Use story to understand your customer's journey and simplify your marketing

If you’re not using the 5 Tiers of Customers & Their Journey to improve your organization and simplify your marketing, then you must be ok with the status quo and feeling overwhelmed. Here’s why. Your audience or customers are on an epic journey. They are hunting for a solution to their problem. Like a super vitamin, their journey is packed with power for your organization and marketing. And if you understand and empathize with their journey, you can win the day for them and you!

In this series, I’ll share the 5 Tiers of Customers and show you the gold mine they bring to improving your organization and simplifying your marketing.

First, we must understand the 5 Tiers. Then we can develop what one writer calls “a pathological empathy for our audience.” (I love that statement. We’ll come back to it often.) Finally, we’ll connect our findings and empathy to our organization and marketing. You’ll gain insights to help you focus and clarify what you do and how you market it.

The 5 Tiers of Customers & Their Journey

The 5 Tiers represent the journey of your audience or customer. Every journey starts the same. Your audience has a problem they need help with. So they set out for a solution. The journey progresses like the 9 Rings of Dante’s Inferno…_only with 5 tiers. In the end, our beloved hero (our audience or customer) is either victorious or stalls out. There is triumph. Or there is tragedy.

Tier 1: The Curious

In Tier 1, our hero is curious. He or she leaves the comfort and security of home to begin the active search. For our audience, this used to be a physical search—like get in the car and drive downtown. Later, it would look like thumbing through the phone book or yellow pages. Now it happens online. Through search or social media, the hunt is on. The Curious hero is a customer who has not formally met your organization or business yet. Perhaps they’ve seen you around. But they’ve never stopped to see how you might help solve their problem.

Tier 2: The Confused

In Tier 2, our curious hero finds his or her way to your organization. But the perils of the journey force our hero to make swift decisions. Any delay and the evil problem may overtake him. After a brief look around, confusion confounds our hero. Oh no! (We will come back to why this happens to our hero later in this series.) For now, this customer is someone who came across your brand and was confused about how you could help. So they move on.

Tier 3: The Collector

Progressing to Tier 3, our hero adds you to his or her collection of possible solutions. Soon the fork in the road will force our hero into a decision. For now, your organization is in the mix of weapons the hero could use to slay the enemy. This is a customer who came across your brand while searching for a solution. You are valuable enough for them to keep in mind, but we have yet to convince the hero you are the answer to his dilemma.

Tier 4: The Casual Fan

The time has come for the hero to face off. With your help, the hero beats back the villainous problem who flees the scene to lick his wounds. You’ve given our hero some much-needed relief from the attack of the problem. Congrats. You now have a new casual fan. Though the enemy is not ultimately defeated, our hero knows you can help keep him at bay. This is a customer who trusted you enough to help him/her address the problem. They appreciate your help in keeping the problem at a distance.

Tier 5: The Champion

In the 5th and final tier, our hero charges into battle, slays the problem, and wins the day in stunning fashion. And you were the piercing arrow. You played a pivotal role in his victory. Our hero (customer or audience) is the champ. As he proudly struts forth on his victory lap, he recounts the climactic moment where you—the trustworthy arrow—made the difference. Your place in the hero’s story is forever solidified.  Zeal and passion exude whenever he gets the chance—or makes the chance—to talk about you. If ever there is another in need of such an arrow, he will champion you to no end. This is a customer who loves you.

To recap, this is the journey of every customer or everyone in your audience. It’s not whimsy. It’s real. Your audience or customer has a real problem in need of a real solution. They are on a journey in search of a solution. Their journey will end in triumph or tragedy. The question in this series is, what role will you play in their journey? And what role should their journey play in your organization and marketing?

Start With These Questions for the 5 Tiers

If you cannot empathize with the journey of your audience, you will miss out on reaching your maximum impact and making the world a better place. Next time we will zoom in on the problem driving your audience’s journey. It’s the key to unlocking the power of the 5 Tiers so you know what to say to your audience. Then we’ll unpack how you use the 5 Tiers of Customers & Their Journey to improve your organization and simplify your marketing. For now, take a few minutes to consider where customers may be getting stuck along the journey. Here are a few questions to consider:

  • The Curious: Can our customers/audience find us? Are we visible where they’ll be looking? What could we do to improve our visibility to make us easier to find?
  • The Confused: Can our customers or audience understand how we help them? Are we clear?
  • The Collector: Is there anything we can do to be more convincing about how we help our audience/customer?
  • The Causal Fan: Why do our customers see us as a partial solution and not an ultimate solution helping them defeat their problem?
  • The Champion: How are we identifying our champions? What’s working and how can we do more?

See you next time, champ!

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