Getting More Sales with the Buyer’s Journey

How does someone decide to buy a product or service?

This is answered by the customer life cycle or sometimes called the Buyer’s Journey. The sale is made when a buyer goes through three key phases: Awareness, Consideration and then Decision.

In the Awareness phase, a buyer starts from being problem aware to researching about their needs and then setting up priorities for their purchase.

In fact, you’ll be surprised that “57% of the purchase decision is complete before a customer even calls a supplier”(CEB). This means that they would be doing their research online, with reference to influencers, and authorities on the topic before they even make an inquiry.

Therefore, the most important way to reach out to potential buyers in the awareness stage is to be there when they are researching by having an online presence either by SEO, paid online ads or content marketing (and importantly Re-Targeting). The goal is to get potential buyers into your mailing list by offering them access to information (e.g. ebooks or whitepapers) or tools (e.g. assessment tools).

Once they “Know” you and are in your mailing list, you can send them educational material and progressively profile them with Marketing Automation, to discover their fears, problems and priorities. When they start to engage with your content regularly, they are starting to “LIKE” you.

In the Consideration phase, the buyer has shortlisted a few possible solution providers, and may be doing additional research. How would you stand out at this stage? The answer is authority and social proof. Authority can be inferred when you are quoted in industrial journals, influential blogs, and media interviews. And social proof can come from solid Case Studies and good client testimonials. This is the time when the potential buyers start to “TRUST” you.

When the potential buyer eventually makes an enquiry, can you offer a way for them to “TRY” your product or service? This gives them an easier way to assess the value of your product or service and lowers the risk of them making a wrong decision. This could come the form of samples, free demos, free consultations, one-dollar-trials, money-back guarantees etc. You could also provide assessment tools or gap analysis reports to help them to see how your solution can best help them achieve their goals.

A finally in the Decision phase, how can you help the buyer ease into the buying process? Just making it convenient to “BUY”, can actually help you close more sales. For example: providing installment plans, discounts, free perks from partners etc.

The stages KNOW, LIKE, TRUST, TRY, BUY are the first 5 phases of the Duct Tape Marketing Hourglass.

To examine this in a more detail, let’s take for example the Marketing Hourglass strategy for a consultancy business illustrated below:

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1. KNOW stage.

To get potential buyers to know you, you post blog articles and run ads on facebook targeting at a specific demographic that you want. The viewer lands on your conversion optimized landing page with rock-star copy-writing, and downloads your eBook, becoming a lead. In addition, the lead explores your website, downloads more content, gets progressively profiled, and subscribes to your newsletter. IF the viewer does not opt-in, you can re-target them with different ad copies on Facebook or websites they are likely to visit (using Google Re-targeting on Display Network) until they become a lead by opting into your list.

2. LIKE stage.

To get your lead to like you, you give away valuable content via emails that helps them in meeting their goals. The content you send are not salesy but educational, in multi-media formats: article, infographics, videos, images. You also invite them to your facebook page, where they can see more  edutaining content you post. You know they are ready to move to the next stage because they have been opening your emails, clicking links, watching videos, visiting specific web pages. (you can achieve this with lead-scoring via Marketing Automation). IF the lead is not engaged yet, try sending them material relating to a different pain point.

3. TRUST stage.

Sharing successful case studies from actual customers, and social proof in the form of high ratings, positive reviews, and even video testimonies go a long way in establishing trust. The prospect now sees your services through the lens of happy clients. The call-to-action at this point is to invite the prospect to “TRY” your service or product. In this instance, the prospect is invited to join a webinar, where they are expected to request for a FREE gap analysis report. IF the lead attended the webinar but did not take up the free gap analysis report, you could send them a self-help assessment tool, with more case studies, or endorsements from influencers.

4. TRY stage.

After the report is generated, the prospect is invited to a complimentary 30-min consultation to go through the report, highlighting the gaps and potential for improvements. This allows the prospect to experience your expertise as a consultant and evaluate cost-benefit of engaging your services. The ideal outcome of this stage is for the prospect to request for a proposal. IF the prospect attended the webinar but did not take up the free gap analysis report, you could send them a self-help assessment tool, with more case studies, or endorsements from influencers.

5. BUY stage.

Three days after receiving your proposal, you schedule a follow-up call to explain the process of engagement. The prospect is happy with the proposal and signs the consultation agreement contract, and makes the first payment. You enter into the project fulfillment stage. IF the prospect did not accept the proposal immediately, there could be 2 reasons: “Price” or “Unsure of the ROI”. You could offer more favorable payment terms, throw in some freebies, make a limited offer discount, reduce the scope or send them more justifications from customer success stories and testimonials. 

Automating the Buyer’s Journey

All these follow-up actions require a coordinated marketing effort, diligent follow-up. Marketing Automation ties up all these activities by adding rich information about prospects as they interact with your content, setting up tasks and reminders, sending them personalized messages according to their pain points and priorities.

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In the “Know-to-Like” stage, an email campaign sequence comprising of articles, videos, infographics are sent to the lead. Each activity: video watch, email open, visit to pages, answering of surveys, completing quizzes, joining the facebook group etc are tracked and scored. Once a predetermined engagement score is reached, the “Like-to-Trust” sequence can be launched.

