Your Customer’s Journey: Preparing the path to get their business

By Kasey Morales and Stephanie Millman, FLIGHT

The changing marketing landscape presents opportunities to connect with prospects but be aware that few efforts create immediate engagement. Visualize a crooked pathway a prospect takes on a journey ending at your door. Sometimes, there are shortcuts (when the message hits them at the exact time they need it) and other times they take a circuitous route with many touchpoints that ultimately leads them to you. 

This article will show you how that long and winding path can look from the customer’s perspective. Along the way, we’ll point to concepts that will help you succeed in nurturing prospects directly down the path to becoming your customer.

Truth be told… there is rarely a straight path for prospects to come to you. Customers do not want to be sold, rather decide to buy from you so provide them with multiple opportunities to make that decision. The most effective marketing and sales efforts leverage a smart mix of new media (Google search, LinkedIn posts for example), and traditional techniques (industry events, advertising). Maintain many small, meaningful interactions with your target audience and build on their confidence to buy from you. You must have ample presence along that road, or risk being forgotten.

Our template for an effective marketing campaign:

  • Clearly communicate “WHY” they should choose you;
  • Be consistent and tell them the same message often; and
  • Give them a call-to-action… tell them what you want them to do

WHY

You cannot control what the buyer thinks about your brand, but you can influence their opinion by clearly stating at every potential touchpoint what they can expect from you. What can you deliver that others in the space cannot? What makes you the better choice? Take the time to define why your company is the right choice (or, make your company easy to choose!). This exercise often leads to statements of parity; quality, service, market fit. Pick one. Make a single clear statement about what makes you the right choice. Simply doing this will double the effectiveness of every Marketing investment you make.

It’s worth mentioning here that quality and service are no longer differentiators. Now that your customers have so many places to review (share) their experience, a company-wide focus on quality and service have become basic requirements for staying in business. In Packaging and Converting, meaningful new technology captures attention and fills a need. If you don’t have new technology to promote, spend time to identify the most meaningful gap in your category by creating a competitive map with your Marketing team and developing your market message that helps fill that gap.

Once you have your market position (AKA defining the “what”), it’s time to do an audit of all communication to make sure you are consistent in how you communicate it.

Commit to invest

Where is the best place to invest in marketing? Depending upon what you are trying to achieve (maintain, grow) and the state of the industry, 5 percent of revenue will maintain a healthy path. According to Price Waterhouse Cooper – if you aren’t putting an average of 4.7 percent into your marketing, then you are going backwards. The best plan is to maintain a consistent investment and evolve your message across multiple platforms. Keep in mind that each time you make financial adjustments to your marketing budget, you won’t feel the shift right away as increases and decreases take 3-9 months to start feeling the impact.

Going Big

Big investments require big company-wide focus. Trade shows, for example, are like billboards. To participate in one is a big investment, and you only have 3-5 seconds to make a lasting impression on each passer-by. The industry expositions and conferences we still have are the cornerstone of your investment because nowhere else can you see so many prospective buyers in a single place. Be prepared to give your customer a clear call-to-action on the show floor.

The trick to making trade shows effective is having a plan and making sure your team is bought into it. A pre-show meeting and quick updates on the show floor before each show day are valuable ways to empower the team. Make sure everyone is committed to the goal. Choose wisely. Are you looking for leads, a strategic alliance, building awareness, trust or familiarity? Trying to accomplish everything is the equivalent to doing nothing (at best) and wasting your investment (at worst). An example is a manufacturing automation company seen demonstrating its robotics at a big show this year. The robot got customers to stop by playing ping-pong with visitors. It was a stunning display. But, as far as we could tell, the other side of the booth, the equipment side of the booth, was empty. If the exhibitor’s goal was simply awareness - they may have succeeded. If they wanted to tie the solution to the need and nurture the prospect towards a purchase… they left quite an opportunity hanging with no clear call-to-action.

CONSISTENCY IS KEY

Let’s go back to the long and winding path. There are many opportunities to keep your brand front and center on this journey. Small frequent investments keep eyeballs on your marketing message. Consider these to be like the signs along the road; subtle reminders, present in the place where your audience gets their information. Recommendations? Here are some listed in order of best bang-for-your-buck; industry directories, advertising, e-newsletter sponsorships, pay-per-click search engine advertising and social media sponsorships. Just make sure your message is consistent across all marketing tactics.

CALL-TO-ACTION

No communication piece is effective unless it contains a strong call-to-action. Prompt your prospect to take the next step. This can be as simple as ‘call today for a quick quote’ or ‘learn more at [insert landing page here]’. It may seem obvious, but if you don’t keep prompting your prospect to take a turn into your sales funnel, you can’t fault them for not showing up as your next customer!

The strategy of a marketing campaign

Just as in the case of your daily commute, the signs along your journey blend into the background after a while. A good rule of thumb for a campaign is to run it for two years. It’s good to change up the look a little to keep the brand fresh - every three months is a great goal. Adjust your visuals with a change in the button color, for example or create a new landing page – but maintain consistency in the visual and market message. For the tech-savvy, A/B testing is a great way to refine your message and make your investment more effective. All these ideas are easy to execute. They just require someone on your team dedicated to the task.

Along their long and crooked path, your prospects can continue to be reminded to buy from you when you setup a strong single market message, provide consistency in the communication along their journey and continue to give them a call-to-action to lead them straight to your door.  Focus on nurturing the audience to buy from you. As a friendly officer would say, “Did you see that speed limit sign?” If there is only one sign, it would be reasonable that they were not aware. But speed signs are posted every 10 miles for a reason!

About the Authors: With a background in Advertising, Marketing, and Graphic Design, Kasey Morales has a passion for pairing compelling design with effective marketing strategy. She can help you build an identity that stands out from the crowd, and give you the tools to manage that brand on your own terms. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

As a professional marketer with multiple startups under her belt, Stephanie Millman understands what it takes to launch. Her specialty is brand strategy with a long-term approach to sustainable growth. She can help you craft a message that resonates with your target audience and build a loyal following of raving fans all while focusing on increasing profits. Find more of Stephanie’s articles in her Marketing Mojo blog here.

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