One of the most common problems I hear when talking to potential clients is that money they’ve spent on marketing hasn’t driven results.
Nine times out of ten, it’s because precious dollars are being spent on campaigns, but there’s no supporting activity to turn awareness into interest and then subsequently sales.
Spending money on advertising without a supporting process to turn awareness into action is like turning up to a gun fight with a knife. You’ve shown up armed and ready but without the equipment to be effective.
For marketing to drive results it must address and pull prospects through the buying process, not just promote your product or brand. Effective marketing that delivers a good return on investment is finely tuned to nurture someone who doesn’t know you and doesn’t care about what you offer into a raving fan.
Your marketing strategy should ideally address the key stages of the buyer journey to deliver strong returns.
Each stage of the buying process and the tools you need:
Stage 1 – Cold suspects (don’t know about you and don’t care about you)
This is where advertising comes in. Your marketing plan should be talking to enough people who don’t know about you and don’t care about you. It’s the most expensive part of the process but these days very measurable. Focus on measurable tactics such as search engine marketing, social ads, direct marketing, online advertising (banners, etc) to ensure you are getting your campaigns seen.
Stage 2 – Warm leads (your “offer” brings them into your funnel)
To turn cold suspects into warm leads you need a strong offer. It could be a free trial, first experience free, flash sale or added bonus. Whatever it is, it needs to be a genuine offer and not a thinly veiled sales pitch.
If you are offering a free consultation or free follow-up report, post a meeting showing an example. If you want people to try your food – give it away for a short period of time. Don’t waste those advertising dollars with a lacklustre offer.
Stage 3 – Hot prospects (ready to buy but is cautious)
Now it’s time to build trust: This where objections usually come up and you need to consider them and counteract them.
- “I won’t buy online because it will take too long?” (guaranteed delivery time).
- “It’s a big investment, what if I don’t like it” (limited time return policy).
- “I don’t want to commit to the service and then discover I don’t like my account manager or I can’t carry on long term” (no lock in contracts).
You need to understand all the reasons a prospect might back out of the purchase and address them.
Stage 4 – Qualified buyer (is ready to buy and wants the process to be efficient)
Your offer has drawn them in, they trust you and they are ready to buy. Now it’s all about the sales process, the quality of your proposals, the efficiency of your frontline staff, to turn interest into the till ringing or your sales team reaching its target.
Stage 5 – Raving fan (loves your product or service and is ready to tell others)
So often this is the most neglected stage. Bedazzling your customer with unexpected service levels, high quality product and constant improvements get them raving about you. This brings more people into the funnel at the stage 2 or 3 level, lowering your overall costs to attract new customers.
With social media, it’s now more important than ever. How often do you see companies do a special offer or promotion on Facebook to see fans tag their friends to alert them to the offer?
The current Thermomix craze is a great example of this. They run special cooking classes , provide free cookbooks to buyers, which has now driven a huge community of Thermomix users online who publish specific blogs, etc, about cooking with a Thermomix.
The days of set-and-forget advertising as a marketing strategy are long gone. To be effective, you need to attract new prospects through multiple channels and then have strong systems, processes and tools to support your customer acquisition and nurture prospects through to sales.
Since starting her outsourced national marketing consultancy Marketing Angels in 2000, Michelle Gamble has helped hundreds of SMEs get smarter marketing. Michelle helps businesses find more effective ways to grow their brands and businesses.
This article originally appeared on SmartCompany.