Build an Effective Marketing Strategy

We know who our customer is, what we can do for them, and the overall process on how they would find, analyze and buy our product. We’ve iterated our high level design with the customer, quantified the value created, and we understand our competitive position. And we now know our customer’s decision making unit (DMU) and decision making process (DMP). We’re now ready to develop a go-to-market strategy.

The first thing we need to understand is how customer buying behaviors have changed and how this impacts your marketing strategy. We also need to recognize that there are different stages to the customer buying cycle. Understanding these concepts will help develop a go-to-market strategy and a marketing plan for your business. In the big picture, your go-to-market strategy is ultimately about building a customized plan tailored for connecting the end user in your beachhead market to your solution. Refer back to your full life cycle use case and the customer’s decision making unit (DMU) and decision making process (DMP) to understand who you will be selling to at each stage of the customers’ buying cycle.

Buying Behaviors Have Changed

I don’t have to tell you that customer buying behaviors are changing. Empowered by new technologies and a younger tech savvy market, shoppers have easier access to the information needed to make buying decisions before they walk into a store or contact a salesperson. Today, shoppers start the search when they’re ready. It’s very different from the days when marketers told consumers what they needed and where to buy it, i.e., push marketing. Internet search, user reviews, and referrals from friends are at the heart of today’s buying behavior. In a data rich environment, customer intimacy and tailored messaging is crucial if you want to be heard above the noise.

Customer Buying Stages

You walk into a store and are approached by the salesperson. “How can I help you?” There are three typical answers.

  • I’m just looking – your browsing and don’t have a specific solution in mind
  • You ask a specific question – you’re interested in something and want to know more
  • You pull out your card – you found what you want and you’re ready to make the purchase

The same customer buying stages occur online. Customers are either browsing, considering, or ready to purchase. Your marketing strategy and response for each stage will be different.

When customers are browsing, they may not even know they have a problem for which you have a solution. In the browsing stage, marketing is about educating the customer that there is a problem they can relate to and that you have a solution.

In the consideration stage, customers want to learn more about the potential solutions for their problem. They are in a comparison mode and want to know how your solution compares to the competition. Reading testimonials and user feedback will help to prove credibility and value. Competitive positioning, understanding their pain points, and providing a quantifiable value proposition are all critical to their decision-making.

When customers are in the ready to buy stage, your purchasing process must be fast, simple, and painless. No one wants to wait or jump through hoops to pay for something. Experiential marketing, free trials, and freemium services are common strategies used today to help customers take that first step towards commitment to your solution.

The 10 Steps of a Full Life Cycle Use Case

Full Life Cycle Use Case

Lead Generation

If you’ve done your homework and understand your customer’s pain points and sense of urgency, your biggest challenge will be lead generation and exposure. The bigger the sales funnel at the top, the more sales you have coming out the bottom. You can measure and improve funnel metrics, but you need leads to drive the process. You may have the best solution on the market, but if your customer doesn’t know you exist, it’s game over.

You can go hang out at their watering holes, go through membership lists, meetups and events to gain contacts. You can use social media, lead nurturing campaigns, and give free value-add content through writing articles, curated content, videos tools, assessments etc. You’ll also want to go beyond your social network and connections. How can you get others to talk about you? Can you create incentives for other bloggers or key influencers to share your materials? How can you leverage the social networks of others? How can you generate news coverage, recognition, and endorsements? You need to find ways to get the word out to the largest audience possible.

Windows of Opportunity and Triggers

Windows of opportunity represent a time period with a greater than normal potential for beginning the customer purchasing consideration and acquisition process. Triggers represent an external force to move the customer towards taking action. For example, Spring Break represents a window of opportunity for plane tickets to the warm beaches of Florida. Two seats left at this price, represents a trigger to move the customer to take action now! Typical windows of opportunity could include such things as seasonal opportunities, an emerging crisis, the end of a fiscal year, the budget-planning process, or changes in leadership or regulations. Identify windows of opportunities and triggers for your end user to take action.

Search Engine Optimization

With digital marketing and online sales ramping to the moon, understanding and applying techniques for search engine optimization (SEO) is a no-brainer. How do people find you if they’re searching the internet for a solution that you can provide? With Google’s constantly changing search algorithms, it’s becoming harder and harder to claim the coveted spot at the top. With a good strategy, diligence, and a lot of patience, you can improve your rankings so prospective customers can find you more easily. And if you lack patience or the technical know-how, you could hire someone who specializes in this space.

Bringing it all Together

Focus your efforts on building and expanding lead generation for your sales funnel. You may have the best solution on the market, but if your customer doesn’t know you exist, it’s game over. You need to find ways to get the word out to the largest audience possible and go beyond your own social network. Develop an effective SEO strategy is a critical piece of the puzzle. Drive inbound marketing by generating value-add content that’s of interest to you end user. Capture testimonials and incentivize word of mouth referrals that validate credibility and value. Continually identify windows of opportunity and triggers that will move your end user to consider your solution and take action.

Mike McCausland-Founder-CEO

Mike McCausland

Founder and CEO, Leadership Institute For Entrepreneurs