How to attract & keep customers for a lifetime
Lifecycle Marketing is a set of seven steps that embodies the strategies and tactics that every profession services firm should embrace to become remarkable in their industry. It’s based on a proven methodology that combines the earlier steps which will feed and nurture the latter to become a sustainable engine of growth inside a company.
The Importance of Lead Nurturing to Improve Your Closing and Retention
Educate your prospects: Marketing today is about providing value and access to information so that the client can learn and educate themselves about your firm before they call to speak with your organisation. These include White Papers, E-books, Video Podcast, Blogging or Webinars. Provide lifetime value: The definition of “client” has changed, no longer are these one time interactions that are strung together over a period of time. Keeping the clients informed, and educated well beyond the initial transaction is extremely helpful in maintaining the relationship and it makes it easier to ask for a referral. Maintain ongoing contact: There are five different client archetypes. By varying your communications and expanding the channels that your business uses you can appeal to a broader audience, while refining your message to keep them engaged. Stay on top of mind: Think about it, who is your “service provider” of choice in any number of occupations. Either it’s the company that delighted you, or the brand that captures your attention in their marketing.
Why Do Most Business Fail to Follow-Up?
1. Are you in communication with every prospect that has ever entered your funnel, even if you did not make the sale? 2. At any given time 3% of your prospects are in the market to buy your product or service and looking right now to get it. 3. The other 67% require qualifying or additional information to make a decision. (the balance – 30% won’t buy regardless of what you do. 4. With consistency and good information, you can stay top of mind for when they are ready. 5. Consistent nurturing and providing value in your communications can position you as an expert in your prospects eyes. 6. Are you still broadcasting your messages rather than crafting them to meet your prospects preferences or goals? 7. Spending to much time “in the business” rather than “on the business” – automation give you back your time, creates predictability in followup and nurtures prospects so you can focus on providing excellent service. 8. Get back to LOVING your business and FOCUS on delighting your customers. 9. Manual processes get in the way of scaling business operations. No time dedicated to automation and outsourcing. 10. Having a Website is no longer the bare minimum for online success. Those days have past a long time ago.
FACT: Failure to follow up with your clients can mean your business losing up to 81% in potential revenue
FACT: Fully 90% of your people could be giving up before the majority of people will buy from you!
Stage 1: Attract Interest
Interest in this context are the steps that you as a business are taking to bring attention to your products or services. These actions are typically broken down into online and off-line strategies and then the tactical implementation of these strategies.
Examples of off-line marketing would include be thought of as such traditional media which includes print, radio, television, direct mail, and others. Online marketing examples would include email marketing, SEO (search engine optimization), pay per click, blogging, social media, review sites, banners and so much more.
The goal of step one Attract Interest is to bring viewers, visitors and prospects to your website. However most businesses fail miserably at this step because it’s not just about announcing that you are out there, waving your arms but you have to attract consumers who are being bombarded by competing marketing messages that by visiting your site that you’ll be able to actually solve a problem for them or make their lives better or easier.
Traffic sources may include:
- Managed Pay Per Click Advertising
- Search Engine Optimization
- Email Marketing
- Social Media
The process of attracting the right types of visitors to your website to consume your information, schedule an appointment or take an action is though the process of building out compelling lead magnets. Read our blog post about understanding and building some compelling lead magnets. Once a visitor has responded to your lead magnet and is now on you site, the next stage in lifecycle marketing is Capturing Leads
Stage 2: Capture Leads
After you have completed stage one of lifecycle marketing Attract Interest, and you have generated traffic for your business it’s important to capture the contact information from the people that visit your site, or your brick and mortar business. This is step two of Lifecycle Marketing – Capture Leads.
Every time somebody visits your business and you fail to capture their contact information, you could compare that to fishing with a net that has a big hole in it. To avoid this you’ll need an easy way to capture their information.
These examples can be used to capture basic contact information from every person that visits your business. Some of the most effective ways to capture leads from both online and off-line marketing include:
- Online Web Forms
- Event Registrations
- Networking Activities
- QR – Codes (those funny looking square barcodes)
- Phone Call Tracking
The most basic information that you should be collecting is something as simple as their first name and their email address. As you are building the relationship with your visitors remember that less is more.
Just secure the basics, because the more information that you ask for upfront the less likely people are to providing it. The more you ask, the less you’ll actually get. Right now is not the time to get super personal about phone numbers, addresses or birthdays – you can collect all of this, plus more later on in the Lifecycle Marketing process.
The mechanism for asking people for their information has changed, it used to be as simple as asking for an email address to join your Newsletter. But times have changed and you have to exchange value for your prospects information. Think about it, when was the last time that you just entered your email address for a newsletter? Take a look at the current best practices for Lead Capture Forms and how they compare to what you have on your site right now.
One thing that is important before we more onto step three of Lifecycle Marketing, Nurture Prospects. I want you to know that at this point you have NOT earned the right to turn on the hard sell. Just because someone has opted-in to get more information, does not mean that they are ready to be sold to. Some may be ready to buy your products but chances are you’ll need to nurture these prospects before they are ready to buy from you.
Stage 3: Nurture your Prospects
After you have Attract Interest and Capture your Leads the next step, step three in Lifecycle Marketing is to Nurture your Prospects. What do you typically do when someone expresses interest in your business? I assume that most people call them or send an initial email.
If they don’t respond, you probably have an internal process and you’ll call them again or send them another email. And on the third time if they don’t respond again, you will probably just call them again or send them another email.
The difference that makes the difference for most small businesses is this next question, now that they have failed to respond to you on all of these previous attempts what do you do next? Because, if you are like most small business people, you stop trying to contact the prospect and it ends up in the trash.
Do you realize how much business you potentially throw away just because you gave up early? Imagine what the impact would be for your business if you could convert an extra 10% of the leads that you previously ignored. This is Lead Nurturing. Now on to Converting the Sale.
Stage 4: Converting Sales
Lifecycle Marketing is converting sales. In traditional sales methodologies and marketing processes the point at which you have to convert a prospect to a sale is the most difficult part of the sequence.
However if you are putting the energy and attention into attracting interest, capturing more leads and nurturing your prospects you’ll find that converting to a sale becomes far simpler. This is because the buyer is more informed and has the information that they would need to make a decision, you provided this during the nurturing phase. You just have to work with them to see if your solution is appropriate for their circumstance.
Selling today is about education and having your prospects understand your unique benefits and how they apply to their needs. Some prospects may never progress to becoming customers and this is OK. In fact it’s better than just OK, it’s exactly what you want. Buyer have more information at their fingertips than ever before, if you provide pertinent information that is appropriate for your prospects and then they decide that what you offer is not a great fit for them, it actually liberates your sales process.
You can focus on customers who are showing the highest amount of interest rather than focusing on everyone the same way. By spending more time nurturing your prospects you actually end up with better qualified prospects that you can sell your services to. After making the sale, the next step in Lifecycle Marketing is to Deliver and Satisfy your customers.
Stage 5: Deliver and Satisfy
the Lifecycle Marketing process is to Deliver and Satisfy your customers. You have already learned how to attract interest, capture leads, nurture prospects and how to convert sales. Now the next phase is to actually deliver on your promise that you made to your new customer.
Each business will have it’s own unique was of delivering it’s product or services to customers. However every business can have a WOW factor when delivering. It’s the desire to “under promise and over deliver” as a way of keeping your customers engaged and passionate about your business. It could be as simple as delivering before they expect it, or picking up the phone to acknowledge the order or to keep them updated as the the progress of their order.
Each of these stages are just as important as what you are delivering to them as a business. Some businesses may be able to automate service delivery while others will have to physically interact with their clients. But there are always ways to make this part of the process easier. Some businesses have to personally deliver their services like Lawyers, Chiropractors or Yoga studios but as soon as a new client signs up they send an email that explains their processes and expectations to their clients.
They often provide intake forms, or provide a list of things to bring for the first meeting so that they get the most from your service. Just remember that if your current customers are not completely satisfied with your product or service, the chances of them doing business with somebody else increases greatly and the chances of them reviewing you positively online or giving you a referral is substantially reduced.
After you’ve satisfied your customer with their most pressing issue and they are confident that you can solve their problem you now have an opportunity to create an upsell to your customer.
Stage 6: Upsell Customers
Lifecycle Marketing process is to Upsell your Customers. This is the practice of selling additional services to customers who have purchased from you. The upsell typically comes after you have delivered and satisfied your customers but in some scenarios it can happen right after they have made a commitment to buy from you.
This is the time when they have the greatest confidence in their decision and are likely to listen attentively when you offer supportive products or services. I like to call it the “you want fries with that” stage, because when you think about it all McDonalds employees are experts at the upsell.
Do you know how many fries, shakes and apple pies they sell just because they ask? In your business you’ll have to find your own version of french fries. Here are some examples accountants may use to upsell business consulting. Did your prospect just buy a book, maybe they’d like the companion CD or DVD’s with additional content. Rather than just sell them a flight or a hotel booking perhaps you can offer them a guided tour when they’re there.
Upsells are typically a great way to increase the average ticket price and often have great margins. Imagine the impact on your business if you could increase every one of your sales by 10%.
The best part about that 10% increase is it traditionally takes the least amount of work and has the highest percentage of profit. That 10% could help you take your business to the next level.
And once your customers are happy with their purchases and you can move onto step seven, the final step in Lifecycle Markting which is Getting Referrals.
Stage 7: Get Referrals
Lifecycle Marketing may be the most important step, and this is to generate referrals from your existing customers to people that they know who could use your service.
If a customer is willing to give you a referral to someone that they know and trust – this should be seen as the successful culmination of all your efforts all the way from generating traffic, to converting the sale and delivering the service. Your customer is acknowledging that you did a job that’s worth sharing with their network and they are willing to risk their reputations by endorsing you. It’s no wonder why so few small businesses are generating the number of referrals that we need to be successful. There is a lot that we have to get right, and at time we forget that .
However studies have shown that small businesses fail to get referrals for one simple reason. They don’t ask for them. You heard me, most small businesses are so busy prospecting, nurturing and trying to sell to strangers rather than asking their existing customer for a referral.
It’s your job to ask for a referral and not your customers to give them to you. It’s a simple formula – Every time somebody does business with you, you ask them if they happen to know anyone that would also benefit by doing business with you.
Once you become comfortable with asking you’ll want to ensure that you are maximizing your referrals that you receive by making it as easy as possible for them to refer you business.
If you are an accountant, ask can ask people “do know any small businesses that feel they are paying too much money in taxes?”
If you are a business consultants, ask people “do you know any small business owners that are struggling to take their business to the next level?”