Stop treating your customers and prospects like basketballs.
A recent discussion with a senior level marketer at a company that traditionally ranks as one of the largest marketers in the world again reinforced my belief in the power and importance of customer intelligence and engagement. According to my contact at this global marketing powerhouse, his organization needs to be better at building and nurturing customer relationships before they are “in-market” and ready to buy. He referred to these “in-market” customers as the industry “jump balls” that every marketer is fighting over and working hard to “intercept” every day. His belief is that the marketer who identifies and fosters a connection with a prospective customer way before they become a “jump ball,” has a way to differentiate and win in his industry.
Often times, especially in the B2B industry, this long-lead customer engagement process is referred to as lead nurturing. This process is all about creating a dialogue with a potential customer, understanding them and creating awareness of how your product or service can benefit them way ahead of the actual purchase decision or traditional “in-market” buying cycle. Show them you care about them, their business performance. Then, when the time comes to make a purchase decision, the firms that have nurtured the customer relationship all along have more customer insight and intelligence, and are usually much better equipped to make the sale.
Why don’t many consumer marketers do this well?
In the past, it was usually because the data and technology did not facilitate customer nurturing, a 2-way dialogue and engagement. What marketing execs could grasp and feel productive about was large budget, uni-directional branding and mass advertising campaigns. However, with today’s digital and social channels and platforms, most often being accessed via mobile devices, it's time to re-think the traditional lead management process. Gone are the days when you can just create the large TV, print, and radio campaign and drive the right amount of awareness and consideration for your brand. Marketers need to leverage these direct channels to actively engage with prospects long before they are within the final stages of the sales funnel.
If you wait to engage with your customers when they are “in-market,” it may be too late.
About the Author: