Lifecycle marketing can:
A brave new concept that is slowly being nurtured by marketers, lifecycle marketing represents the birth of a new era. A drastic shift in marketing, it’s a technique that focuses on more than attracting a customer, but on converting them into your own personal brand advocate.
Lifecycle marketing requires thought, research, a hands-on approach, a finger on the pulse and staff that are as excited about a product or service as you are. It isn’t easy, but the rewards far outweigh the time and thought it takes to implement such an approach.
Lifecycle marketing embraces the entire customer experience process, not just the sale. It relies on rich customer experiences that transform clients into our best advertising tools.
Customer experience is the sum of all the encounters a customer has with a business. From initial awareness, through to discovery, attraction, interaction and purchase, to use and development, and finally ending in advocacy. So whilst they may not be shouting from the rooftops, a tweet and a positive review on your Facebook page will certainly go a long way in generating leads and attracting new customers.
This isn’t all about concepts though, this is about tangible results, and the use of technology to support the business/consumer cycle.
Lifecycle marketing uses lead nurturing pathways and marketing automation technology such as HubSpot to feed tailored content to prospects and engage with them before they buy, when they buy and after they’ve completed the buying process.
These technical resources provide a platform for tracking and analysing customer engagement, including detailed information about what content leads have read, and when. With technology like this, it’s easy to strike up the sort of conversation that your customer wants to be a part of.
Above all, lifecycle marketing is a thoughtful approach — it considers not only the customer experience, but also the employee experience. It relies on a degree of internal marketing that engages employees and motivates them to deliver the best possible customer experience.
Businesses have listened, learned and embraced the idea that the customer is at the heart of the marketing process.
Rhian Morgans is an online PR executive for Tomorrow People.
What’s wrong with this website?
This self-orientated list is offputting for anyone searching for answers to their problems. Read it closely — OUR services, OUR products, about US. There’s nothing here that shows that you care about your clients and their challenges.
Say no to jigsaw pieces, hand shakes and random smiley women answering phones if you want your business to look authentic. Invest in decent original photography or illustration that reflects your brand.
It’s all about how great the company is, and says nothing about the kind of people they help, in language they understand.
It’s neat to be niche — promising to do anything for anyone won’t win you much business.
A brochure is only handy if your visitor is just about to buy, but what if they’re “just looking”? There’s nothing here to engage or interest anyone earlier in the buying cycle.
Not only is it out of date, but again it’s very inward looking. It’s all about the company, with nothing about the customer. And there’s no offer to stay in touch now they’ve found you — no newsletter, no Twitter. Your website visitors could soon be gone without a trace.
I am sure you’ll have seen many websites like this from businesses both big and small. Little more than an online brochure, a site like this can work as a credibility-building tool but doesn’t do much to engage or build trust in what you do. Businesses with a website like this are missing a trick.
Remember: your website is not a sales proposal. Not all visitors will be ready to buy straight away. If you want to engage and generate leads from your website — a regular stream of warm, inbound leads — you need to do more than present basic information on your company. Answer their questions, make the content valuable to your audience and you can turn your website into a fully-fledged member of your sales team.
As an ex-professional buyer, negotiation is always a fascinating topic for me. Whenever I’m working with salespeople or business owners, they often fail to get the price for their products or services that they wanted — and often get even less than they deserve.
And the pressure is even greater in today’s market conditions — where savvy buyers are looking to get the best value when they’re purchasing. Therefore to get good results, the salesperson or business owner has to be able to stand their ground in a negotiation in order to get the price they deserve. Sadly, this often doesn’t happen.
So why is it that the buyer often has the upper hand when it comes to negotiation?
One simple reason is that the buyer is often better prepared to negotiate than the salesperson is. Often a salesperson gets caught up in a negotiation when they aren’t ready for it.
So if you think that a meeting or phone call could result in a negotiation, make sure you prepare for it beforehand. If a negotiation starts before you’re ready, don’t be afraid to postpone it and re-schedule it for another time when you’ve had chance to prepare.
Another typical reason that salespeople struggle to get better results from their negotiation is that on most occasions, they’re so desperate to win the deal that this comes across to clients, and they use that as leverage to swing the negotiation in their favour.
Prospects and clients can smell desperation and it certainly isn’t attractive. Once a client knows the salesperson is more desperate to do the deal than they are, that just gives them the green light to get the best deal they can.
It’s about time that we realised that prospects and clients often want to do the deal as much (or sometimes even more) than we do — but often we don’t know it.
Any buyer or decision maker worth their salt will attempt to play tricks during a negotiation. If you can spot these and deal with them, then you’re usually fine. However, most salespeople aren’t even aware what the other party is doing and end up falling for them.
You need to learn how buyers and decision makers operate so that you can deal with their tricks and handle their objections.
