Regardless of whether your clients are other businesses or individual customers, you work with people. Regardless of the business you are in (whether you realize it or not) you do marketing. The mutual goal between any provider and recipient is the exchange goods and services. If both sides are to be satisfied, both have needs to be met.
Slick Sales Go the Way of Wagons and Washboards
Marketing used to be associated with an old sales model. Picture the greased car salesman with a cheesy bow tie, loud voice and a sign tile thrown up nearby. Carpet baggers and snake-oil salesman. Deceit, trickery, and the “one-up” because the seller knows more than the buyer.
Word of mouth was one of the earliest forms of advertising. What the seller spoke and how they said it made the difference in a sale. A family members or neighbor’s use of a particular product or service was often the extent of prior experience before one purchased a new product for them selves.
People don’t use wagons and washboards anymore because technology provides better options. People don’t respond to old sales models because they have better options for information, and are prepared with knowledge, often more than the sales person in front of them. Technology provides us all better access to information, where we make our own choices about what is best for us – and ultimately, what to buy and exchange.
The Subtle Flood
Today, the experience often begins the moment we see an associated image, and continues with every distantly related aspect of our interaction with the company. How the product –and company– is presented to us in all forms (visual & auditory, written & spoken) shapes our decisions. Word of mouth is still critically important, today. But now that word-of-mouth-source could come from anywhere: A post we read from a friend – or stranger across the globe. Circles of influence are world-wide. All of it impacts our perception of a business as we go through the process of learning, to ultimately purchasing and using the product or service.
Push to Pull
Slick sales pushed on people “worked” only for the guy who disappeared after the one-time sale. Businesses today cannot exist for any length of time if they push their wares and services on others for that one-time purchase. Today’s (and the future’s) economy is made of “pull” advertising. A company that will last provides inviting information, staying service-minded while cultivating the customer experience. You may have heard the term “customer-centered”. No business today will survive, little own be successful, if they aren’t making the customer the center reason for every single step of their process. Marketing, advertising, sales, and continuing customer care is interwoven in every step.
Funnel models don’t show the whole picture. Nor any model that uses a line to show “beginning” to “end” when talking about customer service. As if the customer is brought in on one side and dropped on the other, the process being “complete”. These perspectives are missing something important: Once a Customer, Always a Customer. Rarely does a customer only have one potential purchase from a company, and even if that is the case, the relationship does not end. This one customer is also your link to any number of future customers. Don’t drop them!
Marketing technology serves at all the aspects of a customer-centric cycle. The customer experience that marketing provides during all these phases is the life-blood of a business.
The stages of customer needs can be divided into the following:
- Awareness: Designed by thoughtful leadership, this is the beginning of the “pull”. It is initially created through public relations, traditional and social media.
- Investigation: The customer is aware of the business and learns what the business does, and how it does it. This is the area of education, entertainment and information.
- Comparison & Consensus: This area involves active engagement with leads, helping them understand how the company is unique and it’s ultimate value over all other options.
- Purchase: How easy is this experience for your customers?
- Post Sales: A critical stage that increases the next step of awareness for future purchases and the link to future customers. Like a builder who returns for repairs, guarantees of workmanship and ensures satisfaction, every business that delivers quality earns loyalty. The product speaks for itself, and each use is a continual reminder of the value of the company. This is where the extra mile, the bonus product, the extra gift have greatest impact.
- Awareness: And it begins again for new customers linked to current customers. Awareness also begins for the other capacities of the business and it’s other products.
Are you set up to support each customer through all stages? What technology do you have in place to contribute to that support?
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