Marketers and small business owners have long believed that it is critical to understand your customers in order to sell to them. You may approach your marketing problems with one key question: “How do we get our customers to behave the way we want them to behave?”

The biggest problem with this mindset, however, is that it focuses on how you can change their behavior. But, in reality, your customers know how to be good customers. In fact, they want to be good customers. But they’re looking for certain experiences during the buying process to make them sure they made the right choice in opting for your product or service. There are seven behaviors that every customer wants to experience during the buying process and beyond:

  1. Know - This is the initial awareness phase, when customers will often use online and mobile search to find your business. If they are aware of your business before the search, even better.
  1. Like - This is the stage where once you attracted them to your site or storefront you give them reasons to come back, reasons to relate, and even reasons to like your team.
  1. Trust - In this stage, reviews, success stories, client testimonials and valuable content are your currency. Your customers want to trust you before they buy.
  1. Try - Now that your customers are wondering how your solution might work for them, it’s time to shower them with chances to try your product. Trial versions, eBooks, webinars, and other low-cost options are great to offer them here.
  1. Buy - For this stage, the focus is on keeping the experience high. Think about how you orient a new customer, exceed their expectation, and even surprise them.
  1. Repeat - Perhaps the best way to get repeat business is to make sure your clients receive and understand the value of doing business with you. Here’s where you need to consider adding a results review process as well as a system for offering additional programs, promotions, and cross-selling opportunities.
  1. Refer - Your customers want to tell their friends and family about a great product, service, or company. You can take advantage of this first and foremost by creating a great experience and by being referral worthy. But you also have to build processes and campaigns that make it easy for your champion clients to introduce and refer your business.

These seven behaviors all comprise what I call the Customer Journey. You must know that your job as a marketer or small business owner is not to change the way your customers think. You should focus on guiding them through these behaviors and giving them incentives to continue on. Once you realize this, creating a stellar customer journey is easy.