The BMA Philadelphia recently had a panel discussion focused on marketing through distribution channels. Kudos to Christian Shea of P4MV for putting a stellar panel together. (Note: for those in the Philadelphia area I strongly urge you to check out the BMA Philadelphia events. We are a small chapter and don’t have a super full calendar, but when we do pull something together it is amazing)

One of the panelists was Brandon Baldassari – Product Marketing Specialist at Subaru of America. He was talking about their marketing messaging depending on where the customer was in the buying cycle and he said they think of the buyer’s cycle in three stages – The Heart, The Brain and The Wallet (It sounds a bit like a C.S. Lewis novel).

When a customer is far out in the buying cycle, perhaps thinking maybe they want a new car but have not settled on a manufacturer, they shoot for the heart. I’m sure we can all recall a favorite Subaru ad that spoke to us…at least those to whom their message reached our hearts. My favorite is their Baby Driver ad…and I don’t even have kids!

The next step is when a customer settles on Subaru, and are deciding on what model car. This is where their marketing targets their brain. You’re active and care about the environment…but are you driving you family to and from soccer games or are you going with friends into the wilderness to go mountain biking. Are you concerned about mileage? what about safety? What is the warranty on the car and what will the value be five years form now? Will this car still be running 10 years from now?

The final stage is the wallet. This is where the marketing starts focusing on the dealership. At this point buyers have made their decision…now they are looking for the best deal.

This multi-level buying cycle is not unique to Subaru or car dealers. I’ve talked about this before in “Booth Visitors – Where are they in the buying cycle?”

Exhibitors: Does your booth activity speak to each stage of your customers’ buying cycles? Does your booth staff know how to identify which stage a booth visitor might be in? Is it part of your pre-show training?

Conference/Trade Show Producers: How does your marketing reflect the buying cycle of your attendees. Does it change as you get closer to the event? Do you first try to win over their hearts or do you go straight for the wallet relying on early bird discounts to bring them in?