The importance of marketing is not alien to an entrepreneur. You already know without being told that marketing is how you get your products/services sold.
So this unusual article is not about marketing, it’s about why your marketing isn’t working. It’s about your conversion strategy, the critical missing link in your marketing arsenal. It’s about fixing your marketing strategy so that it can begin to work as it’s supposed to – bring in sales!
The Critical Missing Link in Your Marketing Arsenal
If you’ve been in business for about 3-5 years, I’m sure you would be familiar with what I am about to say next.
That you have some form of marketing system in place isn’t a guarantee that you will always make the sale.
That you are running an ad, either online or offline doesn’t mean anyone who comes in contact with the ad will eventually buy.
That you have a team of salespeople making presentations daily to your target customers doesn’t guarantee instant sales.
The greatest deception that can ever happen to an entrepreneur is thinking or believing that sales can be made in an instant. Now, don’t get me wrong, as you know, there’s always an exception to every rule; both in life and in business.
So for this rule, let me quickly mention the exception. The only time sales is made in an instant is when you are selling a commodity. A commodity is a product/service that is as generic as sand and as common as air. In other words, there’s nothing really special or unique about the product/service. Such a product/service is not a brand and will ultimately be left to the mercy of price.
But if there’s any drop of uniqueness, difference or novelty about your product/service, then it has the potential of becoming a brand and you shouldn’t expect an instant sales from your marketing efforts.
Because of the buying decision making process.
Between the first time a potential customer comes in contact with your product/service and the time they eventually buy, there’s a big gap. That gap is the buying decision making process and it needs to be deliberately guided.
This is why you need a conversion strategy.
What’s Your Conversion Strategy?
The job of marketing is to create an attention or awareness for your products/services. This is what I refer to as the first encounter with your brand. Before anyone will buy a product/service, they must first know that such a product/service exists. It is the job of marketing to make sure that they do.
And there are different ways of making this happen;
- Advertisement: TV, Radio, Billboard, Online, Print, etc.
- Word-of-Mouth: recommendation from family and friends, colleagues, etc.
- Direct Marketing: one-on-one sales, telemarketing, SMS, email marketing, etc.
- Retail Marketing: sales outlets, exhibitions, trade shows, shelf space branding, product packaging, etc.
All of these and many more are the several ways of creating that first initial exposure for your product/service with the intended target market. Expecting to make the sale on this first encounter with your brand is why so many marketing efforts fail.
This doesn’t also mean that you cannot get lucky and make the sale on first contact, you can. But don’t always bet on it. Erroneously accepting this notion of making the sale on first contact as the norm is like expecting to take your date to bed on your first date.
While this may happen for some, it’s not the rule, but an exception and one that is completely subject to chance. And you shouldn’t leave your marketing to chance; this is the essence of a conversion strategy.
Your conversion strategy is how to deliberately initiate, sustain and nurture the fragile relationship your marketing efforts has just helped you create with the potential buyers of your product/service. The most important keyword here is “deliberately”. Your conversion strategy is not automatic, it must be deliberately created.
In popular marketing terms, your conversion strategy is your sales funnel. It’s how you turn a PROSPECT [potential customer] to SALES [customer]. Without it, all your marketing efforts have failed.
In fact, the whole essence of your marketing is to get the attention and interest of your target market in order to initiate, sustain and nurture a relationship with them. Your conversion strategy is how you take the attention and interest your marketing created and turn them into sales.
It’s not sufficient to just capture their attention and interest, a relationship with the potential customer must be initiated, sustained and nurtured. The end goal of this relationship is the eventual sale of your products/services. But if you attempt to force the sale on them on your first encounter, you will most certainly be resented and will ultimately lose the sale.
How to Create a Winning Conversion Strategy
To create a winning conversion strategy, the following essential elements must be put in place;
Establish a Direct Communication Link With Potential Customers
The very first step in creating a winning conversion strategy is to establish a direct communication link with the potential customer. This simply means capturing their contact details. This can vary depending on the product/service involved.
But in most cases, there are generally 3 kinds of contact details you need to establish a direct communication link with the potential customer;
- Phone Number
- Email Address
- Contact Address
Anyone of these 3 or a combination of any two will do. But I must warn you, such details don’t come by easily. Your potential customers will not part with them until they are given a compelling reason to do so.
To get access to their contact details, you have to be willing to give them something valuable in return for free. This is generally known as bait and it can take various forms depending on the product/service and the peculiarities of the target market.
For example, when we ran a cybercafé, we gave out 10 minutes worth of browsing ticket for free to every first time customer in exchange for them to become registered members. Of course, the membership registration was also free and also came with more value added perks, but it required them to drop their contact details.
On this blog, naijapreneur, the bait is the free “The Entrepreneur’s Journey” ebook which I give away in exchange for email addresses of my readers. This is one of the popular baits used online to capture the contact details of potential customers who visit a website.
The list of what you can give away for free in exchange for the contact details of potential customers is endless, you just need a little bit of creativity and ample knowledge of your target customer’s needs and wants.
The bottom-line is to give away something they will value and that is closely related to the products/services you are selling. Examples include;
- Information Products: eBooks, video tutorials, podcasts, online course, newsletter, etc.
- Limited Access: free trial subscriptions, free trial downloads, free trial membership, etc.
- Sample Products: free air time, make up, training, product testing, etc.
- Promo Items: branded souvenirs, etc.
- Free Consultations: coaching session, diagnostics, therapy, etc.
Demonstrate Value Through Periodic Engagement
Now that you have established a direct communication link with your potential customers, your next step in developing a winning conversion strategy is to demonstrate value by engaging with your potential customers periodically.
That you have direct communication link with them is not a license for you to overwhelm them with endless sales letters or promos, no. Remember this is a relationship you are nurturing, so always think win-win and not win-lose. In other words, put the needs of your potential customers first.
Your goal here is to engage with them by demonstrating value. I call this strategy educate and influence. Here is where you demonstrate the superior value of your product/service. Rather than making claims, you simply demonstrate what makes your brand special. You demonstrate your thought leadership [expertise] as a brand.
You can do this through the following;
- Case Studies: share stories on how your product/service is helping other customers
- Articles: offer practical ideas and tips that addresses their major problems
- Testimonials: share what your satisfied customers are saying about your product/service
- Industry News: keep them abreast with relevant industry trends, issues and events
- Market Surveys: engage them with thoughtful questions to help you understand their needs
- Product/Service Updates: educate them on how your products/services can solve their problems
All these will keep your brand top on their mind without abusing the privilege of engaging with them. Over time, their perception of your brand will increase as you continuously engage with them by demonstrating value.
Make an Irresistible Offer
As you nurture a win-win relationship with them through value adding periodic engagements, they would have been ripe for the sale. Most times, even before you make an offer, they would have started contacting you to buy.
It’s at this point that you can take the relationship further and create an exclusive irresistible offer about your product/service that will benefit them. This is when you out rightly ask for the sale. The benefit of making an irresistible offer is that it helps many who aren’t ready to buy yet, take advantage of the promo offer.
Don’t try to lump all your offers at once, create several offers and introduce it to them periodically.
Every marketing effort starts with the target market and ends with a sale. Your conversion strategy is the journey you take the target customer through from their first contact with your brand till they eventually buy.
The process looks like this;
Target Market -> Prospect -> Customer -> Repeat Customer.
Without a winning conversion strategy, you can lose the potential customer half way before they become customers. This is the reason why most marketing fails, because of the absence of a deliberate conversion strategy to help the target customer through their buying decision making process.