For marketers customers are important but their business is their focus. This is good but it’s also dangerous. When you are 100% focused on a particular product or activity, from the point of view of your business, it’s difficult to not project this interest onto customers. But, in reality, they aren’t nearly as interested as you are, and what interest they have ebbs and flows with their need.
Consider their purchase frequency to understand their interest cycle. Most of the time they aren’t interested at all in the sales process. They are happily using your product or service so now isn’t the time to sell them. This is the Loyalty phase and it’s the time to build relationship equity.
When their need changes and they enter the Prospecting phase, interest begins to rise and they start thinking about their options relative to their next purchase. This heightened interest means they are open to sales messages from you and your competition. Prospecting is the information gathering phase.
As the purchase event approaches interest climbs and your customers actively consider their options. In the Consideration phase trade offs are made, value is determined and benefits are considered. They become very aware of marketing activity. What is brand A saying? Is this consistent with my experience? What is brand B saying? Does brand B understand what I really need?
A purchase is made.
This is the important part so pay attention. Their interest in the category immediately after the purchase remains high. They are still aware of advertising but they’re now looking for confirmation they’ve made a good decision. They are also interested to see what else the product they just selected is all about. This is your opportunity to make a Connection, to acknowledge how much you value their patronage and create additional value beyond functional benefits.
The Connection phase is the most import period. A smart marketer will use the heightened, post-purchase interest levels to establish a relationship, to transition a ‘product with a name’ into a brand. The ROI on relationship marketing activity directed to post-purchase customers is much higher than any of the other phases in the interest cycle. It’s even higher when appropriate marketing occurs in the other phases.
- Use your MarCom strategy to manage activities and messages for each phase of the interest cycle.
- The more mass the communication channel the simpler the message. Don’t try and cram your whole story into a 30 second ad, print ad or banner. Don’t assume consumers are interested in what you are saying. Most are willing to be reminded of who you are and what you stand for but that’s it.
- Recognize and accommodate changes in interest level at key communication points. When they raise their hand be there with a message that’s appropriate. Generally speaking, they didn’t arrive at your website randomly. They got there because they were interested. This isn’t the time to repeat your ad message. They are open to a more involved conversation so give it to them.
- As your customers interact with you remember they are also considering the competition. You don’t serve 100% of their requirements. Now is the time to sell them something. Now is not the time for image advertising. Make them an offer, show them why your product is better, why your product is their best choice.
- Have material and resources in place to make a Connection post purchase. Say “Thank you.” Ask them questions. Give them something extra. Give these new customers the opportunity to find out what else you stand for. But remember, it’s all about them, not you. They want to feel valued. They want to have their purchase decision reinforced. Do this and they’re yours.
- During the Loyalty phase their need and interest is low so don’t bury them with sales offers. If they visit your hotel or resort once a year in the Fall don’t try and sell them on a visit in the Spring. Reinforce your value proposition throughout the year by bringing additional value to the relationship. If for some reason their needs change and a trip in the Spring is being considered the will let you know.