Creating a successful customer experience is a lot like being in a relationship.
Your interactions throughout the relationship will determine its long-term success. Being aware of every step of your customer’s journey is essential in an effective marketing framework.
From the moment your customer discovers your brand, they’re on a journey. The journey has several touch-points but it starts with awareness and ideally ends with a purchase.
As a startup entrepreneur, your single most important task is to attract customers.
The Journey Starts With Awareness
It stands to reason that any potential customer has to first become aware of your product.
Before you can start doing outbound marketing, you have to figure out who your target customer is. Every product has a segment. If you don’t know what that segment is, you can’t design a marketing plan.
To find your target market, you can use a number of characteristics. Demographics are one, as are personal interests, also referred to as psychographics. Anything that helps you pin down your target’s profile is useful at this stage.
The danger is that you end up with too many characteristics and the target market becomes too small. Instead, focus on no more than two core markers (age, sex, etc) and a few secondary markers (e.g. pet owners or not).
When creating your customer’s profile, the goal is not to exclude everyone who doesn’t fit 100% into it. It’s to have a starting point to focus your efforts. Marketing isn’t free and if you try to market to everyone you’ve failed before you even started.
Awareness Creates Leads
So now you know what the prospective customer looks like, but not who they are.
Creating a profile allows you to design and start focusing on marketing in the right areas. Now it’s up to you to come up with the right combination of inbound and outbound marketing to convert potential customers into leads.
Nowadays, inbound marketing is the more effective option. People don’t respond well to forced marketing. If they can skip an ad, they’ll do it. If they receive spam email they’ll delete it.
It’s much more effective to use content strategies to let you customer’s know how to find you. When this kind of content generates a response, congratulations, your target has just become a lead.
Once you have leads, you know that they’re ready to buy or soon will be. Then you can start outbound marketing knowing that the information you give them will be considered valuable.
Leads Become Opportunities
Now that you have leads, which ones are actual opportunities?
The answer to that question depends on what you’re trying to market. Generally speaking, an opportunity is a lead with the willingness, wherewithal, and authority to make a purchase.
When customers reach this part of the journey, they’re ready to become your customers. Only when they present as real opportunities do you want to use direct sales tactics.
If you attempt to sell too early in the journey, you’ll most likely be met with resistance. To prevent wasting resources on sales that will go nowhere, save them for real opportunities.
As a startup, you’ll probably be looking mostly at inside sales. This means that most of your sales will be done remotely – over the phone, through VoIP, and via messaging are the most likely sales channels in the early stages.
The Last Part of the Journey
The last part is taking an opportunity and turning it into a sale.
This is mostly the responsibility of the sales team. All the marketing has been done. You’ve figured out who your customers are. You’ve made them aware of your offering. They display a willingness and ability to purchase. All that’s left is to close the deal.
At this point, there will be some minor concerns to iron out with your customer. Things like price, conditions of sale, and specific product features are among them.
What Happens After the Journey Ends?
If you successfully make a sale, don’t stop there. A customer once can become a repeat customer. Continue following up at the appropriate intervals. They’ve gone through this whole journey with you and there’s a chance they might want to do business with you again.
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