Before approaching a potential customer, we’ve got to think about two things: How to get their attention, and how to keep it. To do this right, you’ll need to create a plan and develop a touchpoint process (also known as touchpoint mapping) so that they always feel like they’re getting the best experience when interacting with your brand.
This process will help you identify and improve efficiencies that are important to your goals, whilst maintaining consistent interactions with your prospects.
“Companies who excel in customer experience drive revenues 4% to 8% higher than those of their market (Study by Bain & Company).”
Let’s look at a few ways to optimise your engagements (10 to be precise). If you’ve missed any of these steps in your existing process, you may be missing real opportunities.
- Research the market. Before you do anything, do your research! It sounds obvious, but people so often miss it. Find out how big the market is. Who are your competitors? What are they doing? This gives you insight on what’s trending in the industry, competitive tactics, product offerings and pricing. Doing this right will reveal opportunities for you to exploit, and help you avoid the risks that have trapped others.
- Develop a customer profile. Do you know who you’re talking to? If you don’t, how do you know what to say? Customers appreciate it when you go out of your way to understand them because it makes their life easier. In order to create a primary customer profile, you need to understand them as a real person. Imagine you’re creating a character for a story. How old are they? Where do they work? What are their hobbies? To do this right you need to have gathered insight into your customer’s behaviours. By developing a strong, accurate profile, you can empathise with them, and so target their needs and interests more accurately.
- Develop a company brand. The next step is to come up with a brand identity. It’s important that your brand represents your mission, vision and values. Remember your key brand assets - your logo, brand name, tagline, and tone of voice needs to be consistent so that your prospects and customers have a cohesive journey. There’s an awful lot we can go into here, but the long and the short for your purposes here is that your brand needs to be clear, consistent and distinguishable.
- Create your product brand. Now that you’ve developed your company brand, it’s time to develop a product that resonates well with your targeted consumers. Think about what the product does, its features, and how it differs from your competitors. Develop a product brand that speaks to your target audience. The brand needs to become a solution to their pain points and a representation of their values and beliefs.
- Come up with a marketing strategy. Now that you’ve established your customer segment and created a brand and a product, it’s time to make a plan to convert leads into paying clients. Look back at your competitive analysis. We’re going to use it to develop our four P’s: product, price, place, and promotion. Set your marketing goals (e.g. conversions, brand visibility, website traffic), so you know how your campaign is performing based on your business objectives. It’s important to track your campaign progress so you can find ways to optimise your strategy.
- Implement training. Training your employees is one of the most important things most people overlook. Training helps develop and strengthen their skills and knowledge, and will also help them engage with prospects effectively. Well trained employees put their prospects’ needs first, which can bring long term value to your business. If trained properly, all of your staff should have the confidence and knowledge to act as brand and product ambassadors, improving conversions at every interaction.
- Test the market. The secret to success is to test. There are loads of ways to test to get insight on your product, brand and messaging, but some you should definitely not overlook are:
Focus Group/Usability Testing: Create a prototype and see how a selection of targeted consumers react to it. This can provide useful feedback for developing a better product before you heavily invest in launching it to the general public. Through your market test, you may well find that you haven’t quite gotten the features right. You should listen to the feedback from these test states, and act on the information you gather. People respond to how well you answer their needs. Answer them well.
Split Testing: The most effective way to test messaging and advertising tweaks is to create an a/b test. This allows you to see how subtle changes in your a/b testing can influence the response rate. Use the one that performs the best as a guide of how to improve your approach. For instance, the subject line of one email campaign may perform better than a similar one. Testing the market means you work out how the market reacts to your product and services.
- Analyse and refine your strategy. Once you’ve completed your market tests, you should amend your marketing strategy accordingly. There’s no point in learning something if you’re not going to act on it! You’ll probably find that by tweaking your product, adjusting the pricing options, or promoting on more than one platform improves your sales . You may want to broaden your customer base, or niche it down to a more specific audience, all of these decisions will be based on your test stage findings. While you’re making changes, make sure that they’re always made with a reason. You don’t want to make drastic decisions unnecessarily that could take away from your initial strategy and value.
- Use your network. The old adage, ‘it’s who you know’ still stands true. The people you associate yourself with in a business environment are usually instrumental in your success or failure. Don’t be ashamed to reach out to your network and see who you can do business with, people are usually willing to help when asked directly, so ask!
There’s another quote to consider, the one about ‘putting all of your eggs in one basket’. Use the network you’ve got, but don’t neglect the opportunity to build your connections by going to networking events and surrounding yourself with new people who can help you grow your business. Meaningful conversations with diverse groups of people are catalysts for great ideas. You never know who you might meet along the way and the influence that they can have on your ideas, your strategy, and your brand.
- Have a CRM system! People like to be remembered! Every conversation is a potential lead, or a door to a new opportunity; so list them. Use a reliable CRM to keep track of who you’ve spoken to and what they’ve said. Dropping references to the last time you spoke to someone and what was said, helps to build trust and loyalty. If you remember people, they’ll remember you!
- Learn from the past. What's gone wrong in the past? How did you solve them? Keeping a record of successes and (most importantly) failures will help you and your staff keep up best practices, and eliminate the worst. Companies that learn from their mistakes and improve their services become more efficient as they grow.