Marketing communications is not linear. Particularly not in today’s environment, when the average American consumer is exposed to more than 3,000 advertising messages per day. So how does a smart marketer cut through the clutter, especially when the product or service being sold is a considered purchase with a high price tag?
There is a distinct approach that marketers need to consider when selling products or services with longer life cycles in industries such as automotive, building products and financial services, just to name a few. We’ve used the methodology through the years and have found it to be very successful for our clients.
Consumers are rarely driven by a single source to purchase, especially if it’s a big-ticket item or considered purchase. Take, for example, a car. A typical consumer looking to purchase a car may start listening more closely to ads, talk to friends and colleagues, do some research online and visit a few dealerships.
If a consumer is not in the market for a car, he or she is not interested in what you’ve got to say; however, it’s still important to set the stage for when that consumer does enter the market. We refer to these consumers that have little or no interest in a particular product category, but may in the future, as passive.
Then a consumer’s car breaks down, or there is a baby on the way, and suddenly, that consumer needs a new car. This potential buyer has moved from the passive phase into an active one. He or she starts tuning in to ads, researching the product category and begins seeking advice.
Aaah…Nirvana! The consumer purchases and is now engaged. As a marketer, your job is not done. A smart marketer now desires to convert these engaged customers into brand advocates. As a brand advocate, a consumer will recommend your product to others, use service offerings associated with what they just purchased and become a repeat buyer.
While these different phases of purchasing take a unique understanding of where customers are at specific buying points, it’s not a linear process. Often, a consumer can be categorized into more than one phase at a particular point in time, so how do you handle that? Consistency is key when developing a communications program. It’s important that a marketer does not change the story once a prospect becomes a customer.
Think about how you are communicating with potential prospects in the passive stage. Make sure you take that same voice into the active stage, and lastly, be sure that your voice remains consistent once you convert these consumers to customers. Lastly, remember one critical aspect – your media is everywhere and everyone – even your staff, your channel partners, and the consumer. This is why engaging with everyone associated with your brand in a dialog is so vital – but that’s another blog post.