Understand where your prospective customers are in the Apela engagement chronology and it's easier to decide where to focus your limited marketing resources.
Apela is a Hawaiian boys name meaning "breathing spirit".
Those who are given this name are said to be successful in business and commercial affairs, and are able to achieve their material dreams.
But more interestingly, Apela is the acronym for my own take on the customer engagement chronology:
Awareness - Perception - Engagement - Loyalty - Advocacy
In my experience, every business is at one of these chronological stages and there are strategies and tactics that can help overcome the block and move to the next level.
I recently conducted an awareness survey for a client. It showed that unprompted awareness in the target audience was running at less than 5%. One of the competitors achieved 60%. Guess who got more inbound Requests for Proposals?
There were fewer than 5,000 people in Europe who could either become clients or exert selection influence, so instead of spending £30k attending a conference we found out who they all were and started approaching them directly.
Do you know what percentage of your target audience even knows you exist? Did they know but have forgotten? It would be wise to find out and remind them.
I recently learned that 73% of pharmaceutical marketers turn first to colleagues in procurement for advice about referrals for new digital agencies. Yet very few digital agencies working in pharma realise this or do much about it.
If insufficient numbers of qualified prospects are aware of you and your business, then this is the place to start.
I recently conducted a customer satisfaction survey for a client. The words I heard most frequently were "Really? I didn't know you did that". I found £4.2m of planned expenditure about which the account teams were unaware and which the client didn't "believe" we were able to help with. And this was in a client base of just 15 companies.
So, if you have great levels of awareness but your prospective customers don't know, understand or value what makes you different and better than they will fail to engage.
Embark on a campaign of customer education. Make sure they know what you do, what you do best, and why you are the best at it.
So plenty of the right people know about you and what you offer but they fail to convert, engage and become customers or clients.
Find out why. Is it price? Is your product or service becoming obsolete? Are you perceived to be too small or too big? Risky or unresponsive?
So you have great levels of engagement but customers fail to return.
It may be that the product or service you sell is a one-off purchase that your customers never need to buy more than once. This is rarely the case in my experience. More likely, they have decided to buy elsewhere for some reason.
How can you sustain a relationship with your first-time customers? How can you retain your clients and encourage them to come back again and again?
Offer them a 3-year exclusive contract in return for a discount or some added value? Offer them a free maintenance contract? Make your offering so sticky that they can't leave you? Offer them something that costs you very little but has high perceived value? Could your product or service be delivered as part of an annual subscription paid monthly?
If you work for Apple or Harley Davidson, well done, you made it to brand heaven. You could double your prices tomorrow and still sell it.
In a recent lecture I gave, I asked my audience what percentage of their new business had its source in referral.
The average was 60%. So I asked them how many people they had in their referral marketing department!
This was met by hushed and slightly embarrassed murmuring.
If many of your opportunities to win new business are inbound, and a result of a 3rd party recommending you, what are you doing to encourage and develop this?
It used to be said that you shouldn't put "word of mouth" in a business or marketing plan because it was impossible to create, predict or manage with any certainty.
In this digital and social age, this is no longer the case. You can indeed teach a business to market itself as John Jantsch shows in his book The Referral Engine.
So, if you want to learn how to move your brand or business from low levels of awareness to rampant advocacy then I'd be happy to give you 30 minutes, free of charge over Skype.
Consultant Marketing Director
"Modern marketing direction without a full time Marketing Director"
+44 (0)7947 793 554