When putting together a marketing campaign, you need to be clear on how many steps you expect to take to create a customer.
In the Seven Step Guerrilla Marketing Plan, I emphasis the importance of knowing what you want customers to do so that you can make your marketing more intentional.
There are three main lead generation and conversion techniques:
- One step lead generation – sell at the first contact
- Two step lead generation – offer something free to get interested people to raise their hands and admit their interest and then convert them into paying customers.
- Three step lead generation – use the two step process but with a low price purchase to weed out the buyers from the browsers.
One Step Systems To Create Sales
Here your aim is to create a lead (a person interested in buying) and convert that person into a customer in one go.
This is classic mail order territory although the marketing message can be delivered by direct mail, space advertising in newsletters and magazines or TV commercials.
The marketing message is so strong or so tightly tied into a compelling desire and need for the product, that the customer will buy immediately.
That’s the theory anyway.
In practice, there is no intent to create and nurture a lead but the buyer may need repeated exposures to the marketing message before taking the decision to purchase.
You’ll have done this yourself.
You’ll have seen an advertisement and thought “That looks interesting” and you might have started or even got to the end of the message. “I could use that and it would help me” you think. But you don’t take action.
Perhaps you’re in a hurry. Or the need isn’t quite strong enough. Or you want to think about it.
Whatever the reason, you don’t buy the first time you see and hear the message but at a subsequent exposure.
Your buying decision depends on the company repeating the message and the message being strong enough to answer all your questions.
It’s the same when you sell with a one step lead generation and conversion system. You’re expecting repeated exposures of that one message to do all the work.
Two Step Lead Generation Systems
In two step systems, you split the process into two clear stages:
- You generate the lead by encouraging the prospective customer to hold up his or her hand and say “I’m interested.”
- You then convert the lead in one or a series of follow up messages.
You see this two step system on a lot of websites including mine.
Companies offer free information (like The Six Steps Profit Formula: The Simple Rules Every Business Owner Needs To Know) and that and/or a series of subsequent marketing messages creates the desire for the customer to buy.
Sometimes it’s not a free report but a free consultation (I do that too) or a visit from a technical consultant (posh jargon for sales rep that doesn’t frighten prospects away).
The process is designed to build up the “know, like and trust” factors that are needed in more complicated products and services to give someone the confidence to buy.
Often this two step approach is the most cost effective way for a small business to target and convert customers.
It doesn’t have the money to use the mass media regularly, if at all.
It’s better to send out a simple, attractive, no risk offer to get people to voluntarily identify themselves as possible customers. More intensive marketing efforts can be focused on those whilst keeping a low key lead generation system to get people into the sales funnel.
Three Step Systems To Qualify, Find Buyers And Then Sell Higher Value Solutions
This time the customer creation system is divided into three steps to sell the product you want want to sell.
- Lead generation based on providing some kind of information based lead magnet.
- The promotion and sale of a very low priced intermediary product.
- The promotion and sale or the intended product.
Some people love free stuff and they find it impossible to say No to anything that is free.
It doesn’t matter that they don’t want it and have no intention of becoming a customer.
Companies that have an expensive lead conversion and follow up system are well advised to introduce a third, intermediary step.
The freebie chasers aren’t going to buy anything but they take up resources and for various reasons, people find it difficult to say a firm No to sales people and follow-up marketing efforts.
Serious prospects can be identified by making a high value, low priced offer for $1 or $5 or $17.
A buyer is a buyer.
Being prepared to invest money into the relationship indicates a possibility of spending more money.
Many free lead magnets aren’t consumed. Pdfs aren’t read. Mp3s aren’t listened to. Videos aren’t watched.
But people who have paid money are more likely to consume. It’s not guaranteed and there will still be a good share of tyre kickers but you’ve moved down the sales funnel to identify more serious prospects.
I do this with my 30 day trial for $1 of the Profitable Growth Systems online training system.
What I want is people to stay members and pay the regular monthly fee after they’ve had the chance to see for themselves the quality of the training. Even better if they decide they would like to be one-to-one coaching clients.
Awareness Trial And Reinforcement
When I was taking by MBA degree, I was taught two marketing systems:
- AIDA – Attention, Interest, Desire and Action – which I’ve seen a lot of references to since them in the direct response marketing books and training programmes I’ve taken.
- ATR – Awareness, Trial and Reinforcement – which I very rarely see mentioned.
This idea of trial and reinforcement is very relevant to the two step and three step customer creation systems.
You take away as many of the barriers as you can to make it easy to try the product – even by giving it away free – and then you hope the product gives such a good experience that the person decides to buy.
You see this with the information based lead magnets where people like Rich Schefren have done such a good job of redefining the problem in a unique way, you want to buy his solution because it’s the only one that tackles the newly diagnosed problem.
You also see it in supermarkets where you’re given a small sample of something tasty to try for free and told about a promotional offer to encourage you to buy it after the tasting test.
You also see products launched at an introductory special price to encourage trial.
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