding the discovery process assures that buyers learn what you want them to and take the steps (micro-behaviors) that lead to a sale.

But if you do not know, document and promote to create these behaviors, customers will likely never take them. Look at your current marketing strategy book and see if you have done so. If not, get busy.


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