May 24, 2021
Backchaining Your Marketing Plan
To get the results you want, start at the end.

dog running on grass to retrieve ball thrown by woman; blog post on backchaining your marketing plan

If you’re a dog trainer, you know all about forward chaining and backchaining.

Chains reinforce behaviors, and get you to the result you want.

Well, guess what…

Marketing works similarly.

Except in the marketing world, we call a “chain” the buyer’s journey.

It’s how your clients get from point A to point B in your sales process. And understanding it is crucial to determining which of your marketing tactics work… and which are wasting your time.

But before we go backwards, let’s go forwards.

What Exactly is the Buyer’s Journey?

There are three stages to the journey:

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Decision

…Are those ringing a bell?

If you’ve been keeping up with these blog posts, you’ll recognize these stages are very familiar — they sound a lot like the ones in the marketing funnel.

But when we look at the buyer’s journey we go deeper — a lot deeper. The buyer’s journey is all about what specific steps a client can actually take to make a purchase. The marketing funnel then looks at those steps in a more general, aggregated way.

A Quick Recap of the Marketing Funnel

In the first stage, awareness, the customer has identified that they have a problem they want to solve or an opportunity they want to pursue. However, often they don’t even know that you or your business exists.

Consideration is where the customer knows you exist and that you offer a potential solution to their problem. But it’s likely they’re weighing the pros and cons of multiple options at this point. That’s where the follow-up comes in.

The decision stage is exactly what it sounds like: the customer is ready to make a purchase. They now:

  • Know you exist
  • Have considered multiple options
  • Recognize that you are an expert on the topic they’re looking to pursue

Now we’re ready to make a sale.

Backchaining the Buyer’s Journey

Ok. Now you know what that last step in our behavior chain is — making a sale! So, to return to our dog training analogy, it’s time to split all of the (actual or imaginary) steps that they’d take to get there. It’s time to go to the end and work our way back.

Just like when we’re backchaining a complex dog training behavior, the closer to the end of the chain we get, the more confidence we have in the behavior’s success. And, like when backchaining a complex task, the key is to break things down into small “links” in our chain, so we can understand each step and make it as clear and easy as possible.

A Sample Buyer’s Journey for a Dog Training Client

Let’s look at an example.

If we know the final behavior in our chain is to make a purchase, what does that look like? Let’s pretend for our example that clients can sign up for a manners class directly on your website. So in this case, the person needs to click “Sign Up” on the page about your manners class.

What has to happen immediately before they get to that point?

They needed to read through the content of the page and decide that you sound like you know what you’re doing and can help them with the problem that led them to your site in the first place. This is where having good copywriting comes in!

What has to happen immediately before that?

They need to get to that page! So how did they get to that page? Well, for this particular client, you happened to send her a link to that page via email so she could sign up.

Alright, how did you know to email her? Well, she emailed you first — she’d contacted you via your contact form on your website.

But before that she started out on your homepage. This is where your website’s overall design came into play. It was easy for her to click around and learn a bit about you, what you do, and decide she trusted you and believed you could help her with her dog.

How did she get to your website, though? In her case, she did a google search for “dog trainer near me” and you came up in the search results. (Yay for having your Google My Business listing up to date, and spending some time on search engine optimization)!

But what happened that made her turn to Google in the first place? She had to decide she needed a dog trainer.

And what happened to make her decide that? Her newly adopted dog jumped on her Aunt Mary, and Aunt Mary almost fell.

Don’t Break the Chain

Can you see how if we left out any step in this journey (and it is a journey, isn’t it?), our new client would fail to arrive at her destination — our target final behavior? Backchaining isn’t a perfect analogy — unlike when training a behavior, we’re talking about a client making a purchase. I think, however, there are enough parallels that it can be a useful way of thinking about a buyer’s journey!

One of the biggest mistakes I see dog trainers make when planning out their marketing is that they make it impossible for potential clients to complete a buyer’s journey… their marketing plan has too many holes (more on this next week!) or missing links in the chain.

And that leads potentially awesome clients from signing up for their services.

Don’t let that be you — take the time to look through each of the ways you’re marketing your business to make sure it fits neatly into a potential buyer’s journey.

What’s a service or a product you’re ready to sell? How would you backchain it to get to the end point? Share your plan with me in the comments — and then join me for my class on marketing for pet professionals this summer! Registration is open now click here to sign up!


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