Using these 5 active E’s along the path-to-purchase for Considered-Purchase brands will help you expedite the sale, influencing the influencers and become the favored brand for the inevitable next sale.
When planning your marketing strategy, it’s always good to have a structure you can use as a checklist to ensure you are covering all bases. With so many channels and devices available today, it’s easy to get muddled, if not lost, in creating a customer-focused approach, but remembering to cover the 5 E’s makes it, well – easier.
Customer empathy is the number one ingredient for efficient and effective marketing of a considered purchase. Which means all your customer touch points should be thoroughly drenched in, trained for and expertly sensitized to the complexity of emotions your customer is going through as they make their journey to a purchase.
The key to empathy is knowing the dominant emotion each customer segment brings to the buying process. Do they view this as a transaction – something they are going to methodically tackle and get done? Is this purchase exciting for them – an image-based purchase that reflects their status? Or do they see this as a dreaded purchase – they want it, but their fear of making the wrong decision is ruling the day?
To be empathetic, brands need over-sized rabbit ears and a big heart. Because it’s critically important to respond to your customer’s emotional approach by providing what they want, when they want it. Make sure every message is relevant to the customer’s stage in the buying process. Okay, this is obvious – but if you are engaged with an anxious and fearful buyer, please don’t try to send closing messages in their discovery stages.
When you are committed to being an empathetic brand and you know your customer’s emotional approach, you’ll quickly ramp up your empathy marketing and win a customer for life.
By the very nature of being a considered purchase, this is the type of high-cost, long-term use product/service that most people will only purchase a few times in their life. Understandably, your prospects will not have a mental model of how to confidently approach the buying process – much less make the buying decision. (Remember the first time you bought a car?)
However, what they do have is the ability to do their pajama research (thank you www). They’ll spend enormous amounts of time self-educating, mostly online research, recommendation sites, friends, family, colleagues and social media sites. Of course this research and opinion gathering not only lengthens the buying cycle, it also creates confusion – and we all know confusion kills sales.
Now here’s the good news. Education is where great brands become cherished brands. They use customer education as an opportunity to excel. To emulate, your website should become your customers’ “University.” And your brand should become their most trusted teacher on “ how to buy smart.”
Consider ideas like giving your customers the best practices for buying – and an orderly process: what to consider first, second, third and so on. Maybe it’s an online “check list.” Or an e-book of the best practices for research, comparisons, understanding and qualifying your product or service. Or maybe it’s a series of videos on each phase of the buying process. Even something as simple as FAQ’s to help them know what questions to ask – and when to ask them.
Remember, when you educate your customer, you reduce the two greatest sources of friction – lack of knowledge and experience. Instead, you’ll help create a more confident buyer who can more easily and quickly move through the buying process – which makes for not only a faster sale, but also a passionate advocate for your brand. After all, who doesn’t love a terrific, caring teacher. (Remember Mrs. Wilson in second grade?)
Ease. It’s that wonderful freedom from fret. With all of the stress in today’s world, your customer often just needs to be reassured that they can purchase your product/service with ease.
So, don’t start with the hard parts. As much as you may want to qualify your prospect by knowing that they have their financing in place, or as much as you may want to make a first-visit carpet sale by knowing that they have already measured their room, chances are extraordinarily high that they aren’t buying at the first visit. It just doesn’t work that way.
Start with the fun parts. Put the easy questions and beautiful choices upfront. Ease your customers into the buying journey by making it enjoyable, simple, comfortable, entertaining – and rewarding.
Use the personal preference and emotional discovery questions upfront – almost everyone has answers to those types of questions. Ask questions that are fun and easy for your customer and help ease him/her into involvement.
If you’re a kitchen appliance brand, you might ask questions like: Do you enjoy cooking? Do you love big family gatherings? What colors do you love? Do you like plants in your kitchen? Do you have a pet (which will inevitably be in the kitchen)?
Asking the easy questions will not only put them at ease because you are sincerely showing your interest in their personal preferences and their lifestyle, but these kinds of questions will also help to inspire your customer’s imaginations and build their buying confidence while putting them at ease along the path to purchase.
No matter how we try to expedite the buying process – and we certainly can and do – this isn’t buying gum. There’s an orderly process of steps, and buyers have to move from one to the next one. You don’t want them to get lost – or bored – or worse yet, tempted away by a competitor.
So here is the simple secret to engaging your customers: Make it all about them.
Always talk about what they care about – and when they care about it. That means keeping your marketing messages both relevant and paced to where they are in the buying journey. Don’t try to talk about financing when they are still considering colors, performance or features.
Happily, today’s technology offers brands easier opportunities for engagement – from YouTube product demos to Facebook. But remember, technology alone is never the answer – only the avenue. You will need to develop the purpose, content and social objects and give them the ability to participate and respond.
The key principles of engagement revolve around your brand’s commitment to and interest in your customers. Ask. Listen. Understand. Respond. Reflect honest like-mindedness. Erase their concerns. Clarify their confusions. Feed their interests. Fill their needs. Tempt their desires.
And remember, engaging your customer is only half the battle/opportunity. Since every buyer comes with an entourage of influencers, these influencers (family, friends, colleagues, etc) must also be kept engaged. Tip: make all of your marketing, promotional and educational materials, from photos to videos, instantly accessible and easily shareable through email and all your social channels.
To make all this engagement effort worth it, think about all the potential new customers you are reaching in that vast influencer pool.
The ability to endure the complex sale of a considered purchase is a feat in itself. It’s a process during which your brand, your people and your marketing budget can’t afford to get weak and weary.
Making that sale is just the start of your brand’s need to endure. Once your customer has made their purchase – you know they are not likely to buy again for years – lots of years. (That’s the double demons of Considered-Purchase Brands; low frequency rates and high costs of customer acquisition.)
So while it can be tempting to cut the post-purchase marketing budget (which is tantamount to killing the goose that lays the golden egg), building your post-purchase relationships is where your brand will make its most tremendous gains:
1. Favored brand and first-choice standing for their next purchase
2. Quickly identify and correct any points of post-purchase complaints or disenchantments
3. Your research forum: ask and they will tell you
4. Your own medium: deploying the power of the one-to-many audience
5. Encourage brand advocates
Endure. Probably the most important E for marketing Considered-Purchase Brands.
Making a considered purchase is a very big decision for your customer – with real world costs and pain for them if they make the wrong buying decision. This is not about the right wording or image on a POP or e-campaign. It’s about earning their trust and developing customer intimacy – and that only happens by giving extraordinary customer caring at every stage of the customer’s journey. The 5 E’s are a good way to help guide your marketing plan and essential to your plan’s success.
Are you using 5 E’s? If you have any other E’s that you use and would like to add to the conversation, please join in. I love learning from you.