5 Stages of the Purchasing Cycle for Your Massage Therapy Clients

shutterstock_157422446Marketing and sales lingo is like a foreign language at times.

That’s why I loved John Gelb’s recent blog post on The Young Thumbs, 12 Sales and Marketing Terms Massage Therapists Need to Know.

I found the section on the Buying Cycle particularly interesting and valuable.

Which is why I’m writing a whole post on it to exam each part in detail.

First, what is the Purchasing Cycle (Sales cycle, buying cycle, life cycle)?

You may not even notice this yourself as a consumer, but we tend to purchase a new product or service by following certain steps.

Marketers have analyzed these steps and made a science out of understanding the cycle that consumers go through as they make purchasing decisions.

Customers travel through stages as they interact with your company, and each stage requires different marketing actions.

John says this:”Depending on who is talking, the buying cycle stages can be defined differently, but it goes something like this for your ideal customer:

Problem recognition
I feel like I need a massage.

Information search
Where might I get a massage? Let’s ask Google (or my best friend, Kathy).

SmartCity Massage has a good deal right now. I trust my friend Kathy and her favorite massage therapist is Mark Jones. From my online research I’ve definitely ruled out E-Z Massage.

Purchase decision
Can I really afford this massage? Should I go ahead and book it now, or wait a week? Should I call or just fill out this form online?

Post-purchase behavior
I booked my appointment with Mark Jones, received a stellar massage, now I’m booking an appointment for next month! And I’m going to give Mark a shout out on Twitter.

Let’s look at each step in more detail.

1. Problem recognition (awareness of a need)

This is the point where your customer identifies a need. It could also be the moment where a person recognizes the difference between the ideal and the reality.

Here, a potential client may be thinking “This back pain is just unbearable. Wouldn’t life be so much better if I could just get some relief from this pain!”

At this point, they recognize that their situation is not ideal and maybe that could change. In fact, it really NEEDS to change. Massage might be floating around in their minds as one way to deal with this need, but first and foremost the need is to get rid of pain.

2. Information search

As the customer takes to Google and his network of friends for information and advice, they may be looking at a variety of options to relieve their back pain: Chiropractic, accupuncture, surgery, massage therapy. It all depends on the customer.

Brand awareness is key for the potential client at this point in their search. If they already know about your massage therapy practice, their own “internal search” of what they already know will lead them to you.

An external search might involve surveying friends and relatives for advice and recommendations. External information search also includes searching on Google or online massage directories or review websites like Yelp.

3. Evaluation

Here, our back pain sufferer will begin to evaluate different brands. What does this massage chain offer that our independent practitioner doesn’t? This step includes thinking about pricing, the overall experience, availability, ease of scheduling and making payment.

In the evaluation phase, the customer has ruled out some options already and narrowed down the choices to a few contenders.

4. Decision time

We’re down to the final stretch. Now it’s time for the customer to decide where to buy, whom to trust.

Past experiences and loyalty come into play at this point if a client is considering returning to a known therapist. In the example that John gave above, the client asks whether they can really afford the price right now, can I make my schedule work with this therapist, is it easy to book online?

Maybe at this point, they’ve thought about it enough and realize they just can’t afford a massage at this time.

Or, let’s pretend they were on the fence and they clicked back onto your Facebook page one more time after being reminded about it when they saw one of your posts. They happen to see the Book Now button on your Facebook page. They click it, see you have availability tomorrow, and that you’re running a special price for the month of April! With a few simple clicks they have scheduled their massage!

Making this stage in the cycle as “frictionless” as possible is absolutely key in closing the sale. (How did you like all those marketing and sales terms?)

5. Post-purchase behavior

The customer went through all of the hard work of booking a massage with you and actually getting a massage, and now it is time to:

1) go online and rave about your massage therapist

2) talk to friends about the massage, your prices, the overall experience

3) OR experience buyer’s remorse, leave a bad review on Yelp, post something negative on your Facebook page (hopefully not any of these!)

Knowing what your clients are thinking as they go through these five stages in the buying cycle will help you be a better marketer. Offer your clients information and content that is targeted to the five stages of the purchasing cycle. Reduce friction and make the path to booking a massage as easy as possible. Then, encourage your clients to spread the word as much as possible!

Do you recognize your own purchasing patterns in these five steps? What have you done in your practice to implement purchasing cycle messaging and marketing? Share in the comments below!