Growing up, I remember my parents dragging my sister and I to multiple car lots on Sunday drives “to just look” at potential vehicles they may decide to purchase down the road. Why’d we always go on Sundays? Duh–to avoid those stereotypical car salesmen that get a bad rap for their persistence. In the 90s, most dealerships were closed on Sundays in spite of it being their biggest advertising day with a full inventory listing, full color, full page in any given local newspaper.

As most of you reading this know, times have changed, especially is the auto industry. That once pristine showroom full of freshly popped popcorn and sharply dressed sales staff is no longer a thing. Auto Dealership’s actual showrooms have taken a back seat to their virtual showroom—their website. With newspaper advertising slowly dying off and circulation numbers plummeting, the once full-page car ads are almost a thing of the past. Let’s be honest, not only are they going away, but the pricing of full-page print ads is OUTRAGEOUS. Why? 1) Circulation numbers are down 2) advertising dollars are being spent on other mediums, so money is not coming in, and there’s still staff to pay so the only option is 3) advertising prices go up.

But, enough about that, let’s talk about the real life 21st Century Buying Cycle. It’s not just the auto industry that’s changing—its almost, if not every, industry. Flashback to your first business course in college with me for a few minutes. Buying Cycle 101: Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, Advocacy, right? While the core principles are still the same each stage has progressed with the help of Al Gore, okay, maybe not Al Gore—but definitely with help of a little thing called the internet.

Why in the world am I taking 30 minutes out of my day to write a blog about the Stages of the Buying Cycle that maybe 6 people will read? Because 1) I want to 2) as an co-owner of a digital ad agency in a market that’s a bit behind the times—it’s important to educate and give real world scenarios to make sense of all this “new age marketing magic” 3) putting off joining a conference call I should have joined 10 minutes ago.

Here is the real-world scenario part I was talking abou

I’m in my thirties. I am a single professional. I live alone. I cancelled by cable service last year because my bill was almost more than my mortgage. I haven’t missed it. I do not have any newspapers delivered to my door. To be honest, I am in a love/hate relationship with my mailman because I NEVER check my mail. I subscribe to Apple Music, so when I’m in my Jeep that’s usually what’s playing. If I watch any type of television, it’s usually while I’m in bed on my Roku TV. I pay for HULU, Netflix, HBO and ESPN (but only during March Madness). I consume most of my news from apps on my phone or by social media. Oh, and I’m not really a fan of long walks on the beach.
With all that in mind, I need to tell you that the toilet in my spare bathroom broke last week. I jiggled that handle thinking that would fix it. It’s didn’t. I took off the lid and thought to myself, “I bet it just needs new guts.” I literally googled “how to replace that flappy thing inside your toilet”. I read a few articles and knew the exact thing I needed to purchase. Went to Wal-Mart, bought guts for $9.99, came home, and learned my toilet’s fate was crappier than I’d ever imagined. Walk with me through the next few days and the 21st Century Buying Cycle:

Awareness: My toilet is broken. I’m suddenly aware I need a new one. I read multiple articles and watched a few DIY fixit videos to no avail. Because I read articles on toilet repair, I start noticing that I am being served toilet ads alllll over the place (in app, on my Facebook feed, on my Instagram stories). I was still in hopes that I could fix it, until I saw a Home Depot banner ad proclaiming ENERGY EFFICENT TOILETS WERE ONLY $99! 

Consideration: I mean, I’m no plumber, but how hard could it really be to install my own toilet? As I was lying in bed, contemplating my potential home reno replacement project I decided to YouTube “How to Install/Replace Toilet”. First Hit (Pictured Below): A 3-minute Step by Step Tutorial from Home Depot. Well, if random guy in an orange apron from Home Depot can install a toilet in 3 minutes, surely, I can. I was slowly gaining the confidence I needed and put down my phone. Later that night, I was watching Dateline on my NBC App on the Roku when I get served an OTT (Over-The-Top) video ad for (waitttttt for it….waiiiiit for it…) DIY projects at Home Depot. At this stage in the game, Home Depot had touched me well over 12x (using NO traditional media) in a 3-day time span—obviously getting my attention.

Purchase: I live less than 5 minutes from a Lowes. I had to pass 2 Lowes, 3 Wal-Marts, and who knows how many plumbing supplies stores just TO GET to a Home Depot. But, none of those places even crossed my mind. I walked right into Home Depot, put that $99 toilet in my buggy, and headed home to take care of business.

Advocacy: I completely replaced my toilet. Granted, it took me close to 2 hours longer than the Dude in the orange apron, but still I did it. I didn’t call a plumber. I didn’t even read directions. I literally watched a YouTube video. And what was the first thing I did once the job was complete? Posted a #shamelessbrag Insta story, texted pictures to my Mom and a few friends, and took a shower. My toilet has been running great, no leaks for 2 days now. In the last 2 days, I’ve been served ads for more easy-to-do home reno projects Home Depot can help me out with. 

Let me bring it home for you. I can’t help but think about how advertising has changed over the years, but the basic principles hold true. The biggest change, in my opinion, we can now advertise to THE PERSON rather than the MASSES. Digital Advertising is not only more cost effective than traditional, but it inspires action. I can’t click on a billboard, TV commercial or newspaper if I want to learn more. I’m sure if Home Depot spent millions on DIY Toilet Replacement traditional ad buys, they’d get results—but, what probably cost them pennies got me (and thousands of others) hook, line & sinker.

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