Friday, June 10, 2005

Take the Next Step Is All We Ask

Here’s the real secret behind contextual marketing for . I’m not talking about establishing relevance. That’s the purpose of context. But once you have established this relationship with the customer where s/he sees you and your products as being relevant to unmet needs. Then what? Most marketers would say to go for the sale. That’s still the old model sneaking back into your old habits.

The secret is to know what steps your prospect must go through before they can make a buying decision – some of these are formal and stated, some (perhaps the most important) are hidden. But if they stay hidden from you, you will never be able to guide the prospect to a place where they will purchase from you. They might get there on their own, without help from you.

But the role of contextual marketing is to help them buy. That means you have to help them, one-step-at-a-time. Your communications goal for each outbound initiative is simple to get them to take the next step.

Maybe that next step is to convince them you have the experience to resolve their problems. Maybe it is to visit their facility and thus demonstrate that you care about them. Maybe they need to meet a senior executive from your company. Or you need to pass a credit clearance.

Contextual marketers break the customer’s buying process into finite steps and then plan outbound initiatives that remove barriers and move the prospect a step closer to making a positive purchase decision. It is a longitudinal process. Pre-planned. Measured. Calculated. If you do not get a “yes” at each step, you need to back up and try again. When you get the “yes” two things should happen – first go for a trial close and if that doesn’t work, you go back to the buying decision path with another outbound initiative to move the prospect one step further.

I know from experience that when we do this process correctly, the sales closure rate climbs.

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