Customer Life Cycle
Marketing isn’t just getting the interest of potential customers. It plays a part in each step of the customer life cycle. It’s important to map your customer life cycle so you can better understand what you can do at each stage to enhance their experience and ultimately progress them through to the next one.
A customer is a suspect when there is no existing relationship. You cannot fully understand what they are looking for yet and it is possible they have not heard of your business. Moreover, they may not even be aware that your product or service exists or that it is capable of solving their particular problems.
As there are a number of variables that cannot be known at this point, the first step is simply to get their attention. In today’s world where we are saturated with marketing messages, you have only seconds to capture the attention of the customer. This is where great design is most important, and a short, concise ‘hook’ that will encourage them to look a little closer should it be relevant to them.
A prospect will show an interest in your business in a passive way. They may view your social media feeds or check out your website, but do not necessarily engage with you in a way that you will be aware of.
At this stage, the goal is to create interest, provide them with appropriate information, stories, testimonials – marketing that will inform and educate them and give an insight into what benefits they could experience from working with you.
A prospect becomes a lead when they actively interact with your business. To get to this stage, they have answered a transitional call-to-action, i.e. download a white paper of ask for more information. There is a willingness for them to make direct contact and consent has been given for you to reach out and engage with them.
It is critical at this stage that leads are not ignored. It is far too easy to collect leads at an event, file them back at the office and never follow up, or have a great 1:1 at a networking event and forget to progress that conversation.
Listen, ask questions, take the time to learn as much as you can about the contact and understand what problems they are trying to solve. This is not the time to push for a close, this is the time to let them do the talking and really show that you care.
This is the stage where the sales process really kicks in. Having established the pain points you can match your products and services accordingly and convey this to the customer. Now you want to demonstrate that you have listened and understood.
This is the time to reassure your customer and provide them with information on your processes that will set the expectation as to how the product or service will be delivered. This will help to manage any potential objections and clarify any areas the customer may be unsure about – avoiding any surprises down the line.
The work doesn’t stop once the customer signs on the dotted line or hands over the cash. Every interaction the customer has with your business is an opportunity to improve or damage the relationship so must be considered with the same attention as the previous stages.
Here’s just a few things you can do:
- Check in: See how your customer has got on using the product or service and if there are any niggles or issues you can nip in the bud.
- Get feedback: Your customers are the single greatest source of information and are not only the target of your marketing, but can be part of it too. Ask for a testimonial or even a case study.
- Remember: Your customer chose you. They made a conscious decision to trust you to resolve their problem, so should you bump into each other at a networking event or otherwise, show your appreciation and make a point to speak to them.
- Stay in touch: Your solution may be a one-time offering or a repeat purchase – either way, once you’ve gained a customer you need to continue to promote your products or services to them, albeit in a more focused, personalised way.
- Keep them informed: If something changes in your business or you know of some news or industry updates that may be relevant to them, let them know!
When your customer really loves what you do and they start telling other people about it, they’ve become an evangelist – an ambassador, a ‘fan’. Essentially, an extension of your own sales team, extending your reach. These relationships are so important to your business and will give you the capacity to grow.
Consider an affiliate scheme, referral system or discount offer to reward your evangelists and encourage them to continue doing the great work flying the flag for you. If there’s something in it for them you’ll be more likely to get actions as well as words.