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Understand Buyer’s Journey to Drive Results

By Natalie Young

It’s been said that “Change is not an event, it’s a process”. And, although optimism among buyers has leveled since the turbulent times of the pandemic, the lighting industry is ripe for change. Advancements in technology coupled with a younger more tech-savvy workforce, are creating changes in buyer behavior that cannot be ignored.

Over the next five years, we’ll encounter numerous exciting opportunities to develop marketing strategies centered around enhancing customer experience and transforming how we sell, engage with, and market to our respective target buyer. Successful lighting companies at any level will be rewarded for moving towards customer-centric models and re-thinking how best to differentiate themselves by using a growth strategy that gives them clarity, confidence, and direction.

Manufacturers will bear the primary responsibility of supplying the necessary tools and resources for researching, demonstrating, promoting, integrating, installing, and warrantying their products. These resources are then passed down to lighting representatives, who must serve as expert consultants for specifiers, contractors, and distributors. Their role is crucial in recommending goods and services that seamlessly integrate within various budget constraints.

The Buyers Journey

But where should we start? It all begins with buyers and tapping into how they navigate today’s decision-making process. No matter if you’re a designer, manufacturer, lighting rep, or distributor, mapping out how individuals interact with your brand reveals their complete journey, commonly referred to as the Buyer’s Journey. This journey outlines everything from how clients first research and discover your product or service, to providing necessary post-buying support, and finally to nurturing their loyalty over time.

Understanding each buyer’s evolving preferences and their unique journey is crucial for shaping an effective marketing strategy. A lighting designer’s path differs significantly from that of an electrical contractor, so it’s essential to tailor marketing campaigns accordingly to resonate with each audience.

Once you’ve really given your buyer’s journeys some significant attention and thought, you will quickly discover that the new age client is not like those of the past. They are well-informed, comfortable with technology, and expect to find immediate access to information with a few keystrokes.

Key aspects to consider about new age buyers

Digital-first Mindset: New age buyers have grown up using the internet. They expect a seamless online experience that is tailored for them. They want answers instantly and will quickly move to another vendor when their needs are not met. They desire self-sufficiency and answers on-demand. Lighting companies that create a personalized online experience will ultimately win. Embracing technologies and marketing tools such as:

  • Manufacturer brand portals that allow lighting agents, distributors, and other buyers to easily access marketing assets needed for purchasing decisions
  • Marketing automation that is designed to speak to each stage of the journey and will lead them down a path to best lighting solutions
  • Using AI for predictive automation or tailored personalization will build synergy with existing sales teams and allow buyers to engage on their time, when they are ready.

Authenticity and Transparency: As technology continues to advance, buyers will continue to prioritize authentic business relationships. Whether it’s within internal sales teams or external interactions with lighting representatives and manufacturers, establishing streamlined and transparent communication is crucial. Customers expect no surprises; from pricing through delivery-times to installation, programming, commissioning, and performance. Marketing tools can be used to automate communication every step of the journey.

Ethical Practices & Social Consciousness: In today’s lighting industry, an increasing number of buyers, as well as employees, place significant emphasis on sustainability, social responsibility, and ethical business practices. This trend mirrors broader consumer sentiment across various sectors. For instance, a survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Tom’s of Maine among 2000 young adults in America found that a significant majority of Gen Z and Millennials prioritize brands that uphold high standards. Specifically, 80% of respondents indicated they are likely to base their purchasing decisions on a brand’s mission or purpose.

It remains to be seen if buyers are willing to move business to support a manufacturer based solely on ethical values, however establishing fairness, honesty, and adherence to fair trade principles has been linked to financial performance by enhancing reputation and increasing loyalty. All things being equal, the new-age buyer values these traits. US companies are embracing associations like ETHISPHERE who create, and award compliance programs based on ethical value.

In closing, building out a marketing strategy that is customer-focused will shift your company from simply pushing products or services to delivering value, exceptional experiences, and creating loyal buyers. Understanding a customer’s unique needs in an authentic and transparent way builds trust while also keeping your client’s coming back for more.

About the author:

Natalie Young is President of Performance Marketing and is a proven expert in the lighting industry she is well known for thinking outside the box to provide clients with effective, creative solutions to meet their needs. Offering outsourced marketing, strategy implementation, and fractional CMO consulting, she is well-versed in inbound marketing, marketing strategy, digital marketing, branding, project management, lead generation and corporate growth. She specializes in marketing for electrical, lighting, AV, plumbing, construction, and lighting rep agencies. 

www.performancemarketingOC.com

nyoung@performancepromo.com

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