Is your customer exploring or replenishing?

Don’t let the experts fool you, DIY marketing is hard. Sometimes thinking of the perfect marketing strategy for your business, product or services can leave you stumped. Here with a different slant on creating your campaign is legendary entrepreneur Seth Godin.

Godin argues that every customer purchase falls into one of two categories: exploring or replenishing. Knowing which category your product belongs to within the context of your marketing will put you on the right path to creating a message that sells.

Let’s take a deeper look.


Exploring

The first category – exploring – is when your customer has no first-hand experience of your product or service. It could be anything from a new pair of boots to a massage. In these circumstances there are three strategies you can follow:

  • magnify the chance
  • minimise the risk
  • a combination of both

Magnifying the chance is about selling the lifestyle surrounding your product; the possibility and sense of potential. It’s about dramatising the problem your product solves and talking viscerally about its use. Minimising the risk, meanwhile, is about reassuring the customer that the product will function as they expect it to. Providing a no quibble refund is a good example of minimising the risk.

Remember that your product is an unknown quantity. No matter how much research your customer has done, no matter how many reviews they have read, your customer is ultimately taking a punt on your product and crossing their fingers that it will be right for them.

Replenishing

The second type of purchase is when a customer is replenishing something they have had in the past. It could be something small (a bottle of coke) or something large (annual VIP membership of an exclusive golf club). The point is that the customer knows what they are going to get.

This affects the way you market the product. You don’t need to sell the product benefits quite so explicitly (the customer already digs it). The challenge is how you drive these repeat purchases and create enough brand loyalty to trigger a network effect.

You need to find a way to show consistently that your product is the people’s choice – social proof that your product is perceived to be the best value, best tasting or most prestigious among a certain group of people (i.e. your target audience). It’s about reinforcing buyer behaviours with a consistent brand perception that your audience identifies with.


A framework for better messaging?

Before you sit down to write your next piece of marketing content, it’s worth considering whether the people who will eventually read it are likely to be exploring or replenishing. Then you can frame your message accordingly. Godin’s framework also raises the interesting question of whether you should have separate marketing collateral for new customers and existing ones.

Ultimately – as with most good marketing – it all comes down to knowing who your reader is.