Why do you need a strategy?
Building a business online is the same as building a business that is entirely offline. The need for the business is to sell the product[s] or service[s] that you, as a business offer. To do this you may rely on a marketing and sales strategy that focuses on making new sales to generate new business. This is commonly referred to as a sales funnel with the emphasis on attracting visitors to your website or application (the marketing part) and converting these visitors into customers (the sales part). But there is a problem.
The problem with the marketing and sales funnel
The big problem with this approach is that it has a built-in start and an end-point. The campaign or content that you are using to attract your potential customers and clients is the start-point and the purchase is the common end-point. This does not allow for the long-term relationship between a customer and your business through the ongoing support and improvements that you offer.
To take advantage of this relationship between your business and the customers or clients you have requires a different view of your strategy. We prefer to think of this as a virtuous circle that aids in the retention of customers and will ideally leverage the loyalty of those customers to further convert them into advocates, bringing you new customers at a reduced cost than having to market and advertise your services in a traditional way. This is not to negate traditional marketing and sales which should remain part of your strategy.
The Virtuous Circle
Many businesses will have processes in order to build a relationship with a client or customer. These are likely to include:
- Attract – This is the Marketing part of the process to bring people to your website, application, store or even your bricks and mortar business. This may include advertising, articles, outreach emails, social media posts and tweets or more such as event appearances and so on.
- Convert – This is the Sales part of the process and includes developing the relationship with your customer or client to the point of sale.
- Engage – This is the part where you can begin the attempt to retain your customers and develop a deeper relationship in order to build confidence through supporting them in their use of your services or products.
- Transform – This is the point where you have delighted the client or customer and formed a deep enough relationship with them that they transform into advocates for your business and become part of your ongoing attempts to win new business. This can be through referrals, testimonials and case studies. I have even heard of cases where customers have helped a business by becoming part of their pitch process.
You can see from this view that the cycle strategy allows for greater opportunity than the typical sales funnel view of building your business. But, this is a view from the business needs. What about the needs of the customer? Can we find new insights from looking at this from their viewpoint?
The Customer’s view of the circle
The Customer view of the circle is likely to have a number of different stages than our view due to the focus being different. It is important we get an understanding of how the customer is likely to view this process so that we can put in place activities that will fulfil the need the customer or client has at each stage. These stages might include:
- Investigate – The potential customer is shopping around for solutions to the problem they have and might come across your solution via advertising or marketing activity.
- Verify – The potential customer is then likely to carry out some investigation into your business via reviews, testimonials, case studies etc. Or by seeking an opportunity to demo your product[s] or service[s].
- Commit – This is where the sale has been made and is likely to be analogous to the Convert stage we have highlighted above, but it is worth considering what this stage means to the client or customer.
- Use – This stage is very important and is where you need to make sure you don’t drop the ball. Having a good set of processes and communication channels in place can be highly useful for the customer and in reaching your goal of converting that customer into an advocate or champion.
- Prefer – It is always going to be the case that a customer will be measuring their experience of your product[s], service[s] and business against other previous experiences. How can you create a strategy for this stage that delights your customer and sets their experience as the new benchmark?
- Champion – This is our endgame and the start of the new rotation of the cycle so how can we help our customer or client become a champion and delight them further to keep coming back for more?
Now, these cycle stages above could have other stages, depending on your business and how your clients and customers approach you.
For example what if your customer comes across a problem/catastrophe/headscratcher of a problem?
Supporting the customer
I have heard more than a few times in my life that it is a mistake to spend time and money on a client or customer after the sale. I strongly believe the opposite is true. In order to delight our customers we can use a number of strategies to enable them to make the most out of our products or services and support them in any learning they may need to achieve in order to make the best use of our product or service.
This can include how we approach:
- Error messaging.
- Community building.
- Support team fixes.
- Events and Conferences.
There are many more areas to consider and stages you might want to build in that may aid your processes and help you build a strong relationship with your customers.
We can help you build those customer relationships
Let us talk you through creating a strategy that enables you to join up your marketing, sales and support in order to better delight your customers and build those relationships.