Everything I know about Relational and Transactional customers, I learned from Roy H. Williams, founder of the Wizard Academy and the those terms should be properly credited to him. My friend and former co-worker Josh Yudin, president of The Marketing Academy, an Atlanta-based consulting firm, assigned a new meaning to those terms as different modes of consumer behavior in general. It has occurred to me, however, that there is a 3rd phase, Transitional, that incorporates both the general ethos of Relational or Transactional buyers, and buyer behavior through the sales cycle of any give product or service. That said…
There are three phases of buyer behavior:
Relational, Transitional, and Transactional
Relational: The phase customers are in before the need arises for your product. 95-98% of your target. The longer the sales cycle (HVAC, jewelry, cars once every few years, vs. say a restaurant, grocery store, gasoline, etc.), the longer a customer is in Relational phase
Transitional: After an event occurs to move them into the sales funnel (anything from the everyday mundane events like “I’m hungry” to paradigm shifting life events like “my mother broke her hip and now she can’t live alone”). The length of time a customer stays in Transitional mode depends on a number of factors like personality types, immediacy of solution needed, amount of expense, resources available, etc.
Transactional: After the consumer has had what my friend calls the “Popeye moment” (as in, “I can’t stands no more!”). They’ve done any necessary research and they are ready to pull the trigger on a purchase.The immediate sales funnel. That 2-5% of your target customer that is ready to buy today.
- Each phase requires different advertising strategy. One could argue for exceptions, but generally speaking, it works something like this.
Media Strategy for Each:
Relational Strategy: The “Why”. Persuade with emotions. Authentically enroll people with the “why” of your company. Details and facts are irrelevant in relational mode because they are not yet in the market for your product. While emotions can be conveyed in any medium, the human brain is uniquely wired for processing the human voice, thus making intrusive, sound-based media like Radio and TV a prudent choice for not only arresting the attention of an audience, but also telling the “why” story of your company in an emotionally compelling way.
Transitional Strategy: The “How”. An event has occurred in the customers life and they are looking for possible options to solve their problem. Articles and blog entries on your site found through a solid SEO strategy. Social Media conversations on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest, etc. Behavioral Retargeting is becoming more and more effective advertising tool in transitional phase.
Transactional Strategy: The “Who, What, Where”. They are ready to buy and they are looking for the details necessary to complete the transaction. SEM (Pay Per Click) used correctly is a very effective tool in the Transactional phase. Feedback sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, Kudzu etc. are also becoming more and more important. In certain cases print media can allow a more comprehensive format to fill in the details and facts necessary to complete the transaction. Search has a distinct advantage in that tools like Google Analytics allow advertisers to track metrics and provide reams of data that print media cannot (save tools like QR codes).
Trying to connect emotionally when consumers are in Transactional mode is too late. Filling ads with details in Relational mode is too premature.
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