Current books reviewed: “Purchase process-oriented marketing: Stop branding, start selling!” by Marc Rutschmann
Classic marketing is about the features and benefits of a product. Put simply, it tells the customer how a product will satisfy their needs and, ideally, leads to a purchase." According to Marc Rutschmann's core thesis in his latest book, this basic assumption is obsolete and even obscures the view of the real events on the market. That is why Rutschmann develops approaches for a new kind of marketing that focuses on customer processes.
In the first part of his book, the author addresses the fundamentals of behavioral science and questions the existing concept of branding. Products are to be emotionally charged in order to convey a sense of life. The functional properties take a back seat. Does that make people buy and keep buying? And is a brand the cause or the result of success? Today’s big players, Amazon or Google above all, show that you can be successful without advertising. On the other hand, the image profiles of tire manufacturers – according to Rutschmann’s example – show only minor differences in positioning and consumers’ perceptions, despite decades of advertising. It often becomes apparent that there is little connection between the attitude towards the product and the (purchase) action.
In this day and age of product diversity, countless options, and fickle, indifferent consumers (Rutschmann speaks of a homo lufticus), the brand model alone won’t get you far enough. Rutschmann is convinced that, instead, the crucial factors can be found in the process that customers go through up until they buy. Once this process has been analyzed, the points along the “customer journey” at which the company can and must intervene to trigger actions become clear. The author brings twelve automatisms into play here, patterns of action that lie dormant in people as a predisposition and simply need to be triggered to convert into open behavior. Examples of this, according to Rutschmann, are the baby schema key stimulus or response to reward.
In the second part of the book, the author looks at the practice and the purchase process. More and more impetus and impulses are needed to promote these things as brands’ charisma wanes and they lose their appeal as a purchasing trigger. The purchase process is unique for each consumer, with a multitude of accompanying circumstances, changing priorities, and a separate sequence of actions. However, patterns and clusters can be identified – path clusters for example, where the same sequence of actions is run through in each case, or drive clusters, which form a common group due to the same drives. If the individual purchase processes are aggregated, a “path network” is created – on the basis of which the points in the process at which triggers can be set, for example, can be identified. This offers companies new options and allows them to direct the process flow specifically towards the purchase.
Rutschmann formulates seven tactics that influence the purchase process and advance it. They fill the space in which the brand message was once effective and are intended to “push customers into the brand’s magnetic field.”
- Immediate benefits beat product benefits: Bringing benefits into the now is more effective than putting the far-off benefits into the foreground.
- The consequences of an action need to be reasonable: Keep the inhibition threshold low; the consequence of an action can’t ask too much of the customer.
- Use drives directed to the product category: Focus on the products’ basic functions and features that are important to the customer.
- Note path dependencies: Certain process steps need to be completed before the customer can continue, and each phase of the “customer Journey” has its own desires, drives, and triggers.
- Break down habitual patterns: Customers exhibit repetitive behavior patterns – with detergents, toothpaste, and newspapers, for example.
- Secure re-purchases instead of relying on loyalty: Customer satisfaction is not a guarantee for the lasting power of a brand’s products, and is not directly correlated to purchases.
- Just having heard about a brand is enough: A well-known brand often has the upper hand against brands the customer has never heard of before. So it’s enough to anchor them in the so-called evoked set.
In order to apply these tactics effectively, Rutschmann sees it as essential to divide the purchase process into stages, and to define the respective intervention points there. The author illustrates this by means of various diagrams of process and impulse chains. At the same time, the customer has to be motivated “in keeping with the stage,” and the purchase can’t come into play too early. Once the stages have been identified and the impulses conceptualized, the individual steps can be used to define advertising materials and carrier media.
Over the further course of his argument, Rutschmann focuses on the dimension of time: If the customer isn’t introduced to something new after a certain amount of time, they’re going to bow out. The desires level out, the willingness to act decreases. Dynamism becomes a success factor. The Internet in particular opens up a multitude of possibilities for purchasing process-oriented marketing. However, says Rutschmann, the naturally dialogic medium of the Internet is mainly used monologically and played on the sender side.
In conclusion, he extracts “the three maxims of purchase process-oriented marketing.”
- Companies need to push forward to the customer’s level of action. The place where the customer acts is the reality of marketing.
- Once at that action level, you will realize that the customer’s desires change along the process path. Their demands, needs, and moods are constantly changing. Customers need to be addressed precisely according to the process step. This is the new meaning of “putting the customer first.”
- Thirdly, the focus is on the drivers: What is the impetus for the customer to move? They shouldn’t want to stay in one place. Marketing should arouse desire to make the customer take a step forward – towards the conclusion of a purchase.
Marc Rutschmann, “Purchase Process-Oriented Marketing: Stop Branding, Start Selling! How the latest findings in behavioral research and neuroscience are spurring on marketing and sales,” Springer Fachmedien, Wiesbaden, 2018, €26.99.
Dr. Marc Rutschmann heads an agency in Zurich specializing in communication that triggers action. In a subsidiary of the agency, consumer purchasing processes are empirically researched with the help of behavioral analysis. Marc Rutschmann is the author of several books and technical contributions on the topic of buying behavior and communication, as well as a lecturer in Marketing at the University of St. Gallen (HSG).
Author: Editorial team Future. Customer.
Image: © everythingpossible – AdobeStock