The Intentionality Scale and Marketing Strategy

I have a big problem with marketing agencies that push the same strategies for all businesses. One of the reasons this is so harmful is because of the scale of impulsivity to intentionality. Products and services which are impulsive purchases require completely different strategies than intentional purchases. Before you start your marketing plan, make sure you know where you sit on the scale.

The scale shown above is the Impulsivity Scale. The most impulsive product I can think of is a BiC lighter, as the only thought required is “I need a lighter” and “I like this color.” A very intentional product would be a custom home, which couple will spend years researching and collaborating to get the “perfect home.” Where you fit on the scale greatly changes the way you reach your market.

Price Doesn't Always Determine Intentionality

The reason price is not on the scale, is because price and impulsivity are not necessarily connected. Yes, it is more likely for a low price product to be impulsive, and usually an expensive product guarantees a need for intention, but not always. Shaving razors and blades are low-cost products, but people tend to put a lot of thought into picking “their brand.” Cell phones are expensive, but many people still pick their cell phone by what looks good at the time of purchase.

Marketing Strategy for High Impulse - Low Intention Decisions

High impulse decisions come down to one thing: being in front of the customer at the right time. In the case of a BiC lighter, being at the checkout register at every gas station across the nation is a pretty damn good strategy. You don’t see television commercials, Facebook promotions, or magazine ads for BiC lighters, you just see the BiC lighters… everywhere.

The more impulsive the product the less content matters. The strategy for high impulse decisions is to be in front of the customer at or near the time of the decision. For example, while calling a plumber is more expensive than buying a lighter, the need for a plumber usually comes at a time where people are ready to make an impulsive decision. Therefore, the best strategy for many plumbers is to make sure they are on the refrigerator. Often, this is done by advertising on community calendars and passing out magnets.

Marketing Strategy for High Intention - Low Impulse Decisions

High intention decisions come down to information. Whoever has done the best job of equipping a customer with an understanding of the product will win. Customers making big decisions are more open to being talked to or led through presentations. In the absence of good information, people will fall back exclusively to referrals and word-of-mouth.

So in this world, content is king. Your sales and marketing has to be able to communicate with potential customers over a very long timeline, and provide a steady stream of information and education. A custom home builder will want to have gotten information in front of future potential home buyers YEARS ahead of the moment they start making a decision. In this case, email marketing, event marketing, and PR starts building up in importance.

Don’t Get Them Confused

Marketing tactics for each extreme can make some small impact for the other. But this is a matter of ROI. If you spend money on an impulsive strategy for an intentional product, and vise-versa, you will get some results but not see a good return. Products in the middle often require a healthy bit of both working together. Make sure you understand where you sit before you move forward with your marketing strategy.