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In the “Like-to-Trust” sequence, the prospect is invited to a webinar, where they will be offered a free gap analysis report, and a free 30-min consultation to run through the report. Reminders are sent to the prospect 3 days before. If they missed the webinar, we would send an email with the links to the replay and the gap analysis form. We could also get a sales rep to give them a call to get some feedback, further qualifying the prospect.

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In the “Trust-to-Buy” sequence, the prospect attends the consultation call, which ends up with 2 possible outcomes: (1) they ask for a proposal (2) they say they are not ready at the moment. Automation can be set according to the outcome, setting up a task for the proposal to be sent for (1) and sending them follow up or down-sell a self-serve product for (2).

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Outcome 1 – Send proposal:

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Outcome 2 – Not ready yet:

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To know which part of the buyers’ journey the prospect is at is crucial the lifecycle marketing strategy. Marketing Automation is almost always essential for lead nurturing, lead scoring, profiling, personalization, and other analytics to measure the level of engagement, and triggering the offer at the right time.

 

Brendan-Yong.jpgBrendan Yong is a Duct Tape Marketing Consultant specialized in marketing automation based in Singapore. His company Empathi Solutions helps Asia-based clients build Marketing Systems to Grow Predictable Revenue using Infusionsoft CRM as the primary marketing automation tool.

5 Ways to Jumpstart your Marketing Strategy in 2016

marketing strategy

photo credit: Dollar Photo Club

It’s resolution time:

  • You’ve already been to the gym this morning
  • You haven’t eaten anything bad for you (but tastes so good!) in at least 24 hours
  • You’re actively thinking about your Marketing Strategy right now

Great!  Let’s build on that last one (I have a hard enough time with the other two myself…)

The New Year brings about a fervent desire to be better and do better. Directing these desires towards your business is always at the top of the list for small business owners.  But where to start?  So here are five tips that will help you create an effective marketing strategy for your business.

The good news is – a couple of hours of dedicated “think time” this week is all you need to get these down (write them down!) and then get to work – Resolution Kept!

1. Know your business’s goals

Ask yourself where you want the business to go. You know the answer here better than anyone – after all, the business is a reflection of you.  What can you really achieve this year?  What could you achieve through a focused, purposeful approach to growing your business this year?  How will you communicate this and hold everyone (including you) accountable for achieving these goals?  Keep them S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

2. Identify your ideal target customers

Understanding whom you are selling to (and who you aren’t) is critically important because it can save you a lot of time and energy. Let’s look at the example of a dental clinic. The target base for that business is not every single person who needs a dentist. Instead, it is the people who need a dentist with ready access to the clinic and have a specific need for a service you’re uniquely qualified to provide (e.g., implants or cosmetic dentistry). Firing unprofitable customers and not targeting unprofitable prospects is an important part of your marketing strategy.  Think about whom your 10 best customers are and what you need to do to attract 10 more just like them!

3.  Identify what the business is selling and what customers are really buying

Whatever your business is selling must be in line with your business values and goals. Sometimes this answer isn’t as clear as you might think. For example, if you own a dental clinic, the easy answer is you are selling dental care. However, you might also be selling some other things without realizing it. Ask your customers why they choose to do business with you. They might mention things like comfort or simplicity or convenience. For example, people like to go to clinics where they feel good about the experience more so than just the practical matter of dental care.  Ask your best customers what they like most about doing business with you and why they keep doing business with you – the answers may surprise you and will get to the core of your reputation, which can be a unique competitive advantage for your business.

4. Look at the Competition

Looking at your competition can be incredibly motivating. It can also help you identify where your business is going wrong (or on the flip side, what it is excelling). Consider the ways in which your customer base, products/services, and goals compare to your competitors. Set Google Alerts for each of your competitors (or use a service like BuzzSumo) to help monitor what they are saying and doing and then consider how this could impact your marketing strategies.  Do not assume that just because they are doing something different that they are better – keep in mind who you’re targeting and view your research in light of your strategies.

5. Understand the Necessary Investments

Creating and executing your marketing strategy is a matter of time and money. You should budget for both of these things. It is very important to have a marketing strategy, but you also have to consider implementation.  Do It Yourself Marketing is certainly a viable option, but also consider if partnering with a marketing expert for planning and execution while you run your business would be a faster path to success.  While there are dozens (if not hundreds) of ways you can promote your business to your target market, choosing a path and then adjusting as results come in can be a time-consuming process that an outside expert can handle more smoothly.

With a couple of hours this week spent thinking through these five steps and putting a plan in place you can begin to deliver exciting growth for your business and stay on the path to profits that will outpace your competition.  Happy New Year!  

Bonus Tip: Block time (and follow through) on monitoring your strategy and plans each week (or at least every other week) throughout the year.  If you’re dedicated to growing your business I can assure you that focused attention on your Marketing plan will be an area where your competition will give up long before you do – opening the door to growth.

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 11.30.05 AMMark Z. Fortune, founder of Fortune Marketing, LLC, advises small businesses on marketing strategies to ensure that sales and marketing investments return positive results. Mark is a Master Duct Tape Marketing Consultant who believes small business marketing challenges are not insurmountable; they can be met with a focused approach leveraging the principles of the Duct Tape Marketing System. He is also a co-author of the recent Amazon Bestseller The Small Business Owner’s Guide to Local Lead Generation. More information is available at www.fortunemarketinginc.com and www.localleadgenbook.com

 

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