Know who your best customers are and why.
As a marketer, you’re not interested in speaking to just anyone — only those people who are likely to buy your products and services. But who are those people? What drives their decisions? What kinds of companies are most likely to do business with you? Before messaging or strategy, your ideal customer must first be defined. It’s the foundation upon which all future communications are based.
- Conduct best customer analysis and predictive modeling
- Create buyer personas and develop and in-depth understanding of each persona’s needs
- Understand the size of their target market and their current penetration
- Have an accurate, thorough database which serves as the bedrock of their efforts
Understand where your customers are within their buying cycle.
After identifying your best customer profile, you must next define what messages prospects will find valuable. This means understanding where your prospects lie within their buying process. At RC we say first you ask, and then you ACT.
Perhaps it happens in an email, or after reading a blog post, but somewhere, doubt rises. An anxious feeling that perhaps there’s a better way of doing things. In the awareness phase, your prospects dip their toes in the water and start gathering information.
Your Prospect Wonders: “Do I have a problem? Could I be doing something better?”
Relevant Marketers: Engage them early by sharing thought leadership information and valuable industry news.
Intrigued, your prospect now wants to know more. While not quite ready to speak with a salesperson, prospects in the consideration phase are gathering in-depth industry information and exploring best practices.
Your Prospect Wonders: “How have others solved this problem? What solutions are available?”
Relevant Marketers: Position themselves as industry leaders and maintain top-of-mind presence by sharing case studies and analyst reports.
After whittling down contenders, your prospect is now ready to engage with sales. It’s your job to make them feel confident that your company is the best choice.
Your Prospect Wonders: “How do I make the best decision? What will happen after I buy?”
Relevant Marketers: Enable the sale by sharing comparisons, providing evaluation tools, and delivering content that enables post-transaction support.
Gain permission to communicate.
Moving prospects from Status Quo to exploring new options means first gaining permission to communicate. Permission comes in many forms. It might be an opt-in on a landing page, a request for a follow-up call, a click on a website or a request for a meeting — but permission needn’t be obtained only from inbound tactics.
In today’s world of batch and blast demand generation, blog posts are just as likely to be seen as interruptive as direct mail or a telephone call. It’s not the medium, but the message that’s important.
Permission is gained through two primary tactics, inbound and outbound communication. For most marketers, it’s a blend of these tactics that create success.
- Create a lead generation strategy based on buyer preferences
- Communicate via preferred channels whether it be email, telephone, retargeted display ads, direct mail or events
- Develop irresistible offers and assets that draws prospects into the funnel
Keep prospects engaged.
Up to 70% of a buyers decision is made before they engage with a sales team. As sales cycles grow longer, keeping buyers engaged grows more difficult. Relevant marketers constantly test and optimize their nurturing programs with the goal of understanding what channels prospects prefer, how often they need to receive messages, and what messages they need in order to make a purchasing decision. Continued engagement moves them from vague interest in your solution to firm conviction that there’s a better way.
- Utilize marketing automation (when appropriate) or other software to maximize efficiency and provide critical data
- Consistently optimize their messages, timing and conversion points
- Utilize a multi-channel strategy to maximize engagement and conversions
- Maintain and enrich their database to ensure maximum ROI
Enable the sale.
You’ve generated the leads, and kept them engaged, now you must convince them you’re the right company for the job. Highly targeted communication is critical at this later stage of the buying process. Calling on your in depth understanding of your ideal customers and based on data gleaned from your nurturing programs or marketing automation software, you now create the right content and collateral to enable the sale.
- Create and implement lead scoring and routing rules
- Understand and implement lead management best-practices
- Create content and collateral that enables consensus amongst decision makers
- Create customizable collateral to enable the sales force
- Have ample case studies and relevant content for all stakeholders, industries segments and potential sales objections
Create loyal customers and brand champions.
The best advocate of your business is not marketing, or sales, but a satisfied customer. In fact, a 2010 DemandGen survey showed that up to 59% of B2B buyers engaged with peers when facing a critical business challenge. Relevant marketers know this and work to ensure long-term customer loyalty and advocacy.
- Conduct ongoing education and outreach for current customers
- Create inspiring and useful content that can be shared by email or social media
- Have loyalty programs (where appropriate) to encourage customer retention and referrals