By Nancy Drexler
Today, the buying process is a journey, and every buyer takes his or her own unique route. Typically, the journey starts with a need. Historically, the role of advertising and marketing was to create that need. We showed prospects not only why they needed our product or service, but also how their lives would improve once they had it.
Now, however, the need is just the beginning. Buyers who decide they want something don't simply walk into a store and buy it. They research. They use the Internet to identify likely solutions, as well as to research and compare options. They use digital media to discuss relative merits and disadvantages with other consumers. They narrow down their choices. They look for confirmation.
From the first inklings of desire to the point of acquisition, prospects take an information-gathering journey. Your goal is to be with them at each of these steps in the buying process. You must engage them, push them in your direction, and make it simple for them to choose you and act now.
The most effective way for a small business to accomplish this is to create a "communications library." This is a set of communications that can automatically be sent to prospects at each point in the buying process.
You may, for instance, create need with print ads or direct response. You may create banner ads or blogs that attract prospects in the early stages of interest. You may use pay-per-click and search engine optimization to ensure that you are recognized when a buyer begins to search for a solution.
When someone responds to your banner ad or blog, this is the first step of engagement. Make sure you have email templates and sales materials designed to capitalize on this interest. Offer something special and make it easy for prospects to "act now."
Does that offer generate a response? If so, be prepared to act. If not, be prepared to act differently.
The point is you must be prepared to act accordingly at each level of engagement – and to encourage prospects to act. You must turn interest into action. Turn disinterest to re-engagement.
Even prospects who have chosen competitors should remain in your prospect pool. Check in on occasion to find out if they are satisfied. Let them know about a new product or service they would enjoy.
Successful sales today rely on being with prospects at every stage of their journey – and making it simple for them to act now.
Nancy Drexler is the President of Acquired Marketing, a boutique marketing firm for businesses in the payments industry. To learn more about what Acquired Marketing can do for you, visit www.acquiredmarketing.com, call 917-743-5258 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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