How Customers Buy

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I’ve been involved with marketing for nearly 3 decades now. Over the years I’ve seen a lot, read even more, and have tested many different marketing strategies. Nonetheless, in the end, I always come back to the simplest model of marketing I ever learned– the hierarchy of effects.

This is the purchase decision process that consumers go through when buying anything.

Hierarchy of effects flow chart

I was first exposed to the hierarchy of effect during my college days when I was studying marketing. Although the internet and technology has changed the face of marketing in big ways, the process consumers go through to make purchase decisions remains the same.

Simply put, this model says that a consumer doesn’t make a decision to purchase a product or service until they have gone through all five stages of the process. Now, for some purchase decisions this may happen instantaneously – say for example I’m thirsty and want to buy a soda. But for higher involvement decisions it may take days, weeks and even months to happen. Case in point, the decision of where to relocate an office may take months and even years on some cases.

Why is this important? If you don’t have a process for helping your potential customer work through the effects model with your marketing then you are likely missing out on potential business.

This is one way we help our clients develop and deliver content that is specifically designed for the different stages of the decision process.


This is the process of making your brand visible. They can come by way of ads you place on classified sites like Craigslist or by placing banners on the outside of your building. The goal here is to make sure your property is visible anywhere your prospects go to look for information.

Interest –

To build interest you must effectively communicate to your prospect what your unique benefits are and what needs or problems you can solve. In terms of commercial properties this might be the fact that your building is located near where your employees live or that you have a specific floor plan that will fulfill a need of your prospect. It’s all about how you write the content in your property’s marketing materials. If you don’t quickly communicate what needs you can fulfill then you lose the interest of your prospect and the sale.

Evaluation –

The most common place where you can affect this stage is through effective reputation management. I you do not actively engage your online testimonials then you may be falling short during this phase. It can be frustrating when a disgruntled tenant spreads misinformation over the internet through rants on rating sites. If you are not pro-actively responding to bad ratings then all that effort to gain the awareness of your new prospect will be lost. You can also actively solicit feedback from your current and past residents to help build a positive reputation in the market place.

Conviction –

This is how you engage fanatics of your brand and integrate that into your real estate marketing. For most people this can be effectively completed through a good social media strategy. Do you have a Facebook page, or do you use other social media tools like LinkedIn or Twitter? This is where social media can be of most help – spreading the positive word about your community and your brand.

Purchase –

Finally, the consumer makes their choice. If you’ve done your job well then you will have the best chance possible to win over a new customer and a fanatic as well. Don’t think your job is done, because here is where the work actually starts. The worst thing you can do is to get all these steps dialed in and then drop the ball when it comes time to deliver on your brand promise. What you say in your marketing must be easily seen by your customers and any promise you’ve made along the way will be constantly tested.


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