Marketing is the process of teaching consumers why they should choose your product or service over your competitors. If you are not doing that you are not marketing. It’s really that simple! The key is understanding there is a four step process to effective marketing; Attraction, Engagement, Conversion, and Retention. Building strategies based on these steps will ensure your company uses the right marketing method and message to educate and influence prospective consumers.
The traditional methods of marketing your company have changed thanks to the Internet, social media, and social conversations. In fact, with the abundance of information and choices online, your company can experience growth or decline without your active participation. To avoid declines and maximize opportunities for growth, it is essential your company introduce itself to your target audiences through the process we call "Attraction".
Attraction begins with crystal clear understanding of who is mostly likely to purchase your products/services (target audience) and the sub categories of people within those groups (segmentations). Whether through industry data, surveys of your current customers, polling, or focus groups, your company must develop a profile of who uses your products/services most, what they value, and what would make them loyal to your brand. This information will play an integral role in the engagement portion of your marketing plan.
According to the Winterberry Group, marketing and advertising spending on all data-driven channels (i.e. direct and digital) will see 6.4% growth, to $163.7 billion in 2017. What this means for your company is you have to be better at intercepting your target audience and its various segmentations. Of course this will be directly affected by how well your company is able to build a profile of your target audiences, as we discussed previously.
The target audience profiles will help your marketing team determine which medium of marketing and advertising (i.e. print, outdoor, radio, social media, etc.) will have the greatest effect in creating brand awareness and the type of messaging necessary to instill confidence in your company and build the initial relationship. Staying “on message” and providing clear and consistent communication is critical. It is therefore important to maintain consistent brand and campaign messages across all platforms in order to convert prospective customers into paying customers.
Does your company take the time to "get into your customers' head?" Or are you so concerned with accumulating fans, friends, and followers that you miss the opportunities to turn them into paying customers? Better yet, has your company gotten so far away from understanding your target audience that you believe cute videos or social media posts can generate revenue? Before you leave because you believe I'm wrong, I want to share a few elements your company must have in order to make your conversion strategy effective.
Deliver Exceptional Value
When you consider the average person receives more than 5,000 marketing and advertising impressions daily, the fact they have taken the time to visit your website should not be taken lightly. Whether by skillful content or random search, your messaging resonated with the prospective customer enough to cause them to want to know more, so your response needs to be precise, relevant, and worth all of the effort put forth.
A sale is made when value exceeds price by $1. Therefore, you must explain your value proposition to the prospective customer and how those skillsets will not only satisfy their current needs, but establish a relationship that offers them solutions into the future.
Make It Easy To Do Business With Your Company As a consumer, I can't tell you how many times I have visited a website, liked the products, but didn't make a purchase because the process was too difficult. Problems range from not accepting the credit card I wanted to use to having return policies that made me feel I was taking a risk when purchasing. Once the prospective customer is confident in your value proposition and willing to spend money with you, make sure your policies and procedures are easy to navigate and set a clear expectation of what happens after the sale has been consummated. Here are a few things to examine in your processes:
Do you offer various payment options?
Do you offer price guarantees or matching?
What is your return policy?
Do you have multiple shipping options?
Is there a posted customer service number if the customer has questions?
Finally, your company should constantly research what's important to your customers and how you can put the right pieces in place to make sure their customers get what they want and need, which is the cornerstone of customer retention.
Happy customers refer friends and family! I'm sure you have had an buying experience that was followed by a survey or other metric to gauge your experience. As a small business owner this can be a very valuable tool to ensure the customer was able to order what they needed, the process was simple, and they felt they receive an exceptional value for their money. More importantly, it begins an opportunity for long-term relationships.
Loyalty programs such as purchase rewards are a great way to thank your customers for choosing to continue doing business with you. Adding the customer to your mailing list (with an opt-out option) keeps them aware of new product offerings, changes within your industry, as well as makes them aware of upcoming sales and events. Done properly, strong customer retention management not only increases the lifetime value of each customer, but they become great conversion tools as they refer you business.