So many marketers are still caught up in old school marketing, where the goal is to drive someone from unawareness to ''awareness'' and, finally, all the way to ''brand liking.'' Or something like that. There may be an ''intent to buy'' after that.
A post on Advertising Age fine-tunes this a bit further. Between liking and intent to purchase, there's something the author, Troy Young, calls an ''intent to engage.''
It makes measuring real leads and actual sales seem a little crude, doesn't it? Being able to learn someone's intentions -- now that's refinement taken to hair-splitting, angels-dancing-on-a-pin extremes.
Direct marketers don't try to read minds the way general advertisers and other pseudo-psychics do. I think the reason for that is that we know our own minds so well. When I have to make a considered purchase, like a new home or a new car, I may dither right up until the last possible moment. The length of time between intent to purchase and no intent at all and back again could move as quickly as the flutter of a butterfly's wings.
For something like an ice cream cone, I can go from unawareness to awareness to intent about as quickly as it took to me to see the Ben & Jerry's logo on the store. Even though, up until that moment, I specifically and consciously had no intent to ever eat ice cream again as long as I lived. And it doesn't mean I've engaged with either Ben or Jerry in the past. It could be a local vendor in the town where I happen to be vacationing.
This is why direct marketers don't try to measure intentions. Instead, we give the consumer plenty of reasons to purchase. We try to connect them emotionally. We urge them to respond sooner rather than later. If they indicate interest, we call them a lead and nurture the budding relationship. If they give us money, we call that transaction a sale. We measure those. And we respect their preference to keep any other intentions to themselves, if they wish.