We need to discuss the sales cycle before going any further, as it plays a significant role in making your advertising work. Here are the basics.
Imagine that you have a number line running from 1 to 100. Those numbers equate to percentages. The percentages represent a prospect’s progress along the educational spectrum. At 1%, the prospect is just beginning to think about your product or service. At 100%, they’re getting their money out.
There are different stages along the line that you can use to better understand the process that your marketing should be guiding the customer through. For instance:
- 25%: Prospect goes from thinking about the product or service you sell generally to start asking friends and associates for recommendations or going online and casually researching what options are available.
- 50%-60%: Prospect is beginning to narrow their choices by process of elimination.
- 80%: Prospect is going to buy for sure and it’s now just a question of from whom they’ll buy.
Keep in mind; this is not a smooth progression. Some people may stay at any given point along the spectrum for months or longer. Your goal as a marketer is to move your prospects along through this process. Your prospects, however, should feel like they’re in control. You don’t force them to make a decision, but you do make sure that your prospects are thinking of you as the most likely vendor for their needs. You do this by educating them about the relevant and important issues they need to know in order to make the best decision possible when it comes to buying whatever it is you have to sell.
There are two types of people on this line:
- Future buyers: They haven’t decided whether to buy or not, but they’re getting there.
- Now buyers: They’re going to buy; it’s just a matter of time.
The Now Buyers represent a tiny slice of your market, but most of the advertising you’ll see out there targets them specifically. This means that most marketing is dependent upon reaching people who have already made the decision to buy, and that is a relatively very small portion of the market. What about those people who aren’t quite as far along in the process?
When you’re dependent upon your advertising message reaching that small percentage of people who are ready to buy, you’re dependent upon the shifts in the marketplace. You’ll do very well if the market is up but, if it cools off somewhat, your sales will suffer. You’ll have to keep running ads to reach these people and, once you stop running the ads, the sales will drop right off a cliff. The Strategic Marketing Program takes you beyond this. You’ll learn how to target every single one of your prospects, whether they’re a Now Buyer or a Future Buyer.
Where to go next: Why Virtually All Marketing Stinks and How To Fix It