In the private ACRBO facebook group a member writer writes:

Curious of your approach on sales in this scenario. We want to go after a new vertical in the area for our MSP service. I have a list of 350 of them. I have names, addresses, direct emails to decision makers & phone numbers and etc. What would your approach be? Stop by in person, email them, postal letter, cold call them or etc? We already service several legal firms who are happy with our service and have given us testimonials to use, so I have that to lean on. Trying to decide on an avenue of approach. Thoughts and feedback would be appreciated.

Of course my answer was:

“Stop by in person, email them, postal letter, cold call them or etc?” The answer is yes!

Jokes aside, the answer actually is yes.  The real question is when do you use each of these?  The answer lies in the Customer Lifecycle.

The classic AIDA marketing funnel looks like this:

  • A – attention (awareness): attract the attention of the customer.
  • I – interest of the customer.
  • D – desire: convince customers that they want and desire the product or service and that it will satisfy their needs.
  • A – action: lead customers towards taking action and/or purchasing.

However, the Customer Lifecycle is a more modern approach that reflects the modern client’s buying experience more fully. It has seven steps rather than four:

Customer Lifecycle

The Customer Lifecycle

Stage One: Awareness

Just like the funnel above, the first stage of the customer lifecycle is building awareness about your brand/service. Here is where you work to get the attention of people who don’t know who you are or what you do, usually through outbound marketing like newspaper advertisements, pay per click (PPC), webinars, or speaking events.

Stage Two: Knowledge

This second stage is similar to the funnel’s Interest stage, but with an important difference. In the past, the prevailing thought behind the Interest stage was to make people curious so they would call for more information. This strategy still works today. However, with the advent of the Internet, people have a greater wealth of knowledge available to them to make better-informed purchasing decisions. Now when people become aware of and interested in a product/service, they want to educate themselves about it. Due to this fact, many modern marketers have taken to “lifting the veil” and providing as much information as possible so the client can have as much knowledge as possible.

So in the Knowledge stage, the prospect begins the journey to learn about your company to see if it is the right fit. This is your chance to establish your company and yourself as the expert and go-to authority on whatever it is you do. Many people feel that the more helpful you are before the sale, the more likely you are to be helpful after the sale.

Here’s where inbound marketing works so effectively: landing pages, webinars, live speaking engagements, e-books, newsletters, workshops, teleseminars, testimonials, client manuals, online videos, media interviews, blogs, and in-store conversations can all help educate your prospects and build interest.

Stage Three: Consideration

In the Consideration stage, the prospect has learned about you, researched your product, and put you on a short list of vendors they would consider buying from. Now you have the opportunity to showcase what makes your company and your product or service stand apart from the rest, giving them a small sense of how happy they will be when they choose to engage with you.

Here prospects are going to ask for as much information as they need, so the Consideration stage might go on for a long time. It may go on for months, it may go on for days, or it may take one minute. That’s how we buy now. Think about the last time you looked into buying an item. You probably came across a particular person’s name in product reviews, and if that person had a YouTube channel, you went and looked at that person’s videos about how to use that item in order to get an expert opinion. That’s the Knowledge stage. If you were really interested, you did even deeper research on that item, and that’s the Consideration stage.

To make the Consideration stage easy for your prospects, offer them as much information as possible in as many different media as possible, such as reviews, more webinars, blog posts, newsletters, and one-on-one sales calls.

Stage Four: Conversion

Conversion is where the deal gets done. All your hard work to help guide your prospect to a purchase has paid off. Just as in the Consideration stage, making a purchase as easy as possible will go a long way to encourage the prospect to choose to buy from you. It will also leave a favorable impression that adds to their decision to recommend you to others down the road. Relevant marketing tools might be a merchant account, acceptance of a wide variety of credit cards, or an online shopping cart.

Stage Five: Fulfillment

Fulfillment is the point where you are no longer educating them about how great your services are, you’re proving it. Fulfillment isn’t just delivering the product, it’s over delivering. It’s as simple as doing what you say and going a little further.

Imagine going to a car dealership, paying for the car that you want, and getting a second one for free. Love Chrysler Dodge Jeep dealership in Corpus Christi, Texas, actually does that. Every February 14, they have a buy-one-get-one-free deal, so if you buy a car on Valentine’s Day, they will give you a second car for free. That’s one example of over delivering on your promise.

On the other hand, when people sign up for my website development service, they’re sent a handwritten thank-you note—because for me, that’s all it takes to be amazing in my industry. In some highly competitive industries, you need to do more; in others, less.

Over delivering in Fulfillment is where the more unconventional marketing tools come into play: excellent follow up, attention to detail, generosity, passion, enthusiasm, and eavesdropping on the reviews and comments clients publicize about you.

Stage Six: Advocacy

Over delivering on your promise naturally results in clients who become your advocates. Advocacy means they start talking about you to friends and family, they post reviews for you online through their social media accounts, or they go to review sites and say nice things about you. You can’t make advocacy happen, but there are things you can do to assist, such as staying in contact, making sure they’re happy with your product or service, rectifying problems in a timely manner, and following up to make sure the problems remain resolved. When you do those kinds of things, clients will naturally start telling other people about you.

Stage Seven: Loyalty

Loyalty is when the client is so happy with what you have done that they continue to buy from you again and again. It results from doing all other steps properly. If you’ve delivered in all of the areas above, that client is hard to take away from you. Client loyalty is the biggest gift you can get from your client because it means you’ve done the job right. Plus, getting existing clients to buy from you is way cheaper than finding new ones. To encourage loyalty, you might use reward programs, continued education, and regularly scheduled follow up.

That’s where the line becomes a circle. Loyalty leads you right back to telling your clients about other products and services when they’re relevant (Awareness), which leads to them wanting to know more about other products you provide (Interest), and so on. This circle of repeat business can go on and on, as long as you keep up your end.

Now that you have a better understanding of the customer lifecycle you can begin to figure out where different marketing activities fit in.   Hopefully now you can use the customer lifecycle to help build your funnel process.

Do you have questions about where a specific marketing activity fits in to the customer lifecycle?  Ask in the comments. Have you already implemented customer lifecycle marketing in your business?  Help us all by telling us about it in the comments.

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Herman Pool

Herman Pool is the current President of The Association of Computer Repair Business Owners.
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