Another reason salespeople often come off worst in a negotiation is that they fail to find out enough about the other party before the negotiation starts. The decision-maker may well have strong reasons to purchase now. Very often there are pressing issues that mean they want a quick deal. But if the salesperson doesn’t know this, then they lose the advantage.
Think for a moment: When was the last time you went (or sent a member of your team) on a professional negotiation skills course, lasting for, say, one to three days? Possibly never.
Think about the other side: If they’re a professional buyer, you can guarantee that they will have been on such a course. If they’re a key decision-maker in a business, they’re also likely to have been on a similar course. At the very least, they’re far more experienced at negotiation than you!
Recommendations are a vital part of finding answers. We all have people we turn to when we need advice. It could be a parent, boss, friend or colleague. If they don’t have the answer — and they don’t always — we look further afield.
Today, more often than not, this means using social media.
Influencer marketing is the process of identifying, engaging and supporting the people who create the conversations that impact your brand, products or services. Influencers are likely to be buyers themselves, as well as recommenders of products or services to their own audiences.
Social media has supported the growth in influencer marketing, by focusing on individuals who have influence over potential buyers. Consultants, analysts, journalists, academics and standards bodies are all examples of business influencers. Endorsements no longer need to come from celebrities to be valuable and credible.
Once you become aware of who your influencers are, you can aim your marketing activity at these individuals, in the hope that they’ll share your information with their wider audience.
The answer to this question isn’t as simple as “look up their Klout or Kred score” (I’m not knocking either, but they’re not a sufficiently robust measurement in isolation).
Rarely will anyone claim to be “an influencer” (if they do, beware — they may not be trustworthy), and it’s impossible to “buy a list” of influencers.
Keywords have a value beyond SEO — they must be part of your content strategy. Keywords help you define your own messages, and find those who are leading the conversation in those areas.
The most simple way to identify influencers is to listen. Use Google Alerts for your keywords and follow your keywords as hashtags on Twitter.
Quite quickly, a few people will reveal themselves to you. Check them out and bingo — you’ve found your potential influencers.
I briefly mentioned “check them out”. This is critical, and not so quick.
While your influencers need to have a large audience, it’s not about the number of followers, connections or likes. This strategy is not a popularity contest.
You can assess the credibility of a potential influencer by the quality of their content, the frequency of their updates and the level of their engagement (response to comments, retweets and so on).
Although the influencer has a role to play within your sales process, they won’t want to be seen as a sales person but a person with knowledge and, in turn, a good authority. It’s important that the content shared by an influencer stays within the context of their own content plan (back to credibility).
If you like what you see, consider reaching out to them. Engage with them — follow them, send them a message, respond to their posts. Do your research on what content they’re broadcasting and provide them with content they’re likely to share.
There’s no shortcut to influencer marketing — it takes time to research and manage — but it can be very effective for either standalone PR activity or to amplify other marketing efforts, such as events or new product launches.
For social media users, influencers are a great filter — they often do all the hard work so others don’t have to. I certainly know who the key influencers in my timeline are, and actively look out for their content… they often have the answers before I even know the question!
Case studies are a great way to prove you can add value. In fact, they’re often the best method you have. After all, showing you’ve delivered value before is more persuasive than explaining your process, the number of offices you have or the fact you were “founded in 1922”.
However, case studies are rarely as impactful as they could be. Here’s how to make yours better:
The usual case study format is (1) explain the background (2) explain your approach (3) list the results. But people switch off during communications. So, instead of putting your main point (the results) at the end, when they’ve stopped listening, start with the results you triggered, and then work backwards.
Reinforce the results you delivered by including the best one in your title. After all, which would you rather read “Case study — X plc” or “How we reduced X plc’s costs by £25million”?
Make it easy for people to get in touch, by giving a person’s name/number to contact, plus the benefits of calling. “To discuss how we can reduce your costs, call Jane Doe on [Jane’s contact details]”. This is much better than (1) no Call To Action or (2) just a generic office number or “admin@”email.
When you’re discussing your case study, add context by linking it to the other person’s key need. “We can help you reduce your costs here. In fact, during my recent work with X plc, we saved them over £25million using techniques we could deploy with you. What happened was…”
It’s important you do all four with your case studies. The reason? People buy if they know you can improve their future. If you’re not careful, your case studies can focus on the exact opposite — your past. How can you make yours more compelling?
Andy Bounds is a communications expert, speaker and the author of The Snowball Effect: Communication Techniques to Make You Unstoppable. You can sign up for his free weekly tips here.
Confused by social media? Check out this brilliant infographic based on the iconic tube map:
Click on the infographic to enlarge.
Supplied by Laura Hampton, the digital marketing manager at Hallam Internet.