Good marketing is probably more art than science. It’s the art of building relationships. It’s moving prospects along a continuum that begins at “Never heard of ya,” and ends at “Where do I sign?” The trick is, knowing where along that line a prospect is so that our marketing communication is both appropriate and effective. In other words, a prospect who has “never heard of ya” will likely be put off by a communication that makes it sound like we’re old friends. Likewise, an introductory communication may be insulting if it lands on the desk of an old customer. Most marketing gurus will say that there are specific mile markers along this continuum from “Never heard of ya” to “Where do I sign?,” but there are many different views on the number and nature of those mile markers. For one marketer’s view, please continue reading below.
“Marketing is a contest for people’s attention.” – Seth Godin
Jeff McKay is the founder and CEO of Prudent Pedal Marketing, a marketing consultancy in La Grange. Jeff recently gave a marketing presentation to a group of which we are both members, and a portion of his presentation was devoted to relationship-building mile markers . . . the steps we must go through to move a prospect from “Never heard of ya” to “Where do I sign?” In his scheme of things, there are five such steps:
1. Awareness. Clearly, nobody is going to do business with us if they don’t even know we exist. So the first step is to develop a bit of name recognition. Our prospect may not know much about us, but at least they need to have heard our name before.
2. Familiarity. Just because someone has heard our name before doesn’t mean they’re ready to buy from us. They need to learn what we do and how our business can help theirs. They need to know that our business practices are compatible with theirs. And they need to connect with us on a personal level so that we’re not just some faceless organization. As the saying goes, people do business with people, not companies.
3. Consideration. Now that our prospect knows a little about us, we need to move the relationship along to a point where our prospect is willing to consider doing business with us. To do that, we’ll need to demonstrate that we are qualified to deliver what we’ve promised, and that we can be trusted to consistently honor our commitments. Here the prospect may require that we submit to a trial of some kind, or provide testimonials from existing customers.
4. Choice. We don’t want to be just one of many on an “approved vendor” list. We want to be at the top of a “preferred vendor” list. When our prospect is willing to consider us and actually gives us our shot, we need to perform so well that we will be their first choice for any future opportunities.
5. Loyalty. This is always where we want our train to stop. At this point, we have earned our customer’s trust by faithfully delivering on our commitments, again and again. We are firmly entrenched, and as long as we protect the relationship we’ve built, we’ll probably stay that way. In most cases, customers don’t last forever, but if we’ve reached this point, we’ll be in for a good, long run.
Viewed this way, Jeff McKay’s five steps make a good road map for moving the relationship from “awareness” to “loyalty.” And it provides a framework for planning our next moves . . . for recognizing what step the prospect is on, and for devising ways to move that prospect to the next step.